Why Is It Important to Identify Orphan Pages and How Does it Relate to Link Building?

What is an Orphan Page?

An orphan page is a page on a website that has no internal links pointing to it. As a result, it is much harder for search engines and users to find the page, leading to the hard work spent creating content going to waste. Orphan pages can occur due to website updates or deleted content, or simply forgetting to link the page after it has been published. Without links from other pages on the website, the page is effectively isolated and can only be accessed by users who know the direct URL. Therefore, it is important to identify and fix orphan pages in order to maximize SEO success and provide a better user experience.

What are the Benefits of Identifying and Linking to Orphan Pages?

1. Improved site architecture

Identifying and linking to orphan pages can improve site architecture by allowing businesses to have a clear site structure and a solid internal linking strategy. Good site structure divides content into different sections and categories, with links that direct user traffic deeper into each section. This helps search engines to understand the relationship between the pages, and users to easily navigate the website. Furthermore, businesses can avoid orphan pages by redirecting old pages to new versions with a 301 redirect and opting for a site structure that handles the internal linking for them. Additionally, when businesses plan to migrate or revamp the website, they must ensure that the redesigned version maintains the proper structure and linking system to prevent pages from becoming orphaned.

2. Increased search engine visibility

Identifying and linking to orphan pages can increase search engine visibility by allowing search engines to easily crawl the page and index it. This makes it easier for users to find the page when they are looking for content related to it, as the page will be more prominently displayed in search results. Linking to orphan pages also increases the chance of the page being stumbled upon by visitors who don’t know the exact link address, as they can find the page through the sitemap. As a result, this can lead to increased organic traffic on the page.

3. Improved user experience

How does identifying and linking to orphan pages improve the user experience? Poor user experience can lead to a decrease in traffic, leads, and sales – this is why orphan pages can be so damaging. Orphan pages can affect the user experience with out-of-date content that may not provide any value, or with content that is difficult to find due to a lack of links or poor navigation. Identifying and linking to orphan pages is a good way to improve the user experience, as this allows users to easily find the content they are looking for. Additionally, having a plan before any website migrations and using 301 redirects can help to prevent any broken links or confusion on the website. Finally, using technical cookies to provide an advanced and user-friendly website can also aid in improving the user experience.

4. Improved site speed

Improving site speed can have a huge benefit in terms of identifying and linking to orphan pages. When a website has a fast loading speed, it makes it easier for a crawler to detect URLs in the website’s XML sitemap and discover content faster. Additionally, well-structured navigation that is regularly updated helps ensure that all relevant web pages are linked together and users can easily find the content they’re looking for. By improving site speed, businesses can prevent orphan pages, improve their search engine visibility, and ensure their customers aren’t missing out on any worthwhile content.

5. Increased site conversion

Identifying and linking to orphan pages can increase site conversion by allowing users to navigate your website more effectively, keeping them engaged and directing them to the next step in the buyer’s journey. Internal linking is key to any website because it provides users with related pages, allows them to explore further, and encourages them to purchase. With the correct website architecture, proactive planning for site migrations, and regular site audits, businesses can ensure that their users are able to find the information they need and convert more easily.

6. Increased site authority

Identifying and linking to orphan pages can increase site authority by improving SEO effectiveness and allowing link authority and traffic to be passed from other pages to the orphan page. This helps pages to have higher page authority scores, which helps them to rank better in search engines. Additionally, linking to orphan pages helps search engines differentiate two topically similar pages by providing optimized anchor text. Furthermore, having a good website architecture helps search engines to understand the relationship between pages and allows users to easily navigate the website. All of these factors contribute to a better user experience and improved crawl results, which increases site authority.

7. Increased website traffic

Identifying and linking to orphan pages can greatly increase a website’s traffic because it improves user experience and helps keep users engaged. When users are able to easily navigate through a website, they are more likely to find the content they are looking for and stay on the website longer, which in turn increases website traffic. Additionally, linking orphan pages to other pages on the website creates a hierarchy of linked pages that can help direct users along the buyer’s journey, further increasing website traffic.

8. Improved brand visibility

Identifying and linking to orphan pages can improve brand visibility by providing customers with easier access to content. By optimizing the navigation, website visitors will be able to quickly and easily find the content that is most relevant to them, which can help increase website engagement and build trust in the brand. Additionally, linking to orphan pages can help improve SEO performance by making sure the website is optimized and all webpages are connected, which can help to boost organic rankings.

