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Discontinued products are inevitable when running an e-commerce store. You probably won’t sell all of your e-commerce store’s existing products indefinitely. As you add new products to your e-commerce store’s inventory, you may stop selling some of its existing products. Rather than deleting pages for discontinued products, however, you should optimize them. Performing some basic on-site search engine optimization (SEO) will increase the value of discontinued product pages.

Fulfill Remaining Orders

Try to fulfill any remaining orders for discontinued products. Canceling the remaining orders will result in lost sales and dissatisfied shoppers. Assuming you still have a discontinued product in stock — or you can procure the discontinued product from a vendor — go ahead and fulfill the remaining orders.

After deciding that you want to remove a product from your e-commerce store’s inventory, you can update the page with a “Discontinued” message while also deactivating the page’s add-to-cart functionality. New shoppers won’t be able to place orders for the discontinued product. Of course, some customers may have placed orders before you updated the page. Fulfilling these remaining orders will ensure they have a positive experience that boosts sales and satisfaction.

Remove From Navigation

If your e-commerce store no longer sells a particular product, you should remove it from your store’s navigation. You don’t have to delete it. On the contrary, deleting the discontinued product page may have adverse effects on your e-commerce store’s SEO.

Deleting means you’ll lose the SEO benefits of the discount product page’s backlinks. Backlinks encourage higher search engine rankings. If you delete a page for a discontinued product, your e-commerce store will lose all of the page’s backlinks. Maybe it has 20 backlinks, or perhaps it has 2,000 backlinks. Regardless, the backlinks won’t work if you delete the page, nor will they pass SEO equity or link juice to your e-commerce store.

Removing the discontinued product page from your e-commerce store’s navigation will preserve its backlinks while making it difficult for shoppers to find. Your e-commerce store will gain the SEO benefits of the page’s backlinks. Shoppers, though, won’t stumble upon the page when searching for products. You can then optimize the page for the discontinued product so that it doesn’t drag down your e-commerce store’s search engine rankings.

Show Related Products

To optimize pages for discontinued products, consider showing related products on pages on them. Along with a “Discontinued” message, include a set of related products.

Shoppers, of course, can’t place orders for discontinued products. By showing related products, you may still be able to convert them. If the products are closely related to the discontinued product featured on the page, some shoppers may want to buy them. Shoppers will notice the featured product has been discontinued, but they may buy one of the related products, instead.

Make sure all pages for discontinued products have a search bar as well. Shoppers may want to search for a different product if their desired product has been discontinued. A search bar will allow them to search your e-commerce store for other products without leaving the discontinued product pages.

Add Structured Data

You can optimize pages for discontinued pages by adding structured data to them. Structured data allows you to convey information about pages to search engines. When search engines discover structured data added to a page, they’ll use it to index and rank the page.

There are dozens of different structured data types, including product. Product structured data is designed for use with e-commerce products. It’s available in the schema vocabulary. You can use product structured data to notify Google about discontinued product pages.

You can use the offer markup within the product type structured data. The offer markup supports offer-related information about e-commerce products, such as the price and availability. And for availability, you can specify discontinued. This structured data will help Google identify your e-commerce store’s discontinued product pages.

In addition to discontinued products, you can use the offer markup to specify the following availability for products:

•   Backorder

•   Out of stock

•   In stock

•   In-store only

•   Online only

•   Limited availability

•   Sold out

•   Preorder

•   Presale

Archive

If you use Shopify, you may want to archive discontinued products. Shopify offers an archive option for products. Choosing the archive option will remove the respective product from all collections and tags, meaning shoppers won’t be able to easily find it, but the product page will remain live.

You can archive a discontinued product in Shopify from the “Products” section of the content management system (CMS). Select the product that you want to archive. The archive option is available is found on the details page.

By archiving discontinued products, you can easily add them back to your e-commerce store in the future. If you want to begin selling a discontinued product again, for instance, you can unarchive it. Unarchiving the product will add it back to the collections and tags and allow shoppers to buy it. 

Archiving is an SEO-friendly alternative to deleting discontinued product pages. The pages will remain live, so they’ll pass SEO equity to your e-commerce store. Shoppers, however, won’t be able to easily find the discontinued product pages because they won’t have collections or tags added to them.

 What About Redirecting to In-Stock Product Pages?

Some e-commerce stores simply redirect their discontinued product pages to in-stock product pages. They’ll point their discontinued product pages to other product pages on their e-commerce stores using 301 or 302 redirect codes. But redirecting isn’t recommended for a few key reasons. 

Redirecting discontinued product pages to in-stock product pages can confuse shoppers. Some shoppers may bookmark product pages. Others may follow links to product pages shared on social media. When they are redirected, they won’t recognize the products as being discontinued. Shoppers won’t see the “Discontinued” message. Instead, they’ll see a different product after being redirected.

Redirecting can also confuse search engines. There are two primary types of redirects: 301 and 302. With a 301 redirect, search engines will assume that the discontinued product page has permanently moved to a new place. With a 302 redirect, they’ll assume the discontinued product page has temporarily moved place.

Don’t exclude discontinued product pages from your SEO strategy. While deleting them might sound like the easiest solution, you can get more value out of discontinued product pages by optimizing them.

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How to Handle E-Commerce Pages for Discontinued Products

Last Updated in 2022-05-18T15:41:08+00:00 by Lukasz Zelezny