What to do after eliminating a product from your online catalogue?
SEO for Ecommerce
This is usually one of the most common questions asked by our ecommerce clients, because it is a situation that frequently arises. We have to bear in mind that each case is different, however, and that there is no set rule that we can follow.
There are three basic situations that can happen when eliminating a product from a catalogue:
- The product is not in stock now, but will be available in the near future
- The product will never appear in the catalogue again
- We do not know whether the product will appear again or not.
CASE 1: We have no stock of the product, but it will be available soon
Our general advice here is to keep the page up, as it is no worth redirecting or de-indexing the product if we are going to have it again in the future.
It is worth restructuring the page, because if a client lands here and sees that there is no stock, it will contribute towards a general feeling of anger or resentment that is not good for us. One of the most suitable ways of handling this situation is to change the buy button for another saying “Order when it becomes available” and to change the function of our ecommerce so that instead of going to the shopping basket we take them to an extra feature where we request the client’s email or contact number. Using this approach allows us to notify the client when we have the item in stock again, and generate a potential sale.
We can also help our clients by making tailored recommendations for similar products, and guide them towards another purchase. We can place special emphasis on certain recommendations, to avoid disappointing clients.
CASE 2: The product will never appear in the catalogue again
In this case, the most obvious response is a 301 redirect to the page with the category/sub-category that is closest to the product in question. We want any potential clients who land on the product page in the period in which it is still indexed to be directed towards our range of related / replacement products.
If the product was vital to our business, we can look for alternative solutions, but as always general rules are dangerous and each case should be studied individually to avoid problems in the future
In one particular case with a Flat 101 client, instead of using a 301 to the next closest page, we redirected visitors to a new landing page which explained that the item in question was no longer available, and suggested related products and families. It was one way of offering the user added value, and the results in terms of visits and final purchases were very positive.
CASE 3: We do not know what will happen with this product
In this case there are many factors to consider. As I said at the start, each case is different and must be studied on its own. Depending on our position with this product, the number of visits it generates and sales is gives us, customer satisfaction, etc.
We can establish a type of general rule:
- If the product is (or was) vital to our business, we must find a way of keeping it, and change the landing page as we saw in Case 1.
- If the product was of little importance, we should opt for a case 2 solution, redirecting enquiries to the category page, or recreating the page when the product is back in stock.
Besides the cases mentioned above, we ought to mention those products that we know will be available for only a limited time when we are creating them.
We must take this into account when we create the product page, because Google provides us with an extra meta tag, the “Unavailable after“ The post is from 2007 but is still perfectly valid. By putting this tag in the <head>, we are telling Google clearly the exact date from which this product will no longer be available. On the date in question, Google will de-index the page.
Be careful with this measure because it entails many SEO implications, such as all the links created pointing to this page being redirected to another, so again we must study each case individually to see what the best solution is. A timely redirect will make it possible to restore those juicy links.
What do you think? Come on and tell us!