I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked this question. Scores of times over the course of the last few years for sure. It takes MANY forms but it is asking the same thing.
“On my site, I sell widgets. When we are out of that model of widgets, do I redirect the pages for that model to a new page? Do I redirect it to my home page? How about redirecting it to a page that is likely to rank for people looking for it so that My brand>>>WidgetName>>>Size>>>Color of Widget is redirected back to MyBrand >>> WidgetName???
To definitively (and finally) answer all of the above questions. No.
Either let the page go away. Or keep the page with the helpful information that it is out of stock (where possible, many times this is not, especially if the page is dynamically generated.)
But…But… But Eric, what about me? I am a REALTOR! We have thousands of properties that are in our MLS!
Yeah. See answer above. It is no different for you. Seriously. If is very common on a real estate site that has LOTS of dynamically generated pages like the listing on this one. This page is indexed and ranks in Google, but then someone sells one of the homes, or the seller pulls it from the market. The links go away from this page but they are already in Google and the individual listing page now no longer exists. What to do?
But…But…But…I see a bunch of 404 errors in my Google Search Console!!
Yes. And they SHOULD be there. Some 404’s are NEEDED. It is expected.
But…But…But…I don’t want to LOSE SEO authority!! The truth is that it will happen either way. Want to get into the technical weeds with me on the subject? Here is a great post by Glenn Gabe on the subject. If you redirect them, Google sees this and treats them as a 404 anyway.
In fact Google recently REITERATED that this was the proper way to handle properties that are no longer on the market, or pages of blue widgets of XYZ model that is now out of stock.
Want some help because you don’t think your small business website is handling it right? Cool. We offer a limited number of 30 minute free consultations per week and we would be happy to help you make sure you are on the right track.