Have you heard the term “orphan page” before in relation to SEO?
Orphan pages are pages on your website that lack connections to other pages through internal links.
They can negatively impact your search engine optimization efforts if left unaddressed.
Read on, so you’ll learn what orphan pages are, how to identify them, and more importantly how to fix them to enhance your website’s SEO.
Key Takeaways for Finding and Fixing Orphan Pages
- Orphan pages are pages on your site lacking internal link connections, which presents SEO issues.
- Use tools like Search Console, Ahrefs, SEMrush or search engine crawlers to systematically find orphan pages.
- Solve Orphaned Content by redirecting, adding links, removing, or consolidating pages.
- Prevent future orphan pages through internal link planning, access limits, and search engine rules.
By identifying and fixing orphan pages, you can improve site crawlability, indexation, and user experience – all of which benefits organic search. Eliminate your site’s orphan pages for better search performance.
What is an Orphan Page?
An orphan page is a page on a website that has no internal links pointing towards it from other pages on your site. It essentially exists in isolation, disconnected from the rest of your website pages through hyperlinks.
Some key characteristics of orphan pages:
- They have no backlinks from other URLs on your site
- They often have low search visibility and traffic
- Search engines may struggle to crawl them
- Users can’t navigate to them easily
Orphan pages are problematic because search engines rely heavily on links to crawl, index, and rank web pages. Isolated pages without links are at risk of not getting properly indexed and ranked in search engines.
Why are Orphan Pages Bad for SEO?
Orphan pages can negatively impact your website’s SEO in a few key ways:
- Crawling issues: Search crawlers may struggle to find orphan pages if they are not linked internally. This can result in pages not getting indexed.
- Thin content: Orphan pages often have minimal content since they lack context from linking pages. This raises thin content penalties.
- Poor user experience: If users can’t navigate to pages easily, it creates a fragmented user journey.
- Wasted resources: Maintaining orphan pages with low ROI uses up time and resources that could be better allocated.
Essentially, keeping orphan pages on your site provides very little SEO value. It’s best practice to identify them and either fix or remove them.
Methods to Find Orphan Pages on Your Website
Here are some effective ways to discover orphan URLs on your site:
Check Google Search Console
Google Search Console shows indexed pages as well as crawl errors reports.
This can be a signal for an orphaned URL. So, look for URLs throwing errors or with very low impressions/clicks. To find isolated pages using Google Search Console, follow these steps:
- Log in to your Google Search Console account.
- Click on your website’s property.
- Click on “Coverage” in the left-hand menu.
- Scroll down to the “Error” section and click on “Excluded.”
- Look for pages that are listed as “Excluded by ‘noindex’ tag” or “Excluded by ‘noindex’ tag with ‘noindex’ in robots meta tag.”
These pages may be unlinked pages that are excluded from search engine results.
Use Site Link Analysis Tools like SEO Spider
Tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush and Moz provide site link analysis to surface pages with no links. To use an SEO spider to find orphan pages, follow these steps:
- Install an SEO spider tool on your computer.
- Enter your website’s URL into the tool.
- Run a crawl of your website.
- Look for pages that are listed as “orphans” or “non-indexable pages.”
These pages may be orphan pages that are not linked to from any other page on your site.
Do a Manual Review
For small sites, going page-by-page and looking for broken navigation or dead ends can work. Check page footers and sidebars for missing links.
Check Old Content
Scan old blogs, press releases, categories, etc. that may have gotten removed over time but still have orphan pages remaining.
By leveraging a combination of automated tools and manual checking, you can comprehensively surface orphaned pages for further clean up.
How to find Orphan pages fast
Well, If you want to identify unlinked URLs fast, our favorite way to do it is using Screaming Frog. SCF is a website crawling tool that can be used to identify unlinked pages on your website. It works by conducting an overall crawl of the site. One useful feature of Screaming Frog is the ability to export combined orphan URLs into a separate list, so you can quickly see all of your problem areas at once. Additionally, it provides important insights like internal and external link counts, which help optimize your linking strategy. And is very simple to use. So, fallow these simple instructions below and you will be all set:
Step one: Open and Insert your domain URL into Screaming Frog
Please do not press the ‘Start’ button before configuring the crawl settings session.
