As an online store, you want to sell as many units of your products as possible. But, every online store will eventually reach a point where products run out of stock. Then comes the big question: how should you handle these out-of-stock products properly for ecommerce SEO in your WooCommerce or Shopify store? As in so many things when it comes to SEO: it depends.
How does Google handle out-of-stock products?
Google can handle out-of-stock products on online stores just fine. Whether Google will continue to show your products in the search results when it’s out of stock is a different matter. Sometimes, Google prefers stores that have the product in stock as that offers potential customers the best experience — they are not looking for stores without stock, right?
Of course, here’s another it depends. If you have a high-quality product page with relevant content for searchers, your product pages might/will still rank depending on the query and competition.
Google might treat product pages with out-of-stock products as soft 404s, which might lead them to drop them from the search results. Here’s how John Mueller from Google put it:
And when it comes to the regular search results, it can happen that when we see that something is out of stock, we will assume it’s more like a soft 404 error, where we will drop that URL from the search results as well.
Of course, having out-of-stock products treated as soft 404s doesn’t harm the ranking power of your entire store, merely the products themselves.
Out-of-stock products: it depends
What to do with out-of-stock products on your WooCommerce or Shopify store depends on many things. For instance, it depends on whether you need to do something about the product pages for stuff out of stock on your online store. Is the product coming back in stock quickly? Or is it sold out forever? Is it unknown when or if it will return?
With the current stock issues worldwide, it’s getting harder and harder to get products in and keep them in stock. Hopefully, the situation will improve soon, but it might become even worse. Do you need to have all those products listed when you are not sure when getting a new shipment?
Besides, online stores come in all shapes and sizes with intricacies and complexities. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to help all stores improve their ecommerce SEO or Shopify SEO.
Ecommerce SEO and international SEO expert Aleyda Solis made an invaluable cheat sheet flowchart that helps make the proper decision easier.
Manage the user experience on your product pages
When people want to buy your product, your product pages are the primary way to communicate about said product. Whether your product is in stock, on backorder, or unavailable,
This article was written by Edwin Toonen and originally published on SEO blog • Yoast.