How big is your union website?

by / Thursday, 16 July 2015 / Published in Blog
Trade union

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
1 UNISON 96,800
2 Chartered Society of Physiotherapy 88,200
3 Prospect 57,900
4 NAHT 40,400
5 PFA 32,400
6 PCS 27,000
7 NUT 20,200
8 UCU 20,100
9 TSSA 14,800
10 RCM 11,000
11 Nautilus 10,500
12 CWU 10,200
13 Society of Radiographers 9,770
14 NASUWT 7,970
15 Equity 7,600
16 Unite 7,140
17 POA 5,480
18 ATL 5,450
19 RMT 5,410
20 FBU 4,650
21 BECTU 4,280
22 ASLEF 4,190
23 EIS 4,190
24 NUJ 3,710
25 GMB 2,630
26 USDAW 2,030
27 NUM 1,860
28 BDA 1,740
29 FDA 1,510
30 Musicians’ Union 1,330
31 UCATT 1,320
32 Accord 1,160
33 BFAWU 1,020
34 British and Irish Orthoptic Society 961
35 Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists 832
36 BALPA 826
37 NAPO 788
38 UCAC 736
39 URTU 681
40 The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain 493
41 NACO 439
42 NGSU 421
43 Community 390
44 NASS 276
45 Aegis 127
46 HCSA 120
47 BSU 114
48 AEP 76
49 Advance 33
50 NACODS 20

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
1 PFA 2,834 11.4326
2 Chartered Society of Physiotherapy 39,125 2.254313
3 NAHT 28,500 1.417544
4 British and Irish Orthoptic Society 926 1.037797
5 NUM 1,853 1.003778
6 Nautilus 15,865 0.661834
7 TSSA 22,762 0.650206
8 Prospect 118,620 0.488113
9 The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain 1,075 0.458605
10 Society of Radiographers 23,210 0.420939
11 RCM 30,000 0.366667
12 BDA 7,064 0.246319
13 NACO 1,866 0.235263
14 ASLEF 19,236 0.217821
15 Equity 37,429 0.203051
16 UCAC 3,874 0.189985
17 BECTU 23,779 0.179991
18 POA 31,266 0.17527
19 UCU 116,000 0.173276
20 NASS 1,782 0.154882
21 NUJ 31,019 0.119604
22 FBU 41,270 0.112673
23 BALPA 7,900 0.104557
24 PCS 262,819 0.102732
25 Aegis 1254 0.101276
26 NAPO 8,008 0.098402
27 Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists 9,246 0.089985
28 NACODS 226 0.088496
29 FDA 18,010 0.083842
30 EIS 54,900 0.076321
31 UNISON 1,301,500 0.074376
32 RMT 77,549 0.069762
33 NUT 326,930 0.061787
34 URTU 12,250 0.055592
35 CWU 201,875 0.050526
36 BFAWU 20,371 0.050071
37 Accord 26,028 0.044567
38 Musicians’ Union 30,446 0.043684
39 ATL 127,936 0.042599
40 BSU 2,802 0.040685
41 NGSU 11,628 0.036206
42 HCSA 3,358 0.035736
43 NASUWT 294,172 0.027093
44 AEP 3,317 0.022912
45 UCATT 84,377 0.015644
46 Community 50,012 0.007798
47 Unite 1,319,413 0.005411
48 USDAW 425,652 0.004769
49 Advance 7,452 0.004428
50 GMB 613,384 0.004288

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.

 

A canonical tag example

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:

www.examples.guide/about

www.examples.guide/about?x=36363

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.

One Response to “How big is your union website?”

  1. Rich says : Reply

    So the UNISON website is more than 10 times bigger than the Unite site!

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