Locating web pages without links can be a real headache. If your site has pages that search engines and other users are not able to read, you could have a significant problem on your hands. Fortunately, there is a way to fix these orphaned pages, so if you need some assistance locating them on your site here is how to do so.
Orphaned Web Pages
An orphaned page is simply a webpage without any links. They are problematic because Google’s crawlers are unable to link to them from another page, or their crawlers are unable to find the URL in your XML sitemap.
Orphaned Web Pages And SEO Issues
When a page is not indexed it will not show up in search results. Even if you ensure the page is listed on your XML sitemap, it will still present a problem for SEO. That’s because no internal links mean that no authority is passed onto the page, which deprives search engines of any meaningful way to evaluate them. In turn, this makes it much more difficult for Google to determine which search queries should direct users to your page.
Find Your Crawlable Pages
Before you can fix your orphaned pages, you will need to ascertain what pages can be reached when crawling the links on your site. An SEO spider such as Screaming Frog can accomplish this task nicely. When you initiate the crawl, be sure to use the canonical URL otherwise you could encounter more problems. After the crawl is finished, export your URLs to a spreadsheet.
Using Google Analytics
As mentioned, it is difficult, if not nearly impossible, for Crawlers to find orphaned web pages. This means that most SEO programs will likely be unable to find them. Fortunately, Google Analytics provides an easy solution provided it is installed on the pages in question.
If Google Analytics is indeed installed and the page has been visited, there is likely a record somewhere. To access a list of URLs, select “All Pages” then click “PageViews” and look for the pages with the lowest number of visits. Some of these are likely to be your orphaned pages.
Once you have located the “analytics URLs”, export them to a spreadsheet and modify them to meet the standards for a basic URL. If you are using Excel or Google Sheets, this can be accomplished with the concat() formula.
How To Spot Orphan URLs
Once you have two spreadsheets, one with crawlable URLs and another with analytics URLs, it is time to check if any URLs on one list are also on the other. This can be accomplished using the “match” formula. Keep in mind that the URLs you are looking for may only appear on one sheet, so it is a good idea to maintain vigilance and double check everything.
Other Tools For Finding Orphaned URLs
While Google Analytics is a powerful tool, there are also other places you can look. For example, Moz Link Explorer, SEMrush, and Ahrefs all contain lists with pages crawled from your website. Sometimes, these applications will be able to locate pages that are not crawlable by way of some other factor (which would have been discovered when the page itself was crawlable).