How to Find Orphan Pages in 3 Simple Steps (& How to Resolve Them)
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You might already have used Google Search Console and Google Analytics to keep tabs on your site and manage your SEO strategy. However, you can find that some of your pages aren't performing as well in the SERPs. This phenomenon is often caused by orphan pages. Do you know how to find orphan pages on your site?
In this article, we will take a closer look at how you can rank better by resolving your orphan pages through:
- Pinpointing what orphan pages are and why they matter for SEO
- Identifying orphan URLs with Google Analytics and an SEO spider
- Finding out when orphan pages are cause for concern
- Resolving orphan URLs with handy tools like Link Whisper
Are you ready to see how you can start using simple tools like Google Analytics to find your orphan pages? Let's get started!
- What are Orphan Pages? How Do They Impact SEO?
- Difference Between Orphan Pages and Dead End Pages
- Reasons for Orphan Pages
- How to Find Orphan Pages
- When are Orphan Pages a Concern?
- How to Fix Orphan Pages
- Locating Orphan Pages: Making it Simple
What are Orphan Pages? How Do They Impact SEO?
An orphan page is, quite simply, a page without any direct links to it. There may be no internal links to this page on your website, meaning that there is no way for search engines to find the page and know what it is about.
When it comes to internal linking best practices, every page on your website should be built out with internal links to connect one page to another.
The only real way for your audience to find orphan pages is via typing in the direct link that will lead them to the page. Of course, the problem with that is that they likely don't know whether that page on your website exists.
So how does this impact SEO and why are orphan pages bad for your search engine results?
If there is no record of the page on your website except via a direct link, your search engine strategy is flawed. Search engines comb the web for links to find the best answer to a query. Pages that have no links to connect them to the internet will go unindexed, making it impossible for search engines to find them.
It doesn't matter how much work you put into your SEO strategy or your keyword research with tools like the Keyword Magic tool. Orphan pages don't show up in the search engine results pages, so it is ultimately a waste.
Difference Between Orphan Pages and Dead End Pages
It is important to note the difference between an orphan page and dead end pages on your website. Both can be problematic for SEO and the average user, so it is important to ensure that your website has minimal problems with both.
While an orphan page has no links leading to it, a dead end page has the opposite problem. It has no links leading away from it.
Dead end pages are often found by search engines because they are connected to other pages, whether that is on your website or through backlinks. However, once a user lands on the page, there is nowhere else for them to go. There are no internal links to other pages on your site and no external links leading away from it.
The only thing they can do to stay on your page is to hit the back button, which can be quite tedious if you have a lot of these dead end pages.
You can use the difference between these two types of pages to build up your website.
On a dead end page, find a way to link to your orphan pages. This gives your site structure and helps your orphan URLs to be indexed and found in the search engine results pages.
Reasons for Orphan Pages
Why do orphaned pages exist if they are bad for SEO? Oftentimes, it is simply an oversight that can be corrected with the right tools and strategy. Here are a few reasons why a page may not have any internal links that lead to it:
- Major Changes to Website: A company may not want their orphan pages discovered. This could be the case if they have phased out a particular section of their blog, a product page, or a service page.
- Changes to Older Pages: Maybe you had your pages linked at some point, but the pages that included your internal links have been deleted or changed This would eliminate those links and ultimately results in orphaned pages.
- Lack of Updates: You might have had landing pages or product pages put together for the launch of a product or service but have since discontinued them. If you do not archive these pages appropriately, then you will end up with orphan pages.
- Issues with Tracking: Do you have someone designated to identify orphan pages? If you don't take care of this housekeeping item, you might end up with tons of orphan URLs that need to be addressed.
How to Find Orphan Pages
You know that you need your orphan pages discovered so that you can correct them and better manage your SEO strategy. Here is what you need to know about how to find orphan pages.
1. List Current Web Pages On Your Website with Google Analytics
An SEO crawler will have a hard time when it comes to finding orphan pages, so it is important to find a list of current pages on your website. You can do this through Google Analytics easily enough.
From the Google Analytics home page, navigate to the Behavior section on the sidebar. Select Site Content and then All Pages.
You can pull a similar report from Google Search Console which can help you find orphan URLs through your XML sitemap.
Once you have your list pulled up, you can sort the results from least page views to most page views. This is key for finding orphan pages because these are pages that are not likely to be viewed on a regular basis.
As a result, your Google Search Console or Google Analytics report should show you which pages are likely to be orphaned.
Keep in mind that Google Analytics will only show up to 5,000 pages at a time.
