Log File Analysis
Your server logs tell us what's really happening with your site: which pages get the most traffic, how people are finding those pages, the paths they follow through the site, the amount of time they're spending, whether the same people are coming back for additional visits, etc. I use ClickTracks software for log file analysis, which allows me to generate both standard and custom reports. That makes it possible to study almost any aspect of your traffic.
Setting a Starting Point
If we study the log files before we start the optimization project, we'll have a good idea of where the site stands and where it can be improved. Identifying the site's strengths and weaknesses can be a great aid in determining our strategy for making improvements.
Rankings Are Not Everything
When your site moves up in the search engine rankings, that's certainly a step in the right direction, but it's probably not the goal. We need to study the results of that movement in rankings.
- Has traffic increased?
- How much time are people spending on the landing page?
- Where do they go from there?
- Are they converting?
All of that is far more important that just gaining improved rankings, and if only some of those things are happening, we can find out where the breakdown is occurring, and do something about it.
Tracking Your Success
Once a given page has been optimized, the log files will tell us a great deal about how well we've accomplished the task. We'll see how people are finding the page, and what they're doing when they arrive there.
The goal of your website is not simply to rank well. It's to contribute to your business, helping it grow. As our efforts to improve your site help your business, the server logs will show us how that's happening, and that information is vitally important in finding new ways to improve.
I normally optimize a page for two or three different keyword phrases. Sometimes, we'll find that people are finding the page by searching on a phrase we had not considered. That's often a reason to create a new page that better targets that traffic by concentrating on a very specific phrase.
Similarly, we're going to see what we're doing wrong. While the keyword analysis service I use is very reliable, it's always possible that a keyword phrase we thought was highly relevant to your site isn't being seen that way by the people using that phrase to search. If that happens, the efforts we made to get one of your pages to rank well for that term aren't going to bear much fruit. Searchers will see it in the results pages, but either won't click it because the title and snippet don't express what they're looking for, or they'll click through but won't stay. The sooner we know that that's happening, the sooner we can make changes to that page, either to speak to those searchers, or to optimize it for a term for which it's more relevant.
You should give strong consideration to having me study your logs each month. The knowledge we can gain over time can be extraordinarily useful.