Orphan Pages: Huge SEO Mistake
Learn how to avoid orphan pages and enhance your websites SEO
What are orphan pages?
Orphan pages are pages on a website that can be crawled by a search engine but don’t have any page linked to them. A user can’t find an orphan page when looking through the website because there is no single link to the page.
How do orphan pages get crawled?
Most of the time, the search engine can crawl an orphan page because the page has been indexed through the sitemap after the page’s creation. A site map is where any search engine crawler can determine what pages come with or without a link provided from the website.
How to find orphan pages
Previous blog posts have discussed how we use the Screaming Frog software to analyze a website. This piece of software is relatively cheap and well worth every penny. I know we are using it multiple times a day, especially when on-ramping new clients. Whenever a new client wants SEO services, the first thing we do is perform an audit that tells us if there are any major SEO issues. Part of the review includes scanning for orphan pages:
Scanning for orphan pages is similar to the way we scan for redirect chains.
Under Reports, you can pull an excel spreadsheet to see how many orphan pages are on your site. For this example, we used the Algorithmic Global website.
As you can see, there are no orphan pages detected.
How do orphan pages impact SEO?
For this example, let’s assume our website was full of orphan pages. If this was the case, you can guarantee the site would be losing ranking. As we have discussed, when a search engine crawls a website that has an orphan page, they assume this page does not have any importance. Typically, an orphan page has zero importance, the reason it appears in the first place. When the search engine finds the orphan page, they end up punishing the entire website because of its existence.
Search engines assume orphan pages are black hat SEO tactics.
Did you know SEO has two types of tactics? They are called white hat and black hat tactics—associate white with good and black with bad. When a search engine discovers an orphan page, they will assume the people in charge of SEO are attempting to use black hat tactics to hide that page.
SEO experts in the past have used orphan pages to improve keyword rankings. There were known as ghost pages, a page intended to remain hidden to the user. The launch of Penguin by Google in 2012 dropped the ranking for all sites that had ghost pages.
To find out if your site has penalties for having orphan pages, we recommend signing into google search console. There, you will be able to find out if you have any penalties.
You can find any potential penalties under the “Manual Actions.”
Above is Algorithmic Global’s report. As you can see, we have no penalties.
In conclusion, avoid orphan pages at all costs. If you happen to have orphan pages, we recommend redirecting them to another part of the site or make sure to have a 410 (which is a permanent deletion). If you need help deleting or redirecting an orphan page on your website, please fill out the contact form on our contact page, and we will gladly assist you.