SEO Solutions for Discontinued Products in E-Commerce

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Craig Smith  |  Founder & CEO

Due to seasonality, production issues, or many other factors, popular products can be discontinued while customers are still searching for them. As an eCommerce company or webmaster, you may be pounding your fists and scratching your head if the product had brought tons of traffic to your site. Now what are you supposed to do? Surely, you can’t let all of its SEO value go to waste!

When it comes to finding the right strategy for your site, there are 3 issues to take into consideration:

  • How do I retain or pass on SEO value to other products/pages?
  • How do I improve to help maintain current user experience?
  • How do I use as little 404 redirects as possible?

Read on for our four strategies to dealing with discontinued products in your store.

Redirect to Parent Category with Message

The easiest option in terms of user experience and SEO is to simply redirect the user to the product’s category page. This task can be easily automated which will save you time; it will also save your pride if you happen to let a discontinued product slip through the cracks. Do make sure to include a message to the user telling them why he or she has been redirected.

Redirect to Blog Post Detailing Product

If you own or work with a small inventory and love to write about your products this may be a great option for you. Create blog posts for all or some of your most popular products and utilize internal linking within the posts. When/if one of the products is discontinued, redirect all visitors to the product’s blog post. Make sure to update the blog with a clear message of why the user is being redirected. This should cut down on user confusion.

Redirect to Similar Product with Message

Giving the user information on similar products is very straightforward and logical. However, for some products you may have a hard time finding a replacement if both are seasonally produced. Again, include a message informing the customer why he or she was redirected. Because searching out similar products may have to be done by hand, this option may become time-consuming if your store has high product turnover rates.

Create Custom 404 Pages

Instead of having a generic 404 page for discontinued products, create a custom Out Of Stock page for popular items.This page should provide information on the product, why it was discontinued and include information on finding similar products.

Alternatively, you could create a script that dynamically generates these out of stock pages based on the category the missing item was featured in.


While it may be a pain dealing with popular discontinued products, the options listed above give you the chance to keep the pages’ SEO value and without harming the user experience.

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