Case Study Ranking Impact of Increasing Relevancy through Orphaned Pages

Discussion in 'Case Studies and Journals' started by shaqattaq, Oct 10, 2016.

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  1. shaqattaq

    shaqattaq Active Member

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    The premise of this case study is to examine the ranking impact of linking orphaned pages to a “money page” in order to increase relevance.

    This idea originally came to me via Matt Diggity of Diggity Marketing. In his On-Site SEO Guide, he suggests that linking orphaned pages to a “money page” (or perhaps even an entire money site) would help to increase theme relevance and help to boost rankings.

    As you probably know, an orphaned page has no links from anywhere else on the internet, including the navigation of the site/domain it resides on. Diggity has proposed that simply including these orphaned pages in your XML sitemap and getting them indexed is enough to increase the relevance of the “money pages” that they link to. The orphaned pages will all reside on the same site/domain as the "money page".

    The “money page” I will be attempting to boost is a product review for a laptop. The keywords I will be monitoring will be “brand + model” and “brand + model + review”, something like “Sony PX876R” and “Sony PX876R review”, although these are not the actual keywords.

    I believe these keywords will offer the best insight as they are both very specific and have very little viable competition. I have never linked to this "money page" from any other page on my site, other than automated stuff like site navigation and "related posts" plugin. No links from the outside world either.

    The original laptop review was published April 19th, 2016. Both keywords have been sitting right between Page 1 and Page 2 of the search results. The rankings have been extremely stable and were not at all impacted by the latest Penguin release, as you can see below.

    [​IMG]

    The blue line is “make + model + review” and the orange line is “make + model”.

    The case study will be used to flesh out whether or not these orphaned pages actually get indexed with no additional effort other than the automatic inclusion in the XML sitemap as well as whether or not they can impact the rankings of the target keywords.

    I will create three orphan pages, each with 300-500 words that are related to the laptop (Handwritten by me). I will then link back to the original “money page” (the product review) using the following anchors:

    “my review of the make + model” - Semantic target
    “new laptop” - Semantic
    “click here” - Generic

    These anchors will be included in the orphaned pages contextually. I will make NO CHANGES WHATSOEVER to the original "money page" during this case study. These orphaned pages will ONLY link to my "money page", other than the usual site navigation. There will be no "related posts" or other automatic links created. No authority links or other outside links will be included.

    All three pages will be published simultaneously. The search engine results will be monitored for four weeks. The first results of this case study will be published in 10 days (the 20th of October) unless I see significant movement prior to that date.

    Let the games begin!
     
    Anaconda, phrench, cardine and 2 others like this.
  2. shaqattaq

    shaqattaq Active Member

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    3 supporting pages have been added. I got ideas for pages to create using search terms found on ubersuggest.io. The pages appear in the sitemap.xml file (that is registered in Google Search Console) and are not linked to from anywhere else on my site or elsewhere on the internet.

    It turns out that my Wordpress theme has a "Landing Page" option where I could create a page with no navigation on it at all. The only link other than the contextual link to my "money page" is a breadcrumb link to "Home" at the top of the page.
     
  3. Wazza

    Wazza Active Member

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    It will be interesting to see the results of this.

    I am familiar with Matt's suggestion of using thematically relevant posts to help boost your money page, but was not aware that they had to be totally unlinked (apart from the sitemap). I had it in my head that it was more that you surrounded your money page with relevant posts and linked from them to it, just as additional content, nothing "hidden" as such.
     
  4. shaqattaq

    shaqattaq Active Member

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    The part that is intriguing to me is the fact that when you have an orphan page no one will ever read it. You don't have to worry about quality as much or how it will fit in with the scheme of the site in general. I make sites with lots of product reviews, to have multiple pages supporting each post wouldn't jive with the way I have the rest of the site laid out. At the same time, it's difficult to establish a theme that matches a specific product any other way. My site may have a lot of laptops and be thematically relevant for laptops in general, but being able to be relevant for an individual product, especially considering how low competition can be for those keywords, should be interesting.
     
  5. phrench

    phrench Member

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    Very interesting case study!

    Only thing I would have done different is using the money keywords as anchors. I've read in a German SEO blog that post Penguin 4 internal exact match keywords are working well for a competitor he's monitoring.

    Maybe you have another laptop review page with stable rankings on that site and could duplicate the case study with exact match anchors?
     
