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SEO 16 min read September 2, 2022

The Complete Guide to Orphan Pages: Everything You Need to Know

The Complete Guide to Orphan Pages: Everything You Need to Know
Erik Emanuelli
Internet Marketer at ErikEmanuelli
An orphan page is a web page that is not linked to any other pages on your website. This can be a problem for your SEO, as the search engines have difficulty discovering that the page exists.

This post will explain what orphan pages are, how they can hurt your SEO, and how to find and fix them.

We will also discuss the importance of orphan pages concerning website navigation and search engine rankings.

What Are Orphan Pages?

A page that is not linked to any other pages on your website is known as an orphan page. As a result, it may be difficult for the search engines to recognize the page, which could hurt your SEO.

The only way a user can visit an orphan page is to type the URL directly into the browser or to click a link from another website.

Google states that it follows a link from a known page to discover a new page:
crawling
Googlebot uses an algorithm to discover new pages on the web and add them to Google's search results. When we crawl the web, we discover links leading to new pages. Once we discover a new page, we add it to our index.
This process is known as "crawling," and it's how Google discovers new pages on the internet.

If your orphan pages are not linked to any other pages on your website, then Google will never find them. As a result, these pages will have zero traffic from organic searches.

Orphan pages can occur for many reasons, but usually, it is because the page has been orphaned during the redesign or development process. It is common for orphan pages to be created when new content is added to the website without properly linking it to other related pages.

Common Characteristics of Orphan Pages

There are several common characteristics of an orphan page:
  • It has no internal links
  • It is a live page
  • It can be an orphan even if it's indexed

It Has No Internal Links

One of the most common characteristics of an orphan page is that it has no internal links. In other words, no other pages on your website link to it.

It's a problem because it means that a user must either type its URL into their browser directly or click a link from another website to find this page.

It Is a Live Page

Another common characteristic of orphan pages is that they are live pages. This means that the page is still active and can be accessed by anyone who knows the URL.

Even though the page doesn't have any links to other sites on your website, it is still a live page that anyone who comes across it can access.

It Can Be an Orphan Even If It's Indexed

Just because the search engines index a page does not mean it is not an orphan page.

If another website links to it or if the page is included in your sitemap, an orphaned page can still be indexed by search engines. However, indexing a page does not mean ranking well in the search results.

Orphan pages often have a hard time ranking because the search engines have no way of knowing how they fit into the overall structure of your website.

Why Orphan Pages Are Bad For SEO?

Orphan pages are bad for SEO because they:

  • Might Prevent Search Engines From Finding Your Content
  • Can Hurt Your Website Overall Link Equity
  • Might Hurt User Experience
  • Might Take a Portion of the Crawl Budget

Might Prevent Search Engines From Finding Your Content

One of the biggest problems with orphan pages is that they might prevent search engines from finding your content.

If a page has no internal links, the only way for the search engines to find it is to type the URL directly into the browser or to follow a link from another website.

As a result, search engines often overlook orphan pages and can have difficulty ranking in the search results.

Can Hurt Your Website Overall Link Equity

Another issue with orphan pages is that they can hurt your website's overall link equity.

Link equity is the strength and value of the links that point to your web pages. If you have orphan pages on your website, it means that there are pages on your website that are not receiving any link equity.

This can hurt your website because there is one less page that can pass link equity to other pages on your site.

Might Hurt User Experience

Orphan pages can also impair the user experience because they are often difficult to find.

If a user is looking for a specific piece of content and cannot find it, they are likely to become frustrated and leave the website. This can lead to a high bounce rate, which is terrible for SEO.

On the other hand, users landing on an orphan page can also be frustrating. Visitors are more likely to quit your website if they can't find their way back to the rest of it.

Might Take a Portion of the Crawl Budget

One final issue with orphan pages is that they might take a portion of the crawl budget.

The crawl budget is the number of times that Google crawls your website in a given period.

If you have too many orphan pages, it can use up part of the crawl budget and prevent Google from crawling other vital pages on your site. Since crucial pages cannot be indexed or ranked, this can harm your SEO.

What Causes Orphan Pages?

Orphan pages can be caused by several different things.

Some of the most common causes of orphan pages are:
  • Site Migrations
  • Navigation Changes
  • Site Redesigns
  • Out-of-stock Products
  • Testing

Site Migrations

One of the most common causes of orphan pages is site migrations.

When you migrate your website to a new domain or platform, some of your pages may become orphaned. It happens because the URLs often change during migration, and old pages can be lost in the process.

It is essential to redirect old pages to new pages to avoid orphan pages during a site migration. This will ensure that your content is not lost and that users and search engines can find it easily.

Navigation Changes

Another common cause of orphan pages is navigation changes.

If you change your website's navigation, it can orphan some of your pages. This is because the links to those pages might be removed or changed.

Update all website links to point to the correct page to prevent orphan pages when the navigation is changed. You can also use redirects to guide users and search engines from the old URL to the new one.

Site Redesigns

During a site redesign, the URLs of pages often change. In this case, there may be some orphan pages.

However, it is essential to redirect the old pages to the new ones during the redesign to avoid having stray ones. This ensures that your content will be found by users and search bots.

