How big is your union website?
Recently, I’ve been looking at the sizes of union websites as a benchmarking exercise to inform a union website redesign project. I thought I’d share the results of the analysis, as it provides some interesting insights, in particular the huge variation in size.
It’s difficult to say how much content a website should have. Having too much or too little content both have their pitfalls. A good range of high quality content is a positive, but too much content can bloat a website, making navigation and searching difficult and slow.
Similarly, too little content will be of limited use to members, and if a website doesn’t have the content people are searching for, this will reduce the influence the union can exert online.
Having too much content could be a sign that the site is bloated or has technical issues, while having too little could mean the union is providing an inadequate amount of information for their members.
In order to measure the size of a website, I’ve used the site search command in Google. This will count the total number of pages Google has indexed for a particular domain, including any related sub-domains. As an example, try typing site:infobo.com into Google and seeing how many results are returned.
Some pages will be excluded from this type of analysis. For instance, member-only pages cannot be seen by Google. Sometimes it is a good idea to tell search engines not to index certain pages (using meta tags), as this prevents duplicate content issues and improves search engine optimisation by leaving unsuitable pages out of search results. So only public, indexed pages can be counted using this method.
For my analysis, I’ve looked at the websites of all the TUC-affiliated unions.
|No||Union||Total number of pages|
|2||Chartered Society of Physiotherapy||88,200|
|13||Society of Radiographers||9,770|
|34||British and Irish Orthoptic Society||961|
|35||Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists||832|
|40||The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain||493|
Source: Google, July 2015. Please note, Google rounds up/down the numbers for large page totals.
The UNISON website has the most content, with 96,800 pages in total. Such a large amount of content might be expected of one of the largest unions, but not all of the large unions follow suit. In comparison, Unite has just 7,140 pages, the GMB 2,630 and USDAW 2,030.
The second largest union website is the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, with 88,200 pages, while Prospect comes third and the NAHT fourth with 57,900 and 40,400 pages respectively.
The smallest union website is that of NACODS, with just 20 pages, followed by ADVANCE with 33 and the AEP with 76.
I’ve also compared the amount of webpages per member. Although this is a makeshift measure, counting the amount of webpages per member allows for the amount of resources a union can dedicate to their website.
|No||Union||Members||Pages per member|
|2||Chartered Society of Physiotherapy||39,125||2.254313|
|4||British and Irish Orthoptic Society||926||1.037797|
|9||The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain||1,075||0.458605|
|10||Society of Radiographers||23,210||0.420939|
|27||Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists||9,246||0.089985|
Source: Google & the TUC. July 2015
Using this approach, the PFA has by far the highest content per member, at 11.43 pages per member. This reflects both the small amount of members and the fact that the PFA site acts as a football news portal. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and the NAHT are 2nd and 3rd with 2.25 and 1.42 pages respectively. Unite, USDAW, Advance and the GMB have the least amount of content per member.
The amount of content per member varies greatly. Having too much content could be a sign that the site is bloated or has technical issues, while having too little could mean the union is providing an inadequate amount of information for their members.
Should I tell search engines not to index some pages?
Almost always, the answer will be yes. There are many situations where you might configure a site to prevent the indexing of some pages. For instance, some pages exist to aid navigation and should not be indexed, such as the pagination on a news area.
If a search engine indexes every page listing all the news stories, and there are 55 pages listing 550 stories in total, then 54 of those pages will just be page x of the site’s news archive, with snippets of content that already exist on the actual news story. There is no benefit to indexing all of these pages, and the search engine performance will improve by removing the duplicate content from the site.
An example of the canonical Meta tag being used correctly on the UCATT website.
There are a number of ways you can instruct search engines to avoid indexing pages, from using canonical URL tags or the ‘noindex’ Meta tag, to setting up rules in Google’s Webmaster tools.
A common problem to watch out for is issues with the site’s URL structures. Unless the site is configured to send the right messages, URLs with extra bits added will make a site seem bigger than it is, and confuse search engines. I’ve seen many instances of two identical pages having different addresses, such as:
Unless configured correctly, search engines will assume these are two different pages with identical content.
Having a lot of content indexed in Google could be a sign that your site hasn’t been configured correctly, and is therefore not performing as well in search engines as it should.
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