How to Manage Out of Stock Product Pages for SEO


14 Comments
  1. Thanks for the info. As a large ecommerce site with seemingly lots of links to products from dodgy sites, the answer is “yes”, has links but the links are from questionable sites. What then?
    If the link (one or two in our case) is to a product that is not coming back, we have to date considered the customer experience of linking to a product that is not exactly “the product” or a category page which the customer would then undergo a search and discover that, no, this site does not have what I’m looking for. So we have let 404 for usability. Your calculus would over-rule that procedure in SOME cases. Thoughts?

  2. Hi Thomas,

    If the linking sites are dodgy, I would probably treat those links as if they don’t exist and add them to your disavow file. So in that case, let it 404.

  3. Great post!

    After you took care of the old “out of stock” pages and you now monitor the site. there is a question:

    What to do with new pages that are going out of stock?

    Would you wait with it to see if its still getting traffic and a.conversions ?
    Or-
    You will decide if to redirect/404 by its preformance while it was on stock ?

    Many Thanks.

    • Thanks, Gefen, that’s a great question! I think a lot of the recommendations still stand. I wouldn’t consider the performance of the page while it was in stock. It just wouldn’t be an accurate representation of how the page will perform when the product is no longer available.

      If you want to play it very safe, you could keep it up and see if it continues to result in assisted conversions or you could mention similar products on the page to see if people convert, but there is a drawback of a potential negative user experience if you do that.

      If the product isn’t coming back, I feel that it would be better to redirect it to a similar product, if you have one. That would be a much better user experience and it would eventually get the old page out of the index.

      If the page doesn’t have any links or if there isn’t a similar product to redirect to, I think it would be best to let it 404 and get it out of the search index. For large sites especially, keeping these “out of stock” pages up would be a major headache over a long period of time, so it’s usually better to redirect or get rid of them.

  4. Happy Thanksgiving,
    I’m working on an online store that has A LOT (hundreds) of products that need to be removed due to a FTP data feed which wasn’t reviewed very well. These products need to be removed and we’re not sure how best to handle it. Products with associated categories (that we want to sell) will be redirected to those categories. But many of the products don’t fall into categories that we want to sell and just need to go. A major concern is how will “404-ing” these (all at once) effect our ranking? We’re fixing the data feed and plan to make the items “not visible” on the storefront, then possibly 404 the items in small batches to reduce the possible impact of the Google crawlers.

    • Hey Jeff,

      I think your plan to make the pages not visible on the storefront is a good place to start. Following that, I think the rest of this article would apply.

      I would check those URLs in link tool like Ahrefs, Moz, or SEMrush to make sure they don’t have any links. If they do, you should redirect them.

      You should also check analytics to see if any of those pages are converting and driving revenue. You definitely don’t want to lose those pages.

      If it doesn’t have links and isn’t driving revenue, it’s probably not helping your site and the rankings those pages have aren’t valuable anyway. If it’s getting a lot a traffic, then you might want to look at what it’s ranking for to see if it’s worth keeping or redirecting. From my experience, that’s pretty rare.

  5. Hi there, what about possible site performance issues with having thousands of 301 redirects? We have 2400 and constantly growing out of stock products (everything we sell is a unique one off item) that rank in google and some have external links and i am at a loss to know what to do with them as i’m told if i redirect to categories expect a performance issue by having all those redirects?

    Thoughts?

    Thank you, great article too.

  6. Considering the value of the loyal customers, every online business should invest in such a system of managing & letting the users know of the replenished stock.

  7. Hi

    Just not clear to me – for an ecommerce website- how much should be the minimum of organic sessions for a page for one year in order to consider a redirect 301?

    • Hi Naomi, that really depends on the site and what you’re seeing in regards to conversions, but I usually recommend starting at around 10 organic sessions per year. It’s a fairly arbitrary number, but it’s a starting point. If it’s a big site, 10 sessions or less should help remove a good chunk of the site that doesn’t perform well. But you might even see that pages with 50 or even 100 sessions per year are not converting at all, which would make sense to delete or redirect too.

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Alex Juel on lake beach.

Alex Juel

Alex’s specialty at Inflow is to link it up, wrap it up, get it out there and get results. He has experience with clients large and small in a wide variety of industries.

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