Scraper Backlinks, Orphan Pages and Google Juice: 10 SEO Things Website Owners Need to Know

Splash around with website builders and Web hosting? PageRank and generally the algorithmic structure of Google depends a lot on backlinks, both internal and external. However, the sheer volume of changes taking place in the SEO world might leave those who aspire to take their new web properties to new heights a bit lost.

We surveyed Joshua HardwickHead of Content at Ahrefs and patrick stoxTechnical SEO and Product Advisor at Ahrefs on a few niche topics but still interesting on link building.

How do I find orphan pages (i.e. pages with no internal links to) on a site?

JH: Orphan pages are actually quite hard to find. The “best” way will probably be to crawl your site with something like Ahrefs’ site audit and use backlinks and sitemaps as URL sources. It’s not a surefire way to find all orphan pages, but since it uses backlinks and sitemaps as the source of URLs on your site, it will know if those pages don’t have internal links after crawling.

PS: Typically, to find orphan pages, you need to crawl a site and combine that data with other data sources for pages. In the case of site audit, we have sitemaps, backlinks or you can upload a custom list of pages. Pages not found with the normal crawl but included in other sources are orphan pages.

Person looking at website on laptop

(Image credit: Pexels)

Websites often split a longer page (often a review) and put less important (but still valid) information on subsequent pages. Does it have an impact on SEO?

JH: This will likely depend on the search intent for those topics/subtopics. If Google ranks broader guides on the subject for the sub-topic (less important information), you can probably just put that less important information on a page on the subject. But if Google ranks the pages specifically on the subtopic’s subtopic, you might be better off creating a separate page on that subtopic.

PS: If you split a page, you split the content and sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad. Each page would have its own amount of “Google Juice” which is just the PageRank.

Is there a hierarchy of internal backlinks? (for example, some links count more than others – a link from an internal page that has a lot of backlinks counts more than an internal page with few backlinks)

JH: Generally speaking, yes. Internal links from pages with more backlinks will potentially transfer more PageRank to the internally linked page.

PS: Not necessarily more links, but stronger (more PageRank) and more relevant links will have more impact.

Do you believe that internal backlinks follow the law of diminishing returns? (eg once you hit 500 for eg you should just quit)

JH: No, because every internal link can transfer 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 to have a cutoff point.

PS: It’s generally a good idea to link wherever it makes sense, not just for SEO, but also for business reasons.

How can scrapers harm your website in terms of SEO? Can they be beneficial (eg give you backlinks)?

JH: Pretty unlikely to be harmful these days AFAIK. Google is usually pretty good at understanding when a site has removed your content and taking that into account.

PS: There is a risk that they will be chosen as the canonical version and be the ones displayed in Google, but this is quite rare and would usually happen more with syndicated content and not scraped content. They might give you links, but again more than likely for scratch sites that tend to be lower quality, those links probably wouldn’t count at all.

A laptop screen showing a Page Not Found - Error 404 message

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Is it worth updating old broken internal links (404)?

PS: Rarely is it worth it for SEO. It’s part of general website health and maintenance and it’s a bad user experience if people click on any of them. Usually links like this are because a page has been completely deleted, so there is nothing to update. If they had redirected the old page to a new one, it would be more of a redirect and I would suggest doing the redirect before changing any internal links.

Is it worth adding links to existing articles for SEO purposes?

PS: Always link to relevant content. Especially with new content, adding relevant links from existing content gives new content its best chance of ranking.

What is the latest update on 301 redirects based on what you see at Ahrefs?

PS: 301 redirects pass the full value as long as the content is similar. If the content of the pages is completely different, they can be treated as soft 404s and pass no value.

Are there any pitfalls to doing a 301 redirect?

PS: It’s usually fine, but make sure it’s on the right page. Due to things like caching it can be difficult to change later and similarly with signal consolidation this usually happens within a year so changing a redirect, after that time , means the value is already on the other page.

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