Search engine marketers have long harped on site owners to dig into their log files to do some analysis to find out what type of information they can pull out to make them more effective marketers. Log file analysis can be broken down into two separate areas: information about how traffic gets to your site and information about how visitors work their way through your site.

Both bits of information can be handy when it comes to planning changes to your strategy. Finding out how visitors get to your site can help you decide what keywords to put your focus on, which engines to buy PPC listings with and even what types of sites to seek incoming links from. Finding out how your visitors work their way around your site can help tell you what usability changes might be needed, what specific information your visitors are looking for, and even how they make their buying decisions.

In fact, just yesterday, I was mulling over how some companies are still missing the boat when it comes to making use of their internal log file data. My husband and I have just purchased a new home and we've puts ours up for sale. While talking to my realtor, I asked if it was possible for us to get data on how many unique views our individual MLS listing gets. She wasn't sure, so she talked to her broker. Turns out that no one has ever asked for this information before, so they weren't even sure if they could get it. She's looking into it, but that led me down another path of wondering.

I was looking through the web site to see what other comparable listings were up in our area. I entered my search criteria, browsed through the listings and clicked on a few to check them out. That got me thinking that internal site stats should be able to tie page views to search criteria and wouldn't that be handy information for to compile and offer up to listing agents? Even if they did so for an extra fee? Savvy realtors could make excellent use of that data over time. The long term data that could be compiled as far as seasonal influence on search or

In fact, if they aren't already doing so, could likely create a nice side business by analyzing all of their internal search patterns and compiling regional directories of buyer profiles to resell to local realtors.

The point of all my rambling is this...are you overlooking unique ways that you could Mountie the information found buried within your web logs? Look beyond things like simple traffic analysis and even conversion rates. What type of information is buried in those stats that you can put to work in a way that will help push you ahead of your competitors? Find that hidden gem, and you may be able to put yourself in an enviable business position.

If you're interested in learning more about using web analytics as part of your market research, you might want to check out an article in today's Search Engine Watch where Chris Sherman reviews a new book that aims to help marketers learn how to glean more information from their web logs in order to become better marketers.

From Sherman's article:

Web Site Measurement Hacks, a new book by Jupiter Research analyst Eric T. Peterson, is a terrific introduction and overview of web measurement and analytics. It's also a comprehensive guide to all kinds of web measurement activities, making it a useful book for both novice and sophisticated search marketers.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
November 1, 2005

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

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