How to empower content teams with real-time logfile insights

Too many organizations are still posting content without clear goals and KPIs.

For organizations to move beyond simply “publishing content,” they need to adopt a different way of thinking.

They need to think about their past work, think critically, and request access to performance data that they can use to evaluate content performance in terms of traffic, crawls, and links created.

I know what you might be thinking: “Wait, are you hinting at content teams that are requesting log file data?”

Yes, but I’d do it better: I want content teams to start asking for real-time logfile insights.

For those familiar with the time-consuming traditional log file analysis, let me tell you that this is different.

Times have changed, and now content teams can take advantage of valuable insights log files.

Let’s change that mindset with the four steps below.

Step 1: Content teams begin to think critically

Content teams rarely say, “I want the content piece to be discovered by search engines on the same day, crawled within three days after publication, indexed within a week, and lead 200 organic visits and two potential leads per month after three weeks of publication.”

Unfortunately, many organizations still only publish X amount of content pieces per month because “that’s how we’ve always been,” or “we need fresh content to keep our SEO performing.”

After publishing, they quickly move on to the next part. At the end of the month, they achieved their goal of posting four pieces of content and it was “done”.

They don’t think about how long it took search engines to crawl their newly published or updated content, how long it took them to get indexed, how long it took before the article started ranking and increased organic traffic.

This is a terrible shame.


Because it’s not likely that this old way of doing things really moves the needle.

Sure, everyone is very busy and I’m sure it would benefit a bit, but the content will never live up to its potential. This is a waste of money.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand why this happens.

It’s a combination of doing what has worked (or perhaps working) in the past and not having a central place where content teams can find all the insights they need to effectively communicate their work performance.

Critical thinking means that content teams ask themselves:

  • Why did Article X start attracting meaningful organic traffic almost immediately after publication? Why was it crawled so quickly? Did the press pick it up? Did it spread on social media?
  • Do we see very different behavior when comparing the performance of content in a section A site compared to a section B? Is it re-crawled often? If so why?
  • Does Section A have much more internal and external links? Does it have better performing content overall?

Where can they find answers to these questions?

Step 2: Get log file analysis insights

Getting your hands on the log files was very difficult. There are all kinds of challenges.

For starters, it may not be available anymore. Even if it is still available, it is difficult to obtain due to red tape regarding PII (Personally Identifiable Information) concerns.

You will see that it is a slow and painful process in most cases. There is a reason why most organizations perform traditional log file analysis once or twice a year.

This is where Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) like CloudFlare, CloudFront, and Akamai come in.

Nowadays, many sites use CDNs to provide fast loading sites for both visitors and crawlers.

The advantage of CDNs is that they save log files in real time, and you can easily pull logs and make sure they don’t include any PII data.

Step 3: Provide content teams with easy-to-digest insights

Log files also contain valuable, non-technical insights for content teams, even when their information needs differ from technical SEO teams.

Content teams need easy-to-understand content-focused insights, and they need it in real time because they make changes throughout the day and touch a lot of different content.

It should be a walk in the park so they can answer questions like:

  • Did Google crawl these newly published pages? And what about these pages that we updated recently?
  • How often does Google crawl pages in website section X? How does that compare to the y-section?
  • Did Google crawl pages when they had the wrong title tags? Or at the time it contained broken links?

Knowing the crawl behavior displayed by search engines is essential to improving your SEO performance because re-crawling pages is the first step in Google’s crawling, indexing, and ranking pipeline after discovery.

When the content teams can answer the questions above, they can begin to connect the dots and learn how their work has affected search engine behavior on the site.

They can even calculate and improve:

  • Average crawl time.
  • average indexing time.
  • Average ranking time.
  • Average time to pass.

Minimize, and that makes a great input for SEO traffic predictions too!

Step 4: Set Insights for Content Inventory

The final piece of the puzzle is mapping these helpful insights to your content inventory, which also keeps track of all the changes you’ve made to the content.

And we want to stay away from compiling this manually in spreadsheets – you want an up-to-date content inventory that log file insights are automatically linked to.

Turnkey solutions offer all of this, or you can build your own custom solution.

Both are fine. What matters is empowering your content team!

professional advice: You can also integrate with the Google Search Console URL Inspection API to determine if content is indexed!

wrap things

When content teams ask all the right questions and think about their work and have everything they need at their fingertips to answer those questions and think, all of their efforts will go a long way.

You will see that working on improving SEO performance for websites is more accessible to all involved. It will be more pleasant, and management will likely buy faster.

Empower your content team, and you’ll be amazed at their contribution to your site’s SEO performance!

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Featured Image: KonG / Shutterstock

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