Backlink scrapers, orphan pages and Google juice: 10 SEO things website owners need to know
7 months ago on July 31, 2023
Do you do website building (opens in a new tab) and hosting (opens in a new tab)? PageRank and Google's algorithmic structure in general relies heavily on backlinks, both internal and external. However, the myriad of changes taking place in the world of SEO (will open in a new tab) can leave those looking to take their new web properties to new heights somewhat at a loss.
We asked Joshua Hardwick, Ahrefs' Head of Content, and Patrick Stokes, Ahrefs' Technical SEO and Product Consultant (opens in a new tab), to discuss a few niche but still interesting topics on link building (opens in a new tab).
How do I find "orphan" pages (i.e. pages that have no internal links) on my site?
JH: Orphan pages are actually quite difficult to find. The "best" way would probably be to check your site with a program like Ahrefs' Site Audit, using backlinks and sitemap as the source of URLs. It's not the most reliable way to find all the "orphan" pages, but since it uses backlinks and sitemaps as the source of URLs on your site, after crawling it will know if there are any internal links on those pages.
PS: In general, to find "orphan" pages you need to do a site crawl and combine that data with other sources of page data. In the case of Site Audit we have sitemaps, backlinks, or you can upload your own list of pages. Pages that are not found in a normal crawl, but are included in other sources, are orphan pages.
Often websites will break up a long page (often an overview) and put less important information (but still valid) on subsequent pages. Does this have an impact on SEO?
If Google ranks broader topic guides by sub-topic (less important information), then you can probably just put that less important information on the topic page. If, on the other hand, Google ranks pages dedicated to that particular subtopic, then it may be better to create a separate page dedicated to that subtopic.
PS: If you split a page, you're splitting content, and sometimes that's good and sometimes it's bad. Each page will have its own amount of "Google juice" which is simply PageRank.
Is there a hierarchy of internal backlinks? (e.g., are some links counted more than others - a link from an internal page with a large number of backlinks is counted more than one from an internal page with a small number of backlinks)
JH: In general, yes. Internal links from pages with more backlinks potentially transfer more PageRank to the page with the internal link.
PS: Not necessarily more links, but stronger (with higher PageRank) and more relevant links will have more impact.
Do you believe that internal backlinks obey the law of diminishing returns? (e.g. if you reach 500, you should just stop)
JH: No, because every internal link can pass PageRank and help a page rank. And even if the page is already ranked, relevant internal links are still useful to site visitors - so there's no need for a cutoff point.
PS: As a general rule, it's wise to put links wherever it makes sense, not only for SEO but also for business.
How can scrapers hurt your site from an SEO perspective? Can they provide benefits (e.g. backlinks)?
JH: At the moment, at least, that's unlikely. Google is usually very aware of when a site is scraping your content and takes that into account.
PS: There is a risk that they may be selected as the canonical version and show up in Google, but this is quite rare and usually more common with syndicated rather than scraped content. They may give you links, but again, it's likely that for scrap sites, which tend to be lower quality, those links won't count at all.
Is it worth updating old broken (404) internal links that are not working?
PS: It's rarely worth doing this for SEO. It's part of the overall health and maintenance of the site, and if people click on such a link, it makes users uncomfortable. Usually these links appear because the page has been completely removed, so there's nothing to update it to. If they redirected the old page to the new page, it would be a redirect, and I would suggest doing a redirect before changing all internal links.
Is it worth adding links to existing articles for SEO purposes?
PS: Always link to relevant content. Especially when it comes to new content, adding relevant links from existing content gives new content the best chance of ranking.
What are the latest changes regarding 301 redirects based on what you see in Ahrefs?
PS: 301 redirect has full value if the content of the pages is similar. If the content of the pages are completely different, they can be treated as soft 404 and pass no value.
Are there any pitfalls in performing a 301 redirect?
PS: Overall it's fine, but make sure the redirect is to the right page. Because of things like caching, it can be hard to change later, and the same with signal consolidation, it usually happens within a year of changing the redirect, after that time means the value is already on a different page.
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