During this time of the year, many websites carry seasonal products that are removed once the holiday season is over. In addition to holiday items there are countless other reasons why online stores remove products (replaced by new items, items sold out, outdated item, changes in distributors, items banned, etc.)
The problem with removing these items is that you are essentially removing a page from your site. And depending on how much that product was promoted, how many links that page has pointed to it and how long it was on the site simply removing it will be removing some valuable authority from your site. Essentially, if you just remove a product from your site you are throwing away all of the work you’ve done (from and SEO standpoint anyways). So I am going to explain to you why you should…
Never remove products from your site!
Let me also mention that I am not saying to just add as many products to your site as you can, even though black hat SEO’s have done this to get rankings and it does work. But on a legitimate website you will lose credibility and damage your brand if you have fake products. The damage done to your brand and customer loyalty will far outweigh any bogus rankings and traffic you may get. However, if you have the products then put them up!
Another reason why removing products from you site is a no no. Is because you might lose customers that are looking for that product. If someone has been using a particular product, maybe even been a repeat buyer from your online store and now that the product is gone, you will lose that customer or potential customer.
What to do instead of removing products
So we understand the disavantages of removing products, but what do you do instead? Well there are a few thing you can do…
Turn the old product page into a recommendation page for another product.
This is especially the case when you are replacing a older product with a newer product. Instead of just removing the old product and adding the new product. Add the new product and change the old product page to read something like “This item had been updated. See new product by clicking here”. Now you have not only saved all of your sites authority, but you now have 1 more page on your site as well as any visitor looking for that old product will not be retained as a customer.
Turn that old product page into a informational page.
Let say that you had to remove the product for legal reasons or because you have decided that the product is no longer suitable for your clients. Instead of just removing that page, change the page to an informative page that explains to your customers why that product was removed and why you are no longer offering it to your clients. This will not only retain the authority of the page and any visitor that would come to your site for that product, but the visitor will also be grateful for the information and will remember your site. If possible you would also want to recommend some other products that they could use instead.
If you must remove the product
Well if you have still decided to remove the product despite my recommendations above. You still need to make sure you same as much authority as possible. What you need to do it redirect that pages authority with a 301 redirect (a permanent redirect). This is a server side redirect that points the old URL to a new URL as well as tells the search engines that you have replaced this page with another page.