What are the benefits of identifying and linking to orphan pages?

Step 1: Find crawlable URLs.

If you want to find crawlable URLs for linking to orphan pages, there are a few steps that you need to take. First, you’ll need to crawl your site using a tool like ScreamingFrog to find out which URLs are indexable by search engines. Make sure to start the crawl from the homepage and only include canonical URLs that are not hidden from search engines by robots.txt or noindexed.

Once you have a list of crawlable URLs, you can compare it to a list of URLs that people are hitting on your site. This can be done by downloading your site’s log files, retrieving the URLs from Google Analytics or Search Console, or using a tool like Ahrefs.

Once you have these two sets of URLs, you can find your orphan pages by comparing the two lists and cross-referencing the URLs. Copy and paste the crawlable URLs and the URLs with hits into two separate tabs in a Google Sheet. In the third tab, enter the following function: =UNIQUE(FILTER(hits!A:A, ISNA(MATCH (hits!A:A, crawl!A:A, 0)))) This will automatically pull all of your orphan pages for easy analysis.

By following these steps, you can find crawlable URLs for linking to orphan pages.

Step 2: Identify your crawlable pages.

Identifying crawlable pages on your website is essential for finding and linking to orphan pages. To do this, you can leverage a tool like Screaming Frog, Semrush, or Ahrefs to crawl your website and list all the pages that are crawlable and indexable.

Before you start the crawl, make sure that only the pages that don’t have the noindex tag or are excluded from robots.txt are included. Once the crawl is done, you’ll get a list of all the crawlable pages on your website that you can export to a spreadsheet.

The next step is to compare the list of crawlable pages with the list of URLs you found in Google analytics. Create different columns in your spreadsheet for “Crawlable URLs” and “Analytics URLs” and compare the list using a formula that checks if the URLs in the Analytics list also exist in the Crawlable list. Generally, URLs from your Analytics list that do not exist in your Crawlable list are orphan pages. Create a different sheet or column to categorize these pages for further action.

You can also use other tools like Google Search Console, Raven Tools, SEMrush, Moz Link Explorer, and Ahrefs to gather the list of crawled pages on your site. Once you have the crawlable URLs from Ahrefs’ Site Audit, you need to create three tabs in a blank Google Sheet. Label them crawl, hits, and cross reference. Copy and paste the crawlable URLs from Ahrefs’ Site Audit into the “crawl” tab and the URLs with hits into the “hits” tab. Finally, cross-reference the two lists to find all the orphan pages on your website.

Step 3: Get a list of URLs from Google Analytics.

If you want to get a list of URLs from Google Analytics that you can link to orphan pages, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your Data Studio account and start a new blank report.
  2. Connect Google Analytics as your data source and select your GA4 property.
  3. Add a basic table to your report and set the data source to the GA4 property.
  4. Set the dimension to Page path and the metric to Views.
  5. Sort by Views in descending order and set the default date range to before GA4 was installed on the site.
  6. Export the results from your table and save with a helpful name.
  7. Add the domain to the beginning of all cells in the spreadsheet.
  8. Go to Google Search Console and select Performance > Pages.
  9. Make sure that impressions are included in the presented data and change the date range to go as far back in time as possible.
  10. Export the results from your table and save with a helpful name.
  11. Combine all the URLs people are hitting from your different sources into one spreadsheet and clean up the data by removing duplicates.
  12. Use the list of crawlable pages on your site and compare it with the list of URLs you found in Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
  13. Finally, you have a list of all the URLs with hits on your site which you can link to orphan pages.

Step 4: Identify your orphan URLs.

Step 1: Create a list of all your website’s current URLs. You can use a website crawler or other tools like Google Search Console, Raven Tools, SEMrush, Moz Link Explorer, and Ahrefs.

Step 2: Run a website crawl to find pages with zero internal links. Use a formula to identify the pages in your site that are not indexed by search engines, hidden from search engines using the robots.txt file, or have no inbound internal links.

Step 3: Analyze the audit results to identify which pages are orphan pages.

Step 4: Resolve any orphan page found by determining if these pages still serve a purpose.

Step 5: Re-run the audit periodically to catch any new unlinked pages.