Step two: Open configuration tab and go to crawl settings
Under the configuration tab, select spider to open the console settings.
Step three: Select ‘Crawl Linked XML Sitemaps’ under ‘Configuration > Spider > Crawl’
Once the spider configuration is open, localize the sitemaps XML section.
Step four: Introduce your sitemap and select ‘crawl these sitemaps’:
Select the checkboxs just like the image above and introduce your sitemap and click in accept button to close the crawling setting console.
Step five: Click start button to begin with the crawling process and wait for SCF to end
Wait for the spider to finish crawling your domain.
Step six: Click ‘Crawl Analysis > Start’ To Populate Orphan URLs Filters
If it's the first time you lunch ‘Crawl Analysis’ check configuration and make sure sitemap checkbox is checked. Click on accept and start the crawling by pushing the button and wait for the Screaming Frog bot to finish the crawl before continuing. This may take while depending on the size of the website...
Step seven: Go to overview tab on your right and look for Sitemap section
Under the overview tab, you will find the sitemap section already populated with about orphan pages in the sitemap. Click on them, and you will automatically get all the orphan content filtered and ready to be exported, so you can give it a closer look.
Final Tip! Identify Orphan Pages In The Internal Tab Via Blank Crawl Depth
Screaming Frog ‘Internal’ tab includes every URL found in a crawl, and offers a quick way to identify potential orphan URLs. Just go to ‘crawl depth’ column and filter to identify which cells are blank.
Export the whole report into a CSV or Google Sheets file and filter the results, selecting all the blank cells in the ‘crawl depth’ column and all the index URLs from ‘indexabilitiy’ column
Thus, you will get all the indexable URLs that have not been discovered naturally via internal links during a crawl.
Keep in mind, this is just the fast track to identify the most prominent and urgent unlinked content.
But if you want to be sure that you get all the unlinked pages of your domain, please feel free to check this in depth tutorial.
Google Search Console
GSC is a powerful tool that can help identify orphan pages on your site. It allows you to see which pages are being indexed by Google and provides valuable insights into the performance of your site in organic search results.
In addition to localize orphan pages, GSC also provides information about external links pointing to your website. This data can be useful in understanding how other sites are linking to yours and identifying opportunities for link building.
Ahrefs is a popular tool used for a good deal of SEO proposes. Identifying isolated pages. It’s an intuitive and user-friendly platform that offers many functions, including backlink analysis, competitor research, and keyword tracking.
Ahrefs can help you locate orphan pages by running a site audit and generating a report of all the URLs with no internal links pointing to them.
This report will allow you to identify these neglected pages so that you can take the necessary steps to address any issues.
SEMrush is a powerful tool that can help you identify orphan URLs on your website.
In addition to this, SEMrush also provides valuable insights into keyword rankings and competitor analysis. This information allows you to optimize your content for search engines, boosting its visibility and driving more traffic to your site.
Moz is a great tool that can help you find and fix orphan pages on a website. With its Site Crawl feature, Moz crawls your site to identify technical issues and provides recommendations for fixing them.
Common Causes of Orphan Pages
It helps to understand why orphan pages get created in the first place, in order to prevent future issues. Some common sources include:
- Removal of linked parent content like category and blog pages
- Merging, migration or restructuring of sites
- Switching CMS platforms and broken redirects
- Pages blocked by robots.txt but still indexed
- Test or development pages that get indexed
- Auto-generated content like pagination pages
- Old campaign landing pages and one-off promotions
Awareness of these common sources of orphan pages can help you anticipate and monitor accordingly.
How to Correct Orphan Pages to Improve SEO (Hint: add internal links)
Once you’ve identified unrefered pages, here are some recommended ways to fix them:
Add Internal Links
Going back and linking out to orphan pages from related content is one of the best options to reintegrate them.
301 Redirect Them
If the content is not very useful, but the page has external links, some traffic or both, a 301 redirection to a relevant live page that passes link equity and keeps content viability is advised.
Delete Low-Value Pages
Get rid of temporary, test or low-quality orphan pages that have minimal equity or relevance.
Consolidate Similar Content
If you have multiple similar orphan pages, consolidate the content into one stronger page and add internal links from other pages.
Make Them Navigable
Add orphan pages to site menus, HTML site maps, tags and other on-site navigation elements.
