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High Rankings Advisor: Log File Analysis and SEO - Issue No. 131

February 16, 2005

---->   Dynamically Generated Pages and Query Strings
---->   Header Tags

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   Who'sClickingWho?
---->   The Karcher Group - Free Site Review
---->   High Rankings Seminar CD - Half Price

*Guest Article:
---->   Log File Analysis and SEO

*Stuff You Might Like:
---->   High Rankings Seminar in Seattle
    (Register Now To Save!)
---->   Debra O'Neil-Mastaler Interview

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Why Not Call a Penalty a Penalty?

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   Splash and Flash Pages

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   DC-bound

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey all!  I've got a few more from my collection of frequently asked
questions for you today, plus we're taking a short break from our PPC
interview with Kevin Lee so that I could provide you with this guest
article on mining your server logs to perfect your SEO campaign.

Let's get straight to the good stuff! - Jill

~~~SEO Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)~~~

++Dynamically Generated Pages and Query Strings++

Q. I have a dynamically generated site which places question marks and
equal signs in the URL.  My mother's hairdresser told me that I need
to create static HTML pages in order to show up in the search engines.
What do you think?

Jill:  For the most part, the search engines no longer choke on query
strings (those question marks and equal signs) in URLs.  Just try to
make sure that your content management system (CMS) doesn't put more
than 3 parameters in, and you should most likely be okay.  Whenever
I'm asked this question, I check the person's site in Google and
Yahoo -- and 99% of the time just about all of their pages are indexed
already.  In those cases, there are not any technical issues; they
simply have to do a better job of optimizing their pages for their
appropriate keyword phrases.

The most important thing to do with a dynamic site is to create links
to the important, optimized pages of the site.  Sometimes the only way
to find certain information on one of these sites is to fill out a
form which then conducts a search of the site.  A page that has what
you're looking for is then created for you and displayed in your
browser.  Unfortunately, that type of page will not be accessible by
the search engines because it doesn't actually exist on the server.
If there are specific pages that are created through specific search
criteria that many people would be looking for on your site, those are
the ones you should create links to in your site navigation and your
site map.

You'll also want to make sure that your CMS is capable of generating
unique Title tags for every page of the site.  If not, you'll have to
fix this in the system because this is actually one of those things
that will be critical to your search engine success.

For more info on the ins and outs of creating a crawler-friendly
dynamic site, please read my interview with Alan Perkins here:


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++Header Tags++

Q. I want to put keywords in header tags such as H1 and H2 because my
mail carrier told me that this would give me high rankings in the
search engines.  Will I be penalized if I use style sheets to keep the
font down to a reasonable size?

Jill:  As mentioned in one of the answers last week (Where Do I Place
Keywords? </issue130.htm#seo2>), it may not
actually even be necessary for you to put keyword phrases into header
tags.  That said, we've definitely found that the use of headlines and
subheadlines in your copy really helps people get the gist of your
site very easily.  Therefore, if you can work them into your content,
also using H1 and H2 tags as specified by the W3C, is certainly a good
idea.  If it makes sense to also use keyword phrases within some of
these headlines, then that's all the better!  (If they don't make
sense, then it's no big deal. Really!)

Adjusting the size of your headlines to fit with the overall look and
feel of your site through cascading style sheets (CSS) is absolutely,
positively fine.  The search engines aren't out to force you to use a
huge font size just because that's the H1 default size.  Don't worry
another second about that one.

Hope this helps!

(If anyone would like to republish the above Q&A article, please email
me your request and where it will reside, and I'll send you a short
bio you can use with it for your site.)

______________Free Site Review_______________________Adv.

Attending the Search Engine Strategies Conference in NYC?

Visit The Karcher Group at booth #1014 and schedule a time for
your private site review on Tuesday evening.  You can also avoid the
wait and schedule a time for a professional review of your online
marketing strategy at <>.

~~~Guest Article~~~

++Log File Analysis and SEO++

The Aussie husband-and-wife SEO team of Jerry and Kalena Jordan wrote
today's guest article on log file analysis. When Jerry and Kal are not
chasing after their baby, they're running their SEO business Web Rank
<>, as well as their online training institution
"Search Engine College" <>.  SEC
offers instructor-led classes and downloadable self-study courses on a
variety of SEO and SEM subjects.

Take it away Jerry and Kal! - Jill

Log File Analysis and SEO
By Jerry and Kalena Jordan

If you own or manage a website, you are probably already aware of the
importance of your log files or site statistics. Such data can give
you insights about your site's usability, errors in your HTML code,
the popularity of your site pages and the type of visitors your site
attracts. But did you know it could also highlight the success or
failure of your search engine optimization campaign?

Several variables should be examined regularly to ensure your site
design and page optimization are on the right track:

1. Entry Paths

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 through your site designed for each class of visitor. 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

The site-entry pages for these pathways are often optimized pages. The
final page of this route is often the page with 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).

These pathways will help you monitor the effectiveness of your SEO and
conversions, plus provide you with ideas for subsequent site

2. Top Exit Pages

These are pages where most visitors click away from your site. It is
useful to track these because they can tell you:

a. Whether there are technical problems such as broken links or forms
not working properly, etc.

b. Whether your design is breaking the strategic pathway (e.g., you
may have links to external sites that are inducing users to click away
before taking action, or you may have an unprofessional design or
confusing layout that causes them to leave.

