Orphan Pages

In search engine optimization, orphan pages refer to pages which have lost reference to other pages of a domain. These pages usually contain no Incoming Internal Links and cannot be Crawled by search engine bots. Because of the missing references, they are simply not noticed.

General information

The WWW actually consists of websites that are linked to each other. Hyperlinks or referrals direct user and search engines to other pages within the web. The basic idea is that content is linked to one another and can be accessed through references. Orphaned pages are not part of this web, but they come about when old content is changed and they disappear because of this from the network of websites.

Practical relevance

Orphan pages can occur in different situations. Probably the most common situation is where an error was generated during web design, such as for relaunching a page or creating new contents. A missing link or a faulty link to a page makes it unreachable for search engines.

Users can enter the URL directly into the Web Browsers address line, but in this case, have to know the exact address. For this reason, orphan pages are often designed as test pages to test specific content or designs within a particular group of users without search engines being able to crawl these pages. This is the second application. The third application is that orphaned pages are used as Doorway Pages because they have no inbound links, but they can provide outbound links without backlinks. In this case, they serve as an entry page for other pages or content. A search bot won’t be able to find this content, which is why they should be avoided from an SEO perspective. They also often violate Google policies.

Orphaned pages are also distinguished from dead-end websites. Dead end pages do not contain any outgoing links and do not lead to other content. Both users and search bots have no way to leave the page via an outgoing link. The typical case of a dead-end page is a 404 error, which absolutely should be avoided or requires special handlings from an SEO perspective.

Relevance to search engine optimization

Orphaned pages are not beneficial for webpages because the crawling principle of a search engine is based on following hyperlinks. If a page does not contain internal or external inbound links, the page is not in the structure tree of an HTML construct and is isolated from other pages. At this point, the search engine bot must stop and crawl a different part of the website. It can happen that search engine robots cannot capture all pages because of orphan pages, since it repeatedly gets lost in the URLs and has to abort the search.

Orphan pages can also include pages that have very few incoming links, which in turn come from pages that are partially or completely orphaned. In general, the link structure of a page should be evenly distributed in order to pass the Linkjuice internally to important pages and provide a good user experience.

Orphan pages can be identified with different methods. You need a list of all the URLs of a domain and compare it with a list of crawled URLs. Special tools that work like a crawler are provided by different service providers, including Google. The text-based crawler LYNX is an example of this. The matching of the crawled URLs and all existing URLs must be carried out manually or by exporting the data.[1]


  1. How to identify orphan pages? . moz.com. Accessed on 03/29/2014

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