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Discontinued products procedures

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  • Discontinued products procedures

    I've talked to the support team about this several times to try to figure out the best practices, but thought I'd post here what I've learned and see if anyone here has a better procedure.

    I'll start by saying that if a product is discontinued, it's bad SEO practice to simply delete it. You should redirect it to (ideally) a comparable product or (secondarily) to the product's category. That way, if the product page has any sort of PageRank or backlinks, they'll be passed on to the new page at least somewhat. Obviously this is a good thing to do for customer usability as well.

    Sometimes you need to actually announce on the page that the product is disc. and link to other options, in which case none of this applies, but for the generic disc. product this is what I've figured out:

    1. On the product, check "Not for Sale" and "Non-Searchable."

    2. Delete the product's category or categories. Otherwise they do still show up in the category as a thumbnail and when they're clicked on, they go to the redirect. Confusing for the customer.

    3. Go to the Meta tab and input a redirect link. Important: If you use the SEO tools under "Marketing > SEO Tools > Edit Page Redirect you must only put the url that comes AFTER your store name and slash (e.g. don't put but instead only put product.asp?itemid=12345). HOWEVER, in the redirect on the product page, you must put the full url including the http://.

    4. Here's where it gets sticky. The product will still show up in your Product Index, because you haven't checked the "Hide" box. If you check the "Hide" box, the product won't show up in the Product Index. But then it won't redirect, either.

    So you have to make the choice: do you want the redirect/SEO benefit, or do you want a clean product index?

    Related: I started putting DISCONTINUED in all caps in front of the product title so it would be obvious to anyone in the back end that the product wasn't to be used for anything (this is helpful for customer service reps when they're in there, for price updates, etc.; you can download everything and filter out the DISCONTINUED items pretty fast). But then they showed up in the product index just like that. Not cool!

    Product Index, page 2

    I'm still talking to support about that one. Ideally, they would allow a HIDE item to still have a redirect and all of this would be solved. Or they could add a DISCONTINUED button to the products that's programmed to be hidden from the front end, but still redirect. I'll post back if I hear more, but in the meantime, this is what I'm doing.

    Anyone have other ideas?

  • #2
    Thanks, Verde, for sharing.
    Joanne Barker
    VS Web Design
    [email protected]


    • #3
      Check this post for additional input:


      • #4
        Thanks elightbox. I just read through the thread. Are you at all concerned that a customer arriving on the site via a discontinued product will feel duped? That is a question I've had.

        I just put in a feature request to mark a product as discontinued and/or to allow a product with "Hide" checked to redirect. Vote for it if you want.


        • #5
          We have not had this problem with customers. I feel we are providing a service by letting customers know that the items are discontinued.


          • #6
            We've run into this problem as well. The biggest issue I've found is that if you are redirecting to another page, then Google gets unhappy. It is a balancing act between what is best for the customer and Google. I just got a notice in our webmaster tools of a high number of soft 404's - when I looked, Google was complaining that we redirected to another product and they felt we should be serving a 404. I don't feel that a 404 is the best solution for the customer. So, we've got the same dilemma.

            Thanks for posting, always good to see what others are doing!


            • #7
              This redirect best practices article from Moz is worth reading. Redirection - SEO Best Practices - Moz

              Among other things, it says

              Be aware that when moving a page from one URL to another, the search engines will take some time to discover the 301, recognize it, and credit the new page with the rankings and trust of its predecessor. This process can be lengthier if search engine spiders rarely visit the given web page, or if the new URL doesn't properly resolve.
              That may be why your WMT is talking smack about the redirects, but it's not a good idea to leave the customer with a 404 error for sure.


              • #8
                Our process is simplistic, but manageable. If we know a product is discontinued by the mfgr, we'll note it in the product title. At least then, the customer cannot say that they didn't know that they were purchasing a discontinued item. Once the item is out of stock, we change the qty to zero and hide it.