If you want content to rank in Google, Google needs to know about the existence of that content. That means that you (or another site) should link to this content. Google will follow links and saves every post or page it finds through these links to in the index. So you’ll understand that it’s important you make sure you link to all of your content. That sounds ridiculously simple, but if you’re creating and publishing a lot of content, your linking structure might not be a top priority. That’s why we’ve added a new functionality to Yoast SEO premium, which will warn you about posts that aren’t linked to at all: the orphaned content feature.
What is orphaned content?
The term ‘orphaned content’ refers to articles that don’t get any links from other articles or posts. As a result of that, these articles are hard to find, both by Google and by users of your site.
If you create a new post, it’ll appear on your homepage. That does create a link, of course. If you add categories or tags to your post, it’ll have a few more links. Orphaned content can have these kinds of links, but lacks text links.
Why is orphaned content important for SEO?
To rank with content in Google, Google obviously needs to know about it. Google and other search engines follow links and save all the content of pages in their index. Orphaned content has few internal links from other pages or posts linking to it. Google will consider this type of content less important. So, if an article is important to you, you should make that clear to Google (and your visitors). Link to that specific article from other (similar) content.
How is orphaned content created?
If you write a new blog post, publish it and then forget about it, you probably won’t link to it anymore in your new posts and pages. Is this a bad thing? Well, that depends on the quality of the blog post. It is definitely a bad thing if you want people and Google to find your post because it’s important. In that case: make sure Google and your audience can find that orphaned blog post. Linking to it from articles that generate a lot of traffic in the search engines will help Google and your audience get to your blog post.
How do I use the orphaned content check?
You can find the orphaned content filter in your post overview. If you’ve installed Yoast SEO premium, your post overview will look like this:
Clicking on the orphaned content filter will give an overview of all the posts without text links linking to them. At Yoast, we have quite a few orphaned articles as well (content-team are you reading this? We have some work to do here ;-)).
Scrolling through our own orphaned articles, made me very aware of the fact that recent articles are often orphaned. We just don’t get around to adding links to these articles in our existing blog posts. Still, for articles that are important to our SEO strategy or to our brand, we should make sure to add links in posts that generate a lot of traffic. That’ll help Google and our audience to find those important posts.
You’ll receive a notification in your SEO dashboard if your site has orphaned content.
Should you always ‘solve’ orphaned content?
For some articles, it isn’t that important to solve an orphaned content status. Some blog posts are only important for a short period of time. At Yoast, we’re writing a lot about YoastCon at the moment, because that’s a big event coming up. Announcing such an event makes for a great blog post, but such a blog post probably has less value next year. It’s no problem for such a post to remain orphaned. In fact, perhaps you should consider deleting these pages (properly of course!) altogether. That’ll clean up your site a bit.
Conclusion: keep an eye on that orphaned content!
As I have shown, it’s easy to unwittingly create orphaned content, if you’re writing a lot of posts. From now on, you can use the orphaned content feature of Yoast SEO premium to stay on top of things. You can easily check which posts and pages are orphaned, and add links to important content, so both Google and your users can find it!