Backlinks from scrapers, orphan pages and Google Juice: 10 things website owners need to know about SEO


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

we probed Joshua Hardwick, Content Manager at Ahrefs and Patrick stox, Technical SEO and product advisor at Ahrefs on some niche but still interesting topics on building links.

How do I find orphan pages (that is, pages without internal links to) on a site?

JH: Orphan pages are actually quite difficult to find. The “best” method 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 foolproof way to find all orphan pages, but since it uses backlinks and sitemaps as the URL source on your site, it will know if those pages don’t have internal links after the exploration.

PS: Typically, to find orphan pages, you need to explore a site and combine that data with other data sources for the pages. In the case of site auditing, we have sitemaps, backlinks, or you can upload a custom list of pages. Pages not found with 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 this have an impact on SEO?

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

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

Is there a hierarchy of internal backlinks? (e.g. do 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 eg you should just stop)

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 for site visitors – so there is 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 for business reasons.

How can scrapers hurt your SEO website? Can they be beneficial (eg giving you backlinks)?

JH: Quite unlikely to be detrimental these days AFAIK. Google is generally good enough at figuring out when a site has scratched your content and taking it into account.

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

Laptop screen showing Page Not Found - Error 404 message

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

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

PS: It’s rarely worth it for SEO. It’s part of the general health and maintenance of the website and it’s a bad user experience if people click on any of them. Usually, links like this are because a page has been deleted completely, so there’s nothing really to update it. If they 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’s 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 not pass any value.

Are there any pitfalls in doing a 301 redirect?

PS: This is 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 it usually happens within a year.

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