What Are Orphan Pages?
Orphan pages are pages on a website that don’t have any outgoing links. This means they don’t link to anywhere else on the website for further navigation or exploration and are effectively a dead end.
Why Are Orphan Pages Harmful?
Orphan pages are ultimately bad for SEO. This is due to a few reasons.
1. They Can Be Viewed as a Doorway Page
Google may interpret an orphan page as a doorway page. This might be because the content matches content elsewhere on the site, but has been included in an XML sitemap and is missing a no-index meta tag.
This is a black hat technique which may lead to a Google penalty. This will lead to a vast drop in rankings in SERPs.
2. Difficult Navigation
Orphan pages make websites difficult to navigate for both the user and the crawler. This means a poor UX (user experience) and ultimately unindexed pages.
3. Key Content Is Missed
Orphan pages may have high-quality content that is unseen by the end user, which will affect visibility.
Why Do Orphan Pages Occur?
Orphan pages can occur for a range of reasons.
- Pages with a limited lifespan expire and remain published on the website
- Page architecture experiences errors which are amended but Google bots crawled them beforehand
- Pages have not been redirected away from old content
- When creating the sitemap or canonical tags there has been an error in the syntax
- Pages with A/B testing that are still live or have been recently
How To Find And Fix Orphan Pages On Your Website
Considering the negative impact that orphan pages can have on your website, it’s a good idea to nip them in the bud before it’s too late. There are a few ways that you can identify orphan pages on your website.
- Review your website’s sitemaps
- Use log files
- Assess analytics data
Once you have discovered orphan pages on your website, you must take action.
If there is an orphan page that you want to keep as a part of your website, but don’t want the end user to view, attach a no-index meta tag.
Alternatively if the page is no longer any use to you, simply remove it and provide a 301 redirect.
If a page has become orphaned by mistake, then make it viewable to the end user and crawlable for the bots by internally linking from another page on your website.
Make sure to include it in your sitemaps.
Some Tools to Help You Deal With Orphan Pages
There are a few tools out there on the web that can help you find and fix orphan pages on your website.
How Can We Help?
Have you got a large number of orphan pages that need tackling?
We can help you there - contact us and we’ll pair you with a team that will help you optimise every page on your site.
Not quite ready to hire help? You could always book onto one of our training courses where we detail all our favourite SEO practises that will help you get to the top of SERPs.