Orphan Pages: Exploring Negative SEO

 In Search Engine Optimization

You’ve probably overheard the term “orphan pages,” among other digital marketing jargon. Mastering the inner workings of website optimization remains paramount for any small to mid-sized business hoping to increase its ranking on search engines. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can help smaller businesses climb to the top of Google, thereby gaining an advantage over competitors. If smaller companies expect to achieve sustainable growth, they must check off every box on the website optimization checklist. As you begin conducting an SEO audit, you will need to optimize on-page SEO factors, including title tags, descriptions, internal links, alt tags, reducing image load times, and more.

After identifying areas needing improvement, you can start on the road to success by creating a detailed action plan to address these issues. Are you still trying to rack your head around orphan pages? Not to worry, Premiere Creative has the insights to identify, fix, and resolve these pages to strengthen your SEO.

What are Orphan Pages?

In layman’s terms, orphan pages refer to any page on a website that doesn’t have a link from any other page on your site. The word “orphan” indicates that the page lacks a parent page. Even if the page is optimized or holds great content, orphan pages typically see less organic traffic, do not have a dominant rank on SERPs, and create a frustrating user experience. Furthermore, Google does not like orphan pages because they have a disjointed relationship with the rest of your website. Without any way of knowing where the page fits into your site, search engines cannot assign relevancy.

Even if search engines manage to find these pages, there’s no way for link equity to flow to or from these pages, leaving search engines without semantic or structural context to evaluate the page.

What About Dead-End Pages?

On the other hand, a dead-end page (DEP) refers to any page on your website that does not link to any internal web page(s). Without any links to follow, visitors will hit the back button, or worse, abandon your website altogether. Hence, the term “dead end.” Like orphan pages, hosting dead-end pages on a website creates a poor user experience plus roadblocks for Google’s crawl bots. Without any pathways to proceed, no link equity gets passed, and the page remains invisible.

What Causes Orphan Pages?

Most issues commonly occur due to a simple missing or faulty link. Moreover, they can show up as expired pages, such as classified sites where businesses post advertisements. Another instance occurs when a business designs a new website, migrates all pages but fails to redirect URLs and hyperlinks to the redesigned website. This is a simple fix by adding 301 redirects from the old page to the new URL. Otherwise, clicks to these URLs from Google SERPs will generate a 404 Error page for the visitor.

Furthermore, issues with duplicate contents – like Canonical URLs and URLs with missing trailing slashes – can cause orphan pages to manifest on your website.

  • Canonical URLs: Every URL should use HTTP or HTTPS, and www or non-www consistently.
  • Trailing Slashes: Check a few pages on your site both with and without the trailing slash, and make sure that they redirect automatically to the same URL.

How to Find Orphan Pages

A few companies offer specific software that will help you identify any lurking orphan pages. Unfortunately, these services can become pricey. Luckily, Google Analytics will work just as well. Assuming you’ve already installed Google Analytics, navigate to your property view. Using the left-hand sidebar, complete the following steps:

  1. Click “Behavior.”
  2. Select “Site Content,” followed by “All Pages.”
  3. By investigating the “Pageviews” option, you’ll see a list of URLs with the least to the greatest number of views. The ones at the top (with fewer views) are often your orphan pages.

How Do I Fix Orphan Pages?

Assuming you adhere to Google’s recommended guidelines, repairing multiple orphan pages can help improve search rank. Along with sitemaps, there are other ways businesses may encounter while resolving orphan pages.

Internal links play a critical role in repairing these pages. Google finds internal links on a website and assigns the page a value. As a business, it’s essential to complete routine checks on your website before these errors escalate into serious issues. Finally, if you believe an outdated page still has useful content, you can merge the older page with another page to create superior content that both users and search engines will love.

Salvage Your Website’s Search Rank

There’s no way around it: you need to adopt a strategy to resolve your website’s orphan pages. Luckily, you can stay ahead of the game: replace old links with new links, insert updated internal links, and conduct routine website audits. Tools used to detect orphan pages, such as crawling and sitemaps, can also benefit businesses and how they operate, as these tools provide efficiency.

Do you need help identifying and repairing orphan pages on your small business’s website? Dial (973) 346-8100 to schedule a meeting with Premiere’s SEO experts. Make sure to subscribe to our blog for more helpful tips, trends, and digital marketing news.

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