Dealing with Search Traffic issues?

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High This Hint is very important, and definitely warrants attention. Issue This Hint represents an error or problem that needs to be fixed.

Orphan URL received search traffic

This means that the URL in question is not part of the crawlable website architecture, yet received organic search traffic, per the connected Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts.

Why is this important?

Orphaned URLs should not really exist - they are normally accidental, or the result of a problem yet to be fixed. In this case, either the page should not be orphaned, and is probably missing out on MORE search traffic, or the page should be orphaned, and should not be receiving traffic at all.

An example of page that should not be orphaned would be a new page on the site, where the URL has been made live, but no internal links have been pointed at it.

An example of a page that should be orphaned would be an old page such as a discontinued product, where internal links have deliberately been removed so they no longer point at the orphaned page.

What does the Hint check?

This Hint will trigger for any internal URL which is orphaned (i.e has no incoming links), yet recorded some clicks in Search Analytics, and/or some visits in Google Analytics.

This data was collected from Google Search Console and Google Analytics, via API, for the connected Property/View, and for the specified date range.

How do you resolve this issue?

Before jumping to any conclusions, it is worth remembering that the traffic data collected is historical, yet the crawl was done in real time - so it might be the case that this URL used to be part of the website architecture, and has since become orphaned.

Assuming this is not the case, then to deal with this we need to examine our 2 potential situations:

  1. URL should not be orphaned - in this case, you need to add links pointing at the orphaned URL, from other internal URLs.
  2. URL should be orphaned - in this case, you need to establish if it should even be accessible at all. If the content used to exist but is now dead, then you should serve a 404 (Not Found) or 410 (Gone) HTTP Status code. If the content should exist for users but not search engines (e.g. a 'hidden' login page), consider adding robots="noindex" or blocking the page behind a login.

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