How should you manage the pages of discontinued products?
Sometimes you may decide to stop selling some products on your e-commerce site. The product may be lacking interest and not meeting demand, or you may no longer be able to supply the product. In this case, you will need to manage the existing product pages on the site in different ways. Since deleting these pages directly will lead users to 404 pages, it will not be the right approach and you may miss out on potential sales that you can get after managing these pages. For this reason, you need to manage the pages of the products you stop selling on the site correctly.
Use the same URL for the equivalent product
It would be a correct approach to use the pages of the products that have been published for a certain period of time for different and equivalent products. These pages have a certain rank and value in Google, and deleting this page will cause you to lose this value. Instead, you can try to use the URL addresses of these pages for equivalent products.
This application will perform best especially on products in the same category and with similar features. In this way, while protecting the value on Google, you will direct users to a product similar and close to the previous product.
Redirect to equivalent product with 301 redirect
Another work that can be done is to redirect the pages of the products that have been sold to the pages of different or equivalent products with 301 redirects. A better approach would be to redirect users to an equivalent product page instead of showing them a 404 page.
After the 404 page, the user can leave the site thinking that there is a problem on the site. However, after 301 redirects, users have the chance to review different products.
Whenever possible, showing a notification stating why this redirection was made and the other product is no longer available for sale also makes it easier for users to understand why they came to a different page and product.
Turn it into destination pages
Another work you can do on these pages is to convert these pages into destination pages. Providing information about products in a certain category and providing destination pages where you can make different directions to users about product categories allows you to preserve the value of these pages.
Afterwards, you can use call-to-action expressions that will direct you to equivalent or different products on this arrival page, and by directing users to different products, you can influence their purchasing decisions.
Remove this product from category and search result pages
Users can also access these pages while browsing the categories or searching for products on the site. For this reason, even if you have used these pages for different purposes, you should remove the URLs of these products from your category and search result pages. Otherwise, you can direct users to the pages of products you no longer sell.
Unpublish the page as a last resort
If none of the above steps will bring results for you or if it is not suitable for your business, you can delete the page as a last resort. In cases where different alternatives do not work for you, there is no logic in keeping these pages open for publication on the site. For this reason, taking it off may be the right approach.
Even if you unpublish pages on the site, you will need to delete this URL through Google Web Master. Because even if you delete this page on the site, Google may continue to show this page in search results, as it indexes this page. In this case, users will be greeted with a 404 page as they will go to a page that does not exist.
Finally, working on your 404 pages will ensure that users experience less confusion in such situations. You need to prepare your 404 pages in an informative way and then add call to action statements that will direct users directly to the home page or to different sections.