Pages that are difficult to be identified by search engines are called orphan pages. These pages are hard to find because they don’t have any internal links to other pages on a website. Search engine crawlers can identify and find the URLs of websites using the sitemap file or external backlink data. The problem here is that finding orphan pages is difficult because the search engine crawlers won’t be able to find the page in any of the sitemap files or backlink data.
In this article
- Common Characteristics Of orphan Pages
- How Does An Orphan Page Happen?
- Are Orphan Pages Bad For SEO?
- How To Find Orphan Pages
- How To Fix Orphan Pages
- Tips To Prevent Orphan Pages
- Final Thoughts
- Related Reads
Common Characteristics Of Orphan Pages
- An orphan page has no inbound links
- Orphan pages cannot be indexed
- Orphan pages can eat up a lot of crawl budget
- Orphan pages can hurt user experience
How Does An Orphan Page Happen?
Most of the time, orphaned pages occur accidentally and sometimes due to other reasons. Some of the most common causes for orphan pages are not focusing on creating a process for site migrations, changes to the site navigation, site redesigns, and testing and developer pages.
In some rare instances, orphan pages are left out intentionally so they don’t come up when a user goes through the website. It can be part of a paid advertisement or promotional and landing pages.
Are Orphan Pages Bad For SEO?
Search engines rely on links to discover new pages and content and also to understand what a website is all about. Orphan pages hurt SEO spiders because the URLs of these pages usually slip away during the indexing process.
The reason why an orphan page is bad for SEO is simple: spider bots crawl pages on a site based on the links. They follow the links and browse the pages of a website to see if they are good enough to get indexed in the search results.
For example, a page might slip through as an orphan if the new page is published on your site but is not linked anywhere else on the website. If the page is not available on the sitemap or doesn’t contain any backlinks, Google won’t be able to find the page and index it.
The page will also not receive PageRank. This is a problem because PageRank is how Google understands the significance of a page.
How To Find Orphan Pages
1. Identify Crawlable Pages
The first step to finding an orphan page is finding the URLs that can be identified and crawled by Google. Preferably, use your own crawler to see which pages are crawlable. Leave out the pages that are non-indexed and the pages hidden from the search engines using the robots.txt file.
2. Fix Duplicate Pages
Check to see if there are duplicate pages present on your website. Ensure that canonical tags and trailing slashes are consistent and redirect to the same website URL.
3. Make a list of your URLs from Google Analytics
Using Google Analytics or Google Search Console to find orphan pages is generally preferred and most used by almost everyone. It is likely that the orphan pages are the ones that are least visited. Use filters so that the least visited pages come up first.
4. Compare and contrast
Use the list of crawlable pages on your site and compare it with the list of URLs you found in Google analytics.
5. Make the most of tools
You can even use SEO tools like Ahrefs to find pages that are orphaned.
How To Fix Orphan Pages
The most common mistake many marketers make is that they simply add internal links to an orphaned page. Doing only this is a quick fix and probably not good for the long term. Some orphan pages are kept intentionally, while others, like test pages, can be removed, correcting resource waste on something that is irrelevant to your cause.
The solution to this problem is simply following a plan based on the website’s priority. These are four steps you can implement to fix orphan pages on your site:
1. Adding Internal Links
If an orphan page is valuable to visitors, then add them to the site structure so that it becomes easier for the search engines and users to find the page easily. For instance, if an article was forgotten during migration, link that page to other relevant pages on the same website to increase its visibility.
If an orphan page was not internally linked on purpose, such as a landing page, the orphan page should be noindexed to prevent it from appearing in the organic search results.
If an orphan page has content that is similar to another page, merging them is a good option. This can be done by consolidating the content of the orphan page and redirecting its URL to the other page.
4. Delete Them
If orphan pages are irrelevant and do not have any value to the customers, it’s time to delete them.
Tips To Prevent Orphan Pages
Auditing orphan pages takes a lot of time. The best option is to prevent them before it happens to avoid nonessential orphan pages from coming up.
1. Be meticulous with site migration. Before starting site migration, plan beforehand to avoid confusion and broken links. This usually happens when redirecting old pages to new ones.
2. Setup site structure: use a site structure to avoid adding any internal links. If you are linking pages internally by yourself, there is a chance you might create an orphan page by accident.
Many content management system software (CMS) can handle site structure. For example, if you publish articles using WordPress, the site adds internal links from the homepage for you. If you are using another software, check to see if the code is already in place.
3. Remove discontinued products. Failing to remove discontinued products from the website can lead to orphan pages. If you have an e-commerce website that sells products, you must keep an eye on any discontinued products and the internal links pointing to them.
Keep the page if it has good backlinks or if there is another improved version of it. Update the page content and give an explanation as to why it is not available anymore and link the newer version of the product along with the new features it has. This way, the user won’t land on an unrelated page.
4. Site audits: make regular site audits every month to check if any orphan pages have popped up or might have slipped during the checkups.
Unless they are intentional, orphan pages can negatively affect SEO. If you want search engine crawlers to browse your site links and check if they are good enough to be indexed, then keeping an eye on orphan pages is important. Use SEO tools like SurferSEO, Google search console, and Google analytics for the best results.
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