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Which status to put for temporarily inactive page?
aji1480




msg:4331434
 8:02 am on Jun 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hi all,

I was wondering if someone could help me how to manage temporarily inactive website in regards of SEO and search engine.

the case is i managed a big ecommerce site, and sometime i need to put down page(s). could be days, could be weeks, could be months, and it depends on our vendor.

if my visitors land on the page that been temporarily inactive then i can give them a message that the vendor they looking for is not available at this time and he can check back later OR check another vendor with similar products, but how do i send my message to search engine robots?

if i use 301 status and forward URL page to another similar products, then the chance that the current URL being deindex is huge while i still want to use that URL for the future if my vendor want to re-join.

any advise will highly appriciated

 

g1smd




msg:4331446
 8:45 am on Jun 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

For short term (under 48 hours) unavailability, 503 may be what you are looking for.

The spec does allow you to specify "come back after <date> and try again", but I don't know how much search engines honour that - especially when long-dated.

BenFox




msg:4331449
 8:57 am on Jun 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'd keep them as 200s and change the content to reflect stock status.

"This widget is discontinued - see it's replacement here or check out a cheaper version of it here."

That type of thing.

aji1480




msg:4331456
 9:17 am on Jun 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

hi @g1smd

thank you for your response, but i think 503 referring to server error status due to maintenance or overloads of request (as mentioned in www.w3.org)

@BenFox i was thinking to that direction too but the thing is the information will be replace/hidden with something else so visitors won't see any expected information until we came to an agreement with our vendor. the robots will see different information as well from last visit.

is it possible / any idea to retain that URL in google index while i pass that URL to other related pages across my website temporarily (well not so temporarily)

-thanks

deadsea




msg:4331527
 12:21 pm on Jun 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

is it possible / any idea to retain that URL in google index while i pass that URL to other related pages across my website temporarily (well not so temporarily)


If I were Google, I wouldn't want you to be able to do that. If your site doesn't have a product temporarily, I'd want to not send users to your site during that time period.

I would also be concerned that if you do get clicks from the SERPs, but don't have the product available, more users are going to return to google and check out other results. Google measures this and may use this as a negative signal in the algorithm for your site.

lucy24




msg:4331618
 3:43 pm on Jun 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

Isn't this what the 302 is for?

g1smd




msg:4331626
 3:55 pm on Jun 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

It could be, in some situations, but Google has a very long and mostly bad history with dealing with 302 redirects (especially around 2004-2008).

Older hands run a mile from those, with good reason. However, if you can convince me that Google now behaves when presented with these, then maybe...

aji1480




msg:4331909
 5:02 am on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

@deadsea only several products in the web is being inactive and not all, that's why i need it to be redirect temporarily to other product that have the same characteristic

@lucy24 yes, i'm also considering using 302 too. do you have any experience using 302 HTTP Redirects?

@g1smd thank you for you warning regarding 302 on prior years. i'm too not sure whether 302 is an acceptable Redirects to google bot but i've seen in Google Webmaster Support page that they list all the HTTP Redirect status. Don't know that they just listed there or they already accept all those status

my main question is, how to retain the index from google in that several pages and not getting deindex while it being temporarily inactive

thank you so much for those already involve in this discussion, hopes this will help you in your future projects :)

lucy24




msg:4331924
 5:34 am on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

However, if you can convince me that Google now behaves when presented with these, then maybe...

Hah. G### itself says, quote, "you shouldn't use it [302] to tell the Googlebot that a page or site has moved because Googlebot will continue to crawl and index the original location". So if you want them to "continue to crawl and index the original location" ... or is that like washing your car to make it rain?

Might have investigated further, but I got gobsmacked by
Google recommends that you use fewer than five redirects for each request.

We don't have a gaping-in-disbelief emoticon do we.

tedster




msg:4331926
 5:35 am on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

i'm too not sure whether 302 is an acceptable Redirects to google

Yes - it means "this content is temporarily moved to the following URL". It's intended to be used when the content will return to the original URL sometime relatively soon.

When a 302 redirect works as intended, the content of the target page is indexed, but its associated with the original URL rather than its own URL. After a short period, the original URL should lose any keyword ranking associated with its original on-page content. And if there are a lot of those 302 redirects, Google will probably see it as a "soft 404."

