Keywords That Don't Show up in Logs

Dear Jill,

I'm just starting to optimize my website and have just run some web analytics reports from my log files. I'm wondering if I should continue with my plan of using certain phrases even though they don't seem to show up in my analytics reports.

I really want to continue with my plan because even though there are some phrases that just have one or two visitors now, I believe that may change in the future and bring us different types of customers.

What do you think?


Jill's Response

Hi Lorenz,

You should definitely continue with your plan!

Your log files and the reports generated by your software can tell you only how people are *currently* finding your site, not how they might find it in the future. So if you haven't yet optimized the site, or haven't optimized it for all the keyword phrases that you were planning on, you'll never see those phrases turn up in your log files and reports. This doesn't mean they're bad phrases, it just means you have a lot of work to do! The idea is to eventually have them ALL showing up in your logs.

This isn't to say that you can't mine some interesting and useful keyword information from your logs right now -- you definitely can. But you can't rely solely on them for your keyword research. You can use them to enhance your keyword research by finding phrases that you never thought of before. However, there's just no substitute for using tools such as Keyword Discovery or Wordtracker.

The great thing about keyword research tools is that they provide information about the phrases that you have the *potential* to rank highly with if you optimize correctly. Which is in direct contrast to your log files, which tell you nothing of the future, but only the past. If you never optimized for a phrase, chances are it will never show up in your log files unless it's fairly uncompetitive. Relying on logs for keyword research would leave a gigantic hole in your SEO campaign. At best it might help you to find those "long-tail" terms (i.e., phrases which bring only a small amount of traffic individually, but taken in aggregate bring in a decent number of visitors.) But a great SEO campaign needs to consist of more than *just* long-tail terms.

Hope this helps!


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May 4, 2006

CEO and founder of High Rankings®, Jill Whalen has been performing search engine optimization since 1995 and is the host of the free High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, author of "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" and founder/administrator of the popular High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum. In 2006, Jill co-founded SEMNE, a local search engine marketing networking organization for people and companies in New England.

High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization firm located in Framingham, MA specializing in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, in-house training, site audit reports, search marketing seminars and workshops. High Rankings has a 100% success rate for substantially improving client rankings and targeted traffic.

Jill speaks at national and international conferences and has been writing about SEO and search marketing since 2000. She's been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post. Her articles have appeared in numerous print magazines and online websites including CIO Magazine, CMS Focus, The Internet Marketing Report, ClickZ, WorkZ,, Entrepreneur, Lycos Small Business, WebProNews, SiteProNews and others. Jill has also appeared on many online and offline radio programs such as Entrepreneur Magazine's E-Biz Radio Show, SearchEngineRadio and the eMarketing Talkshow.

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