In this video Matt Cutts from the WebSpam team at Google answer a very important question foreCommerce sites.
Question: How would Google recommend handling eCommerce products that are no longer available? (Does this change as the number of discontinued products outnumbers the active products?) ~ Blind Five Year Old, SF, CA
What should sites do with pages for products that are no longer available?
I have already researched this question a while back for the eCommerce site my wife is running. There were lots of products out of stock and also discontinued products from a database of more than 2,000 products. Should the pages with such products marked out of stock, the page deleted or redirected?
According to what Matt Cutts explains in the video, sites with thousands of products should proceed this way:
-- If the products are out of stock and you will have the products available again shortly, just mark them “Out of Stock” on their individual product page.
-- if the products are definitely discontinued or unavailable for a long period of time, it is better to just delete the page, which will lead the visitor to a 404 Not Found page.
-- If you know that the product will not be available after a certain period in time, you can add a tag on the page that will tell Google the page as expired and can be de-indexed.
Very good stuff!