Ecommerce SEO: 8 Ways to Handle Out of Stock Products

If you run an e-commerce website, there will come a time when your product is discontinued or out of stock. Unfortunately, the solution is not as simple as deleting a page.

For one, your product pages drive website traffic. Second, they rank for what SEOs call “money keywords.” These are keywords that generate profit for your online business.

Luckily, there are SEO-friendly ways that you can do to handle out-of-stock products:

1. Mark as Out-of-Stock

Let’s face it: You cannot close down your website just because you have one out-of-stock product. Moreover, your product page keeps on driving site traffic.

What you can do instead is mark the item as “Out of Stock.” That way, your site visitor would know from the get-go that your product is, well, out of stock.

What’s cool about this tactic is that you do not have to exert much effort to ensure website usability. All you need to do is tag a product as Out of Stock.

2. Implement a Waitlist

In case your out-of-stock product drives hundred of traffic daily, you can do any of the following:

  • Promote a relevant product (see tip #4)
  • Allow customers to add the item in their wishlist

With a wishlist feature, you can notify a customer as soon as the product becomes available. This also ensures that you have a way to turn a site visitor into conversion.

PRO TIP: Take advantage of the website traffic you generate and put in place a retargeting campaign.

3. Allow Email Notification

Much like the previous tip, enabling email notification lets you notify customers when a product will be available.

All you need to do is add a call-to-action button that says, “Email Me When Available.”

The beauty of this tactic is that you get to build an email list.

This could come in handy, whether you want to nurture new or existing customers. It is just a matter of comparing your email list with your customer list.

And then proceed with whatever appropriate email marketing strategy you have in place. That way, you can handle your out-of-stock product dilemma well while working on customer retention.

4. Offer Based on Product Model

Your out-of-stock product may have a relevant model. Thus, it is advisable to showcase them instead.

For instance, a site visitor wanted to buy a particular red waffle maker. Despite the fact that the red waffle maker is out-of-stock, you still have the black and white models. What you can do instead is showcase these models.

Providing other options prevent your potential customers from leaving your online store. It also ensures that you drive conversions and sales for every website visitor your generate.

5. Offer Based on Brand Name

As with the previous tip, you can also opt to offer a product based on the brand.

Say, the customer is looking for an “All American Waffle Maker.” What you can do is let the customer explore other “All American” products or other waffle makers on your website.

Doing so makes a site visitor’s time worthwhile. Who knows? She might not be particular with the “All America,” and all she needs is a decent waffle maker.

6. Allow Pre-order

Much like with email notifications, you can use your product page as an opportunity to drive pre-orders.

A pre-order ensures that sales will come as your product becomes available. You can inform buyers that the product will become available. Hence, you can make a sense of anticipation among potential customers.

What’s cool about this tactic is that you keep a potential customer while capturing sales. Sales you would not have made if you did not handle out-of-stock products well.

7. Update Your Schema Markup

If you are doing e-commerce SEO right, that means you are using Product and Offer schema markups.

What this does is convey to search engine bots that your product is out of stock. And an “Out of Stock” label will be added to the search results. Thus, you can manage a potential customer’s expectation.

PRO TIP: You can use this tactic by enabling product pre-order.

8. Create Custom 404 Page

A 404 page is used to inform a website visitor that a particular page no longer exists. Yet, it would be best to customize it to enhance your online store’s usability.

Instead of saying that a product no longer exists, you can instruct a customer to do the following:

  • Go back to Home page
  • Search other products
  • Look at other product related to their search queries

Doing so prevents your site visitors from getting frustrated just because your products no longer exist. Meanwhile, they would appreciate a custom 404 page since it informs them what to do next.

But keep in mind that a custom 404 page is not a fix-all solution. And we suggest to use this tactic last or not at all for usability reasons.

Why Managing Out-of-Stock Products Matter

An out-of-stock product can affect your e-commerce website’s usability. Hence, it can also hurt your online store’s search engine rankings.

This explains why it is imperative to handle your e-commerce store’s out-of-stock products. Because when done right, it can help you boost your online business’s revenue.

The key here is developing and using the right inventory planning services. Also, we suggest that you follow the tips listed above that can suit your business.

Proper Handling of Out-of-Stock Products Helps

It is common among e-commerce to fail at handling out-of-stock products. Hence, here is a recap of how you can best handle this situation:

  1. Mark product as put of stock
  2. Implement a waitlist
  3. Allow email notifications
  4. Offer products relevant to the model
  5. Offer products relevant to the brand name
  6. Allow pre-order
  7. Update your schema markup
  8. Create customer 404 page

Regardless, we suggest that you focus on two things:

  • Providing customers all the information they need
  • Doing what you are comfortable to put in place

Keeping these things in mind allows you to preserve your e-commerce website’s link equity and prevent indexing issues. Also, it ensures that you are still converting visitors, even when the product is unavailable at the moment.