"Orphaned? That's kind of a sad thought.... I picture crowds of disheveled pages huddled together against the cold, sleeping in the gutter and performing pop-ups for food and trying not to get pulled into prostitution by Russian pornsite merchants. Is there an orphanage for web pages? Can they be adopted by Angelina Jolie?"After getting over my case of the giggles, I spent a little more time thinking about orphaned pages. This is a common occurance on sites that have been around a while. The orphaned page exists in a vacuum: it has a web address, but is not linked from anywhere on the navigation, sitemap, or otherwise visible areas of the site.
Occasionally this happens on purpose so that legacy information is still available to other sites or visitors who have linked or bookmarked those lonely pages. We keep them around for the convenience of those people who still want them (sad and undernourished though they be). Such unfortunate little pages lurk in the dark corners and suffer our lack of attention.
So, should we go Angelina on them? Of course! If we feed them up properly and make them feel useful again, they could be extremely beneficial.
Setting the metaphor aside, this basically means that we sometimes neglect very valuable sources of traffic. Check your traffic reports, and you'll sometimes find lucrative web traffic from unexpected corners. Removing those pages altogether would serve up a not-so-pretty "Page Missing" message, so why not direct the traffic to a better place?
Giving those orphaned pages a little love by funneling your old page content into the new sections will help you leverage that traffic. Updating your orphaned pages by placing links leading to new content pages can help bring the orphaned pages (and visitors) back into the fold.