When selling in the online marketplace, there will eventually come a time when you either run out of a product you carry or decide that the demand for it has waned and it is no longer profitable to sell.  Often when this occurs sellers will delete the product or hide the product from shoppers.  While this may seem like an easy way to clean up and keep your dashboard nice and tidy, by removing these products you are failing to implement an easy SEO strategy that will pay off and win you additional traffic with time.

How will deleting a product hurt your SEO?

Removing products may not only frustrate your customers with an error page or ‘MIA’ product, but it can also affect the rankings and other SEO properties that your product has already gained.  Deleting a product will:

  • Eliminate the organic rankings that that product page had generated for your site and may result in your site being ranked lower
  • Cause a break in the inbound links that go to the product page from other websites or blog content
  • Remove the image rankings that the product image has generated
  • Result in removal from the index due to broken links created from the removal of product images

What to do instead

Instead of just deleting products off of your site there are a few options to help your customers avoid any confusion while still being able to reap the benefits of the page’s long-term SEO history.

  1. Remove the ‘Add to Cart’ button with a “Sold Out’ button – The first step we suggest when you have a product that is no longer available is to replace the add to cart button on the product page with a button that instead reads ‘Sold Out’ or ‘Item Unavailable’ so that the customer will not become frustrated when they are unable to complete their purchase.
  2. Include a note that the item is no longer available – When your customer lands on the old product page, have a clearly written note indicating the item is no longer in stock.  The page will not be removed from rankings, but your customers will know immediately that they are unable to purchase that item.
  3. Provide a new link on the page for a similar item – Determine what type of product your consumer would be interested in and provide a selected link on the page of the product that is no longer available.  You will not only direct them to another item but will keep them on your site longer.  One great way to find an alternative link is through a ‘Related Products’ section that automatically displays products from the same collection.

While maintaining a clean listing of products may make managing your store a little easier in the short term, you run the risk of losing hard earned SEO ‘link juice’.  Instead, follow the steps we listed above to help keep your site ranking and keep your customers happy and engaged.

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