What Is Orphaned Content & How Do I Fix It?

When it comes to ranking well in Google, you need to think about how it finds pages on your website. Simply adding an XML sitemap is not enough. You need to link one blog post to another it’s an important aspect of your on-page seo.

The concept of internal linking as a solution is rather simple. However, many people overlook the importance of internal linking or do it incorrectly. If you’re writing a lot of blog content, you might overlook the simple things. Almost every website owner, including myself, is guilty of doing this and yet it is oh so important. But let’s first discuss what orphaned content is and how it can be fixed through internal linking.

What is orphaned content?

Orphaned content is content that you’re not actively linking to from another post or page on the website. Content included in a sitemap, menu, or category page can still be considered orphaned content. This is because links included in posts or pages have additional contextual value. It is also more valuable to your users, if content is being linked too from within a blog post.

Great, but does orphaned content really matter?

Orphaned content matters. It is something that many large publishers do. Think of popular news websites like CNET or CNN. The publishers link their post very well, even if the content is from a year ago. They link this content because it relates to the subject at hand and it provides additional information on what the user is currently using.

Additionally, let’s say you write a post and never link to it from any other post or page. How does that make that particular post look if it’s essentially never heard from again? If you ever want a really good example of internal linking and how it resolves orphaned content look at any Wikipedia article.

What am I doing to create it?

You are creating orphaned content at no real fault of your own; in fact it is part of keeping your website up to date. Think about it. When you add a new post, you forget about the post you may have written a month ago. It is hard to remember “Oh that post on x-topic from last month would be great to link to in this article I’m writing!” You essentially forget the older posts exist.

But orphaned content does matter, especially if you want that content to rank well in Google. Therefore, the best thing to do is when you’re writing a post, go back and look through previously written posts. See if any older posts sound like they relate to the new post you are writing.

Cool! So I just link to older posts to new posts?

Exactly. It’s truly that easy to be content-aware. Even if you think linking to a category or tag archive might relate, try linking to it. That way, users can visit content that is related to the same genre of content. Remember, if a post has outdated content or is no longer relevant, then don’t link to it.

If the content has no relevance don’t bother linking to it because you need to think about your readers. For example, in this post, if I linked to a blog post about how much I love cats, that’s not relevant to anything in this post.

Wrapping It Up.

Essentially, link to other posts as it helps your users and it helps Google understand your content. However, it needs to be relevant to what you’re writing about. Lastly, if you have irrelevant or outdated content, it should not be linked at all. This content should remain orphaned.

scott hartley

About the author

Scott is a web performance geek, lover of all things coffee, and avid video game player. His WordPress work delves into web performance, web security, and SEO.

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