What is Orphaned Content? How to Identify It

Creating content is an essential part of your success but it’s important that all the content on your website is connected. 

One way we connect our content is with internal links that help Google and users navigate the site. 

If you want your content to rank, Google needs to know the content exists. If you’re not linking to a piece of content on your site and someone else isn’t linking to that content it’ll be harder for Google to find it (even if you index it). 

Linking structure isn’t exactly the number one priority for site owners but if you have a bunch of orphaned content on your site, it’ll become your top priority when you’re struggling to get traffic. 

The goal of this guide is to help you understand what orphaned content is and why it’s bad for your SEO. 

What is Orphaned Content in WordPress?

Orphaned content is content that does not have any internal links pointing to it. This makes the content difficult for Google and users to find. 

Every website should have some type of site structure with an overarching topic and related articles that fall within that topic. All those articles should link between each other to connect everything, guide Google throughout the site, and show topical authority on a given subject. 

internal linking structure

This image illustrates what a good site structure looks like. A website has a main topic that it focuses on with a bunch of supporting topics within that. All supporting pieces of content should link with each other. 

When an article does not have anything linking to it, that’s when it becomes orphaned content. 

How Does Orphaned Content Impact SEO?

Orphaned content will negatively impact your visibility in search engines because crawlers will have a harder time finding and discovering the content. 

The goal is for Google to identify as many keywords as possible within your content so you can rank for a high number of search phrases. 

If a piece of content doesn’t have any incoming links, it’ll be harder for Google to find it and ultimately harder for you to rank for various keywords. 

In addition, orphaned content can also impact the user experience of your website. If users are not able to find a page through navigation or search, they may become frustrated and leave your site. 

This can lead to a higher bounce rate and lower engagement metrics, which can further impact your website’s search engine rankings.

How Does Orphaned Content Happen?

Orphaned content usually occurs when you create a blog post and forget to link to it. Unfortunately, this can happen really easily if you’re not organized or don’t have a plugin to help you find internal linking opportunities

If you’re doing everything manually, when you publish a piece of content, you’ll need to look through your website to find other articles that would be worth linking to your new piece. 

Then, you need to go through and find a relevant area with anchor text that makes sense for the link. If you can’t find anything, you may need to add a section to the article to work in the link. 

This is a time-consuming process and it’s easy to understand why people forget. 

How to Find Orphaned Content?

If you’ve determined that you have some WordPress orphaned content on your site, it’s time to fix this issue. 

But, you probably don’t have a master list of every article that doesn’t have internal links pointing to it. 

This is where Link Whisper comes in. Going through your site and manually finding all the orphaned pages can take hours depending on the size of your website. 

You can literally find every orphaned page using the Link Whisper WordPress plugin. 

finding orphaned pages using Link Whisper

All you need to do is go to the “Links Report” and look for all the pages with “0 inbound internal links.” 

This eliminates the need for spreadsheets, lists, and any type of website crawler. Once you’ve identified the orphaned content, you can start internally linking everything according to your website structure. 

When Should You Allow Orphaned Content?

Folks, in general, it doesn’t usually make sense to have orphaned content because it’s bad for UX and for Google’s crawlers but there are some cases where it’s not a big deal. 

Here are some situations where you may want to just leave the pages alone:

Archived Content

If you’ve archived a page because it’s no longer relevant or necessary for your site’s content strategy, it’s okay if there aren’t any links pointing to it. You might just want to keep the content for historical purposes. You don’t need a reason, it’s your site! But, the page is fine without internal links since you’re not worried about it getting crawled anyway. 

Landing Pages

A landing page likely has at least one link because people have to get to it somehow but it might not have other internal links from your website. This is fine. 

If you’re linking to a landing page from social media or PPC ads to try and capture information or sell something, it probably doesn’t make sense for that page to have internal links from your site anyway. 

Non-Evergreen Content

Another example of common orphaned content is outdated or “non-evergreen” content. If you publish content that is time-sensitive, you may not have internal links pointing to it because it can be outdated in only a few days. 

Political content, weather-related content, and sports news can be three simple examples of this. What is news today can no longer be news tomorrow so linking to it could actually be bad for your UX and SEO. 

Final Thoughts

It’s clear why orphaned content happens but that doesn’t mean we should ignore it! If you have a website with a lot of content, it’s likely that you have orphaned content so you’ll want to download the Link Whisper plugin for your WordPress website and get cracking on that. 

Link Whisper makes it simple to see what pages do not have internal links and you can even add the links directly from the plugin. Now get to work! 

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