How your Shopify store can profit from discontinued products

Recently a JSON-LD for SEO customer emailed me asking why she wasn’t seeing many Rich Snippets on her products.

After a bit of research, I found our her standard process was to sell a product and then remove it from her Shopify store.

Not mark it as out of stock, actually delete it.

If this sounds strange to you, it made sense for her business. She sold one-off antiques where she’d only have one in inventory, maybe two. Deleting them when they were sold sounded like the right thing to do.

The problem was that Google didn’t like that.

Every url that Google sees in your Shopify store is saved. Periodically Google will come back to each url and check to see if anything has changed on it. If the page has changed, Google will update its database.

In Shopify when you delete a product, you’re also deleting the url for it.

So what was once a page for a 1910s antique necklace is now nothing. Or more specifically, its your 404 Not Found page.

This special page tells Google to "remove this page from you database" which for my customer, was happening for every product they sold.

As you might imagine, this really hurt her rankings and also made it difficult for her to get Rich Snippets.

Google likes to see a page around for awhile before they add Rich Snippets to it. This is because some not-so-nice sites have tried to abuse Google’s Rich Snippets in the past. As a counter, Google delays adding Rich Snippets to a page, sometimes up to a few months.

I like to think of Google as waiting for the page to age, like a fine wine or cheese.

("What vintage is that page, kind sir?")

My customer was selling and deleting the product before Google trusted the page enough to add Rich Snippets. Since Rich Snippets are awarded by the page, that basically prevented her from getting them.

Luckily we were able to figure out a better process so she didn’t have to delete each product as it sold. Instead she’ll just mark them as out-of-stock and let the Rich Snippets and rankings accrue.

Are you having difficulties getting Rich Snippets for your Shopify store? If you haven’t installed JSON-LD for SEO yet, that’s what I recommend as your first step. It’ll automatically add the data Google needs for Rich Snippets.

Eric Davis

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