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This question already has an answer here:

We have our sitemap submitted to WMT. But we have a lot of Orphan pages on our website, and it seems that they do not rank or do not appear on search, therefore, hardly have any traffic or no traffic at all.

My theory: why would Google rank the pages that the own website do not link towards them. So we should add at least one link to each of those pages. (Because they are relevant pages to our website)

But how does it really work? Is it enough to submit a sitemap to WMT to have orphan pages indexed and ranked?

marked as duplicate by Stephen Ostermiller Mar 17 '17 at 19:07

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As you have already identified, your site's internal linking is important not only for making pages accessible to users and bots, but also for indicating their importance. The most 'important' pages on your site - for instance your key landing pages - will naturally be internally linked to the most, and search engines are able to understand that. Internal linking is also important to properly distribute 'link juice' amongst your pages, which directly increases their authority and equity.

The addition of an HTML sitemap may also help orphaned pages to be crawled. Though more for users than bots, HTML sitemaps help to un-orphan pages by linking to them and creating a point of access. It's also important to remember that user behaviour is something that search engines do take note of.

I have to admit that it seems slightly odd to orphan landing pages that you want to rank organically. I would say that usually landing pages that are orphaned - i.e. inaccessible from navigating the site - would be more for PPC or social or email marketing.

Hope that helps.

  • One of the original purposes of the sitemap was to make pages of large sites searchable. This is because it is nearly impossible to link all of the pages effectively on a very large site. I once had a hierarchy navigational link mechanism that would allow a user to walk through to any page (HTML sitemap). This created tons of useless pages that Google did not like and would potentially penalize. With limits to the number of links per page Google imposed, this became even harder. I used only the XML sitemap and for a while, this was fine. But now there is appears there is a penalty for this. – closetnoc Mar 17 '17 at 17:04
  • Depending upon the site size, there may not be a good answer to linking all of the pages unfortunately. However, you are absolutely right! Today, you do need to link all of your site pages somehow and find a way that still complies with Googles anti-spam policies. I actually gave up and deleted nearly 1.7 million pages. In the end, that may have been a good idea as I rework what I do next. – closetnoc Mar 17 '17 at 17:07
  • Thank you both, you two helped me a lot! :) We will try to restructure the website in a way that those orphaned pages would be connected to each other. Also, there is a lot of great information in the post that our admin has linked this question to. Thanks for that @Stephen Ostermiller ! – Kristina J. Mar 17 '17 at 20:15

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