You've got a challenge, because you are not actually moving the content to a new addredd, you are just making it unavailable for a period.

if my visitors land on the page that been temporarily inactive then i can give them a message that the vendor they looking for is not available at this time and he can check back later OR check another vendor with similar products, but how do i send my message to search engine robots?


This sounds like the best solution to me - and do it with a 200 status. However, it would be best if you can dynamically insert the original vendor's name into the title and content, rather that just saying "the vendor" on many many pages, creating duplicate content.

g1smd




msg:4331960
 7:39 am on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Once the product comes back into stock, you may have a problem if Google SERPs continue to say that it isn't - either in the displayed title or in the snippet.

So you'll have to find a way to keep those words out of the SERPs title and snippet - but then you risk a high bounce rate for those pages while the product is out of stock.

Maybe you could manage expectations by putting an "expected back in stock by <date>" message instead and hope that appears in the SERPs. I would probably visit a page where the SERPs indicates "expected back in stock <last week>".

[edited by: g1smd at 8:12 am (utc) on Jun 28, 2011]

aji1480




msg:4331963
 7:46 am on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

@lucy24 thank you for your quote:
you shouldn't use it [302] to tell the Googlebot that a page or site has moved because Googlebot will continue to crawl and index the original location

it means that the original page will still be crawled by bots (and the temp site will also be crawled?). this is good news. and i hope i only use one redirect for each request :)

@tedster thank you for your insight regarding 200 status (the server successfully processed the request) but could you please elaborate with example perhaps about this? i also intend to create a temp page for the redirection target consist of dynamic title and name of inactive vendors, for example www.domain.com/vendors/not-availble.php?vendor=[vendor_name]

i hope this is a good strategy to keep the original URL being index and not removed from google database

aji1480




msg:4331987
 9:41 am on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

@g1smd thank you for your note, i will keep this in mind when i try to workaround the redirection page

tedster




msg:4331995
 10:07 am on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

it means that the original page will still be crawled by bots (and the temp site will also be crawled?).

The original URL (not "page") will be requested, but once a redirect status is sent a server sends nothing more in answer to that URL request. So no, there's no way for the CONTENT at a now-redirected URL to be indexed, not even a meta tag.

elaborate with example perhaps about this?

When Vendor X is not available, you change the content to say "Vendor X is temporarily not available" and still return a 200.

pageoneresults




msg:4332006
 10:23 am on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'd keep them as 200s and change the content to reflect stock status.


I think BenFox had the most elegant solution. ;)

Don't over-engineer this one. You're better off retaining the historical value of those documents and just updating them to reflect the current status. It's also a chance to upsell the visitor on a comparable replacement as mentioned above.

It could be, in some situations, but Google has a very long and mostly bad history with dealing with 302 redirects especially around 2004-2008.


I wonder if we SHOULD be discussing 303 and 307.

The status codes 303 and 307 have been added for servers that wish to make unambiguously clear which kind of reaction is expected of the client.

aji1480




msg:4332021
 11:25 am on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

@tedster well noted for your information :) thank you.

@pageoneresults yes there's maybe a more simple workaround / solution to this case, but it's always good to learn something in case we need it for something else. we will never know until we try :)

303 and 307? would love to discuss them if anyone have a case for it?

badbadmonkey




msg:4332124
 3:44 pm on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Maybe X-Robots-Tag: unavailable_after: #*$!x, to tell Google when it's going AWOL, then just remove the tag when you're back in business. In the meantime you leave the page response as 200, the content has changed maybe but the page itself as an entity hasn't, or it shouldn't (replace content with a "sorry" message) - I don't see a legitimate reason for using another code. What you want is a semantic requirement, the server codes have technical meanings.

Planet13




msg:4332136
 4:06 pm on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Ok, I am being snarky, but...

Have you thought about selling products where availability ISN'T a problem?

It seems a bit counterproductive to spend time marketing items that come in and out of stock.

rlange




msg:4332149
 4:31 pm on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Planet13 wrote:
Have you thought about selling products where availability ISN'T a problem?

It seems a bit counterproductive to spend time marketing items that come in and out of stock.

Not even Amazon and Newegg can manage that.

