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Orphan Pages: What They Are and How to Find and Fix Them

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You spend a lot of time creating content for your website. Ultimately, you hope for that content to rank and help boost your site’s visibility. 

But what happens when you create a fantastic piece of content and you forget to link back to it from other content? Pages like these on your site are called “Orphan Pages.” 

Never heard of orphan pages? You’re not alone. 

There are so many weird terms floating around in the SEO world:

  • Pillow links

  • Breadcrumbs

  • Cloaking

  • Crawl budgets and 

  • Orphan pages, just to name a few.

In this article, we’ll focus on shedding light on orphan pages to help you understand what you can do to fix them and boost your SEO strategy

What are orphan pages on a website?

Orphan pages are pages on your blog or website that don’t have any incoming links. This means they’re not reachable from any other page on your website. 

As a result, they’re often hard to find, both for users and search engines. Unlinked orphan pages can result for several reasons. 

For example, when you first launched your website, you may have created a blog post. Since you didn’t have a lot of content at the time, you never linked to that blog post. 

Then, as time passed, that page became forgotten, turning into an orphan page. Orphan pages can also result naturally from a website build

As you build the site, adding different architectural elements can create pages and content that never gets linked.  Essentially, any page that has no internal links pointing to it from other posts or pages becomes challenging for both site visitors and search engines to locate. This, obviously, isn’t ideal. 

How do orphan pages impact your website’s SEO?

Orphan pages can hurt your website’s SEO in different ways, including:

  1. They make it harder for search engine crawlers to find and index your content
  2. They can result in a poor user experience since users may have difficulty finding the content they’re looking for. 
  3. Orphan pages can also hurt your website’s link equity since they cannot pass any link juice to other pages on your site.
  4. These pages cut into your crawl budget and slow down Google’s crawl rate. 
  5. Orphan pages have very little authority; so they perform very poorly in search results 

Search engines use links to determine which pages are most important on your site and to understand better what your site is about.

If a page doesn’t have any links pointing to it, search engine bots will likely consider it to be less important.  Pages without internal links (and inbound links) tend to rank poorly.

On the opposite side, pages with many links tend to rank higher in search results.When you make an effort to add orphan pages to the structure of your website, you seriously boost your SEO by helping these pages show up in search results. 

How do you uncover orphan pages on your blog/website?There are a few different ways to find orphan pages on your website. First, you can use a tool like Screaming Frog to crawl your website and look for pages that don’t have any incoming links. Link Whisper is another great tool.

Tools like Screaming Frog and Link Whisper use the power of artificial intelligence to uncover opportunities to link to relevant orphan posts and other pages as you create content. 

Rather than having to dig around and find orphan pages manually, they are served up to you, thus allowing you to correct orphan pages quickly. 

Image: Link Whisper dashboard in WordPress – Source

Another thing you can do to address orphan pages is to check your website’s logs to see which pages are being accessed most often.  Pages that aren’t accessed regularly (or not at all) may be orphaned.

You can investigate these pages and uncover linking opportunities.  Also, use a tool like Google Analytics to see which pages get the most traffic. Target the pages that are lagging behind to see if they are orphaned, then fix them by adding relevant post links back to the orphaned pages. 

What are some ways to fix orphan pages?

Once you’ve found some orphan pages on your website, there are a few different ways to fix them. The most effective way to fix orphaned pages is to add links to these pages from other parts of your blog. 

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How to fix orphan pages on your blog

Insert links  Find relevant pages or posts and add anchor text to drop in a hyperlink to the orphaned pages. As you begin to link back to the pages, however, be careful not to overdo it.

If you link too often or from non-relevant content, that can have the opposite effect. 

Redirect or delete altogether 

Another tactic you can employ to fix such pages is redirecting them to other, more popular pages on your site. Similarly, you can simply delete these pages if they’re not important to your overall website. 

Make sure to redirect the URL, though, if you redirect them. Failing to do so can result in 404 errors, which can cause problems on their own.  Search engines may remove orphaned pages from indexing, so be proactive and either fix the pages or make adjustments to show visitors and search engines what’s really important on your website. 

Promote your orphaned pages

You can also try promoting orphan pages on social media or through email marketing. Orphan pages cannot be indexed; this ensures they have very little page authority, thus adding little value to your website. 

These pages will not generate organic traffic to your website. So, make sure you take steps to fix them, and you’ll see your website’s stats rise. 

Get a little help

SEO can be confusing and challenging. When you are faced with tackling something like orphaned pages, consider hiring an SEO agency to help. 

Unless you have SEOs in-house, fixing orphan links isn’t something your inexperienced staff should try to figure out on their own. By hiring experts, you can expedite the process, ensure you’re doing it the right way, and benefit a lot more. 

Final thoughts on orphan pages

Orphan pages can have a negative impact on your SEO, but they’re easy to fix. Just use a tool like Screaming Frog to find them, and then add links to them from other pages on your site. 

You can also delete them or redirect them to another page if they’re no longer relevant.

However you address them, the important thing is that you take steps to uncover orphan pages and do something about them.

Failing to do so can have a negative impact on your website’s performance in search results.

4 Responses

  1. Good advice here Anthony.

    I have been promoting old posts for a bit now; timely reminder, both for linking to any orphan pages on my blog and sharing these on social media to give posts traction. Way too many bloggers write off their old posts and versus using what they have, this crowd rushes to publish more content.

    See your blog posts as a living, breathing presence which works best when all of the pages are linked as one. At least this is what I’m thinking these days.

    This goes for offsite linking as well, which is one reason why I am commenting a bit more freely as far as frequency and depth, these days.

    1. That’s a great analogy. Your website and the posts on it are part of a living, breathing ecosystem. The site is the body, the content on it is the lifeblood flowing through and giving it life. Thanks, Ryan!

  2. Hello, Anthony,

    Orphan pages and posts can definitely have negative SEO. But It also gives a bad user experience. Interlinking your posts and pages can definitely help to overcome these issues and also let search engine crawlers find and crawl your pages easily. Thanks for sharing this helpful post.

    Vishwajeet Kumar

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