6 Ways to Manage Out of Stock Products to Protect Your SEO
If your business has been doing so well that you’ve run out of stocks of some of your products, then that’s great! However, that doesn’t mean you have to leave that product page alone while you’re still processing a new batch of sold-out products to sell. You wouldn’t want to disappoint potential customers, which is why you have to create “out-of-stock” strategies to preserve SEO, update your customers, and help increase revenue.
Here are the following ways you can manage your out of stock products, based on the Adwords Management Agency:
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You Need to Create a Custom 404 Page
If you haven’t created a custom 404 page yet, now’s the time to do so! Having a custom 404 page isn’t the absolute solution to resolve all problems related to deleted products pages. BUT, since 404 error pages are inevitable, it’s best to customize it for a user-friendly interface, rather than something generic that would have visitors leave the moment they come across it.
- Instead of simply saying “Sorry, the product you want is out of stock, go somewhere else,” create an SEO-friendly 404 error page by doing the following:
- Create the 404 error page design to match the look and feel of your website. If you can, include the main navigation for visitors to easily go back to browsing your other available products.
- Apologize and let the visitor know what happened, keeping it in ‘human’ tone to lighten their mood.
- Provide suggestions, such as linking out to relevant products and/or category pages for visitors to check out. If you have a developer, you can even customize the error page based on the last page the user was on.
Visitors will appreciate a helpful and friendly 404 error page and will most likely browse through whatever else you have available, so you retain customers.
Optimize Product Pages
Will your out of stock product be back on the online shelves anytime soon? Then you’ll want to make sure that you maintain the relationship with interested customers! Do this by communicating with your customers clearly, letting them know what’s happening so you can retain business.
Don’t let people know your products are out of stock at the last minute, as this negatively impacts user experience. It’s best to let people know about the product status as early as you can.
I recommend that you notify customers when supplies are starting to lower, such as ten items left. This gives customers a sense of urgency and prevents them from being caught off-guard if the item was sold out shortly after. Furthermore, label products that have already gone out of stock, and explain why, as well as an estimated time on when it will be back for buying.
Doing so will allow customers to plan ahead, even waiting for your products to come back for purchasing rather than moving somewhere else.
Use Schema Product and Offer Markups
When you have an out of stock product, set its availability attribute using a preferred mark-up. Use schema.org, letting users and search engines know that your product is currently unavailable.
Make sure that you use schema to update your products’ availabilities, updating it ASAP whenever there is a change in stocks.
Optimizing for a Product That Won't Be Restocked
Sometimes, you’ll choose not to restock on certain products anymore for various reasons. During these situations, you need to let interested customers know that certain products won’t be available anymore without hurting your SEO or user experience.
You can do this by either creating a custom 404-page letting people know about the product status. Let them know what alternatives you may have to offer to fulfill certain needs. But if you’re removing a lot of products, I don’t recommend doing this, as a lot of deleted pages won’t do well for SEO.
If you plan to restock on similar products, redirect customers to related products instead. Just make sure that you communicate this redirection well and explain why you don’t carry the specific product they have, but that you are taking them to another alternative that they may be interested in.
Push the Product to the Bottom of the Category Page
If you have a lot of products and can’t create too many 404 error pages, you may want to consider pushing the product to the bottom of its appropriate category page. People won’t scroll down or visit until the last page of the category (unless they are very detailed buyers), so chances are that when you place the product on the last of its page, no one would be able to see it.
Instead, they would select some of the first few products they see, especially bestsellers with great reviews. Place the available, popular, and relevant products first in every category page, so they will most likely be bought!
Apply the “Unavailable After” Date Meta Tag
Do you have a product that won’t be available after a certain date (it may be a part of a promotion or a product that spoils)? Whatever the reason for its deadline, you need to be clear with your customers that certain products will NOT be available after specific dates. That way, no one will feel disappointed, and it creates a sense of urgency for them to purchase the product right away.
To do this, add an “unavailable_after” meta tag, which lets Google know in advance. With this Meta tag, search engines will only show the specific product page only until the expiry date given. After 24 hours of the expiry date, the product page disappears from its search results.
The Right Strategy Helps Everyone
There are many strategies to choose from when it comes to dealing with out of stock pages. However, there is not ONE strategy for all. You have to devise a good strategy that works for your individual preferences and needs.
With that in mind, these are the following goals you need to accomplish, which can help you create a clear strategy:
- Communicate with your customers and visitors well
- Provide updates and consider integrating online marketplaces with your product pages
- Always put the users first, but never forget about search engines
- Test out the strategies with A/B testing and always find ways to improve.
Wrapping It Up
When handling an e-commerce website, even your out of stock product pages need to be updated and optimized immediately. This prevents dissatisfied visitors and less revenue. With these mentioned tips and methods, you can reap the benefits of your popular products even if they are currently unavailable!
Don’t wait any longer and utilize these tips and methods I mentioned to improve your SEO efforts and reach business goals now.