Orphan Pages: Basics & How to Fix Them




Updated 2/8/2024

Learn about orphan pages and why they aren’t great for SEO. Discover simple ways of identifying and fixing orphan pages with this guide.

orphan page cover - page in a basket

Search engines rely on many signals to evaluate and rank pages. One important factor is internal links, or links on your site from one page to another.

When webpages don’t have any internal links pointing to them, they are known as orphan pages. These typically don’t perform well in search engines for various reasons. However, you can use handy SEO techniques to easily identify and fix orphan pages.

This guide covers the basics of orphan pages and how to fix them for SEO benefits.

What is an Orphan Page?

An orphan page is a webpage that doesn’t have links pointing to it from other pages on the same website. Orphan pages lack inbound links from other pages and can be difficult for both users and search engines to find.

Orphan pages are often not indexed by search engines, as their web crawlers typically discover pages through links. Without internal links pointing to them, these pages lack significant signals for search engines to crawl and rank them.

Common Causes

Orphan pages are undesirable but pretty common. They can occur for various reasons:

  1. A page was created but never linked to from other pages.
  2. The page was previously linked to, but those links were removed during a site update or redesign.
  3. The orphan page is intended for a specific audience with a direct URL given to them, not for general site navigation or discovery. (This is fine!)

If your situation aligns with #3, you shouldn’t need to worry about the page for SEO reasons. However, you should likely use the noindex tag on the page to ensure searchers can’t find it in search results.

How to Find Orphan Pages

Discovering orphan pages can require some detective work since they’re not directly linked. While there are many methods, we recommend these for ease of use:

  • Use the Ahrefs Orphan Pages report: Ahrefs can provide a weekly report of orphan pages with their Site Audit feature. View their tips.
  • Use Screaming Frog. Screaming Frog offers another, more cost-effective solution. Follow their instructions for finding orphan pages. This method involves Google Analytics API access and other technical steps.

While there are other, more manual methods, it’s best to take advantage of any advanced techniques that already exist. You might naturally find an orphan page and realize it needs to be linked. Just make a note of it or handle it when discovered.

How to Fix Orphan Pages

Orphan pages don’t perform well because they lack internal links. To resolve this:

  1. Identify Orphan Pages: Use tools like Ahrefs or Screaming Frog.
  2. Link to Them: Add internal links from relevant pages on your site.
  3. Update Your Sitemap: Ensure it includes these newly linked pages.

This ensures every page is accessible, improving your site’s SEO and user experience.

Bottom Line

Orphan pages are those on your site that don’t have any internal links to them. You can find orphan pages with popular SEO tools.

Once you’ve identified orphan pages, you should link to them from others, where it makes sense. This will signal that these pages are worth showing in search engines. ?


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