Discontinued Products - Best Practices

Products get discontinued. It's a fact of business. Sometimes Manufacturers stop creating a certain product, sometimes you stop selling a certain product. The reasons are too many to list.

 It is a tendency of store owners to simply delete or hide the products that have been discontinued.

This can have a negative impact on your web store though.

Issues Created by Discontinued Products

  1. Increase in 404 errors
  2. Drop in Search Engine indexed pages
  3. Drop in Search Engine rankings
  4. Frustrated customers

Increase in 404 Errors

When a page disappears from a site. This triggers a 404 error and visitors to the missing page will instead be shown a 404 page.  

Whilst this alone is not terrible, it could prompt a visitor to "bounce" or leave the site, returning to the search results. 

If this happens too much Google will notice, and demote your site in the search rankings.

Drop in Search Engine Indexed Pages

Search Engines visit your site regularly, they scan the site and add pages to their database, eg: The Google Search Index.

If product pages disappear from your site, they will not be indexed the next time the search engines send their Spider/Crawler Bots to read the content of your page. 

The fewer indexed pages you have the less chance you have of being found by a broader audience.

Drop in Search Engine Rankings

If your site experiences a large an upsurge in bounce rate Search Engines will take this as a signal of customer dissatisfaction and begin to demote your site.

It isn't a given that visitors will automatically bounce, but they often do if they are looking for a specific product, and then find it's not available.

Frustrated Customers Become Lost Customers

If a site is seen by visitors to be repeatedly unreliable, then the chances are, they will abandon it to find a more trustworthy site.  This loss of trust, is corrosive to your reputation.

Best Practice for Magento Discontinued Products

Magento offers the option to create different templates which can be applied to specific pages.

Build a special discontinued products page to

  • Declutter the product page of non-relevant information
  • Add prominence to recommendations of alternative or replacement products

This method of Magento configuration will:

  • Remove the products from their categories- thus making them invisible
  • Prevent the products from being returned in "on-site searches"
  • This will ensure the product pages remain on Google, maintaining the stature that they have built historically.
  • Build internal and natural links towards newer products.

All these things ensure the site grows in a healthier way.

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