I don't think my problem classifies as Orphan Pages, but read on and be the judge.

I run a small "e-commerce" website that suffers from all the common issues like product description duplicates and non-indexable page with a search for items.

The 1st problem I solve with canonical URLs. But the 2nd problem is my concern.

All pages on the website are "index" and "follow" except for 1 - catalog page where user is able to search for items. Catalog page is (meta name="robots" content="noindex"). I do not index it because from what I've read it's not recommended to do so, because the content is dynamic. Also, products do show up when you enter the catalog page but the number is limited to a few per page, so, there is pagination, and pagination links are "follow" links.

Every product page (canonical or not) is included into the sitemap.txt (except catalog page). All links leading to the Catalog page (like in the header of the website) are also "follow". Catalog page is not blocked via robots.txt. Product pages are also internally interlinked, via the related/similar items.

The product pages do appear in SERPS (if I do a rather specific search)

My question and concern is: with this setup of having the main door to all the products via the only "noindex" page with pagination, does PageRank get passed as it should?

Is it enough to have the links listed in the sitemap even in such configuration to have proper PageRank flow? Or the inverse situation - no sitemap, but a paginated noindex/follow catalog page is present - will all pages be discovered and PageRank passed?

Bottom line, do I have a problem or all is fine?

P.S.1. Unfortunately I do not currently have access to such tools as Ahrefs to verify anything.

P.S.2. I know it is recommended to build e-commerce websites (or actually any website) with a hierarchical structure (home -- category -- sub-category -- leaf page). I would do it, but I still foresee the same problems. That "sub-category" will still be paginated, still dynamic (more content will eventually appear). So, I can't "index" it again. The solution of splitting up sub-category into several indexable sub-categories with no pagination is just way too much work (think permalinks, they will also change to 301-redirects once I have to split sub-category, plus I need to create those new links...)

  • Why is that the ONLY link into the product pages? Each product page should have links from MULTIPLE other pages if you want to rank well. Aug 23, 2022 at 13:33
  • @StephenOstermiller Well, what I meant by "only" is that to get to any product you first must visit catalog page, otherwise there are no other links to products except via catalog page. But when you are already on the product page, then yes, there are links to other [related] products. Hope that clears it up. Aug 23, 2022 at 14:14
  • Related product links definitely count and much improve the situation. Aug 23, 2022 at 15:39


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