The following tips are from Ran of Wood and Beyond
Here are my 2 tips as to how we deal with product discontinuation to preserve some SEO value and to shift authority gained from indexed products. Hopefully you’d like my tips and I suspect other e-commerce sites might benefit from them as well.
Having products discontinue or out of stock is a real challenge for us, and we wanted to make sure all our hard work at the long tail level such as deep linking, high ranking products etc does not go to waste. We came up with the following method to preverse some SEO value and to ensure customers get the best experience when shopping with us. Although implementing this method doesn’t always affect your SEO immediately, in the long run for very little work, results are very convincing.
1. Discontinue products – Some products might be discontinued after several years, at which point they might have a nice number of natural links from forums, blogs, bookmarking sites etc so when marking a product at discontinued the solution most sites use is to display 404 page not found at which point all its seo value goes to waste. We on the other hand automate a 301 redirect of discontinued products to the category level which in return boosts its authority and ensures that new products linked from this category quickly gain authority and page rank from the category level.
2. Out of stock products – Some products might be out of stock for a few days or even a few weeks and to remove them might mean undermining their organic ranking. On the other hand, leaving them as is and driving traffic to these pages might result in disappointed users and low conversions. The solution we implement is to display an out of stock message with the precise return to stock date, to allow users to purchase the product normally to be shipped as soon as it’s in and here’s the connection with seo link to closely related alternative products which in return improves the site’s ranking. Those alternative product links are displayed as in content links explaining why they are an alternative product.
I would love to hear how other sites treat discontinue and out of stock products