Google's Official Advice On Out Of Stock Products On E-Commerce Sites

Mar 18, 2014 • 8:22 am | comments (6) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Out Of StockA common question large sites or e-commerce sites have to ask themselves is what do I do about product pages that are either temporarily out of stock or forever out of stock. It is a question we asked a couple times. In fact, Google's John Mueller gave his two cents in 2008.

Well, now, Google's Matt Cutts created a short video answering what you should do in three different situations.

As I summarized at Search Engine Land, Matt Cutts said it depends on the size of the site.

  • Really small sites can show related products on a product page that is out of stock
  • A medium site needs to 404 the page that is out of stock or if it is temporarily out of stock, communicate when it comes back
  • Huge sites should use a meta unavailable_after tag to automate this process when you know the product will go out of stock, such as craigslist.

That is the short set of answers and the big question SEOs are asking, why not 301 a dead product to a related product? Well, clearly Google is telling you not to do that. John actually explained why in 2008, in short, it can be confusing when someone is looking for product A and is being shown product B.

Forum discussion at Twitter & Google+.

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Stuart David

03/18/2014 12:55 pm

So in real short ... 'Make sure you get rid of that page'


03/18/2014 01:20 pm

In my opinion: We should create related pages. For example: Assume that we have an obsoleted product (A), so the detail page for it isn't needed. Hence, we will create a page to let users know the product A is obsoleted and also include the detail information of another product (B) as replacement or recommendation. This page should have cannonical tag link to product B. P/S: Matt Cutts wear the shirt with Firefox Logo. A competitor of Google Chrome.

Josh B

03/18/2014 01:39 pm

Matt Cutts is quite the FOSS fan. He openly prefers ThinkPads and Firefox over Chromebooks and the Chrome browser.


03/18/2014 01:47 pm

Thanks for infomation , Josh B

Adam Heaton

03/18/2014 04:29 pm

Damn, two different videos for questions from Blind Five Year Old... that doesn't seem at all unusual...


07/05/2014 09:25 am

Hi Barry just a question regarding 404 solution for the out of stock pages. can these pages be redirected to the main category pages since these urls may be submitted in many other websites and that will increase the no. of 404s in the webmaster tools. What do you think of this?

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