Imagine opening a page only to see an error that says you can’t reach it. That somehow, the page is lost, or the link is broken. How frustrating would it be? For website owners, this is their worst nightmare.
Any page that doesn’t have any links to it or which crawlers aren’t able to index is called an Orphan Page. This is a serious problem, and if you find yourself facing it, you need to address it fast.
Search engines can find and index your pages properly in two ways. Bots navigate through your site with the help of links. When your website has a well-crafted structure and link-building strategy, it makes the crawlers’ job easier. Bots can also find your site’s pages URL through your XML Sitemap.
Orphan pages pose a significant threat to your SEO strategy. Ultimately, these pages are not being indexed, and you’re decreasing your chances of visibility on search engines.
What causes orphan pages?
The two most common issues that cause them are:
– When your pages’ variations don’t redirect to the same URL. Ideally, every public page on your site should use either HTTP or HTTPS consistently. It’s better always to use HTTPS as it provides an extra layer of security and it’s favored by Google. Also, inconsistently using www or non-www in your pages can result in orphan pages.
– When you have misplaced or missing trailing slashes. All of your pages must be written equally and should redirect automatically to the same URL.
How can I find orphan pages?
The first step you need to take is to identify which of your pages can be crawled. This is done with the help of a tool that resembles a bot. Find all the pages that are being indexed, excluding the ones with a noindex tag.
After that is done, you need to perform a series of analysis to find the specific pages on your site that are orphan. To do so, you’ll need the help of Google Analytics. Use the tool to locate all your site’s URLs. Try and separate them between crawled pages (the ones obtained with the bot tool) and those obtained from Google Analytics. Export this information to a spreadsheet to make it easier for you to spot any orphan pages.