I think site managers can also use it as a tool to aide in search engine optimization.
For example, let’s look at a search for “stockton real estate bubble” (one of the top searches right now for Stockton, Calif. The Stockton Record does well in this search — on Google News. But Google News isn’t nearly as popular as Google’s main search. Using the same search terms, Recordnet.com does not show up until the bottom of the second page. This points to an opportunity for SEO.
Part of the SEO process is to look for those same search terms in your server logs. If those keywords are not showing up, or showing up low, in your referrer logs, you’re may not be getting all the traffic you should.
Another good tool offered by Google is the keyword tracker. Type in the name of your city and find out what search phrases are being used in Google to find information related to your area. Compare that keywords in your own logs. How do you stack up?
An even more powerful tool is the Keyword Suggestion Tool from Digital Point. This tool uses data from WordTracker and Overture to tell how how many times per day a particular keyword is used. If you see a disparity between frequency of use and infrequency of traffic for a particular keyword, you’ve got a problem to fix.
I know some large news organizations have staff members dedicated to SEO, but I suspect a lot of smaller media sites never even think about it. Search engines are the number one method people use to arrive at your site. It only makes sense that you would want to ensure you attracted all the SE clicks you could. After all, not all of that potential traffic is out of market. Some of it is potential new loyal readers.