How to manage SEO for deleted product listings?

Deleted product listings or “out of stock” products and SEO
Hi together! Following situations:

  1. A product listing on your marketplace has been taken offline/deleted. It is no longer visible by any user, even if they have a direct link.
  2. A product listing remains on your marketplace but is unforeseeably “out of stock”.

How do you deal with the traffic coming from search engines in those two situations? In our case, we are currently showing a 404 page because that’s from engineering the appropriate response (deleted = not existent = 404). But since those products existed before and may have strong positions in search engines, we are basically jeopardizing traffic that bounces the moment they see a 404 page.


Agreed about 404s not making sense. You miss the chance to:

  1. Suggest other options
  2. Collect their contact information for back-in-stock recommendations
  3. Send them to a different site and monetize through affiliate links

My fundamental question would actually be: should peer to peer marketplace listings be indexed? Since they are not comparable (directly) to ecommerce store product listings. (Hint: Airbnb also “noindexes” all their listings)… So I am wondering what actually speaks for and against indexing


Why would airbnb noindex their listings?


Interesting - from what I can tell: Airbnb “noindex”es listings when you have query parameters coming from a search (ex.:[…]mpression_id=p3_1635957726_Y1BrgczeutOnmdXk&guests=1&adults=1, but if you go on the listing without query params, they actually only “noimageindex”)…

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Airbnb likely noindexes parameterized URLs because Google would waste time crawling and indexing millions of very similar pages - duplicate content essentially. Google also has a habit of ignoring canonical urls if say one of those parameterized urls was linked to from another website.

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You are absolutely right… I realized this, too.

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One other thing to add to this conversation is that if you’re using schema that contradicts your page status, Google may “soft 404” the page regardless.

for example if you have schema that is essentially “valid through” - and the date is passed, Google will “404” the page regardless.

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