Eliminate Orphans

Some of you will think this is some sort of Dickensian entreaty to eliminate “the surplus population”. But it isn’t.

I’m talking about orphaned web pages.  A web page gets orphaned in much the same way a human does. It’s parent dies or goes away.

Let me give an anecdote to explain both how it happens and why its bad. I recently met a very well known financial advisor in the Denver area. We arranged to meet at one of my favorite restaurants for some adult beverages.  I got the time wrong and showed up a half an hour early.

So I googled his name so I could give him a call. The first page that came up was from his web site. So, having a few minutes, I started clicking around and thought to myself “This guy needs our service – his web site is WAAAY out of date.”

Once he arrived, I showed him the page and he said “That’s from our old site.” When I clicked on the Home link I could see the new site but all of the old site was still out there and still active. All of these pages were orphaned. They weren’t really supposed to be there.

The obvious solution to this problem is to delete the pages. Right?

Ahh, you were paying attention, good for you. The number 1 Google Ranking for his name was the orphaned page. Delete that and you lose visibility.

There are two steps that should be taken to make sure you get rid of orphaned pages but don’t lose the Search Engine Optimization power that page or those pages have attained.

  1. Create a 301 redirect so that links to the old page will be forwarded to the new page or the appropriate replacement for the old page. There are different ways to implement a 301 redirect. The best way is to edit the .htaccess file but many web control panels will let you accomplish this through a control panel.
  2. Then it is safe to delete the old page.

In case it’s still not clear, let me give you one more example. We recently redesigned the West Chamber Serving Jefferson County web site. Before the redesign there was a Google link to the Youth Leadership Jefferson County that was http://www.westchamber.org/lead-yljc.asp. After the redesign, that page no longer exists but if you try to visit that page, you end up at http://www.westchamber.org/lead-yljc-asp/ which is the correct link.

I just discovered an orphan on our own web site today. That now has a proper 301 redirect so folks don’t get lost or confused. Need help with this? Give us a call at 303 268-2245.

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