Orphan Pages – What Are They, Why They Matter, and How to Fix Them
Are you wondering why search engines are not indexing some pages on your website? If yes, it could be because these pages are orphan pages – that is – pages that have no internal link to them.
If your site has many pages without internal links, it can negatively affect your SEO rankings.
In this guide, you’ll learn what orphan pages are, why they are bad for SEO, and how to fix them on your WordPress site.
- What Are Orphan Pages?
- Causes of Orphan Pages
- Why They Matter
- How to Find and Fix Orphan Pages
- How to Prevent Orphan Pages
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Orphan Pages?
Orphan pages are web pages that are not linked to any other pages on a website. This means there is no way to access them directly from the website’s navigation or through links on other pages.
Orphan pages can be a problem because they are not easily discoverable by users or search engines, and may not receive as much organic traffic as other pages on your website.
Causes of Orphan Pages
Orphan pages are accidental and can occur due to a couple of reasons. Below we’ll list out some of the common causes of orphan pages:
- Forgotten page: You may create a page or post and then forget about it. This can lead to it becoming an orphan page.
- Link removal: If you previously linked to a page from another page, but that link is later removed, the page may become an orphan page.
- Website migrations or restructuring: If your site structure undergoes significant changes, pages may be moved or removed. This could result in some pages becoming orphan pages if you don’t update your internal linking structure.
- Broken links: If you link to a page from another page, but the link is broken, the page may become an orphan page.
- Inconsistent linking practices: If your website does not have a consistent internal linking structure, it may be more likely for pages to become orphan pages.
So to avoid having orphan pages, regularly reviewing and updating your website’s internal linking structure is important. This ensures all pages are easily accessible to users and search engines.
Why They Matter
Orphan pages are bad and can harm your site’s technical SEO for the following reasons.
Orphan Pages Cannot be Indexed
It can be difficult to discover and index orphan pages, resulting in lower visibility and ranking in organic search results.
Also, orphan pages can hurt user experience on your website. As an end user, it can be frustrating to stumble upon an orphan page without being able to navigate back to the main site.
They don’t perform well on SERPs
We’ve mentioned that search engine crawlers find orphan pages hard to discover and index. If they somehow get indexed, ranking such pages on SERPs would still be difficult.
This is because no link authority is passed to the orphaned page from posts that already perform well on search results pages.
How to Find and Fix Orphan Pages
Before you can fix orphan pages, you must first identify them. We’ll show you 2 ways to find them in WordPress.
Using AIOSEO Plugin
All in One SEO is a popular SEO plugin for WordPress users. It comes with many features on the free version that enable site owners to improve their content quality.
They have a link assistant addon that can identify orphan pages on your website. The tool also has a one-click fix to help you fix all orphan pages on your website.
Note, though, that this feature is only available on the pro version of the plugin. So you’ll need to upgrade your account to use the Link Assistant addon. The pricing to access this feature starts at $174/year.
If you don’t have this plugin installed on your website, check our beginner guide to learn how to install and set up AIOSEO.
After installing and activating the plugin, you can access this feature by going to All in One SEO >> Link Assistant. Here, you’ll see details about the internal links on your website. You can access the orphan pages by clicking on the Orphaned Posts tab.
On the “Link Report” tab, you’ll see all the posts on your websites without any internal links. The “Internal” tab contains 2 columns for inbound and outbound internal links.
- Inbound Internal Links: These are internal links from other posts on your WordPress site to a particular post. If there are no inbound links, the page is orphaned.
- Outbound Internal Links: These are internal links to other posts on your website from a particular post.
On the “Suggestions” tab next to the orphaned pages, you’ll see an icon with the total number of internal linking opportunities. When you click on the link icon, it will open a dropdown with suggestions for adding inbound and outbound links.
Adding Inbound Internal Links
On the “Inbound Internal Suggestions” tab, the plugin will show you the texts on the posts that you can link to. It uses AI to look for the best linking opportunities on your content.
To add internal links to the post, click on Add Link.
A popup will appear, prompting you to confirm your option. To proceed, click on Yes, I want to add this suggestion.
Note: Once you add the link, you’ll only be able to edit or remove it by manually editing the post from the post editor.
You can follow the same steps to link the orphaned page from other related pages.
Adding Outbound Links (Optional)
If you’d like to add outbound links, you can do so from the Outbound Internal Suggestions tab. Once here, you’ll see links to other posts that you can add to the orphaned post. To proceed, click on Add Link.
Similarly, a popup will appear, prompting you to accept the suggestion. Go ahead and click the Yes, I want to add this suggestion button to continue.
Using the Link Assistant feature, you can easily transfer link authority from a high-performing post on your website to new pages, which is a good onpage SEO practice.
