A server log file is a file that is created and maintained by a web server, and records information about the server’s activity. Server log files are a raw, unfiltered look at traffic, bot and human, to your site. They’re a text document automatically created and stores the record data on your web server for a period of time.
The log file contains information about client requests, the date and time of the request, the client’s IP address, the requested URL, server responses (such as 200 OK or 404 Not Found), the amount of data transferred and any errors that occurred during the process of handling the requests.
There are several types of log files that may be generated by a website’s server, including:
SEO log file analysis is the process of analyzing log files generated by a website’s server to gain insights into how search engines and users interact with the site. We can use these log files to provide information on things such as search engine crawler activity, referral traffic, search query data, and server errors.
There is only one true way Googlebot and other search engines process your website by looking at your website server log files.
3rd party crawlers, Google Search Console and search operators won’t give us the whole picture of how they interact with websites as only log file access can.
By analyzing this data, website owners and SEO professionals can identify issues that may be affecting the site‘s performance and visibility in search engine results and take steps to address them. It allows you to track website traffic, identify crawl errors, and improve website ranking.
Additionally, log file analysis can help to better understand user behavior and tailor the site’s content and SEO strategy to meet the needs of its audience.
To analyse the log files you must first get access to them from the developer or website administrator. Once you have access to the log files, you will need a log file analyzer tool to upload the log file to.
Screaming Frog Log File Analyser is our preferred tool of choice although you can use other ones like Splunk, Logz.io. and GamutLogViewer.
Crawl budget refers to the number of pages that a search engine will crawl on a website within a specific period of time. Log file analysis can be used to identify a website’s crawl budget by analyzing the log files to determine how frequently search engines are crawling the website.
Here are a few ways log file analysis can be used to identify crawl budget issues:
Once you have identified the crawl budget using log file analysis, you can take steps to optimize it. This can include optimising the site’s structure and navigation, fixing crawl errors, and improving the performance of your site to make it easier for search engines to crawl it.
The log file requests are usually made by bots from major search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Additionally, log file analysis can also record requests from other crawlers such as those from social media platforms, analytics tools, and other third-party services. Log file analysis can be used to determine if all of the targeted search engine bots are accessing the pages on a website.
Here are a few ways to use log file analysis to see if all of your targeted search engine bots are accessing your pages:
Filter the log file data by User Agent to see which search engines are visiting your site the most. Hopefully, you will see Googlebot Smartphone and Googlebot Desktop as the most popular user agents.
Log file analysis allows you to study the pages on your website that are being accessed by search engines. With this information, you can distinguish which pages are being crawled and which pages are not, helping you to understand the behaviour of the search engine bots on your website..
Here are a few ways to use log file analysis to check if your important pages are being crawled:
Maybe pages are too deep within the website structure to be crawled or log file crawl time might indicate that the page is taking too long to crawl which will impact their crawlability.
Additionally, you can also check for crawl errors or low crawl rates which can also indicate that your important pages are not being crawled properly. If you find any issues, you can take steps to optimise your website to make it easier for search engines to crawl your important pages.
Log file analysis can be used to identify indexability issues on a website, which refer to problems that prevent search engines from crawling and indexing a website’s pages.
Here are a few ways log file analysis can be used to identify indexability issues:
By studying the log files, you can get an idea of which pages on the website are being accessed by search engines and which pages are not. This information can help you pinpoint any indexability issues that may be preventing the search engine from crawling certain pages on the website. Once you have identified the indexability issues, you can take steps to fix them such as:
Log file analysis can be used to discover orphaned pages on a website. Orphaned pages are pages on a website that are not linked to by any other pages on the site. They can be caused by broken links, changes to the site’s structure, or errors in the website’s code.
To identify orphan pages using log file analysis, you can follow these steps:
Once you have analysed the log file data, gathered the insights and completed the action items, you can now see the SEO Benefits: website keyword rankings improvements, increased organic traffic, increased conversions and revenue.
As you may already know, SEO log file analysis is an essential tool for understanding and optimising your website’s performance. It allows you to track website traffic, identify crawl errors, and improve website ranking. However, many website owners are not aware of the full potential of log file analysis and how it can be used to improve their SEO.
Here at Legacy Communications we have SEO Specialists who can take you through the steps of SEO log file analysis, dig deep into the opportunities that will boost your website performance and help increase your business overall goals.
If you’re interested in including SEO in your 2023 marketing plan, get in touch with our talented Search team who will work with you to find the best strategy for you and your business.