Have you ever come across random, disconnected pages on your website that don't seem to link to anything or belong anywhere? Those are orphan pages, and they can hurt your search engine optimization. Orphan pages often rank poorly or not at all because search engines have a hard time figuring out what they're about and how important they are. The good news is identifying and fixing orphan pages is an easy win for your SEO.
In this blog, we'll discuss what orphan pages are, why they're problematic, and how to identify and fix them on your website. Your orphan pages are waiting to be found.
So, let's get going!
What Are Orphan Pages, and Why Are They Important for SEO?
Orphan pages on your website are ones that don't have any links to any other pages but still exist. Approximately 30% of a website's pages are orphan pages, according to Botify. They don't connect to the rest of your content and are isolated from it. Orphan pages can negatively impact your SEO in a few ways:
Crawlers may have a hard time discovering orphan pages since there are no links leading to them. There are approximately 800K orphan pages crawled by Google. This means they likely won't be indexed, so they won't rank in search results.
Orphan pages dilute your website's authority and link equity. The authority and rank your site has built up over time is spread across all pages - including orphan pages that provide no value.
Orphan pages create a poor user experience. Visitors may stumble upon an orphan page but then struggle to navigate to other related content on your site.
Orphan pages waste resources. The time spent creating orphan content could have been better spent improving existing, linked pages on your site.
Identifying Orphan Pages on Your Website
Redirecting Orphan Pages
One option is to redirect orphan pages to relevant, indexed pages on your site. This passes any link equity from the orphan page to the destination page. To redirect, you'll go into your CMS and set up a 301 redirect from the orphan URL to the desired destination URL.
Updating Internal Linking
Go through your site content and ensure any orphan pages are properly internally linked. Add contextual links from existing content to your orphan pages. For example, if you have a blog post on a topic, link to your orphan page on that same topic. Internal links pass authority and help search engines discover pages.
Optimizing Orphan Pages
If an orphan page has good content that you want to rank, optimize it! Add an H1 tag, meta title and description, and internal links, and make sure the content is compelling. Then submit the page to Google Search Console to get it indexed. As it gains authority and rankings, the page is no longer orphaned.
Deleting Unnecessary Pages
As a last resort, you may need to simply delete orphan pages that provide no value. But do so cautiously, as deleting pages can temporarily disrupt rankings and metrics. Only delete pages that have little content or authority.
Best Practices for Fixing and Preventing Orphan Pages
Review Page Content
Check to see if the information is still accurate, current, and relevant on each page of your website. If not, think about deleting or changing the page. Outdated or irrelevant content does nothing for your users or SEO.
Add Internal Links
Link to related content within your site. For example, if you have a page on "content marketing," link to your pages on "blogging," "social media marketing," etc. This action helps search engines and users navigate your site.
Redirect or Delete
For pages with little value, redirect or delete them. Redirect orphan pages to a relevant active page. This step passes on any SEO equity to the new page. Deleting pages removes them from the index, so redirect if possible.
Update Navigation and Site Architecture
Ensure your site architecture is logical, with categories, subcategories, and pages that make sense to users. Update your navigation and sitemaps to include any pages you want to keep. This measure makes all pages accessible to search engines and users.
Perform Regular Audits
Conduct routine audits of your internal linking structure and page content. Check for any new orphan pages and correct them. This ongoing maintenance will keep your site clean and SEO-friendly.
While they may seem like an inconsequential issue, orphan pages can add unnecessary clutter to your site and confuse both search engines and users. Cleaning up orphan pages is a straightforward process but an important one - your site's SEO health depends on it. Now go forth and tidy up those orphan pages! Your site will thank you, and so will your users.