A website’s page could get less exposure within Google Search if the item is not in stock.
For example, Google could make a page less visible to the users if the product is out of stock on the retail website.
Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller communicated it in the course of Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout.
A query was raised by an ecommerce store owner seeking that the rankings of search results for transactions-related keywords might be affected if the items are sold out.
Muller replied theoretically that Google could reduce visibility for pages that have out of stock items.
Out Of Stock Products are treated as Soft 404s.
Mueller does not rule out the possibility of out-of-stock products being less visible in search results.
Here’s how Google treats ‘out of stock’ as a soft 404 error:
“Out of stock – it’s possible. That’s kind of simplified like that. I think there are multiple things that come into play when it comes to products themselves in that they can be shown as a normal search result.
They can also be shown as an organic shopping result as well. If something is out of stock, I believe the organic shopping result might not be shown – I’m not 100% sure.
And when it comes to the normal search results, it can happen that we when see that something is out of stock, we will assume it’s more like a soft 404 error, where we will drop that URL from the search results as well.
Theoretically, it could affect the visibility in search if something goes out of stock.”
Users will still be able to see the Product Page if It’s relevant.
Google treating a product page as soft 404 depends upon the amount of worth it adds to the actual product.
For example, suppose a product page doubles as a resource to provide enough details about the product. It could be valuable even if the product is no longer available – the page is likely to be visible in the search results.
But, Muller continues,
“It doesn’t have to be the case. In particular, if you have a lot of information about that product anyway on those pages, then that page can still be quite relevant for people who are searching for a specific product. So it’s not necessarily that something goes out of stock, and that page disappears from search.”
Muller ended it by saying that ranking of the overall site will not be affected due to a single or multiple products being out of stock.
“The other thing that’s also important to note here is that even if one product goes out of stock, the rest of the site’s rankings are not affected by that.
So even if we were to drop that one specific product because we think it’s more like a soft 404 page, then people searching for other products on the site, we would still show those normally. It’s not that there would be any kind of negative effect that swaps over into the other parts of the site.”