Manually Resolve Orphan Pages in WordPress
The Link Assistant feature by AISEO is a useful tool to find and resolve orphan pages. However, it is a premium tool. If you don’t have the budget to use the plugin, you can manually resolve the orphan pages issue on your website.
Manually finding and resolving orphan page issues can be time-consuming and tedious. You’d have to locate the orphan URL, then look for linking opportunities on other posts from your website.
The free version of Yoast SEO can detect orphan pages on your website. However, you’d need to manually link to the orphan pages across your website.
Note: If you don’t want to go through the stress of troubleshooting to find and resolve orphan pages, you can request our service and have our experts resolve any issues on your WordPress site.
Step 1: Finding Orphan Pages With Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is one of the most popular WordPress SEO plugins. This method is ideal for users with Yoast SEO installed on their websites. If you don’t have it installed and wish to follow the steps listed here, check out our complete SEO guide to learn how to set up Yoast SEO.
After installing the plugin, it adds 2 columns that list the number of inbound and outbound interlinks on your posts.
To access this feature, log in to your WordPress dashboard and then go to Posts >> All Posts to list all your posts. You’d see a column for inbound and outbound links by Yoast SEO on the right side.
Click on the column that reads “Number of internal links linking to this post”.
It will filter the posts to show orphan pages first. Knowing this, you can copy the orphan URL and look for opportunities to link to this post from existing posts on your website.
Step 2: Internal Linking Orphan Pages
To add interlinks to related posts, you can perform a google search with the focus keyword of the orphan page. Then filter the result to show posts from your website.
Here is how to implement this site search in Google. First, go to google.com, then follow this syntax to search for related content.
Site: yoursite.com keyword
On google, replace “keyword” with the post’s focus keyword. Then replace example.com with your website. When you perform the search, it will show posts on your website that mention the keyword.
For example, we could use “site: fixrunner.com digital” to search for all pages where the word ‘digital’ appears on our site.
Once you’ve found the related posts, you’d need to edit some of them and manually add the link to the orphan page.
If you have multiple orphaned pages, you need to repeat the same process of searching for related content on Google. After that, you’d need to manually link to the orphan page from related posts on your website.
Solid SEO strategies such as regular SEO auditing and an internal linking plan will save you from having to deal with orphaned pages. Below we’ll list some tips to help prevent orphan pages on your website.
How to Prevent Orphaned Pages
As a website owner, you’ll often come across orphan pages. Here are some helpful tips for preventing such issues.
Regularly Update Your Sitemap
If you do not already have one, you should create a sitemap for your website. This will make it easy for search engine crawlers to find your content.
Using a sitemap that automatically updates once a new post or page is added to your website makes it easy for search engine crawlers to discover new content.
SEO tools such as Yoast SEO and AIOSEO automatically generate a sitemap upon installation. The sitemap they generate will update automatically when any change is detected on your website.
To use sitemaps, you’ll need to submit your sitemap to Google Search Console for easy indexing. To learn more about this, check our guide on submitting XML sitemap.
Setup Your Website For Success
You should have a link building strategy whenever you publish a new blog post on your website. This should include linking to the new blog post from other related post content.
But if you manually interlink new posts, you may miss some of them. This is where a link assistant tool is essential. If you have the budget, you can opt for the AIOSEO link assistant tool we discussed in this guide.
This tool will prevent you from dealing with orphaned pages by helping you interlink new content as soon as they’re published. If you don’t have the budget to use this premium tool, you can have a manual checklist for interlinking your content after publishing a blog post or a page on your website.
Frequently Asked Questions
These are answers to common questions by content marketers about orphan pages.
Do orphaned pages impact SEO?
Yes, they do. Orphan pages do not show up on SERPs. So no matter how much work you put into keyword research and creating masterpiece content, if there are no links to the page, search engine crawlers will have difficulty finding and indexing the page.
How do I find orphan pages in WordPress?
The easiest way to find orphan pages in WordPress is to use a plugin. If you use an SEO plugin such as Yoast SEO, Rank Math, or AIOSEO, you can easily find and resolve them on your website.
How do I find orphan pages in Google Analytics?
You can use Google Analytics to find pages on your website that aren’t linking to other pages. However, the process is rather long and stressful.
This is because you’d have to extend the date range on these tools to show search traffic over a long period. Then export the report as a CSV file before you can analyze it on a tool like screaming frog to identify orphan pages.
For this reason, we recommend using a plugin to easily find and resolve orphan pages on your WordPress site.
After publishing an article on your website, you should set aside some time to perform internal linking for the new content you publish. This would help you reduce, or even avoid the issue of orphaned pages.
This guide explained what orphan pages are and why they are bad for SEO. We also showed you how to find and fix them on your WordPress site.
If you’d like to learn more SEO best practices, check out our definitive guide to WordPress SEO for more information.