What is an Orphan page?
An orphan page, in the context of web development and search engine optimization (SEO), refers to a webpage on a website that is not linked to by any other pages within the same website. Essentially, it is a page that is isolated and disconnected from the rest of the website’s internal linking structure.
Orphan pages may appear for a variety of reasons, including when a page is established but not properly connected to other important pages on the site. This may occur as a result of human mistake or when a page becomes obsolete or irrelevant over time and other pages are modified or deleted without updating the internal links.
Orphan sites may be troublesome for SEO since search engine crawlers may have problems identifying and indexing them. Without effective internal linking, search engines may be unable to quickly reach orphan sites, resulting in their omission from search engine results pages (SERPs). This lack of exposure might result in lower organic traffic and lost possibilities for visitors to find the website.
To handle orphan pages, it is necessary to examine the internal linking layout of the website and verify that all essential pages are correctly related. This may include adding connections from other pages on the website, developing a coherent navigation structure, and using sitemaps to assist search engine crawlers in discovering and indexing orphan pages.
How to Identify Orphan Pages on Your Website?
Identifying orphan pages on your website may be a critical step in optimizing the structure of your site and increasing user experience. Orphan pages don’t include any internal links connecting to them from other pages on your website. They may need help identifying and navigating users and search engines, reducing their visibility and overall efficacy. Here are a few techniques for identifying orphan pages on your website:
1. Manual inspection
Begin by reviewing the navigation menus, sidebars, footer links, and any other internal connections on each page of your website. Check to see sure every page on your site is internally connected. If you come across any pages that aren’t linked to from another page, they may be orphan pages.
2. Site crawler applications
To investigate your website’s structure and detect orphan pages, use website crawler tools such as Screaming Frog, DeepCrawl, or Sitebulb. These programs scan your website and provide a complete report, including all pages, internal links, and status codes. Look for orphan pages that have no inbound internal links.
3. Google Search Console
When your website is registered with Google Search Console, it may give vital insights into your site’s performance and indexation status. A list of indexed pages may be seen in the “Coverage” report. This list should be compared to your internal linking structure to detect any pages that are not connected internally.
What causes orphan pages?
Orphan pages may exist for a variety of causes, including:
1. Inadequate internal connecting
Orphan pages are often caused by insufficient internal connectivity within your website. If a page is not connected to any other page on your site, it becomes isolated and difficult to find for visitors and search engines.
2. Content revisions
When you make changes to the content of your website, you may accidentally produce orphan pages. For example, if a page is deleted or its URL is changed without updating internal links, the connected pages may still redirect to the previous address, resulting in orphan pages.
3. Modifications to the URL structure
If you change the URL structure of your website without implementing suitable redirects or updating internal links, you may end up with orphan pages. For example, modifying the permalink structure or rearranging subfolders might result in broken links and orphaned material.
Can orphan pages be indexed?
Search engines may index orphan pages, but their visibility and discoverability suffer. When crawlers from search engines visit your website, they follow links from one page to the next to locate and index information. If a page is orphaned and not connected internally from any other page on your site, search engine crawlers will need help identifying and indexing it.
However, orphan pages may still be indexed in a few ways:
1. External hyperlinks
Search engine crawlers may find an orphaned page if it obtains external links from other websites. External connections may indicate relevance and significance, leading to indexation.
2. Sitemaps in XML
Orphan pages may be found and indexed by including them in your XML sitemap(s). While XML sitemaps are not a direct ranking factor, they serve as a reference for search engines to grasp your website’s structure and content.
3. Direct submission
Some search engines allow you to submit specific pages or URLs for indexing. Google Search Console, for example, has a URL Inspection feature that will enable you to request indexing for certain URLs.