If you manage an e-commerce website, it’s important to know what to do when your products are out-of-stock
Every online retail business will need to remove a product from its inventory at some point and overseeing these listings can be a challenge from an SEO standpoint. However, regularly deleting listings creates a poor user experience for your customers, and when handled incorrectly, damages your website’s SEO performance.
So, how should you manage out-of-stock pages, and how do you preserve your SEO to optimize revenue growth? Keep reading to find out!
Why are out-of-stock product pages bad for SEO
Selling out of a product is great for sales— however, when improperly managed, it can hurt your website’s SEO. If you remove a page entirely, you lose the organic traffic and authority that it had generated from any backlinks. This harms your website’s ranking as a whole, which is why instead of taking it down, it’s much better to update your product page.
Create a custom 404 Page
If your products are out-of-stock or discontinued, it’s essential that the page continues to rank without creating a negative experience for consumers. The key to success here is communication, which means business owners will need to update their customers on product stock and other information.
One way to do this is by creating a custom 404 page, which lets customers know when certain products are no longer carried by your brand. With a custom page, business owners are free to personalize it and offer alternatives that might fulfill consumer needs.
An effective 404 page should include the following:
- Contain the same look and feel as the rest of your site.
- Apologize to visitors for the inconvenience and explain what happened to the product.
- Avoid corporate language and show your brand’s personality by using a human voice. Try keeping it humorous to lighten the mood and create a better connection with customers.
- Re-engage visitors by providing alternatives to other relevant products or category pages.
Trust us, your customers will appreciate a 404 page that looks good and offers helpful information!
Optimize product pages for items that will restock
If you know when a particular product will return, you’ll want to keep your customers informed! To communicate efficiently, some brands find it helpful to start notifying customers as soon as product stocks begins to get low. Posting a notice on your website may also create a sense of urgency for people who are considering buying and prevent customers from being caught off-guard when the item does get sold out.
When updating product listings, business owners should clearly label any products that will be restocked and explain why this product is currently unavailable. If possible, let visitors know the estimated timeframe for when the product is expected to return. This gives customers the opportunity to return in the future and complete their shopping.
Collect customer contact information
Not all customers may want to buy your product immediately. If the product they want is out-of-stock but will return, it’s a good idea to capture their contact details and send them a direct update when the item is available for purchase. This strategy also gives business owners an opportunity to get the customer on their mailing list for future company updates and sales opportunities.
Remove product pages with no links and no traffic
In some cases, removing a page from your website can actually help your SEO. This happens when:
- The page doesn’t generate traffic or sales.
- The page has no backlinks from external websites.
- Your e-commerce site is large and has many (several hundred) product listings.
There’s no SEO benefit to old product pages that generate zero sales and traffic. If you have pages like this on your site, the best practice would be to delete them and submit the URLs to Google for removal.
For most business owners, having a successful e-commerce website means prioritizing SEO. If your site isn’t one of the top results on a search engine, customers will likely buy from other competitors instead. As such, it’s important for business owners to update their product pages in a way that keeps prospective customers engaged, even when their preferred product may be out of stock.
A poor user experience will not only affect your sales but can also be a damaging factor for your website’s SEO. If you’re struggling with your SEO strategy, contact us to learn more about your options and the next steps for success.