Out Of Stock Products May Impact Search Visibility

If the item for sale on the retailer’s website is not in stock, Google may reduce the visibility of the product page.

Google’s search advocate John Mueller recently said this during the Google Search Central SEO Office-Hours Hangout.

A question posed by an ecommerce store owner asking whether transactional keywords can have a negative impact on search rankings if the product is sold out.

In theory, says Mueller, Google could reduce visibility for product pages with stock items.

However, it doesn’t have to be so. Read his full response in the section below.

Google considers out-of-stock products to be soft 404s

Mueller doesn’t rule out the possibility of a stock shortage of products seeing low visibility in search results.

He explains that Google treats ‘out of stock’ as a soft 404 error:

“Not in stock – it’s possible. It’s kind of simplistic. I think a lot of things come into play when it comes to products, in which they can be shown as a normal search result.

They can also be shown as organic shopping results. If something isn’t in stock, I believe organic shopping results may not be shown – I’m not 100% sure.

And when it comes to general search results, it may happen that when we see that something is not in stock, we will assume that it is like a soft 404 error, where we can also remove that URL from the search results. will remove

Theoretically, if something goes out of stock it could affect visibility in search.”

Google will still show the product page if it’s relevant

Whether or not Google treats a product page as a soft 404 error depends on how much value it provides beyond the product itself.

If the page doubles as a resource for information about the product—information that can still be useful if the product isn’t in stock—it’s likely to show up in search results.

Mueller 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 can still be quite relevant to people searching for a specific product.” So it doesn’t necessarily mean that something goes out of stock, and that page disappears from search.”

Ultimately, Mueller says the rest of the site’s rankings won’t be affected by a product being out of stock.

“The other thing that is worth noting here is that even if one product goes out of stock, the rest of the site’s ranking is not affected by it.

So even if we leave out that one specific product because we think it’s like a soft 404 page, people searching for other products on the site, we’ll still show them normally. Not that changing other parts of the site would have a negative effect of any kind.”

Hear Mueller’s full response in the video below:

Featured Image: Gorodenkopf/Shutterstock

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