Log analysis is the best way to analyze how search engines read your site. Every day SEOs, digital marketers, and web analytic experts use tools that reveal the traffic, user behaviors, and conversions. SEO uses Google Search Console to understand how Google is crawling the website? So Log file analysis for SEO is important to check if a search engine is correctly reading the site.
Let’s begin from the start!
What are Log Files?
Log files contain all the information that accessed a website and what content they accessed. It records who have made the request to access the website – Also known as Users.
It can be anyone, either a search engine bot like Googlebot or Bingbot or a person viewing the site. Logfile data is collected and kept by the web server of the site for a specific period.
What Information Do these Files Contain?
SEO Professional goes for Log file analysis for SEO to grab all information about users. Your website’s log file is stored on your server and has every detail about the performed requests.
Within a log file, you’ll find the following data:
- The URL of the page or resource being requested
- The HTTP status code of the request
- The IP address of the request server
- A timestamp of the hit (time and date)
- The user agent making the request (e.g., Googlebot)
- The method of the request
It contains the referrer information, IP Address of the user, and the time taken to download the resource
How to Access Log Files?
As mentioned, log files are present in the web server for a specific period and are only available to the webmaster(s) of the site.
If you are not aware of accessing these files, you can speak with the IT team or a web developer to provide you a copy of the log file.
To access the log file, you’ll need to use either your server control panels’ file manager via the command line or using an FTP client. You can use Filezilla, it’s free!
In case you accessing your server via FTP, then you should know the following:
Once you’ve connected to the server, you will need to navigate to the location of the server log file. Common server setups can go to the following locations:
- Apache: /var/log/access_log
- Nginx: logs/access.log
- IIS: %SystemDrive%inetpublogsLogFiles
However, it’s important to know that retrieving your site’s log file isn’t always so simple, and have some challenges that include:
- Disabled log files by a server admin and are not available
- Clients or other internal teams unwilling to provide log files or access to retrieve them
- Huge file sizes
- Log files that store recent data
- Issues caused by CDNs
- Custom formats
That said, these issues all have solutions that you can get by working with a developer or server admin if you want to do log file analysis for SEO.
What can you do with the SEO Log File Analyser?
The Log File Analyser is a light but powerful tool. It can process, store and analyze millions of lines of the log file for SEO. It has all the data to allow SEO professionals to make informed decisions. Some of the use of Log file analysis includes –
Identifying Crawled URLs
View and analyze the URLs Googlebot & other search bots can crawl, when and how frequently.
Discover Crawl Frequency
Get the insight of data for which search bots crawl more often. How many URLs are crawled each day and the number of bot events?
Find Broken Links & Errors
Find out all response codes, broken links, and errors that search engine bots come across while crawling your website.
Find temporary and permanent redirection that search bots come across. It can differ from those in a browser or simulated crawl.
Improve Crawl Budget
Analyze your most and least crawled URLs & site directories to identify unwanted URLs and improve their crawl efficiency.
Identify Large & Slow Pages
Reviewing the average bytes downloaded & time is taken to identify large pages and their performance issues.
Locate Uncrawled & Orphan Pages
Import a list of URLs and match it against log file data. It locates the orphan or unknown pages and uncrawled URLs by Googlebot.
Combine & Compare Any Data
Import and compare the data with URLs column against log file data. So import crawls, directives, or external link data for more specific analysis.
Which tools can you use for log file analysis?
There are several different tools available that can help for Log file analysis. Check them as follows:
- Screaming Frog Log File Analyser.
If you use any of the crawling tools, there is often the ability to combine the log file data with a crawl of your website to expand your data further and get more insights when combined with data.
Putting it all together
Log analysis for SEO is a must-do, especially if you are working with large websites.
I suggest you begin with segmenting data and monitoring changes. Once you feel ready, you can explore the possibilities of blending logs with your crawl data or Google Analytics. That is how you get insights.