how to save your ecommerce seo when your product is out of stock

A successful ecommerce website usually means products regularly selling out. When stocks run out, especially for popular products, it can impact customer experience. You should be able to mitigate disappointment and minimize the impact on search rankings of those product pages.

It’s a fairly common problem in the realm of ecommerce, so solutions to this problem are known. Removing the product page outright, redirecting to the home page, or just not doing anything at all can hurt the website and its SEO, as well as perturb your customers.

Below are things you need to remember in order to make sure the SEO of your ecommerce website doesn’t get sunk whenever a product you’re selling goes out of stock.

Temporarily Out of Stock

When a product goes out of stock, it can be either permanent or temporary.

Temporarily out-of-stock items should definitely have their product pages still be there. Once they’re restocked, it should be business as usual.

But in between, you need to indicate on the page that the product is indeed out of stock.

  • You should indicate that the out-of-stock product is going to get restocked.
  • Just know that when customers go to an out-of-stock product page, they’ll most likely click back to search results, which is a negative engagement and can affect your SEO.
  • You can keep the page live and return a 200(ok) status code in the HTTP header. If you know how, you can use structured markup to let search engines know the product is out of stock.
  • Indicating when the product can be expected to be back in stock greatly helps. You can also provide notification options so customers can be automatically alerted when it’s in stock again.

Permanently Out of Stock

Being permanent out of stock may be due to the product being no longer in production and/or circulation or simply taken out by the seller for whatever reason. The best way to address pages for products that are not coming back is to do 301 redirects to replacement product pages.

  • If you can keep using the URL of a permanently out-of-stock product, then you may be able to make use of its SEO value for the replacement product page.
  • You should check first if it has external links. Since external links add a lot to your site’s SEO, you wouldn’t want to lose the value you get from them by just deleting the product page.
  • If you really have to delete it, you should redirect it to a related product page so you don’t get 404 error, which is bad for SEO.
  • If there are no related products to redirect to, then redirect the product page to a related category instead.
  • Redirecting product pages to other product pages over time can end up making you deal with a lot of housekeeping in the long run. If you have a large ecommerce website, then redirecting to a category page would be the less frustrating option.

You may also reuse old URLs for new product pages instead of resorting to redirecting. If that URL somehow fits the new product even a little bit, then you should be fine using the URL for it and it’ll save you from splitting hairs in the future.

If it does get traffic but has no links, check your data to see if it was actually converting. If it didn’t convert much, then redirecting is the way to go. If it did convert, then leave the page up, show that the product is out of stock, and point customers to other relevant products.

If the product page never got significant traffic at all, then delete it and submit to Google Search Console for removal.

References and Documentation for Out-of-Stock Products

Ongoing support for customers is important as it reminds them that you care about them. Therefore, when a product you sell becomes permanently out of stock, you still want to support those who own that product, having bought it from you.

References and documentation like user manuals and software may still be needed, and customers may look for your website as a source if they ever need them. In some cases, your website may be the only source for documentation if it happens to be a fairly obscure item.

You can have this content in archive pages that remind customers that the product is no longer sold. You show that you still remember having sold it, and you still care for those who bought that product. It’s still extra traffic and opportunity for good SEO, so the effort should be worth it.

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