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Log File Analysis - Help Your Business Become A Better Market For Your Customers

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One of the few ways to see what Google is doing on your site is to look at the log files.

They give important data for analysis and can help make good optimizations and decisions based on data.

By looking at your log files analysis regularly, you can find out what is being crawled and how often, as well as answer other questions about what search engines are doing on your site.

It can be a scary process, so this page is a good place to begin your log file analysis journey.

Your website's log file keeps track of every request made to your server. Looking at this information could help you understand how search engines crawl your site and its pages.

In this article, we'll look closely at what a log file analysis is and how it can help with SEO.

How to Do Log File Analysis | Lesson 4/7 | SEMrush Academy

What Are Log Files?

Log files record who goes to a website and what they look at.

2 laptops and papers floating
2 laptops and papers floating

They have information about who asked to use the website, also called "The Client."

This could be a robot from a search engine like Googlebot or Bingbot, or it could be a person looking at the site.

The site's web server collects and keeps track of log file entries, which are usually kept for a certain amount of time.

How Log Files Benefit SEO?

Now that we know what log files are and how they work, let's look at how they can help SEO.

Here are just a few:

Scan Monitoring

A man seated monitoring 6 screens
A man seated monitoring 6 screens

It lets you see the URLs that search engines crawl, which you can use to find crawler traps, see where crawl budget is being wasted, and get a better idea of how quickly new content is picked up.

Status Code Reporting

Word http:// on screen
Word http:// on screen

This is particularly advantageous for prioritizing error fixes.

You can track the number of times a user or search engine visits the 404 URL, as opposed to simply being aware that it exists.

A hand holding magnifying glass and various social media icons
A hand holding magnifying glass and various social media icons

By monitoring crawls to a URL, page type/site section, or your entire website over time, you can identify trends and investigate potential causes.

Orphan Page Discovery

A monitor and papers connected by lines
A monitor and papers connected by lines

Cross-analyzing data from log files and your own site crawl can reveal orphan pages.

Log file analysis will benefit all sites to some degree; however, the amount of benefit varies greatly based on site size.

This is due to the fact that log files primarily benefit websites by assisting with crawling management.

Google asserts that controlling the crawl budget will benefit large or frequently-updated websites.

What Is Log File Analysis?

Analyzing your website's log files is a technical SEO task that lets you see how Googlebot and other web crawlers and people use your site.

A log file has useful information that can be used to change your SEO strategy or fix problems with how your web pages are crawled and indexed.

So you know what a log file is, but why should you bother to look at it?

In reality, there is only one real record of how search engines like Googlebot look at your website.

This is done by looking at the server log files for your site.

Search Console, third-party crawlers, and search operators won't give us a full picture of how Googlebot and other search engines interact with a page.

The only place to find this information is in the log files of who has used the site.

What Is Log File Analysis Used For In SEO?

As an SEO, you can learn a lot from your site's log file. Some of the most important things you can learn are:

  • Figuring out which of your sites and folders are crawled the most
  • If your site's crawl money is being wasted on pages that aren't important
  • Find URLs that have parameters and are being crawled too often
  • If your website is now crawled with mobile in mind first
  • The exact status code for each page on your site and figuring out where problems are
  • If a page is too big or too slow figuring out which static pages are scanned too often
  • Finding chains of redirects that are often crawled
  • Finding crawler activity that goes up or down all of a sudden

How To Do Log File Analysis?

The technical process of looking at log data may be complicated, but it can be broken down into three easy steps:

  • Collect and export the right log data (usually only for search engine crawler User-Agents) for as long as you can. Even though there is no "right" amount of time, search engine crawler records for two months (8 weeks) are often enough.
  • Parse log data to get it into a format that data analysis tools can understand (often tabular format for use in databases or spreadsheets). At this technical stage, it's often necessary to use Python or similar programs to pull data fields out of logs and turn them into CSV or database files.
  • Log data should be grouped and displayed as needed (usually by date, page type, and status code) before it is looked at for problems and opportunities.

Even when only queries from search engine crawlers in a certain time period are kept, log data can quickly grow to terabytes.

Most of the time, desktop analysis programs like Excel can't handle this much data.

Log analysis software is often the most efficient way to process, organize, and display log data.

People Also Ask

What Is The Purpose Of Log Files?

Log files are used to record and keep track of what happens on a computer.

Log files are very helpful in computing because they let system administrators watch how the system works so they can find problems and fix them.

Log files, which are also called "machine data," are important for security and surveillance because they record everything that has happened over time.

Apps, web browsers, hardware, and even email, as well as operating systems, can all have log files.

What Kind Of Data Is In Log Files?

Log files are the main source of information about how a network works.

A log file is a type of data file that a computer makes. It contains information about how an operating system, application, server, or other device is used, what it does, and how it works.

IT companies can use security event monitoring (SEM), security information management (SIM), security information and event management (SIEM), or another analytics solution to gather and look at log files from all over a cloud computing environment.

How Do I Analyze A Log File In Linux?

Using grep to search for plain text is one of the simplest ways to look at logs.

grep is a command-line tool that looks for matching text in a file or in the output of other commands.

It comes with most versions of Linux, and you can also get it for Windows and Mac.

How Do You Use Log Files?

Most of the time, the data in these files is just plain text.

Any text editor, like Windows Notepad, can be used to look at a LOG file.

You could also try opening one in your web browser.

Drag it into the browser window or use the Ctrl+O keyboard shortcut to open a dialog box where you can look for the file.

Conclusion

SEO needs a log file analysis so that webmasters can process and evaluate important information about how their website is used.

SEOs don't have to send data to third-party service providers, so there are no worries about data security.

Log file analysis has its limits, though, so it shouldn't be the only way to study how users act.

It should be used along with Google Analytics and other web analytics tools.

For bigger websites, log file analysis is also linked to processing very large amounts of data, which in the long run requires a strong IT infrastructure.

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About The Authors

Matt Robinson

Matt Robinson - Since the late 1990s, I've been helping companies of all kinds flourish online, with a focus on SEO, local search marketing, and blogging/social media. I've worked as a consultant for businesses as large as Target.com and as small as a mom and pop shop selling handmade wooden pens out of their garage. My whole life has been surrounded by small businesses. I like public speaking and am always excited to have the opportunity to teach/train businesses, groups, or people on effective internet marketing strategies and approaches. Since 2004, I've been giving talks at search marketing and social media conferences on a regular basis.

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