By following these steps, you will be able to identify and address any orphan page on your website.

Step 5: Take up the crawl budget for the domain.

Having a large number of orphan pages can be a huge drain on your website’s crawl budget, as they will consume resources that should be used to index more important pages. To ensure that your website is properly indexed, it’s essential to understand your crawl budget and the amount of it that should be allocated to orphan pages. Here are the steps to help you do that:

  1. Use a tool like Screaming Frog, Semrush or Ahrefs to crawl your website and identify all the crawlable pages. Make sure to only crawl pages that don’t have the noindex tag or are excluded from robots.txt.
  2. Export the crawlable pages to a spreadsheet.
  3. Set up Screaming Frog to use the XML Sitemap, Google Analytics and Search Console by clicking on ‘Configuration’ and then ‘API Access.’
  4. Enable ‘Crawl New URLs Discovered in Google Analytics’ and ‘Crawl New URLs Discovered in Google Search Console’ under the respective configuration windows.
  5. Type or paste the URL you want to crawl in the box at the top and click ‘Start.’
  6. Monitor the progress of the APIs and crawl via the progress bars and API tab.
  7. When the crawl is complete, navigate to ‘Reports’ and select ‘Orphan Pages.’
  8. Export the file as a CSV or Google Sheets.
  9. Calculate the amount of crawl budget that should be allocated to orphan pages.

By following these steps, you will be able to determine how much crawl budget should be taken up for the domain to link to orphan pages. This will help you to ensure that your website’s pages are properly indexed by search engines and that your resources are used efficiently.

Step 6: Cross reference the two URL sources.

Cross-referencing two URL sources to link to orphan pages is an important part of website maintenance. To do this, you need to create a blank Google Sheet and create three tabs: crawl, hits, and cross reference.

In the first tab, crawl, copy and paste all of the crawlable URLs from Ahrefs’ Site Audit. To find these, open the exported CSV from the initial step and filter for results with an incomingAllLinks equal to zero. Copy the remaining URLs from the Ahrefs export and paste them into the crawl tab.

In the second tab, hits, copy/paste all URLs from step 2. These are the pages you found using Google Analytics, Google Search Console, or your site log files. It includes webpages that users have visited.

In the third tab, cross reference, enter the following function: =UNIQUE(FILTER(hits!A:A, ISNA(MATCH (hits!A:A, crawl!A:A, 0)))) This will automatically pull all of your orphan pages for easy analysis.

To get a more accurate picture of your orphan pages, you can also use a spreadsheet to compare a list of crawlable URLs with a list of URLs people are hitting on your site. Open a new spreadsheet and place both sets of URL data (from log files/WordPress and from Screaming Frog) into separate columns. Remove all duplicate values from both columns. Any URLs that remain are likely to be your orphan pages.

Step 7: Identify alternate methods of finding orphan pages.

What are the alternate methods of finding orphan pages? [Step-by-step instructions]

  1. Use Google Analytics and Google Search Console to find orphan pages: You can use Google Analytics and Google Search Console to cross-check the URLs of your site and determine which pages have zero inbound internal links.
  2. Use a website crawler: A website crawler is another great way to identify orphan pages. You can use a crawler tool like Screaming Frog to scan all of the crawlable pages on your site and identify orphan pages from three different sources: XML sitemaps, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console.
  3. Analyze the audit results: Once you’ve identified the orphan pages on your site, you need to analyze the audit results to determine if they still serve a purpose, and if they need to be removed or redirected.
  4. Resolve any orphan page found: After you’ve analyzed the audit results, you can start to resolve any orphan page you have found by either removing or redirecting it to a more relevant page.
  5. Rerun the audit periodically: Lastly, it’s important to rerun the audit periodically to catch any new unlinked pages that have been created on your site. This will help keep your website up-to-date and free from any orphan pages.

Step 8: Perform page testing.

Finding orphan pages on your website can be an important part of the page testing process. Here are the steps you need to take to find these pages and resolve them:

  1. Get a full list of all of your website pages.
  2. Perform a website crawl to identify any pages with zero inbound internal links.
  3. Analyze the audit results and identify any orphan pages found.
  4. Resolve any orphan page found.
  5. Rerun the audit periodically to catch any new unlinked pages.

Once the audit is complete, use a web analytics solution to assess traffic sources, visits and page views, entry, and exit behaviors to determine the purpose of the orphan page and if any steps need to be taken.