Out-of-stock Products

If you have an eCommerce website, out-of-stock products can orphan your product pages as they are often deleted from a site.

It is vital to redirect these pages to other relevant pages. For example, you can redirect visitors to the home or category page.

Testing

When testing a site, you might create pages that are not meant to be seen by users. If they are not removed in time, they become orphan pages.

To avoid this kind of problem, removing these pages after testing is complete is essential. You should also remove all links to these pages so users and search engines cannot find them.

Orphan Pages vs Dead End Pages

It is essential to understand the difference between orphan pages and dead-end pages.

Orphan pages are pages with no incoming links from other pages on the website.

Dead-end pages have no internal or external links.

Like orphan pages, also dead-end pages are flawed for SEO because they can make it difficult for users to navigate your website. Both can be fixed by adding links to them from other pages on the website.

How to Find Orphan Pages?

To find orphan pages on a site, use the Netpeak Spider crawler, which has a built-in tool to calculate internal PageRank. The device will help you encounter problems with internal links.

Run the program.
On the sidebar of the program, select "Status Code" under "General" and "Internal PageRank" under "Links."
How to Find Orphan Pages With Netpeak Spider
Place the site URL in the "Enter URL" field and start scanning with the "Start" button.
How to Find Orphan Pages With Netpeak Spider
When the scan is complete, open the "Tools" menu in the sidebar and select "Internal PageRank Calculation."
How to Find Orphan Pages With Netpeak Spider
In a separate window, you will be able to see how the internal weight is distributed over the site, and find problems, including orphan pages → the program detects them as an "Orphan."
How to Find Orphan Pages With Netpeak Spider

How to Fix Orphan Pages?

Once you have found the orphan pages on your website, you can start fixing them.

Follow one of these methods:
  • Adding internal links
  • Merge and Consolidate
  • Deleting orphan pages
  • Adding noindex tag

Adding Links to Orphan Pages

One easy way to fix orphan pages is by adding links to them from other pages on your website.

You can do it by:
  • Updating old blog posts and linking to orphan pages in the new content
  • Adding orphan pages to your website’s navigation menu, footer, or sidebar
  • Installing a WordPress plugin to automatically or manually add internal linking.

How do you find pages that you can connect with an orphan?
1) Analyze which queries the page is ranking for.

To do this, go to Serpstat and enter your URL in the search bar. Then go to the URL analysis module - SEO research - Keywords.
How do you find pages that you can relate to an orphan
You can check the competitor's analytical page if it does not rank at all.

2) Next, select the pages of the site that are also ranked for the keywords associated with the page.

To do this, go to Domain analysis - SEO research - Keywords. Filter out those phrases that contain "SEO eCommerce."
3) In the URL column we get a list of pages that can be linked to the orphan page.
How do you find pages that you can relate to an orphan

Merge and Consolidate

You can merge and consolidate if you have orphan pages similar to other pages on your website.

This means that you will take the orphan page and combine it with another page on your website that is similar.

For example, if you have an orphan page about “SEO tips” and another page on your website that is about “SEO tools,” you can merge these two pages into one page that is about “SEO tips and tools.”

Be sure to add a 301 redirect from the orphan page to the new consolidated one so that users and search engines are redirected to the new page.

Deleting Orphan Pages

Another way to fix orphan pages is by deleting them and 301 redirecting them to other relevant content on your website.

You can do it by:
  • Deleting the orphan page from your server;
  • Creating a 301 redirect from the orphan page to another relevant one on your website;
  • Updating any links that point to the orphan page and pointing them to the new location.

Adding Noindex Tag

If you intentionally created an orphan page (like a landing page, for example), and you don’t want it to be indexed by search engines, then you can add a noindex tag to the orphan page.

You can do this with an SEO plugin or simply by adding this code in the orphan page’s head section:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex" />

This will tell search engines not to index the orphan page.

How to Prevent Orphan Pages?

Here are some of the best ways to prevent orphan pages:

  • Plan for site migrations
  • Run regular site audits
  • Have a correct website architecture
  • Remove discontinued products (for eCommerce)

Plan for Site Migrations

If you plan to migrate your website to a new domain or change your URL structure, plan for it.

You can avoid orphan pages by doing a 301 redirect from the old pages to the new pages. This will ensure that users and search engines are redirected to the new location.

Run Regular Site Audits

One way to prevent orphan pages is by running regular site audits. This will help you to find and fix orphan pages before they cause any issues with your SEO.

A site audit will also help you find other technical SEO issues that could harm your website’s search engine rankings.

Have a Correct Website Architecture

Another way to prevent orphan pages is by having the correct website architecture, as it will help search engines easily index your content and understand the relationship between your pages.

A good website architecture will also help users to navigate your website easily.

Information architecture: How to build up silos using Serpstat and WordPress

Remove Discontinued Products

If you have an eCommerce website, remove any discontinued products. These products can become orphan pages if they are no longer available for purchase.

If you have products that are out of stock, add a “coming soon” or “out of stock” message to the product page. This will help to avoid orphan pages and improve the user experience on your website.

Final Words

Orphan pages can hurt your SEO, but there are ways to fix them.

By following the steps in this guide, you can find and fix orphan pages to improve your website's search engine rankings.

I hope this guide was helpful!

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