From here, you can export combined orphan URLs by selecting Export in the upper right-hand corner. Select the type of export you want (Excel, Google Sheets, etc.).
2. Identify Crawlable Pages with an SEO Spider
If you want to find an orphan page, you must also know which sites are currently crawlable. To do this, you will need an SEO spider. Many people like the Screaming Frog SEO spider. You can use this to crawl up to 500 URLs for free.
To find orphan pages, you can start from the home page of your website. When finished, export the data to a spreadsheet — the same type you selected in the last step.
The important thing to remember is that your SEO spider will not crawl URLs that are non-indexed by the search engines. This is where the next step comes into play.
3. Analyze the Site Audit and Resolve Orphan Pages
Once you have both spreadsheets, it is time to compile them into one sheet of data that can pinpoint your orphan pages quickly and automatically. That means that you should have two columns: one for crawlable URLs (discovered by the search engine crawlers) and one for all URLs (found by Google Analytics data).
Make sure that the columns have the website URL list in the same format. For example, they could all be listed as “https://nichepursuits.com/1” with the “1” being the specific name of your page.
If they are not listed this way, you will need to do some spreadsheet magic to get them all into the right format.
Once you have your spreadsheet in the proper format, you can enter a formula into the column all the way to the right. Let's suppose that your crawlable URLs and your Analytics URLs are in the first two columns of your Google Sheets or Excel like this:
You need a new formula in the third column if you want to figure out how to find orphan pages. That formula looks like this: =MATCH(B2,$A$2:$A$11,0) where B2 is your Analytics URLs, and A2:A11 are the crawlable URLs. Make sure to include the $ symbols to keep the range identical.
From here, you can drag the formula down the entire column by clicking the square in the lower right-hand corner of the line item.
On the URL list, you will find that some pages do not match. These will be indicated with a #N/A like this:
These pages that don't show up as a cross reference are your orphan pages.
4. Repeat Regularly
Learning how to find orphan pages isn't just a one-time thing. You will need to be diligent about looking for orphan pages regularly. While it can be a bit time-consuming to search through your Google Search Console data, this strategy should be relatively easy to log files.
Try to search for your orphan pages at least once each quarter or a few times a year.
If you can keep up with locating your orphan pages, you are likely to be more cognizant of adding internal links when you are working on each page. This serves to minimize the number of orphan pages that you are likely to find during your regular audits.
When are Orphan Pages a Concern?
You know how to find orphan pages, but they aren't always a concern. For example, you may have a series of blog posts or product pages that you no longer want found by your audience. You can keep them up on the site, but they aren't likely to factor into your site structure.
However, if you are finding orphan pages all over the website, then you may have cause for concern.
RankMath recommends asking yourself these questions about any orphan page that you find:
- Is it important?
- Where does it fit into the sitemap file?
- Is there a keyword or ranking for this page?
- Is it well-designed?
- Can you rank for it if you fix the links and it is no longer an orphan page?
If the answer to all of these question is no, then your low value orphan pages may not be cause for concern. As long as other pages are not linked to them and they remain unindexed, then fixing your orphan pages may not be a big deal.
How to Fix Orphan Pages
Once you have located all of your orphan pages and determined that they need to be corrected, you need a tool that can help you fix them by adding internal links.
We also have a guide you can check out that answers “how many internal links per page are best?”
If you have a large backlog of blogs and other types of content marketing on your niche website, then it can be a real challenge to find relevant content to link to.
Enter Link Whisper.
Link Whisper creates automatic link suggestions as you type, directly in the WordPress platform. It can suggest dozens of places where you might be able to include an internal link that is relevant based on keywords included in both.
All you have to do is check the box to include the link, click save, and you have added an internal link.
Look for other pages that might have a relevant reference to your orphan pages and try to use Link Whisper to include links to them. This should help you when it comes time to use Google Search Console or Google Analytics data to find pages that aren't currently ranking.
Another way of using Link Whisper is to see which pages have little content (or no content) linking to them. You can add links to these internal pages with just the click of a button. Compared to the alternative of manually finding and adding links, this is an easy way to resolve an orphan page.
Locating Orphan Pages: Making it Simple
Orphan pages aren't complex to find, and they can make a big impact on your overall SEO strategy. Google Analytics and tools like Screaming Frog pinpoint orphan pages, and Link Whisper can help with internal linking. This can help you with your organic search and help more site visitors to find your important pages.
To start correcting your orphan pages, get Link Whisper here!
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