If your e-commerce store has a product that has been discontinued or is out of stock, do you know what you should do with the page, from an SEO perspective? Should you create a 404 error page? Keep the product page active even though the product is no longer available? Use an automatic redirect to send users to a similar product?

These are questions that a number of e-commerce stores face each day, especially when they may have a product page that is ranking well in the SERPs. Fortunately, SEO experts have come up with solutions to this problem.

When it comes to your SEO and ecommerce store, what you do with products that are discontinued or out of stock will be dependent on the size of your site.

Know Where Your Site Fits In

If you have a rather small ecommerce site that only has a few pages and products, you shouldn’t use a 404. Instead, redirect your searchers to a related product. For example: “if you are interested in this brass towel rack, maybe you’ll like this stainless steel one.” After all, product pages represent quite a bit of work – especially if you have one ranking high in search engines – you don’t want to negate all this work by just having it completely disappear.

If you have an average ecommerce site that features hundreds or even thousands of product pages, the 404 page is recommended. Since these products have gone away, you don’t want to leave them on your site, basically telling customers that you can’t purchase this anymore. This will only annoy your visitors since they cannot make the purchase. Keep in mind that the 404 pages are not for products that will return. If you have pages that are ranking, you don’t want to lose them, but you do need to make it clear that the item is out of stock temporarily.

If you have a huge site on the same scale as Craigslist or Ebay that has large numbers of pages that are being added, then there is a specific meta-tag that you can use to let Google know that the page does not need to be indexed anymore.

The key is to figure out where your site falls in size and then implement the right action for your out-of-stock or discontinued products. This will keep your customers happy and minimize the negative impact on your SEO efforts.

Ensure that you’re making the right decisions in your SEO campaign – contact the experts at BlueHat Marketing.