Finally, use the Screaming Frog SEO Spider to create a new XML sitemap to help Google find any newly adopted pages. This will ensure that all of your hard work is on Google’s radar.

FAQs

How do you identify orphan pages?

Identifying orphan pages on your website is essential if you want to provide a good user experience and keep your site’s structure optimized for search engine crawling. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to identify and address orphan pages on your website.

Step 1: Get a full list of your current website pages. The best way to do this is to use an SEO crawler, such as Screaming Frog, to scan all of your website’s crawlable pages. However, you can still run a crawl analysis even if you opt to set up only one or two data sources.

Step 2: Compare the list of crawlable URLs to the list of URLs people are hitting on your site. You can do this using a crawler tool like Screaming Frog and by setting up your data sources like XML sitemaps, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console.

Step 3: Analyze the audit results. This will help you identify any orphan pages on your site. You can also use tools like Ahrefs’ Site Audit or SEMrush’s Site Audit to find orphan pages from multiple data sources.

Step 4: Resolve any orphan pages you find. Determine if the pages still serve a purpose and adjust the page structure as needed.

Step 5: Rerun the audit periodically to catch new unlinked pages. This will help you stay on top of any changes in your website’s structure and ensure that you are giving your users the best experience.

How do orphan pages affect SEO?

Orphan pages are pages on a website that are not linked to any other pages, making them hard to find by search engine crawlers. This has a negative impact on SEO as these pages won’t get indexed, won’t get ranked in the SERPs, and won’t generate any organic traffic. Additionally, Google’s algorithm may penalize sites with orphan pages as they are seen as hiding content from users.

To prevent this from happening, it is important to keep an eye on orphan pages and to use SEO tools such as SurferSEO, Google search console, and Google analytics. Doing so can help optimize these pages and improve the visibility of the website. However, it is important to note that small amounts of orphan pages are normal and shouldn’t be treated as a major issue.

Link building is an important part of any successful SEO strategy. By creating internal and external links, you can help your website rank higher in the SERPs, improve user experience, and increase traffic to your website.

Internal links help search engines crawl and understand the relationship between different pages on your site, allowing them to gain a better understanding of topical relevance and authority. Internal links also define website architecture and hierarchy, distribute page authority, and can help you rank for keywords.

External links are equally important for SEO, as they provide context and relevance for search engines, help to establish credibility, and provide another way for users to access your website.

External links are especially valuable when they come from reputable, high-authority websites, as they can significantly increase your domain and page authority.

By using link building techniques, you can make sure that your website is properly linked and accessible to both search engines and users, as well as increasing your chances of ranking higher in the SERPs. Link building is an essential part of any successful SEO strategy and should not be overlooked.

How can you fix orphan pages?

How can you fix orphan pages? [Step-by-step instructions]

  1. Delete the orphan page from your server and create a 301 redirect from the orphan page to another relevant one on your website.
  2. Update any links that point to the orphan page and point them to the new location.
  3. Add links to the orphan pages from other pages on your website, such as by updating old blog posts and linking to the orphan pages in the new content, adding orphan pages to your website’s navigation menu, footer, or sidebar, and installing a WordPress plugin to automatically or manually add internal linking.
  4. Analyze which queries the page is ranking for using a tool like Serpstat.
  5. Select the pages of the site that are also ranked for the keywords associated with the page to find pages that you can connect with an orphan.
  6. Put the link into your other pages and make sure that they have related content.
  7. Update all website links to point to the correct page when the navigation is changed.
  8. Use redirects to guide users and search engines from the old URL to the new one.
  9. If the orphan pages are irrelevant or outdated, delete them. However, if they are essential, ensure that the page is linked correctly.

What data sources can you use to identify orphan pages?

When trying to identify orphan pages, there are several data sources you can use. These include your sitemaps and other lists of URLs you may have, link databases like Ahrefs that can find links to your pages from other websites, web analytics services such as Google Analytics, search analytics from Google Search Console, and server log files. You can also use tools such as Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider and Ahrefs’ Site Audit to combine these data sources and find orphan pages. Additionally, you can work with your development team to find a complete list of URLs from the server, and you can look through your log files to uncover more information about visitors to your website. Finally, you can perform a second crawl of your site, ignoring directives like “nofollow” and “noindex”, and compare it to your original crawl, to find any orphan pages that may not have been initially discovered.

