Out of stock products can impact search visibility

Google may reduce the visibility of a product page if the item for sale is listed as out of stock on the retailer’s website.

So said John Mueller, Google’s Search Advocate, during a recent Google Search Central SEO Hangout during business hours.

A question is submitted by an e-commerce store owner asking if search rankings for transactional keywords could be negatively affected if the products sell.

According to Mueller, in theory, Google could reduce the visibility of product pages containing out-of-stock items.

However, this need not be the case. Read his full response in the section below.

Google treats out-of-stock products as soft 404s

Mueller doesn’t rule out the possibility that out-of-stock products may see reduced visibility in search results.

He explains that Google treats “out of stock” as a software 404 error:

“Out of stock – it’s possible. It’s a bit simplified like that. I think there are several things that come into play when it comes to products themselves as long as they can be displayed as a normal search result.

They can also be displayed as an organic shopping result. If something is out of stock, I think the organic buy result might not show – I’m not 100% sure.

And with regard to normal search results, it may happen that we find that something is out of stock, we will assume that it is rather a software 404 error, where we will also remove this URL from the results of research.

Theoretically, this could affect visibility in search if out of stock. »

Google will always display the product page if it is relevant

Whether Google treats the product page as having a soft 404 error depends on the value it offers beyond the product itself.

If the page also serves as a resource for product information (information that can still be useful if the product is out of stock), it’s likely to remain visible in search results.

Muller continues:

“It doesn’t have to be. In particular, if you have a lot of information about that product on those pages anyway, that page may still be quite relevant to people looking for a specific product. So it’s not necessarily that something is out of stock and that page disappears from search. »

Finally, Mueller adds that the rest of a site’s ranking would not be affected by a product going out of stock.

“The other thing that’s also important to note here is that even if a product is out of stock, the rest of the site’s rankings aren’t affected.

So even if we were to remove that specific product because we think it’s more of a soft 404 page, then people looking for other products on the site, we would still show them as normal. It’s not that there would be any negative effect that would carry over to other parts of the site.

Listen to Mueller’s full response in the video below:


Featured Image: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

Comments are closed.