Discontinued
products and SEO

Fixing those 'Not Found' pages is critical

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Products that go out of stock or become discontinued are an SEO issue

This issue will be emerging, again and again, so you need to know how to fix it. You might have product pages ranking well in search results and bringing in traffic to your site. The question is what do you do when the product gets out of stock or becomes discontinued?

site optimization

What are the options?

Well, how you treat this problem depends on the size of your site according to Matt Cutts. The options on hand are:
i) keep the product page,
ii) show a 404 page,
iii) redirect users to a similar product.

Small E-commerce Sites (up to 100 pages)

Small e-commerce sites do not have many product pages. The best thing to do is to show a related product and avoid using a 404 page.

Average Sites (100s or 1000s of pages)

Build a custom 404 page. The reason behind it is that you should not frustrate customers with many products out of stock. The custom 404 page should contain links to your homepage or related products. You should not redirect when products are only out of stock temporary as you will be losing their rankings. Show a message explaining the temporary state of the product.

Large E-commerce Sites

Use a Meta tag to tell Google when the page is no longer available (and therefore shouldn’t be indexed). This tag allows you to put a deadline on it to tell Google when to stop indexing the page. The tag is called the ‘unavailable_after’ tag like the following:

<Meta Name=”Googlebot” Content=”unavailable_after: 17-Apr-2014 8:00:00 PST”>

We should use this tag only on content that expires. For temporary unavailability, use the above 404 methods.

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