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A Complete Guide to Fixing Orphan Pages in Websites

Last updated: Jan 05, 2023

A Complete Guide to Fixing Orphan Pages in Websites
Cover image: An illustration of an ophan page as a separate page from other pages on a website. Learn about the full discussion in this guide.

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If you have a website that is targeted for organic traffic and rankings, then make sure it doesn't belong to an orphan page. Orphan pages are very unprofitable for your website's SEO because Google will have a hard time crawling them.

Therefore, finding and fixing it is very necessary. In this guide, you will learn from scratch its definition, characteristics, how to find it with the orphan page checker tool, and tips on how to fix it. 

What is an Orphan Page?

Orphaned pages, or orphaned content, are pages that are not linked to all other pages on a website. The page appears due to the absence of an internal link. Pages that fall into this category will have a negative influence on SEO.

The reason is that search engines or users will find it difficult to find the page. The page can only be accessed by typing the URL address directly or via a link from another website.

Usually, orphaned content appears due to a poor website redesign process, issues with website migration, website architecture changes, old pages that no longer have internal links, product pages that are no longer sold but are still published, and so on.

Orphan Page Characteristics

orphan page characteristics
Figure 1: Illustration of a website page that does not get internal links from other pages. Pages like this can be called orphan pages or orphaned content.

To identify what kind of pages are included in the orphan page category, you can pay attention to the following characteristics:

Pages Don't Have Internal Links

The main characteristic of orphaned content is that it is not linked to other pages via internal links. The absence of other pages that provide a link to that page makes it difficult for web crawlers to find.

Page is Active

A page without internal links will not cause problems as long as the page is not active. Users or web crawlers will not be able to access it even if they know the URL address of the page.

On the other hand, orphaned content is a page that is still active so that users or web crawlers can still visit it.

Pages Already Indexed

Orphaned content can still be indexed by search engines because of external links or through a sitemap. Even so, indexed orphaned content will be difficult to rank highly because it has no authority or relevance to other pages on the website. 

Why Are Orphan Pages Bad for SEO?

From the previous explanation, you already know that orphan pages, or orphaned content, are difficult for users and search engines to find. In addition, there are still some other negative effects of this type of page on SEO.

Pages are Difficult to Index

The absence of internal links to orphan pages makes it difficult to appear in the SERPs. Of course, you don't want this to happen on pages that benefit your audience and contribute to increasing traffic. The effort and resources you put into creating the page will also be wasted.

Wasting Crawl Budget

Crawl budget is the number of pages crawled by search engines in a certain period. Websites that have many orphan pages will spend a lot of their crawl budget because it is difficult to reach those pages. As a result, other, more important pages may not have time to be crawled because the crawl budget has run out.

Worsen User Experience

If the orphan page contains content that is sought after by the audience, of course they will be frustrated because the content is difficult to find. Even if the audience manages to access the content, they will not visit other pages because there are no internal links connecting them.

Thus, the engagement rate of the page will decrease and disappointed users will immediately leave the website. 

Not Getting Page Authority

Even though a website has a high domain authority, orphaned content on the website will still have a low page authority. The reason is that website authority is spread through links that connect one page to another.

Since there are no links pointing to orphaned content, the page does not get rank or page authority

Poor Page Performance

Even if orphaned content is indexed and shows up in the SERPs, it doesn't perform well. This is because the content has low authority and is not related to other pages on the website. Thus, search engines will consider it a page of poor quality.

How to Look for Orphan Pages

how to look for orphan pages
Figure 2: Illustration of the process of consulting with a team of SEO professionals to find orphan pages. You can rely on SEO services to help solve problems on your website.

 To find any pages that don't have internal links, you can use various orphan page checker tools available for free or paid on the internet. Some examples of orphan page checker tools that you can use are the Netpeak Spider Crawler and Rank Math Pro.

Also use well-known website audit tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz to find pages that are not getting internal links. You can filter it automatically with all these tools.

However, there may be some pages that cannot be detected by the tools you use because of the large number of pages on the website. In this case, you can also use the manual method. Here's the guide:

  1. Export a list of crawlable URLs from the orphan page checker tool you used previously (Ahrefs, SEMrush, and others).
  2. Open Google Search Console, then select 'Pages' and click 'View data about indexed pages'. Export the data into a CSV file.
  3. Open Google Analytics, then select 'Behavior' > 'Site Content' > 'All Pages'. Export the data into a CSV file.
  4. Match the data from the orphan page checker tool in the first step with the data from the GSC and GA.
  5. If you find some pages or URLs that are in the GSC and GA data but not in the orphan page checker tool data, then you can use the list of pages to find hidden pages.

Finding orphaned content on a large number of websites is not easy. It is recommended that you use professional SEO services to help the audit run more smoothly.

How to Fix Orphan Pages

After you find and list orphan pages on your website, you must fix them so they don't have a bad impact on your website's SEO. There are four ways to fix it. Each of these methods can be applied as needed.

Adding Internal Links

To make your orphaned content easier to crawl and give positive signals to search engines, you need to add more inbound links to that page.

You can put internal links on the main page, high traffic page, navigation menu, footer, or sidebar. This will speed up the orphaned content recovery process.

Merge to Other Pages

If the orphaned content is similar to other, better-performing pages, you can combine the two. Because if the content is indexed by search engines, duplicate issues may arise. Therefore, combining the two contents could be a solution that you should try.

Don't forget to use the 301 redirection status code from orphaned content to the merged result page. Thus, users or web crawlers visiting orphaned content will be redirected to that page.

Remove Orphaned Content

You can choose this method if the orphaned content is of little value to the audience and you don't need it. If you find a page like this, you should probably delete it. Also make sure that you have been redirected to another relevant page.

Adding Noindex Tags

It's possible that there are some pages that are intentionally not given internal links, and you don't want those pages to be indexed by search engines. If so, you need to add a noindex tag to the page.

You can do this by using a plugin if your website is based on a WordPress CMS, or you can manually add code in the page header.

Thus, a complete explanation of what orphan pages are, their characteristics, their impact on SEO, how to find them, and how to fix them. Hopefully, this guide can help you solve technical problems on the website.

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