We have seen Google give official advice on how you should handle out of stock products on your web site. But what about products that you sell that are one-of-a-kind, made unique, made once, and sold to one person. What do you do there?
First, the official advice comes from Matt Cutts in 2014 where he said:
But Mihai Aperghis asked a slightly different question to Google about this. What about the one of a kind product that is made and sold once. But the client wants to showcase these products that were already sold and never to be made exactly again to future customers. What do you do there? John Mueller’s advice seems to move those pages into some sort of gallery archive where the user interface changes and it no longer shows the purchase product type of page anymore.
The question was asked at 7:01 mark and the conversation goes on for a while, almost 10 minutes long. The question was:
I have one regarding expired products on e-commerce websites. So we’re working with the shop that manufactures its own products, it’s a jewelry shop, products are unique. They make one of each, they sold out sell out and then that’s gone.They don’t usually make the same products again. They might make similar products but not the identical same product. The thing is those once they go out of stock they still do seem to get a lot of traffic from Google Images. So with jewelry people are looking a lot in Google Images and it’s kind of an emotional purchase they they click on it just to just because they really like what they see. And the site employs like a a section that this is not in stock anymore, here are very similar products that you might want to purchase. So is it kind of a good idea to to keep those products even if they’re out of stock in this case to keep them active so they still get traffic from Google Images rather than either for forwarding them or redirecting them to the something else a category or something like that? Is there any downside to that?
Yeah. I think in a case like that where these these are kind of unique products and the representative of the business or of the website overall. That seems like something that i would try to keep somehow. And that could be that maybe you have like an archive section of your website or kind of similar products that we’ve sold in the past kind of thing. Just to to keep that kind of content available so that people can browse that. Because it feels like it’s like that particular thing is out of stock but it’s representative of the kind of work that you do. And that might still be useful to actually have some of that indexed.
With regards to how you keep that index. I would try to move that more into like an archive section or kind of like things that we’ve done in the past references, something like that. Rather than keeping a product page live where it says like this product is out of stock or you can’t buy this product anymore and it was like a one-time thing and here’s a photo of it.
Because those kind of out-of-stock or not available pages generally tend to end up as soft 404 pages. And when they go into soft 404 state then the landing page disappears from search and with that the image is also kind of lost. So if you have the image on kind of an archived page that remains for the longer time, then that image can remain in image search longer than if the product landing page ends up dropping out of search.
He goes on to explain that these types of “pages that are kind of low quality-ish and that don’t tend to attract a lot of attention” and maybe can impact the rest of the site? So moving them to a new section, an archive or gallery section can work out for you. You don’t want Google to soft 404 pages you want to come up in search or image search, so this is a way to do that he said.
He goes on to caution keeping the pages live in the product sections where it says out of stock and even when it directs shoppers to alternative and similar options. He said he “is kind of cautious about the the approach overall.”
It is worth listening to, here is the embed:
Forum discussion at YouTube Community.