As an SEO consultant working closely with small business clients, I often come across the concept of 'orphaned content.' Orphaned content refers to pages on a website that aren't linked to from any other page on the same site. They're isolated, making them difficult for users and search engines to discover.
Why is Orphaned Content a Concern?
- User Experience (UX): Imagine a store where certain products are stored in a hidden room with no doors or signs pointing to it. Even if these products are of high quality, customers won't buy them simply because they don't know they exist. Similarly, if your website visitors cannot easily navigate to all of your content, it limits their user experience.
- Search Engine Crawling: Search engines, like Google, utilise web crawlers or 'spiders' to explore and index content. These crawlers move from one page to another via links. If a piece of content is orphaned, there's a high chance it won't be indexed, diminishing its potential to rank in search engine results.
- Wasted SEO Potential: For small businesses, every piece of content should serve a purpose, be it driving sales, generating leads, or enhancing brand awareness. Orphaned content often represents wasted resources, as the hard work put into creating it might not deliver the intended ROI due to its isolation.
How Does Content Become Orphaned?
Several scenarios can lead to the creation of orphaned content:
- Redesigning or restructuring a website without adequately mapping or migrating the old content.
- Publishing a post or page and forgetting to link to it from other relevant parts of the site.
- Removing pages that link to certain content but not creating new pathways in their place.
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Identifying and Fixing Orphaned Content:
- Website Audits: Tools like SEMrush can crawl your website like search engine bots. They visually represent your site's structure, helping identify pages that lack internal links.
- Strategic Internal Linking: Once orphaned content is identified, the next step is to link it to other relevant pages. This not only makes the content accessible but can also distribute 'link juice' or authority among your pages, boosting their potential to rank.
- Sitemap Submission: Ensure you have an up-to-date XML sitemap listing all your website's pages. Submit this sitemap to search engines like Google via their respective webmaster tools. This can act as a safety net, signalling crawlers to index even the pages they might have missed during their routine crawls.
- Regular Check-ups: Content is continually produced and updated for growing small businesses. Regularly auditing your site for orphaned content should be part of your SEO maintenance routine.
As an SEO consultant, I recommend always ensuring that all your content is well-integrated into the broader website structure. This ensures that search engines can find and rank this content and guarantees that your audience can seamlessly discover and engage with all the valuable information you offer.