  6. shaqattaq

    shaqattaq Active Member

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    Yeah I've got dozens. I'll definitely have to try your suggestion next. I just figured I'd try something that definitely wouldn't get me penalized for over optimization first and go from there. :)
     
  7. cardine

    cardine Administrator Staff Member

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    Welcome back @shaqattaq! This reminds me a little bit of the debate that was had earlier this year about WPSerpFuel - a lot of it came down to whether links from orphaned pages boosted relevancy. I'm glad to see that someone has decided to test this, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the results are (regardless of what they are!)

    If the case study comes up showing that these orphaned pages increase rankings do you think it would be worth following up to see if that is still the case if these pages do not reside on the same site/domain? Or alternatively adding orphaned pages that do not link anywhere and seeing if that improves rankings? The only reason I ask is because there are two potential reasons Google could increase rankings - the first one is the link from the orphaned page, and the second is that more "related' content exists on the same domain name. With that being said, for practical purposes it probably doesn't matter too much which of these two would be the cause a ranking increase.
     
  8. shaqattaq

    shaqattaq Active Member

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    The main reason I wanted to do this case study was because of the WPSerpFuel debate. Originally, I had agreed with your view that an orphan page won't pass any juice, therefore won't help rankings. Then I read Diggity's guide and realized that link juice is only a fraction of the algorithm and that relevancy has become more important than ever. He claims to have been able to increase a local client's rankings for nearby cities by merely using orphan pages with information about the nearby cities linking back to the original service pages.

    I definitely think that the two scenarios you mentioned would be worth pursuing to better understand exactly what is happening, even if they aren't necessarily techniques one would use in the real world.

    If this is indeed a valid technique I'm sure there are a lot of variables on the orphan pages that could be fine tuned including: content length, media (pics, videos), keyword density, anchors, and maybe even link building.

    Small Update

    It's been a few days now and the orphan pages have not been indexed. I went into Search Console and checked my XML sitemap. My sitemap is segmented into files for home/posts/pages. I went into the pages sitemap file and saw that it showed 4/5 pages from the sitemap indexed, although the sitemap itself now has 8 pages (the 5 original + the 3 orphan pages I added). I clicked "resubmit" on the pages sitemap file in Search Console and it now shows 4/8 indexed. Apparently Google had not automatically updated the sitemap file yet. HOPEFULLY this is all that is needed to help get the orphan pages indexed. I assume this would have happened automagically after some time.
     
  9. phrench

    phrench Member

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    This brings me to two additional variations

    1) The silo or content hub approach where the money page also links to the (not so) orphaned pages while the orphaned pages link to the money page, e.g.
    MONEY PAGE <---> ORPHANED PAGE

    2) Kind of a oneway silo approach where the money page links to the (not so) orphaned pages, but the orphaned pages DON'T link to the money page, e.g.
    MONEY PAGE ---> ORPHANED PAGE

    In both variations the money page provides additional information which might also add to its authority or quality.

    It would be interesting to see how these different approaches stack up against each other.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2016
  10. phrench

    phrench Member

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    Why don't you simply add the orphaned pages to the index directly in the search console? https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/submit-url?continue=/addurl
     
  11. shaqattaq

    shaqattaq Active Member

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    If they don't get indexed in the new day or two that will be the next step. Trying to get a feel for how little effort I could put in to get them indexed.
     
  12. shaqattaq

    shaqattaq Active Member

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    Update:

    2/3 of the orphan pages have been indexed. Saw the 3rd indexed at one point but now it's not. I ended up submitting the URLs to Search Console rather than waiting for them to get indexed through the sitemap.

    Rankings have not changed much, but it's only been about a week since the pages were indexed.

    [​IMG]

    The orange is brand + model + review and the blue is just brand + model.

    I will be reporting back in another week. Hoping for better results, although I'm not convinced anything will actually change.
     
  13. phrench

    phrench Member

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    I'd give it 4-6 weeks for the ranking dust to settle.

    Are you tracking how the orphaned pages rank for their longtails?
     
  14. phrench

    phrench Member

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    Any update?
     
  15. DeadJoe

    DeadJoe New Member

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    Interesting stuff. Although I would be a little hesitant on using internal exact match anchors!
     
  16. Richard Clayderman

    Richard Clayderman New Member

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    Very interesting case study!