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A Self-Check Toolkit For Your Side’s Website

About This Document

This document summarises a number of online services which can be used to ensure that your side’s website works and is indexed by Google; how to address any problems and how such data can be compared with other websites.

1. Background

The Morris Federation carries out annual checks of the online services listed in the Morris Federation’s Teamfinder service. The aims of the surveys are to:

  • Identify technologies used
  • Detect areas in which services are not working, and inform sides of problems and, if possible, solutions.
  • Seek areas of best practices, from which others may benefit.
  • Identify trends

We have published the results of surveys in the IT Resources section of the Morris Federation website.

In this document we summarise the tools used to analyse websites and invite sides to use the tools on their own website.

2. The Toolkit

2.1 Is Your Website Indexed by Google?

Go to Google and, rather than a search term, enter:

Figure 1: Initial display of number of pages indexed
site:domain-name

replacing domain-name by the domain name of your side’s website (or, indeed, any website you’d like to check).

Figure 1 shows the findings for the Morris Federation website (which has the domain name morrisfed.org.uk).

From Figure 1 it appears the the Morris Federation website hosts 1,020 pages which have been indexed by Google. This appears reasonable (the website has at least one page for each member side). However further checking is needed to get a more accurate result.

Figure 2: More accurate results of The Morris Federation website

You should therefore scroll to the bottom of the results page and click on the link to the last page of results, and continue this until you reach the final page of results. The number of results will then be updated with what may be more accurate results.

Figure 2 shows the details from the final page of results (page 31) for the Morris Federation – notice it suggests that 308 pages have been indexed (in practice more pages may have been indexed but are not included in this total).

2.2 Checking Images and Videos on Your Website Indexed by Google

In Figures 1 and 2 you should see a tab labelled ‘Images’; there is also a ‘Videos’ tab hidden behind the ‘More’ tab. After you have checked the numbers of pages indexed you should click on these to check that any media resources on your website have also been indexed.

2.3 Summary of Google Indexing of Pages on Your Website

You now know how to check the number of resources from your website which have been indexed by Google – Google visibility is important as it is the mostly widely used search engine and if pages are invisible to Google there will severely limit any recruitment and marketing activities.

Note Google will probably not index all pages on your website but if only a small number of pages are indexed we suggest you follow the advice given below.

2.4 Checking Links to (and from) Your Website

You should regularly check links from your websites to ensure that you haven’t entered incorrect details of the website has ceased to exist (sadly some morris side websites have folded recently).

In addition to checking links from your website it can also be useful to checking in-coming links to your website.

Although there are many link checking tools for outward-bound links (including tools available for free) one tool which can check both type of links is ahrefs.com.

Figure 3: The ahrefs link checking service

As shown in Figure 3 you can simply enter the domain name of the website you wish to check. Note

  • The Backlink Checker gives links to your website. This can be useful in seeing how others refer to your website.
  • The Broken Link Checker will report on broken links on your website – you should try and fix these broken links.
  • The Website Authority Checker reports in the ‘authority’ of your website. A website will a high authority rating will normally have lots of links from high-ranking websites – and will appear higher in Google search results than websites with a low rank.

2.5 Checking Your Website’s robots.txt File

Figure 4: Typical robots.txt file

Append robots.txt to your domain name to see if there are are areas of your website which Google (and other robots) can’t access.

Figure 4 shows a typical robots.txt file (note websites do not need to have such a file).

In this example the Sitemap entry gives the file which contains details of all files to be indexed. However the Disallow entry lists files which should not be indexed – in this example. images held in the /images/misc/ and /images/photos/large/ folders.

Sometimes disallowing indexing can be useful but often this is not the case.

2.6 Checking Your Website’s Page Rank

The Open Page Rank service is another tool which can be used to measure the authority ranking of a website, and this tool has been used to measure the rankings of all Morris Federation sides’ website.

Tu use the service go to the Open Page Rank page and enter your side’s domain name (or the domain name of any website which is of interest) as shown below.