Update Your Sitemap
Remove fixed or removed orphan pages from your XML sitemap to match your updated site structure.
By taking the time to fix or remove orphan pages properly, you can enhance your site’s information architecture and improve your rankings.
Best Practices For Ongoing Orphan Page Prevention
Here are some best practices to avoid having orphan pages moving forward:
- Have a policy for properly removing or redirecting old content pages
- Develop a consistent internal linking structure plan for new content
- Make sure pages removed from your sitemap are also removed from the indexing
- Avoid massive site architecture changes that break all previous links
- Use descriptive orphan page naming conventions for temporary pages
- Limit access to test and development environments to avoid indexing
- Set up crawling and indexing rules in robots.txt file
Orphan Pages vs Dead end pages
Orphan pages and dead end pages are two different types of web pages that often cause navigation issues on websites.
They both live in isolation no internal links pointing to them, moreover dead end pages are pages that do not provide any further links or navigation options for users to explore other parts of the website.
They typically have neither have inbound internal links pointing at them nor outbound links, which can make it challenging for users to continue browsing the site.
A great example of dead pages are landing pages, design specifically to prevent users to escape from them, avoiding any leak points.
Both orphan pages and dead end pages can result in frustrated users who may leave the website altogether. It is important for website designers and developers to ensure proper interlinking and navigation options to avoid these issues and provide a seamless browsing experience for visitors.
Conclusion And Common Mistakes To Avoid
Orphan pages can harm your website’s SEO by making it difficult for search engine crawlers and users to find important pages on your site.
For e-commerce sites, orphan pages can be particularly detrimental to performance.
In addition to negatively impacting your search results and user experience, orphan pages can also impact sales and revenue generation.
For example, if a product page is an orphan page, it may not appear in search engine results or internal site searches, making it difficult for customers to find and purchase the product.
By identifying and fixing orphan pages, you can improve your website’s structure and navigation, ensuring that every page on your site is accessible through internal links.
This will help search engine crawlers understand the structure of your content and ensure that users can easily find the information they’re looking for. Remember, fixing orphan pages is an ongoing process, so make sure to regularly check for new orphan pages and fix them as soon as possible.
Orphan pages are pages on a website that are not linked to from any other pages on the same website. These pages may still exist on the website, but are not easily accessible from the main navigation or other pages.
Orphan pages have a negative impact on search results because search engines can’t find them easily. If search engines can’t find a page, then users can’t find it either. This means that the page won’t get any traffic or page rank, which can have a negative impact on the website’s overall SEO.
There are a few ways to find orphan URLs on your website. You can crawl your website using an SEO spider tool, like Screaming Frog or DeepCrawl, and export a list of all the website’s pages. Then, you can compare that list to the list of pages that are linked to on your website. Pages that exist but are not linked to from other pages will be your orphan pages.
Yes, Google Search Console can help you find unlinked pieces of content on your website. You can use the internal link report to see a list of pages that are not linked to from any other content on your website.
Orphan pages may exist on a website for a few reasons. They could be old pages that were once linked to but no longer are. They could also be low-value pages that weren’t considered important enough to be included in the site’s main navigation or linked to from other pages.
Finding orphan pages can help your website rankings by allowing you to identify pages that aren’t getting any traffic or page rank. Once you’ve identified these pages, you can either optimize them to improve their positions or remove them from your website altogether.
Landing pages and pages that aren’t meant to be linked to from other pages on the website, like thank you pages or confirmation pages, won’t be considered orphan pages.
To link to a page from another URL on your website, you can use anchor text to create a hyperlink to that page. You can also add the page to your website’s menu or include a link to the page in your website’s footer.
To avoid creating orphan pages, make sure that every new page you create is linked to from another resource on your website. You should also periodically review your website’s pages to ensure that they are all linked to from somewhere on your website.
Exporting combined orphan URLs can help you identify lone pages by combining the list of all website pages with the list of linked pages. By doing this, you’ll be able to see all the pages from a site that don’t have any internal links pointing to them, making it easier to identify orphan pages.
Links and resources
NEED HELP LEVERAGING YOUR SEO GAME? WANT TO GAIN MORE ORGANIC TRAFFIC AND CONVERSIONS BY FIXING ERRORS IN YOUR SITE ?