3. Single Access Pages

Single Access Pages are entry pages that are viewed once before the
visitor clicks away from your site. They can often indicate that your
target search terms are too broad. For example, you may be getting a
lot of traffic by targeting "printer cartridges" but if you only stock
a particular brand of cartridge, then people seeking other brands will
leave immediately. This can be resolved by narrowing down your search
terms to be more targeted phrases, e.g., by changing "printer
cartridges" to "HP printer cartridges" and so on.

4. Most Requested Page(s) and Top Entry Pages

Tracking these pages is key to measuring the success of your SEO
campaign. If your optimization is effective, the Top Entry Pages and
Most Requested Pages should be those that you have optimized. The Top
Entry Pages are particularly relevant as you consider the pathways
through your site. Do the most popular entry pages have any
relationship to the start pages for your plotted visitor pathways? Or
are visitors entering and navigating your site in ways you didn't
intend? You can use this information to continually tweak your page
optimization to guide visitors to the right pathways.

5. Referring Domains and Referring URLs

Are your visitors coming from sites that are linked to yours? Are blog
authors or forum members talking about your site? Referring Domains
will tell you what sites are linking to yours, while Referring URLs
will list the actual pages where the links are located. These can be
little gold mines because you can often find that you have valuable
sources of traffic that you didn't even know existed.

Monitoring these metrics can tell you if your site requires a
link-building campaign, and it helps you measure the effectiveness of
various online and offline advertising campaigns.

6. Search Engine Referrals

Tracking this variable will help you keep up with how many search
engines are listing your site (both free submissions and paid
submissions), how much traffic they bring and whether to renew your
paid submissions.  As a very rough guide, you should be receiving at
least 30 percent of your site traffic via search engine referrals.

7. Search Phrases

Do these terms match what your site was optimized for? Are there any
surprising terms that you might want to develop site content for? Some
log file analysis programs will even break down what specific phrases
your site was found for and in which particular search engines. The
more detailed data you have, the more closely you can tweak your
optimization campaign to your precise market.

8. Landing Pages for PCC Campaigns, Etc.

If you run a pay-per-click campaign or dedicate specific pages to
advertising product specials, you may use special landing pages or
tracking URLs to monitor your traffic and conversions. You can track
these by looking at how many visitors each landing page had and what
those users did after they visited those pages.

9. Metric Values That Show a Radical Change from Developing Trends

Any dramatic changes that you notice from one month to the next could
point out a problem with your site or with your optimization campaign.
For example, if your search engine referrals have dropped
dramatically, it could indicate that you have been penalized. Noticing
changing trends early gives you the chance to investigate problem
areas and make adjustments if necessary.

Please note that all log file analysis and site statistics programs
use slightly different terms to describe the metrics listed above. If
you're confused, ask your site admin or hosting provider to explain
these to you.

Remember, your log files are gold mines filled with nuggets of
information about your optimized web site. If you keep digging on a
regular basis, you'll eventually strike it rich with success.

Jerry and Kalena Jordan
Search Engine College

~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++High Ranking Seminar in Seattle Mar. 31-Apr. 1++

Early registration is still open for our Seattle Search Engine
Seminar and Workshops!  You can learn more and register here:

Be sure to register for the seminar before the end of February in
order to save with the early-bird discount.

You'll also need to reserve your room by Feb. 28th in order to get the
special conference discount, so if you're planning on staying over, be
sure to call the hotel number on the seminar page as soon as possible.

++Debra O'Neil-Mastaler Interview++

Peter DaVanzo of Search Engine Blog recently interviewed the High
Rankings Forum's Link Building moderator, Debra O'Neil-Mastaler, where
she spilled all her link-popularity secrets and tips.

Read her informative and engaging interview here:

___________Can't Travel to Seattle This Spring?____________

Buy Now! High Rankings Seminar CD - Half Price While Supplies Last!

Listen to the MP3 audio files of our Tampa full-day search engine
marketing seminar from November '03 -- was $279, now $139.50!

What is covered:
SEO Basics, PPC, Copywriting, Measuring Traffic, and Conversions.

Also includes complete PDF presentations from the speakers.

~~~High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week~~~

++Why Not Call a Penalty a Penalty?++

Forum member "Greggb" wonders about search engine penalties:

"I've noticed a lot of people getting offended by our calling whatever
happens when your rankings drop because of something you did a
'penalty.'  I'm just curious...if a Google employee reads a forum post
and notices someone saying they were penalized by Google over
something, are they going to punish them as a result? Is Big Brother
watching us or something? If not, why do we have to be so politically
correct about everything? Maybe 'penalty' isn't the best word, but it
gets the point across. I mean, you do something, and something bad
happens as a result... you've been penalized."

Read what others think about calling something a penalty that really
isn't a penalty here:

Please feel free to share your own thoughts on the subject, as well!

~~~Sound Advice~~~

++Splash and Flash Pages++

(This audio recording changes each week.)

~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's all the SEO stuff for today.  Lots happening on the home front
lately.  Corie is heading off for Washington DC tomorrow night.  Her
first few days will be spent with others from her school who are part
of their debate club (Junior State of America).  Then she has a couple
of free days before she heads over to a different part of DC for the
National Youth Leadership Forum that she was asked to participate in.
Not wanting her to be by herself for 2 nights, and since it's
school-vacation week, we decided to make a mini-trip out of it.  The
whole family will fly out for those few days for a bit of sightseeing.
Hopefully, we'll have some nice weather!

Catch you next week. - Jill

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