Figure 5: Entering a domain name to determine its Open Page Rank

However the value (currently 4.21 for the Morris Federation) has little meaning on its own. The information (which gives an indication of how highly Google will rank search engine results) is only meaningful when compared with similar websites (and even then needs to be carefully interpretted, as the findings are on a logarithmic scale). The next section is therefore important.

2.7 Checking Your Website’s HTTP code

Your website may look fine – but, due to configuration issues, it could be returning a HTTP error code which could mean that indexing software and similar tools will not work as expected.

To check your website’s HTTP code go to https://httpstatus.io/ and enter your site’s domain name, as illustrated below (note an alternative is https://www.webfx.com/tools/http-status-tool/)

Figure 6: Using the httpstatus service

Normally your site should give a HTTP 200 code, which means the site is fine. However, as shown below, sometimes an error is shown. And note that in 4 of the cases with errors below the websites look fine.

Figure 7: Results of use of the httpstatus service

3. How Does My Website Compare With Others?

You may have used the tools given in this document which should give you an insight into your website. But you may then be asking “How does my website compare with my peers?

A number of surveys of Morris Federation sides’ website may provide an answer.

AreaSurveyNotes
1No. of pages indexed by GoogleGoogle Coverage of Morris Federation Team Websites” March 2022The average (mean) number of pages indexed is 15 although the mode (most common number of pages) is 1 (40 websites appear to have a single page indexed).
2Open Page Rank findingsPage Rank for Morris Federation Team WebsitesThe average (mean) page rank is 2.2 and the mode (most common value) is 3.

4. What If I’ve Spotted A Problem?

What should you do if you spot a problem with your website? Some suggestions are given below.

ProblemPossible Solutions
1[Section 2.1] Using site:domain-name in Google shows only a very small number of pages are indexed. In March 2022 we noticed that 47 websites had 0 or 1 page indexed. This normally suggests a configuration problem or use of technologies which act as a barrier to indexing. Possible causes include (a) use of incorrectly configured HTML FRAMES; (b) incorrectly configured Wix or Weebly website; (c) use of incorrectly configured JavaScript / AJAX technologies or (d) out-of-date HTTPS security certificate.
The document “Survey: Google Coverage of Morris Federation Team Websites” provides some suggestions.
The document “Using the Google Search Console” explains how to set up a Google Search Console account and submit pages to Google for indexing.
2[Section 2.2] Using site:domain-name in Google reports that no media resources are indexed.This should not be a significant problem, but may indicate configuration issues on your website. Note, however, that this may also indicate problems which hinder the archiving of content on your website.
3[Section 2.4] Using ahrefs.com reports broken links from your websiteYou should check for broken links when you create or edit pages on your website using a link checker and periodically run such tools across your website in case pages or websites you link to cease to exist.
4[Section 2.4] Using ahrefs.com reports broken in-bound links to your websiteChecking for in-bound links can be more difficult and fixing broken in-bound links can be difficult (as you do not have any control over the remote website). However checking can be helpful in gaining an understanding of why broken links occur (perhaps you reorganised your website)

Note if your side is a member of the Morris Federation and you have any problems in the areas covered in this document you can contact Brian Kelly, the Communications & IT volunteer for the Morris Federation by sending an email to comms-it@morrisfed.org.uk with a description of the problem. We can’t guarantee to provide a solution, but we may be able to suggest a simple fix to your problem.


We welcome feedback on this document. In addition we would like to hear from morris, sword and other traditional dance sides who use IT and would be willing to share their experiences. Would you like to contribute a case study?


Status of this Document

Document published: 29 Dec 2022

Licence for this Document

This document is available with a Creative Commons Sharealike (CC-BY) licence. In brief, this means you can copy and make changes to this document provided you give acknowledgements to the author/publisher. A suggested wording for acknowledgements is:

This document is based on the "A Self-Check Toolkit For Your Side's Website" document by Brian Kelly, Comms and IT volunteer with the Morris Federation.

#MorrisFedITResources #MFITResources    #MFDDT


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