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Survey: Google Coverage of Morris Federation Team Websites

About This Document

This document provides a summary of the coverage of Morris Federation team websites in the Google search engine and discusses the implications of the findings.

This document describes the reasons for checking the numbers of pages available in a Google search, summarises reasons why pages may not be indexed and suggestions for further work.

Context

Your side has a website (over 300 sides which are members of the Morris Federation do).

It may be a small website, perhaps with just a few pages about the side, the current programme of events and contact details for new recruits and those who ay wish to book the side for an event.

Or it may be a comprehensive website with comprehensive details of the history of the side, details of the dances performed, the tunes used and the officers, and links to related resources, such as repositories of photographs and videos and related organisations.

But whether your side has a large or small website you will want it to be discoverable in Google (the most widely used search engine by a large extent).

The survey described in this document provides details on the number of pages indexed by Google for Morris Federation sides which have a website listed in the Teamfinder service.

Note that you may have decided not to have a website for your side – which is fine. This document is intended for sides which have a website and want the content to be easily found.

Methodology

The Google search expression:
site:website

can be used to find information on pages which have been indexed by Google, as illustrated below.

Figure 1: Google “site:” search of the Morris Federation website

Note that similar (but not identical) results can be found using the inurl: search option.

Some Caveats

The site: and inurl: search options are used in surveys of all Morris Federation team websites. If you wish to check the details for your website you should be aware that not all results are necessarily shown by default: if pages are similar Google will warn you of this, as shown below.

Figure 2: Warning message that not all results are shown by default

The number of results can differ: this is thought to be due to Google priority in providing a speedy set of results rather than accuracy in the number of results. This may mean that numbers of results can differ if the query is repeated or if results are examined in more detail. by going to the final results page.

You can see how rapidly Google can processes a query:

Figure 3: Google search showing 480 results were retrieved in 0.35 seconds

Note that you should go to the final page of results – and even then, the results may be incomplete so you will need to go to the final page after repeating the search with omitted results included:

Figure 4: Google results may be incomplete

Key Findings

The key findings for the survey are:

  • 319 websites were analysed (note that websites which are not working were discarded).
  • 7 websites had no pages indexed by Google (we have contacted these sides and given suggestions on how to address this problem).
  • 40 websites had only 1 page indexed by Google.
  • 151 websites had between 2 and 10 pages indexed by Google.
  • 16 websites had over 50 pages indexed by Google.
  • A total of 4,792 pages (including images and videos) have been indexed by Google according to the site: search.
  • The 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).

A histogram of these finding is shown below.

Figure 5: Histogram of number of pages indexed by Google

As can be seen in Figure 5 the majority of websites (55%) have between 1 and 10 pages according to Google with 2% being invisible to Google. At the other end of the coverage spectrum, 5% of websites host over 50 pages which can be found using Google. The survey found a total of 4,792 pages in Google.

Discussion

If you’ve spent time and money setting up a website for your side you will probably be concerned if the content of the website can’t be found using Google! And so the IT expert for the 7 sides will probably want to investigate the reasons for this. Similarly if it appears that your website only has a single page indexed by Google (as is the case for 40 websites) and you know that your website has more pages than this you will probably want to investigate the reasons for this, especially if you want potential new members or attract those interested in booking your side.

A document on “Using the Google Search Console” has been published by the Morris Federation which describes use of this essential tool for those with an interest in understanding what Google knows about your website and fixing problems.

There are some additional issues to consider, which may not be addressed in the document. Problems may be due to

  • Indexing robots being blocked from your website (robots are sometimes blocked before a website is officially launched, and sometimes the block may not be removed).
  • Misconfigured robots.txt files (such as using obsolete instructions which may have an uncertain effect in indexing software)
  • Technical issues related to setting up a secure https website and associated redirects.
  • Redirects between different domains (e.g. if you own both .com and .co.uk domains for your website and redirect traffic from one to the other).
  • Links are given to pages hosted on a different domain.
  • Confusions between website with and without a www prefix.
  • Complexities due to particular content management systems or hosting bodies. It was noticed, for example, that a number of websites hosted by Wix and Weebly were not properly indexed by Google. (Note some Wix websites in particular seem to use a HTML FRAME which can act as a barrier to indexing software).

A useful resource for your side’s web expert is “Common Robots.txt Mistakes People Make And How To Avoid Them“.


We welcome feedback on this document. In addition we would like to hear from morris, sword and other traditional dance sides. Would you like to contribute a case study?


Status of this Document

Document published: 4 Mar 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 "Survey: Google Coverage of Morris Federation Team Websites" document by Brian Kelly, Comms and IT volunteer with the Morris Federation.

#MorrisFedITResources #MFITResources

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