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Find and Fix Orphan Pages With MarketMuse

6 min read

The buyer journey is a messy business at the best of times. It’s even worse when your content leads them to a dead end. MarketMuse can help you quickly identify the culprits and fix them so that they’ll never get stuck again.

Here’s how we do it.

What are Orphan Pages?

First let’s define what we mean by orphan pages. Traditional SEO refers to orphan pages as those that lack incoming links from the same domain.

That’s the symptom.

Only MarketMuse helps you find the root cause of the problem. Those are pages that aren’t linking out to any other pages of the same domain.

A website with lots of interconnecting pages looks something like the diagram below. In reality it’s a lot more messy but we just cleaned for the sake of learning.

A website with lots of interconnecting pages.

Contrast that with a site where connections are fewer and farther apart and where some paths lead to dead ends. You get the picture!

Graphical representation of a website showing missing connections and pages with no links to other pages within the site.
Pages that don’t link to others on site are a dead end to the buyer journey.

Now if you want to kick it up a notch, MarketMuse can also isolate pages that have no links pointing externally either. Now we’re getting into advanced SEO concepts like dangling nodes. That’s beyond the scope of this article, but if you want to explore it further read Search Indexing Dead Ends: IBM Patent Explores Dangling Nodes by Bill Slawski.

Why Orphan Pages are Bad for SEO

Dangling nodes are bad because they don’t link out to anything else on the web and thus end up hoarding Page Rank. Dixon Jones offers a great explanation of how this happens in How PageRank Really Works: Understanding Google.

MarketMuse strips out boilerplate text (like menus and footers) and only analyzes the content portion. So strictly speaking, these aren’t dangling nodes.

Call them orphan pages. Call them dead ends. Unless that page is a signup to purchase, the lack of links to other internal pages effectively stops the buyer journey.

That’s the last thing any content marketer wants to aim for. And if it’s not good for your customers it’s not good for search engines.

Finding Orphan Pages

MarketMuse reveals those orphan pages for you every time it updates your page inventory. This stuff happens automagically.

  • There’s nothing for you to schedule.
  • There’s nothing to run.
  • There’s nothing to cross reference.

Just make a copy of our Orphaned Pages view so you can easily see them.

Orphaned Pages is a template available in Pages Inventory.

The fastest way to see the orphan pages on your site is by using the Saved View template for Page Inventory called “Orphaned Pages.” This view applies a filter to show only orphan pages along with selected metrics. But if you wanted, you could also add a filter for links to external pages as well.

This view offers a number of page metrics that the platform tracks as well, including:

  • Internal links – the number of links from this page pointing to other pages on the same domain.
  • External links – the number of links pointing from this page to other pages on external domains.
MarketMuse Page inventory showing list of pages with no internal links along with the following metrics - number of external links, number of related topics, and top valued topic.
Orphaned Pages view filters for those pages that are not linking internally to other URLs.

In the next step we’re going to fix these pages using the Connect application, which means we need to decide on the topic of the page first. Sometimes the URL or the Top Valued Topic metric is enough of an indicator. If not, click on the row to open up the Page Details and look at the Ranking Topics to get a better idea.

MarketMuse page detail showing ranking topics including the following metrics - page authority, topic authority, rank, URL, and page title.
Click to zoom.

Fixing Orphan Pages

The best way to fix the orphan page problem is to link to semantically relevant pages on your website. The easiest way to do this is by using the Connect Application.

Here’s what you do.

Open up the Connect Application, enter your topic and let MarketMuse work its magic. It will return up to 10 anchor text suggestions. Each anchor text itself will have up to 10 internal and external URLs to use as a link for the anchor text.

MarketMuse connect application showing an internal linking suggestion consisting of an anchor text and associated URLs.
The Connect application provides up to 10 anchor text suggestions and corresponding links.

Update your page using a few of the suggestions as you deem editorially appropriate. There’s no hard and fast rule here, do what you feel is best for your audience.

While you’re at it, consider adding some links to external sites as well, if the page doesn’t already have them. The suggestions are right there in the Connect application under the External tab.


It’s hard enough moving website visitors down the funnel as it is. So don’t block them through lack of internal linking. Use MarketMuse to quickly identify and fix those orphaned pages. Your prospects will thank you for it and so will search engines.

What you should do now

When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you publish better content, faster:

  1. Book time with MarketMuse Schedule a live demo with one of our strategists to see how MarketMuse can help your team reach their content goals.
  2. If you’d like to learn how to create better content faster, visit our blog. It’s full of resources to help scale content.
  3. If you know another marketer who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

Stephen leads the content strategy blog for MarketMuse, an AI-powered Content Intelligence and Strategy Platform. You can follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.