With businesses trying to navigate a shaky economy, more and more stores are selling out of popular products. Of course, in terms of SEO and marketing, this can be troublesome. You still want your top product pages to rank but you don’t want to blast customers with continued “Out of Stock” messages.

SEO experts with years of experience still have a difficult time navigating the dreaded “Out of Stock” page, but luckily, there are a few clever ways to circumvent this issue.

DON’T: Rely on 404s, 301s, or 302s

If your product isn’t currently available, a 404 Page Not Found should work just fine, right? Wrong. Unless one of your career goals is to constantly build the same pages back up over and over again, this isn’t effective. The same goes for 301 redirects and 302 temporary redirects. While they may seem like a sensible option to redirect the searcher to something that is in stock, they ultimately damage the link equity of the original product page.

Say you’re a business that sells atlas maps. If one of your most popular product pages ranks in the first spot for the keyword “atlas search” and you redirect or 404 it, your ranking is going to drop significantly. There are definitely better methods to consider.

DO: Allow for internal filtering

If common SEO tactics won’t work for your product pages, you’re going to have to get a bit creative. How robust are your site’s internal search options? Do you allow for product, price, and availability filtering? If not, you may want to consider adding this in-demand feature. This way, your pages still retain their overall value. Even if a particular product goes out of stock, its page stays put and customers who don’t want to see out-of-stock products can simply filter it out.

This is harder if you sell services, not products. For some industries, like human resources and clinical research, you may not be offering a tangible product. However, if you aren’t offering specific services, you can still filter these out by availability. The same general search parameters will work. It just might be a bit more complicated to automate a trigger to tell your site that these are back “in stock.”

DON’T: Rely solely on a schema tag

Think about the last time you did a Google search and saw a product ad. To use the atlas example again, suppose you did an atlas search. A few results came up along with pricing and availability. The little “in stock” tag next to the product is a schema markup called Item Availability. You can use the ItemAvailability tool in your product-offer schema to let prospective buyers know that you have a product in stock. However, this has a couple of drawbacks.

First, if you’ve automated ItemAvailability, a searcher could stumble across your product and see a big “Out of Stock” tag right next to it. Second, your automation can change stock availability on its own but search engines still have to crawl that information which takes more time. This means you may not be displaying the most accurate or up-to-date information. While ItemAvailability can be useful, you can’t decide it’s your only tool.

DO: Partner with an SEO service

Navigating product pages and stock availability can be a major undertaking. If you don’t want to handle the tags, search optimizations, and internal filtering options, let an SEO service like Search Atlas help you out. SearchAtlas knows how to handle some of the trickiest SEO quandaries to ensure your pages still rank, even if products are sold out. It’s a smart way to ensure that you’re making the most of your digital presence.

As long as you’re taking steps to address the “Out of Stock” pages, you’re on the right path. Customers like to stay informed and will definitely appreciate your efforts.

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