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When products are disabled or deleted from a store, this makes these pages disappear from the website and then Google will begin throwing error 400 messages in WebMaster Tools.

I also checked my site on google and there has been a 98% drop in the pages I carried after setting a large number of products as Disabled.

Are products that are no longer carried better off being set to Out Of Stock or Disabled and/or Deleted and allow Google to reindex?

I was thinking of exporting these disabled / deleted products to a CSV file and then manually put a redirect in my .htaccess file.

What is the best method for SEO purposes to deal with Disabled or Deleted products in a store?

EDIT: Just read in the Google Webmaster forums that a 410 redirect for pages that are no longer exist is the recommended method but there was no real difference between 404 and 410.

I've made a backup of my database, exported the URL keys for these products and created Redirect gone entries with a 410 page that is a blurred out CMS page that looks like my standard product page showing that the product is no longer available.

I'm still interested in the proper way of handling this is though or if my method is an acceptable way to handle this.

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    500 errors? Should be 400 Page not found errors. If it's throwing 500 errors, you have a severe server configuration problem. – Fiasco Labs Aug 5 '14 at 17:35
  • Yes - my apologies 400 not 500. – SR_Magento Aug 5 '14 at 18:08
  • Do you have an alternative products? If yes, you can add redirects in magento admin panel. If no, you'd better leave the pages with the custom stock status like "temporary not available" – Amasty Aug 5 '14 at 19:27
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I'm no SEO expert, but most of the clients that I worked with (that had SEO experts as consultants) wanted the following scenario.
They called these products 'discontinued'.

  • A discontinued product page should only be accessible via manual URL. So no links in the website to the product. For this, I set the product visibility to 'Catalog' and removed the product from any category. This way Google can still access the product pages.
  • A discontinued product must be out of stock. So I allowed out of stock products to be visible.
  • I added an other attribute yes/no called 'discontinued' in order to show a message like 'This product is discontinued....bla bla'. and to diferentiate between products that are simply not in stock and those that are discontinued.
  • Some of the clients wanted the price to be removed also from the discontinued product page.
  • I considered this method as well (discontinued) but the downside to keeping products in a large database is that it will slow it down; I'm going to test the performance difference without these products, if it is negligible then I will re-visit your suggestion :) In my case I'm dealing with about 16k products that are discontinued and will never be restocked. – SR_Magento Aug 5 '14 at 18:16
  • @sr_magento. Right. If there are a lot of products in this situation is not a good idea. – Marius Aug 5 '14 at 19:10

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