Keep old products in your webshop

A challenge that e-retailers need to manage are obsolete or old products. There are several options of how to manage product pages when the product is obsolete or old. But which option is best for you?

The product range for some e-retailers changes dramatically from season to season. For e-retailers in fashion, it is not uncommon to update and publish thousands of new products each season and at the same time many products get out of fashion. In a physical store is it simple, “get in with the new and out with the old”. For e-retailers, it is often not easy to know how to deal with old products. This is because a product page in a webshop has a value when it comes to SEO, and if you delete the page, the value disappears. The value the old product in many cases have is that it generates traffic to the site, since it ranks on various keywords related to the product. There may also be a value that there are links from other sites pointing to the product page. To remove the product pages when a product obsolete or old is not a good option. This is what I recommend you to do:

Keep the product page

What are two examples when it is a good option to keep the product page:

1. This product is temporarily out of the product range

Sometimes, the product is only temporary out, it may come back next year. In these cases, it is unnecessary to remove the product page because when the product will be actual again you have to start again to get the page to rank. Add a message that the product is temporarily out of the product range, tell us when it comes into range again and recommend similar products to visiting customers. Then you get something from the product page even while it is temporarily out.

2. Move the product to a different category

Creating a special category for old products is amazingly smart and it can also be funny. My absolute favorite in the topic is Ben & Jerry’s graveyard. They have for many years collected all their expired ice cream flavors in a graveyard. It is very obvious that Ben & Jerry have not done this for SEO reasons but they have done something fun from the problem.

This solution doesn’t fit  all type of products and webshops. But when it does, it solves both an SEO challenge and gives a value to the visitors at the same time.

Redirect the product page

If the product will not be in your range and it does not fit with a product graveyard so the best option is to redirect (forward) product page. Even here, there are two main options:

1. Redirect to similar product

This is a good option if the product is assumed to be replaced by another similar model.

2. Redirect to product category

If there is no similar product you should instead redirect to the product category.

In both cases, it is of course best if visitors get the information that the product they were looking for has been deleted. Obviously, it is a “301 redirect” that should be used.

About Fredrik Norrbin