Should You Delete Old Product Cards?

In this article, we will discuss whether you should remove products from your website or not. One of our subscribers asks: "My site has 6,000 product pages from the sales archive. They are in Google's index, but they are not seen on the sitemap. Do I need to remove such pages from my website permanently or is it better to add links to sections with similar products on these pages? They have zero or 1-2 clicks per year. And there are pages that are in the archive but not indexed. I can safely delete them, right?”

What You Can Do with Old Product Cards

When deciding what to do, first of all it is important to look at how useful such cards still are.

1. Page Links.

If any of these products have good links to them, it's undesirable to just drop them and put the 404 or 410 errors in their place, you need to direct them to the most similar pages using redirect 301. 

2. Page Visibility

For example, the product that has been out of stock for a while, ranks first in Google for a particular group of not zero queries, and collects some traffic. This is quite good, so when such a page "dies" it is worth doing one of the following:

  • implement redirect 301 to the most similar page;
  • Or you can still keep this product alive for a few months, or maybe even longer with a status not even "out of stock" but "advance order". Make a button that says "notify when back in stock", and keep the old price. You can also state that this is the last known price.

In general, in the second case, there should be a price, at least some opportunity to order/pre-order the product. And after a few months you'll see that this page is losing its visibility, for example, and there's not much use for it. Then you can put a redirect or delete it.

In addition, on a page like this I recommend putting the "Similar Products" section, which is more aggressive and more visible to the user when they enter the site. Thus, if the user wants to know about this product, he will leave a request "we'll let you know when the item is back in stock", and if not, then click on a similar product. Or he will leave a request - in any case, you will benefit from it.

  • Label the product as “Temporarily Out of Stock”
  • Add options for pre-order, back order or stock notification
  • Suggest products that are closely related

If the products are permanently out of stock, you have two options: First, you can consider not deleting the pages (keep them live), and instead using them as an opportunity for different things such as:

  • Upselling products that are in stock – Keep the page live and dynamically serve up a list of products that are either similar, another model or a variation of that product (ie different specs, different color) or if this is not possible, you can present products from the same category or even competitor brands that you also sell. You can also think of related products that the customer might be interested in and suggest these.
  • Building your email list – Add a call to action on the page asking the visitor to sign up for email alerts so they can be notified when the product is in stock again.

3. Age

The last but not least is the age of the page. Even if everything else is gone - no traffic, no links - but the age of this page is high, and you have a similar but newer page, where the product differs from the old one in some minor capacity (color, slightly different size, etc.), then you can put a redirect.

If all of this doesn't work for some reason, for example there is no similar product, then you can redirect to the rubric. I highly do not recommend redirecting to the home page, because Google tends to equate this with a soft 404 error - that is, a "false error", a page as if it has been deleted. And if it has something useful (one of the things listed above), it gets lost, and that's bad.

These are the basics. In all other cases, you can safely turn them into “404” or “410” errors and simply forget about them.