Too many organizations are still publishing content without clear goals and KPIs.
For organizations to move beyond just “publishing content,” they need to adopt a different way of thinking.
They need to reflect on their previous work, think critically, and request access to performance data that they can use to evaluate content performance in terms of traffic, crawls, and links generated.
I know what you might be thinking: “Wait, are you hinting at content teams asking for log file data?”
Yes, but I’d do it better: I want content teams to start asking for log file insights in real time.
For those who are familiar with the time-consuming traditional log file parsing, let me tell you that this is different.
Times have changed, and content teams can now take advantage of valuable insights log files.
Let’s change this mindset with the four steps below.
Step 1: Content teams begin to think critically
Content teams rarely say, “I want a piece of content to be discovered by search engines the same day, crawled within three days after publication, indexed within a week, and drive 200 organic visits and two leads per month three weeks after publication.”
Unfortunately, many organizations still only publish X amount of content pieces per month because “that’s the way we’ve always done things” 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 publishing four pieces of content and “done.”
They don’t consider how long it took search engines to crawl their newly published or updated content, how long it took to index, and how long it took before an article started ranking and driving organic traffic.
This is a terrible shame.
Because it’s unlikely that this old way of doing things will really move the needle.
Sure, everyone is very busy and I’m sure it will do some good, 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 is happening.
It’s a combination of doing what has worked (or might have worked) in the past and not having a central place where content teams can find all the insights they need to effectively articulate their work performance.
Critical thinking means that content teams ask themselves:
- Why did Article X begin to attract 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 content performance in Section A of the site compared to 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
Obtaining log files has been 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 it due to red tape over PII (Personally Identifiable Information) concerns.
You will see that it is a slow and painful process in most cases. There’s a reason most organizations perform traditional log file analysis once or twice a year.
Nowadays, many sites use CDNs to provide fast loading sites for both visitors and crawlers.
The advantage of a CDN is that it provides the log files in real time, and you can easily pull the 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 insights that focus on the content, and they need it in real time because they’re making changes all day and touching on a lot of different content.
It should be a walk in the park so they can answer questions like:
- Did Google crawl these newly posted pages? And what about these pages we updated recently?
- How often does Google crawl pages in the X section of a website? How does that compare to Section Y?
- Did Google crawl pages when they had the wrong title tags? Or that time it contained broken links?
Knowing which search engines display crawl behavior is critical to improving your SEO performance because re-crawling pages is the first step in Google’s crawling, indexing, and ranking pipeline after detection.
When the content teams can answer the above questions, they can begin to connect the dots and will 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.
Zoom out, and this makes a great input for search engine traffic forecasts 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 manually compiling this into spreadsheets – you want an inventory of up-to-date content that log file insights are linked to automatically.
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 Google Search Console’s URL Inspection API to determine if 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 their efforts will go a long way.
You will see that working to improve your sites SEO performance is much more accessible to everyone involved. It will be more fun, and management is likely to buy faster.
Empower your content team, and you’ll be amazed at their contribution to your site’s SEO performance!
- What is SEO log file analysis? Beginner’s guide
- 5 Ways to Get Better Log File Insights for Optimizing Your Crawl Budget
- Completely optimized content from start to finish
Featured image: The KonG / Shutterstock