How to manage low inventory pages on e-commerce sites


Today’s Ask a SEO question is a “Taco Tuesday Two For”.

Today we are going to tackle two difficult indexing questions.

The first is from Mohamed in Germany. Mohamed asks:

“We have many pages on the site with inventory / minimum listings, therefore we have them configured by default in noindex, follow to prevent users from accessing pages that are not very convenient for them, therefore, deteriorate the metrics of user participation on the site. That being said, we are missing the ranking of those pages / queries and most of the competitors despite having also a minimal inventory have the pages indexed, therefore we have a slight competitive advantage. So the dilemma here is choosing UX vs. Catch up with the competition for those queries / pages. PS: The previous question is also because it is not easy to acquire more inventory for those specific pages / locations. “

In these uncertain times, inventory challenges can be daunting, but we are all in this together. Search Engine Journal is here for you.



For starters, if the product is in stock and available to be sold, I wouldn’t index the page.

If the product is out of stock, there are a few options you can take, and they all depend on what you know about the inventory or the product.

If the product never returns, you can:

  • Do not index the page securely or redirect you to the latest version of the product or similar product category.
  • Only 404 if you’ll never have something similar again (but I’d rather find a place to redirect).

If the product is Going back, I still don’t indicate the page.

Instead, I would change the copy to inform users that the product is out of stock, when it is expected to be back in stock, and put an email capture form.

Please allow people to sign up for email updates when it becomes available again, and ask them for a coupon and some related or similar items.

Instead of not indexing the page and giving up on the user, use it to strengthen your CRM.



I realize that users hate to see out-of-stock pages, but if they have inventory difficulties, so do their competitors, and the one with no index will be the one to get all the traffic when they are back in stock.

If you want to reduce user frustration, look on product and inventory labels. You can dictate whether there is something in stock or not.

But wait, there’s more!

Our second non-indexing question comes from Eddie in Kentucky. Eddie asks:

“If you don’t index category pages, does that include subcategories? Thanks for the reply. This has intrigued me for a while now.

I’m assuming you’re talking about WordPress here, but I’ll make the answer apply to anything.

The short answer is “depends” on the plugin you are using.

If you use Yoast, setting categories to not show in search results will also apply to subcategories.

Note: this alone will not index category pages, not All category pages.

If you are using a different plugin or a different platform, you will need to check it out.

There are many plugins and I honestly don’t know the answer for all of them.

If you do it manually, you must do it manually for all of them.

However, you would be cautious about taking this approach, as this is often the best way for search engines to discover old posts once they leave the home page (for example, as Yoast suggests, using tags).

If you don’t use tags (a lot of people don’t for various reasons why I won’t go in) and you don’t have a good architecture that creates a crawl path to articles, you can consider leaving only category pages.

Wait, your “noindex” not “nofollow” – why are you talking about crawling paths?

Good question!



Because in this video, John Mueller mentions that if they see a noin index for a long time, Google may stop following and track the links on that page or treat them with less value.

I hope that helps!

Thanks again and keep sending your questions.

Editor’S Note: Ask for a SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the best in the industry SEO experts, who have been carefully selected by Search Engine Journal. I have a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You can see his answer in the next #AskanSEO post!

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