Properly handling items as they go out of stock is crucial to both usability and SEO. Below I have outlined 3 scenarios that will help you determine the best course of action when an item goes out of stock:
Scenario 1: The Item Is Out Of Stock Temporarily And Will Be Back Soon:
- Provide clear messaging on the product page that the product is “Temporarily Out Of Stock”.
- Provide clear messaging if possible about when the product will be back in stock.
- If possible, implement a form that a potential buyer can fill out with his email and or contact information and use that to get back in touch as soon as the product returns.
- The page should continue to render a 200 (OK) response code as opposed to a 404 (Not Found)
Scenario 2: The Item Is Out Of Stock And Never Coming Back:
- 301 (Permanent) redirect the URL to:
- A Similar Product If One Exists
- The Parent Category
- If all else fails, redirect back to the homepage
Scenario 3: You Are Unsure Whether An Item Will Ever Be In Stock Again:
- 302 (Temporary) Redirect The Product To The Parent Category
- If Product Does Come Back In Stock, Revert The 302 Redirect
- This Method Ensures That If The Product Comes Back In Stock, Your Product Page Retains All Authority It Once Had