Verify Website Traffic with Raw Logs Before You Buy

Selling a website often involves the exchange of raw logs to verify traffic.

Website buyers will sometimes request to see a website’s raw logs before the will close a deal. So, what are these logs and how are they used?

Site logs (also called raw logs or access logs) contain information on every transaction that your website processes, as well as the date, time, amount of data transferred, where the request came from and more.

Every time an html page is downloaded, every picture that is requested, every request that your website receives and everything it sends out to the world is listed in the access logs.

Not everyone is going to ask for these, but they’re important to me when I buy a website because 1) they’re very tedious to try and fake and 2) I can look through them to see if you’re telling the truth about your traffic sources. These logs are often used by programs like Webalizer and AWstats (provided by many hosting companies) to create fancy charts and graphs so you can see how your site is doing traffic-wise.

Here are two lines from one of my access logs. One day worth of logs on a small site might contain a thousand lines like this:

14 – IP Address Removed – – [27/Jan/2007:23:37:54 -0600] “GET / HTTP/1.1” 200 7461 “” “Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20061206 Firefox/”

15 – IP Address Removed – – [27/Jan/2007:23:37:42 -0600] “GET /submissions/submit_a_biography.php HTTP/1.1” 200 4210 “-” “Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +

The red portion in the first line shows you I got a hit from Google. Paste it into your browser and look for my site, in the results. The blue portion in the second line tells me that this page was requested by a search engine bot and not a human. Both are nice pieces of data telling me that Google is indexing my site and where it is appearing in the search results.

Where can I get the logs?

Good question. Assuming you’re on a shared hosting plan, I would hope that your provider has a control panel you can use to access them and download them in a text file (that’s all they are – basically big text files). If your host uses CPanel for your backend control, look for something labeled “Raw Log Manager” or similar.

You might not get anyone else asking for these, and I only do because there’s no guarantee that people selling websites are representing them accurately. It’s a buyer beware market, and due diligence is extremely important because once money changes hands on a website, there’s not much a buyer can do.