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Log File Analysis FAQ

Each month, there is specific data about your web site that you should be looking at in your site statistics or log files. Such data can give you insights about your site's useability, errors in your HTML code, the popularity of your site pages and the type of visitors your site attracts. Several variables should be examined on a regular basis in relation to metrics and conversion:

1. Pathways through your site

Most sites can be developed and analysed around the concept of visitor pathways. If, for example, your site is a Business to Business (B2B) site and you service small, medium and large businesses, there should be pathways designed for each class of visitors. An extremely simplified example would be:

Clients coming to the site through an optimized home page:

home page ---> small business page ---> order page ---> order confirmation page
home page ---> medium business page ---> order page ---> order confirmation page
home page ---> large business page ---> order page ---> order confirmation page

Clients coming to the site through optimized sub-pages:

small business page ---> order page ---> order confirmation page
medium business page ---> order page ---> order confirmation page
large business page ---> order page ---> order confirmation page

The site entry pages for these pathways is often the optimized home pages and other (optimized) content pages and the final page of this route is often the action that you want clients to take on your site (e.g., sign up for your newsletter, buy your products online or contact you for further information).

You should have some idea of the main pathways that clients take through your site, both for monitoring visitor activity and for subsequent site redesign(s).

There are a number of analytics to determine the pathways through your site and a good starting point is to look at Entry Paths in your monthly metrics.

2. The page from which most visitors click away from your site.

Why do you want to know the page(s) from which most visitors leave your site? There are a number of reasons, including:

a. Is there a technical problem with the page that is causing visitors to leave your site? For example, are there broken links, is the form on the page not working properly, etc? These are technical problems that you may not have noticed and which may be causing you to lose business.

b. Do you have links to an external site that is inducing clients to click away before buying your product, signing up for your newsletter, contacting you via email, etc? While external links are fine - especially if you are building link popularity for your site - they should be strategically placed on your site so that before visitors click on these links, they will first follow the pathway through your site to the behavior you want them to take.

c. Is there something on this page that is encouraging visitors to leave your site? Is the page less than professional? Is there something on the site that is considered undesirable by your clients? These questions are good to consider on the page(s) from which most clients leave your site (assuming, of course, that these pages are not the pages you want visitors to leave from, such as your quotation page.)

In your monthly site metrics, Top Exit Pages, is a good place look to see where most visitors are leaving your site.

3. Single access pages

Here you want to know why visitors are only viewing one page of your site. The questions you ask yourself in response to this are similar to the questions in 2 (The page from which most visitors click away from your site), above. Visitors could be leaving after viewing only one page for a number of reasons, including that your search terms aren't targeted enough for the traffic you are getting to these pages.

To see what pages of your site are single access, have a look at Single Access Pages.

4. Most visited page(s) and top entry pages.

You should monitor these pages for a number of reasons and these pages will often be the pages you have had optimized, pages you have targeted in a Pay-per-click campaign or pages advertising product specials. The top entry pages are particularly relevant as you consider the pathways through your site - that is, do the top entry pages have any relationship to the beginning pages for your plotted visitor pathways?

To see your most popular web site pages, look at the graph called Most Requested Pages.

To see the top pages used to enter your site, look at the graph called Top Entry Pages

5. Landing pages for PCC Campaigns, etc.

6. Metric values that show a radical change from developing trends

These values can be seen in a number of graphs that come with your metrics, but the quickest way to have an overview of these values is by looking at the monthly totals for specific values in the "Data Input Sheet" that is the second sheet of your Web Rank monthly metrics (Web Rank clients only). For example, are your search engine referrals dropping dramatically? This could indicate that you have been penalized in a search engine (or more than one). You will be able to see monthly totals at a glance and also at the end of the 12 months you will see an average for most values.

7. Page refreshes

Why are visitors refreshing pages on your site? Are the pages not loading properly? This is a variable to monitor on a monthly basis in order to insure that there are not site usability issues for visitors.

To see what pages are being refreshed, look at Page Refreshes.

8. Where your site visitors are coming from

Are your visitors coming from search engine referrals? Are they coming from sites that are linked to yours? This is information that all site owners need to follow, in order to consider their need for possible submission to various search engines, the need for link-building campaigns, the effectiveness of various advertising campaigns online, etc.

To see the list of domains giving your site the most referrals, look at Referring Domains.

To see specific URLs from which your visitors have come, look at the graph called Referring URLs.

9. Search Engine Referrals

How many of your visitors are coming directly from search engines? This is a good variable to monitor to ascertain the success of your optimization campaign and to plan for further search engine submission efforts (both free submission and paid submission).

To see search engine referrals, look either at the graph called Search Engines, or at the monthly total for all engines on the "Data Input Sheet" of your Web Rank monthly metrics (Web Rank clients only).

10. Search Phrases

This topic is related to search engine referrals generally, but gives added insight into what terms you were actually found for in the search engines. Do these terms match what your site was optimised for? Are there any surprising terms that you might want to develop site content for?

To see the search phrases your site was found for, look at the chart called Search Phrases.

Web Rank SEO Campaign Performance Reports including detailed site metrics are delivered monthly together with search engine ranking reports via a password protected folder on our Web Rank site, with email prompts when new data is added each month.

Our clients find these reports particularly useful for justifying/curbing Internet expenditure, making content changes and planning for future site expansion. Pricing is part of our standard optimisation packages and a quotation is available upon request, following the preparation of a Search Engine Compatibility Review. (Request a quotation here).

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Client Testimonial:
"Looking very good indeed. Referrals also up in the past two weeks. Especially heartening to come up twice on the first page of some search engines. This kind of visibility is hard to get and, I suspect, extremely valuable. Salut".

Andre A. Moore
A Psychotherapy Group in the Village, New York City



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