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How To Empower Content Teams With Real-Time Log File Insights

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How To Empower Content Teams With Real-Time Log File Insights

Too many organizations still publish content without clear objectives and KPIs.

For organizations to move beyond “just publishing content,” they need to adopt a different mindset.

They need to reflect on their past work, think critically, and ask for access to performance data they can use to assess content performance in terms of traffic, crawls, and links generated.

I know what you may be thinking: “Wait, are you hinting at content teams asking for log file data?”

Yes, but I’ll do you one better: I want content teams to start asking for real-time log file insights.

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

Times have changed, and content teams can now tap into the valuable insights log files hold.

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

Step 1: Content Teams Start Thinking Critically

Rarely do content teams say, “I want to get the content piece discovered by search engines the same day, crawled within three days after publishing, indexed within a week, and driving 200 organic visits and two leads a month three weeks after publishing.”

Unfortunately, many organizations still just publish an X amount of content pieces a month because “That’s the way we’ve always done things,” or “We need fresh content to keep up our SEO performance.”

After publishing, they quickly move on to the next piece. And at the end of the month, they’ve achieved their objective to publish four content pieces and are “done.”

They don’t reflect on how long it took for search engines to crawl their newly published or updated content, how long it took to get indexed, and how long it took before the article started to rank and drive organic traffic.

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And that’s a terrible shame.

Why?

Because it’s highly unlikely that this old way of doing things is really moving the needle.

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Sure, everyone’s keeping very busy and I’m sure it’ll do some good, but the content will never live up to its potential. That’s a waste of money.

Don’t get me wrong. I get why it’s happening.

It’s a combination of doing what’s worked (or may have worked) in the past and a lack of a centralized place where content teams can find all the insights they need to reflect on their work’s performance effectively.

Thinking critically means content teams are asking themselves:

  • Why did article X start driving meaningful organic traffic nearly instantly after publishing? Why was it crawled so fast? Was it picked up by the press? Did it go viral on social media?
  • Are we seeing very different behavior when comparing the performance of content in site section A compared to section B? Does it get recrawled more often? If so, why?
  • Does section A have much more internal and external links? Does it have better-performing content in general?

Where can they find the answers to these questions?

Step 2: Getting Your Hands On Log File Analysis Insights

Getting your hands on log files has been notoriously difficult. There are all sorts of challenges.

For starters, they may not be available anymore. Even if they are still available, they are a pain to get because of red tape relating to PII (personally identifying information) concerns.

You’ll see that it’s a slow and painful process in most cases. There’s a reason most organizations perform a traditional log file analysis only once or twice a year.

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

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

And the beauty of CDNs is that they provide log files in real-time, and you can easily pull logs and make sure it doesn’t include any PII data.

Step 3: Provide Content Teams With Easily Digestible Insights

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

Content teams need easily digestible insights that are content-focused, and they need it in real-time because they’re making changes all day and touch a lot of different content.

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

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

Knowing what crawl behavior search engines are exhibiting is essential to improving your SEO performance because having pages (re)crawled is the first step in Google’s crawling, indexing, and ranking pipeline after discovery.

When content teams can answer the questions above, they can start connecting the dots and will learn how their work has influenced search engine behavior on the site.

They can even calculate and improve:

  • Average time to crawl.
  • Average time to index.
  • Average time to rank.
  • Average time to traffic.
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Zooming out, this makes for great input for SEO traffic forecasts too!

Step 4: Mapping Insights To Content Inventory

The last piece of the puzzle is mapping these useful insights to your content inventory, which also tracks all of your changes to the content.

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And, we want to stay far away from putting this manually together in spreadsheets – you want an ever up-to-date content inventory to which your log file insights are automatically tied.

Off-the-shelf solutions offer all this, or you could build your own custom solution.

Both are fine. What matters is that you empower your content team!

Pro tip: You could even integrate with Google Search Console’s URL Inspection API to determine whether the content is indexed!

Wrapping Things Up

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

You’ll see that working on improving the SEO performance of sites is much more accessible for everyone involved. It’ll be more fun, and management will likely buy in faster.

Empower your content team, and be amazed by their contribution to the site’s SEO performance!

More resources:

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Featured Image: The KonG/Shutterstock

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SEO

Google Launching May 2022 Broad Core Algorithm Update

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Google Launching May 2022 Broad Core Algorithm Update

Google confirms a broad core algorithm update, called the May 2022 core update, is rolling out today.

Core updates are designed to make search results more relevant for users. Though the update is launching today, it will take 1-2 weeks for this update to fully roll out.

Danny Sullivan, Google’s Public Liaison for Search, notes that changes to site performance in search results are to be expected.

“Core updates are changes we make to improve Search overall and keep pace with the changing nature of the web. While nothing in a core update is specific to any particular site, these updates may produce some noticeable changes to how sites perform…”

When a core update rolls out, Google is known for pointing to the same guidance it published in 2019.

Nothing has changed there, as Google references the same document with respect to this update.

To sum it up, Google’s general advice regarding core updates is as follows:

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  • Expect widely noticeable effects, such as spikes or drops in search rankings.
  • Core updates are “broad” in the sense that they don’t target anything specific. Rather, they’re designed to improve Google’s systems overall.
  • Pages that drop in rankings aren’t being penalized; they’re being reassessed against other web content that has been published since the last update.
  • Focusing on providing the best possible content is the top recommended way to deal with the impact of a core algorithm update.
  • Broad core updates happen every few months. Sites might not recover from one update until the next one rolls out.
  • Improvements do not guarantee recovery. However, choosing not to implement any improvements will virtually guarantee no recovery.

It has been six months since the last Google core update, which rolled out in November 2021.

Those who have been working hard on their site during that time may start to see some noticeable improvements to search rankings.

On the other hand, those who have left their site sit idle may begin to see themselves outranked by sites with more relevant content.

It’s too early to start assessing the impact, however, as this update will take a week or longer to roll out.

Your rankings may fluctuate during that time, so don’t be alarmed if you notice changes right away.

Google will confirm when the update is finished rolling out, then it will be time to start doing your analysis.


Featured Image: salarko/Shutterstock

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