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How to deal with obsolete inventory and services on your site

How to deal with obsolete inventory and services on your site

If you have an online store, you will face at some stage a situation when certain commodity items no longer are carried out, run out of inventory or product line is renewed.

Let us discuss in detail what to do in this case in the context of SEO. It is also worth to remark that all these recommendations are also useful for any other sites with a large number of objects as message boards or real estate sites.

How to deal with items that run out of inventory and currently are not available

Items in stock are terminated for various reasons:

• You have sold all commodity items

• There are some problems with manufacturers and / or suppliers

• Or you have changed the priorities in your work.

If you know that your store will sell a certain commodity item in the future, in that case we will just keep this page in the index of search engines and continue to collect more traffic to such pages.

In that case, the commodity page should have the following form:

  1. make a note that the commodity item is «Not available»
  2. try to take some contact information: email, phone, so that you will be able to notify the user that this commodity item is available
  3. display related items according to features or price + similar basic characteristics.

Iphone Example

However, it is necessary to remember that the items that are not available:

• should be placed exactly at the end of the list (in this case you should mark the product as “not available”)

• or  you can just hide them so that they will not be shown in a catalogue (in this case there are risks that such a page can lose its topicality and drop out of the index)

The primary targets of those actions are to make a page to remain in the index of search engines and to have an ability to notify interested users that the product is available and you are able to sell it again.

How to deal with items the product line of which has been changed

It often happens that a certain product line is updated or changed. A typical example can be updating of iPhone «family».

If during upgrade of the line the current commodity item is available, you can leave everything as it is and make, for example, some rebates to sell the «obsolete» item.

If you have sold out all «obsolete» items, you should act as in the pvious case, (except the second paragraph)

• point out that the item is «Not available»

• give links to items from a new line.

Thus, you reduce the bounce rate and improve your behavioral characteristics.

In case of complete loss of demand, you can:

• remove such items from the pages of the catalog,

• make a 301 redirect to the new models for the transmission of pages weight.

How to deal with products that you will not sell

If you have items in your online store:

• that are no longer available

• for which you will not be able to accept orders

and these pages do not collect search traffic, you should think about removing them from the index of search engines.

Considering such types of filters as Google Panda, it is better to have a small quantity of pages with items that are not available on the site. Those pages reduce the general quality of the site, take an internal weight and crawling budgets of search engines, and they do not make any sales.


• If the product has the relevant replacement or a relevant position in the updated product line, the best solution is to put 301 redirect to the page

• If there is nothing relevant, put 301 redirect to the category which this product belongs to.

For example, apple.com makes such actions with its old models:

Ahrefs example

Redirect to the main category:

Apache Example

 If you can not find anything relevant, in this case you can close the page from indexing through a robots meta tag with a noindex instruction, or give 404/410 server response code. Let’s discuss the second variant in some detail.

How to use the 404/410 server response codes online

4xx server response indicates that an error occurred during accessing to the address on the website and the server cannot process the request. Moreover, if the 404 response from the server means «The document is Not Found,» the server response code 410 is much more informative and means that “The document is Gone”.

In the context of search engines, it means, «This page has been removed and doesn’t exist anymore.»

What does it mean in practice?

If you are sure that there will be no such product or page on the site and there is no relevant pages on the site, you should use 410 server response code.

The use of this 410 server response allows you to throw out the page from the index much faster, because the search engine spiders are sure that this page will no longer exist on the site. Using the 404 server response spiders will drop a few more times on this page to make sure that:

• the pvious 404 response was not an accident

• the page gives a 404 response.

However, according to John Mueller (Google), search engines will visit a page with a response code 404 and 410 at regular intervals, especially if there will be new links to those pages.

Making pages 410 server response code

It is better to establish a good page that will inform the user that: «On our website the product / service» [name of the product / service] «is no longer sold / provided. Visit our home page / page about us to find out the latest information about offered products / services. «

It will be much better than, for example, to do a 301 redirect to irrelevant products / services and «cheat» the members.

Important remark about creation of pages with a 4xx response

Before you start to give server responses with 4xx errors for a specific pool of pages, you should compile a list of pages to which there are links and if you still can’t find the most relevant pages on your site, then put a 301 redirect to the home page.

So that we can keep the referenced transmitted weight on our site.


Therefore, the main recommendations are:

• first of all, if the page compile the traffic and you’re not 100% sure that you will not work with this item anymore, the best is to leave this page with the response code 200 and to optimize content, so to keep and / or return the user later

• secondly, if you do not work with this item, the best decision is to do  301 redirect to the relevant sections

• If the first two paragraphs are not suitable, then give 410 server response code for pages / items that is not valid

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