Writing by Brick Marketing in SEO
Unlike an informational or lead generation business website, an e-commerce website can have thousands and thousands of pages. Product inventory is typically always changing and a product that may have been available yesterday, is no longer available today. What makes this situation tough from an e-commerce SEO perspective is that the search engines aren’t indexing a website every day which means that a visitor may click on a product page only to appear at a 404 error page or a “product not found” page because the search engine hasn’t yet realized that the page no longer exists.
An e-commerce website relies on its visitors in order for the business to succeed. Every visitor needs to have a good experience with the website. In addition to offering great products and a secure check out feature, an e-commerce website needs to be user friendly. The path towards the sale (or conversion) should be easy to complete. So, if a visitor lands on a 404 error page they will most likely be frustrated and take their business elsewhere.
In many cases, just because a visitor lands on an error page, it may not mean that the product isn’t in stock. It could just mean that it was temporarily out of stock and is now back in stock but the page hasn’t been updated. To prevent visitors from exiting the site entirely when reaching a 404 page, an e-commerce website owner has a few options.
The first option is to redirect all 404 pages to the homepage. This will at least keep the visitor on the site. Then, they have the option to browse around and see what other products that you offer. Even if the product that they were initially interested in isn’t available, something else may spark their interest.
Another option is to create a custom 404 page that tells the customer what they can do next or includes a list of available inventory at the time. It’s a lot more attractive than a simple error message and may be able to keep their attention.
The last option is time consuming, but possibly the most advantageous. Using a 301 redirect, send visitors from old product pages to the most relevant substitute pages. This will preserve the link authority from the old product page in addition to lowering the bounce rate due to a 404 error.