Orphan pages are bad for SEO and for your website's rankings. Unfortunately, they are easy to create unintentionally and can be difficult to identify. Fixing orphan pages can improve your site's SEO and avoid Google penalties.
Orphan pages are web pages that exist on your website but have no internal links to them from any other pages on your site. However, there may be links to them from external sources.
Occasionally orphan pages may be created intentionally. But, in the vast majority of cases, they are unintended mistakes, that webmasters may be unaware of. They are bad for SEO, and too many may cause Google to lower your site's ranking.
Here are some of the more important negative impacts of orphan pages:
Obviously, you won't find orphan pages by crawling your website. You must look at search engines, especially Google and Bing, to extract all links from the website.
In Google Analytics you can extract a list of all URLs that have been indexed and sort them by “least visited”. Do this by navigating to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. In Bing, the corresponding tool is Indexed Pages Checker. Then export the URLs into a spreadsheet.
Then you need to crawl your website to build a corresponding list of “official” valid URLs. You can easily find suitable tools by searching for “website crawler tool.
By comparing both lists, you highlight orphan pages.
Note: the process may be a little more detailed than this summary describes. But this is the basic essence of how to find a list of orphan pages.
You can also use Labrika’s own sitemap validator tool, this gives you access to any pages that may be on your site, but aren’t indexable. Making it a quick and easy way to access a list of orphan pages quickly!
Start by asking yourself the following questions. This will then affect the action you take.
For pages that you re-integrate back into the website, take the opportunity to assess the page’s quality:
Think of eBay for a moment. Every day, millions of auctions end, and their listings expire. eBay does not delete those expired listings. Many will have been picked up by search engines and will appear on SERPS for years to come in some cases. The last thing eBay wants is for a prospective customer to be directed to a “404 Page not found” error on the eBay site.
Instead, eBay treats expired listings as valuable lead generators. Visitors who click on an expired listing in the SERP will be shown alternative product suggestions. As well as the original expired listing.
This strategy applies just as well to e-commerce sites where products are permanently out of stock or discontinued. Those product pages are still indexed in search engines and can be treated as potential landing pages.
However, you may not wish to retain expired pages on your website for valid reasons. In that case, it is best to ensure they return a 404 or 410 (expired content) code that you can control. To do this you can use a custom 404 page.
Any SEO professional or website builder is well aware of the dangers to SEO if orphan pages are found. Normally, they build checks and detection mechanisms into their processes to stop this.
A thorough site audit using the above steps should uncover any orphan pages. If you have a larger site you may want to bring in professional SEO services to stop you wasting time and money.
Don’t forget that Labrika offers a sitemap validator tool which can give you a list of Orphan pages quickly and easily.