URL is orphaned and was not found by the crawler

This means that the URL in question is not part of the crawlable website architecture, and is considered 'orphaned.'

Why is this important?

Internal linking is the main way you help users and search engine crawlers discover pages on your website. From an SEO perspective, internal links are the most effective method of indicating to search engines the relative importance of pages on your website.

Orphaned URLs essentially have no internal links, so the crawler cannot find the pages on it's own. Orphaned pages have come from a different crawl source: XML Sitemaps, URL Lists, Google Analytics or Google Search Console.

The presence of orphaned URLs is not necessarily bad. Sometimes you find some old URLs that are in the Google Analytics recent history, for example, but are no longer live on the website. In this instance you would expect the URLs to return a 404 or 410 response to indicate that they are no longer available.

The cases you need to pay attention to are when you find orphaned URLs that return a 200 (OK) response. These are typically old URLs that need to be removed, or URLs that should be linked to, but aren't for some reason.

What does the Hint check?

This Hint will trigger for any internal URL which does not have 'Crawler' as a Crawl Source.

Examples that trigger this Hint:

The Hint would trigger for any URL which does not have 'Crawler' as a Crawl Source, but does have any combination of the following Crawl Sources: 

  • XML Sitemap
  • URL List
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console

How do you resolve this issue?

The solution to this problem is context-dependent, and there is no one clear path to resolution. You need to investigate what the URLs are themselves, where they are coming from, and, importantly, if they are returning the correct HTTP response.

In some scenarios, no action will be necessary. For example, if orphaned URLs were found in Google Analytics and Google Search Console that all return a 404 status - it would actually be a good thing that these URLs do not have any internal incoming links.

However, a situation where you have orphaned links that return a 200 status would be worth looking into further.

The next stage is to establish if these URLs should still exist. Perhaps they are old discontinued products that have been removed from the website as they are now unavailable - in which has they should 404 or redirect to an equivalent URL. Perhaps they are new URLs that have been published, but no internal links have been added - in which case they need to be linked up to become part of the overall website structure.

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