SEO strategies for discontinued products
Ecommerce webs and webs with URL lists (e.g. articles, products, advertisements, services, etc.) have in common that they show pages with an HTTP code of 200, which means that the URL is correct, but without any content. This is the case of discontinued or out of stock products. The reason for this happening is that it is easier to find URLs which are being indexed but no longer have their content available.
Why should we implement SEO improvements?
We have to implement them because the URLs are not being indexed. They lack content, i.e. in our case the web does not include product X. This results in a bad user experience where he or she cannot see nor buy the product, and leads Google to stop ranking the URL. The page will experience a very high rebound because the search does not provide results.
In order to avoid these problems with indexing and ranking, we have the following solutions where we talk in detail about the different recommendations for each case. It is very important to follow at least one of these tips to prevent products out of stock becoming a problem for our web:
Include <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, follow”> in the web pages with discontinued products. When these web pages are no longer indexed, Google can keep on through the links, which helps the search engine continue indexing the content of our website.
Since there is the possibility that some products are again on stock or can be on stock in the short-term, we will keep the meta tag “robots” for six months. If the product becomes available again during that period, the URL will be re-enabled so that it is indexed as
<meta name=”robots” content=”index, follow“>. This will allow the URL to be indexed again in the search engines.
If the product does not become available in this period, the URL will be redirected with and address 301 to the category where it belongs. This will prevent Google indexing pages without content, and it will boost the SEO visibility of the web page we are redirecting, e.g. links, previous ranking in the past, relevance…
- In the case of seasonal products, like Christmas products, Saint Valentine’s products, summer products, etc., it is recommended to set a a 302 redirection to the main category or the home page for as long as the URL of the product or the season are not active. When the URL is used the following year, we will remove that redirection to allow Google to index that content again.
- Warning! This solution is only for seasonary aspects that replicate yearly, not for products out of stock.
- When we know that the products will never we available again, we will use the 301 redirection without any “meta robots” in the redirected URL.
Difficulty level: medium, for users with previous SEO knowledge.
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