Archive for October, 2004

Server logs tell the rest of the story!

Thursday, October 7th, 2004

We have spent a fair amount of time talking about Search Engine Optimization. I encourage all site owners work regularly with their Webmaster or hosting company in tweaking and revising keyword, description and title statements. These statements are imbedded in the site’s programming code and are for the most part unseen by the site viewer. When a search engine discovers your site it will find these statements and compare them to the content part of your site that is seen by the site viewers.

The search engines then go through a process using this comparison in order to list your site in the relative category and to rank it in that category. Every dealer’s goal is to get their site listed on the first page of search results, if not at the very top, in order to get the maximum amount of click thru traffic.

What a lot of site owners do not realize is that once this Search Engine Optimization is done it is necessary to analyze your Server Logs to see how effective the changes you made are. Few people ever bother with looking at their Server Logs while others may not have them. The Server Logs that JTZ Enterprise provides to all of our customers give fully detailed reports on the Who, What, When and Where of most of their website traffic. There are several things to look for after you have gained access to your server logs; hits and unique visitors, top keywords, top referral sites and top visiting spiders or robots.

The number of hits is often the most misunderstood statistic. It is not a total of all the visitors to your site. Hits are the number of files that are downloaded from your site. For instance, if your site’s Home Page has a picture of your dealership, a VIADA and NIADA logo image, and graphic image links to each of your seven pages then one visit would generate eleven hits, one for the HTML program and ten for all the images. Then if that site viewer clicks on your Inventory, they would then create one more hit for that HTML page and one for each thumbnail image on that page that displays your Inventory. One site viewer could be responsible for dozens of hits. The statistic to look for is really the Unique Number of Visitors. This will give you a better idea as to how many people are visiting your site.

The Server Logs will also tell you what sites your visitors came from to get to your site and what keywords they used if they came from search engines. This will let you know which keywords that are currently programmed into your site are being used and which ones are not. I always try to find ways to replace the unused keywords with new ones that might get more search results. It is also important to look for top referral sites. This will tell you which search engines are sending traffic to your site and how much traffic they are sending. About 85% of all search engine traffic comes from the top ranking sites such as Yahoo, Google, Lycos, AOLSearch, and HotBot. If you find that you are not getting traffic from any of these sites then ask your Webmaster or host provider to re-submit your site to those search engines. The sooner you do this the better as some search engines take as long as six months to include or update your site listing.

Not all sites that send traffic your way are search engines. JTZ Enterprise site owners that manage their Inventory Page themselves will also find their Inventory displayed on ShopAutosOnline.net. If you have your Inventory listed with Dealer Specialties then it will also show up on www.GetAuto.com. Your Server Logs will tell you how much traffic your site is getting from links you have created on other sites. If you are paying for a link to your site but do not see it is generating any traffic you probably will not continue with them but if you see you are getting traffic from other sites you might visit their site and possibly update your link.
Another thing one can learn from their Server Logs is whether any search engines have ‘spidered’ your site. Most search engines will visit all sites periodically and re-index them looking for changes and updates to not only the site content but also the keywords, description and title statements I mentioned earlier. These Robot or Spider visits are recorded and if you notice certain search engines have not visited you recently, again bring this up with your Webmaster or hosting company.

It is not enough to come up with a quick description and title for your site and throw together a few keywords. If you want to continue to maximize your Internet traffic and increase sales you want to continually tweak keywords and phrases, regularly analyze your site’s server logs and have a Webmaster assist you with updates as they become necessary.