As your eCommerce store and online product range grow, so does the likelihood of having more and more out of stock products. However, there is nothing worse for both online user experience & SEO than finding your products, visiting your site, being ready to purchase only to find out there are no items left. You will likely lose that potential customer to a competitor.
Therefore, it is critical that you plan a URL & redirect management process for all out of stock products to minimise the impact that any changes may have on your organic performance, which includes revenue.
What options do I have for handling out of stock products?
For temporarily out of stock products
Then you want to keep the page live, with all internal links pointing to it as normal. Then just simply have an “Out of stock/back soon” notice on the page. But only do this if you’re 100% sure that you’ll have the product back in stock soon.
If a product is fully discontinued
You’ll want to set a 301 redirect from the link/product in question to point to a corresponding product or category page. For example, one of our clients regularly have discontinued jeans as new ones come into season, so when they do, we 301 redirect those products to the new jeans products or to the overall jeans category page.
Also, remember to remove & change all internal links that were previously pointing to the old products and change them to point to the new one.
If a product is out of season
Keep the page live, but just remove all internal links pointing to it and 301 redirect to new season products. Also, don’t feel like you absolutely need to 301 redirect all products if you’re not comfortable with it. Use Google Analytics to understand what products carry equity and are strong for you from an SEO perspective. Those that receive little to no traffic in the first place, can deliver a 404 page rather than a redirect. However, we commonly say for a peaceful night’s sleep, just go ahead and 301 redirect anyway.
What is the SEO best practice for out of stock products?
- Check for all internal links. We recommend crawling the site using a tool like Deepcrawl to see if your old product is still being found somewhere on the site
- Implement schema markup. You’ll want to use https://schema.org/OutOfStock to make sure your out of stock products are picked up correctly.
- 301 redirects. Avoid 302 redirects, always make sure when redirecting that you set 301 redirects to the most relevant page possible. There are many CMS’ tools that allow you to do this easily, such as Redirection on WordPress, URL Redirection on Shopify & more.
- If you have a very popular product, also known as your “hero eCommerce product”, then try and keep that URL where possible. For example, one of our clients had a top-selling denim jacket that just went out of seasonality in the summer months, but it was huge for almost a year. We made sure to place a new denim jacket they received onto that same URL, just changing all the landing page content to make it relevant and obvious that it was a different product, but still raking in the benefits.
If you’re struggling with out of stock products, it probably means you’re growing lots and you’re making a lot of money so congrats! However, make sure to request expert help & a free consultation on the above and try not to do it alone.
For help with an SEO migration, read more about the SEO mistakes to avoid when migrating to a new CMS or domain.