How can you optimize website structure to reduce orphan pages?

Step 1: Maintain a Clear Site Structure

The best way to prevent orphan pages is to maintain a clear site structure. This involves creating sections and categories on your website and then using internal links to direct user traffic deeper into each section. When creating a new page, ask yourself how this page fits into the existing structure and if it requires any links to other pages.

Step 2: Regularly Perform Site Audits

Performing regular SEO site audits using a tool like Ahrefs can help you identify and remove any orphan pages. Site audits should be run every few months to double check no new orphan pages have slipped through the cracks.

Step 3: Double-Check Internal Links

Technology isn’t perfect and sometimes links break. Once you get your site audit report back, investigate which pages get flagged and see if you can re-link them to new content.

Step 4: Scrap Unnecessary Pages

Be ruthless when it comes to orphan pages. If a page doesn’t require any internal links, then it may not be the right fit for your website. Don’t be afraid to delete any pages that aren’t adding value to your site.

Step 5: Analyze Orphan Pages

Occasionally, you may find an orphan page that has potential to draw in a lot of traffic. Focus on optimizing these pages and building internal links to make them more accessible.

Step 6: Monitor Future Orphan Pages

Depending on the size of your website, you should set up a monitoring process to catch any future orphan pages before they get a chance to impact your SEO. This will help you stay on top of your website and ensure that orphan pages don’t slip through the cracks.

How do you redirect orphan pages?

Redirecting orphan pages is an important step for improving the user experience and SEO of your website.Here is a step-by-step guide to do it:

  1. Find the orphan pages: To find orphan pages on your website, you can use tools such as Google Analytics or Serpstat. You can also use manual methods such as scanning your website’s navigation, footer, and sidebar.
  2. Analyze the value of the orphan pages and create a plan of action: Once you have identified the orphan pages, you need to determine their value and what you plan to do with them. If the page is still relevant, consider keeping it and linking it to other relevant content on your website.
  3. Delete the orphan page and create a redirect: Once you have a plan of action, delete the orphan page from your server and create a 301 redirect from the orphan page to another relevant page on your website.
  4. Update any links pointing to the orphan page: After the redirect is created, make sure to update any links that point to the orphan page and point them to the new location.
  5. Implement guidelines to prevent future orphan pages: Lastly, consider addressing why these pages became orphans in the first place. Did your content team forget the page still exists instead of setting up a redirect for it? Take this step now to identify and implement guidelines for redirects and internal linking to minimize the likelihood of future orphan pages.

What SEO tools can you use to identify and fix orphan pages?

Identifying and fixing orphan pages is an important part of SEO and website maintenance. Fortunately, there are a variety of SEO tools that can help you locate and fix orphan pages quickly and effectively. Some of the most popular SEO tools for finding and fixing orphan pages include SEMrush’s Site Audit tool, Ahrefs, Screaming Frog, Yoast (for WordPress), and Sitebulb. SEMrush’s Site Audit tool helps you detect orphan pages and provides advice on how to fix them. Ahrefs can be used to identify pages that are orphaned. Screaming Frog offers a guide on discovering orphan pages with its SEO Spider. Yoast (for WordPress) has a feature that arranges pages depending on how many internal links they have and how many links they have from the post. Finally, Sitebulb provides an option to connect multiple data sources, including Google Analytics and Google Search Console, to help you find orphan pages. With the right tools, you can quickly identify and fix orphan pages on your website.

How does the crawler budget affect orphan pages?

Having large amounts of low-value orphan pages can take up precious crawl budget, which could go towards crawling your more important pages and new content on your site. This can have many negative effects on SEO performance. Without any inbound links, orphan pages are essentially “lost” within the search engine’s index and don’t get the same visibility as web pages with a proper internal linking structure, resulting in lower rankings, fewer visits, decreased website traffic, lower click-through rate, and overall visibility. Additionally, these pages may take up a significant portion of the crawl budget, resulting in fewer resources for important pages. This can also increase website load times, which will have a negative impact on SEO. Finally, orphan pages can lead to broken link errors that create a negative user experience, leading to higher bounce rates, lower average session duration, and fewer conversions. All in all, the crawler budget can have a significant effect on orphan pages, leading to poorer performance and user experience.