--
Ryan

aji1480




msg:4332155
 4:48 pm on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

@badbadmonkey & planet13, thank you also for your response. the first reason why I go this far is that I don't my customers to see 404 page or sorry page because in my opinion when they went all the way to my site and only to find sorry page then they can easily jump ship to other site looking for the same and available product. This is why I want to rederict them to another product page temporarily that have similarity,that's why I need 302 (redirect to other page with similar content). This way at least we can amuse them and hold them awhile rather then bounce back to search engine.

Our ecommerce business handles planty of vendors across the country,and sometime it would take sometime to negotiate with them over prices. When this happened I want to temporarily deactivate their page.

Hope my explaination above helps to understand why I need 302 :)

aji1480




msg:4332156
 4:59 pm on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

@rlange maybe I'm to na´ve if I think I can outrun their scale in a short time but who knows in the future my team could find a better solution for this kind of case in terms of SEO ;)

tedster




msg:4332169
 5:19 pm on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

If you really do have a good substitute to offer, then a big fat link served in the content at your original URL should do the job. If your alternative isn't really a good substitute, then forcing a redirect isn't likely to convert anyway.

aji1480




msg:4332204
 7:12 pm on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

@tedster our team have setup a list of similar product alternatives and do believe it will make coversion. From everybody's suggestion regarding 302 and other pointers encourage me to try this. I hope we haven't miss anyting. I'm still open for any input regarding 302.

tedster




msg:4332210
 7:29 pm on Jun 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

It is a judgment call. If you 302 redirect to a different URL, that URL's content will be indexed as if it lived at the original URL - probably changing the way that URL ranks for as long as the temporary redirect is in place. If that's a result you like, you certainly can try it. I'm not sure how it would do using the strategy in a widespread way.

I'd still probably prefer using a 200, adding a note to the original content and then include a LINK to that alternate page. It holds a lot less potential for search engine havoc.

pageoneresults




msg:4332513
 1:29 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'd still probably prefer using a 200, adding a note to the original content and then include a LINK to that alternate page. It holds a lot less potential for search engine havoc.


And, you'll be passing value to the alternate page in the process. ;)

[edited by: pageoneresults at 2:02 pm (utc) on Jun 29, 2011]

aji1480




msg:4332521
 1:57 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

@tedster & @pageoneresult thank you guys for the suggestion :) I will discuss all of the options to the team

Planet13




msg:4332545
 2:47 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

If you really do have a good substitute to offer, then a big fat link served in the content at your original URL should do the job. If your alternative isn't really a good substitute, then forcing a redirect isn't likely to convert anyway.


+1

TheMadScientist




msg:4332552
 3:06 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

if my visitors land on the page that been temporarily inactive then i can give them a message that the vendor they looking for is not available at this time and he can check back later OR check another vendor with similar products...

I would personally think about doing this by keeping all the original information on the page and adjusting the stock level, etc.

Example:

Stock On Hand: 0;
Expected Restock: DATE
Other Similar Products: LINK .. LINK .. LINK

but how do i send my message to search engine robots?

<meta name="robots" content="noindex">
OR
X-Robots-Tag: noindex

303 and 307? would love to discuss them if anyone have a case for it?

Not much to discuss on these in this thread, but have used 307s effectively in situations where a page will be temporarily redirected on a number of occasions for a few years now ... My guess is the 302 handling is very similar to, if not the same as, 307 handling, but I prefer to make sure the communication is clear.

I do not see myself using the 303, 307 or any other redirect in this situation ... I think it's best to keep the history for the URL and 'adjusting' stock levels / info accordingly. To keep from 'visitor frustration' at not having what they were looking for in stock I would likely noindex the page, until I had stock on hand unless I had an 'essentially the same' product from another vendor people are 'equally as likely to buy', then I would think about leaving the page in the index, but still change the info similar to the example above.

g1smd




msg:4332664
 6:47 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

I would think about "noindex" but for one reason - once the product comes back into stock it could take quite a while for the page to be reindexed and appear in search results again.

My worry is not so much about how the page appears when the product is in stock or is out of stock, but more about how to quickly transition to the other state in the search results when that happens.

TheMadScientist




msg:4332711
 8:29 pm on Jun 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

My worry is not so much about how the page appears when the product is in stock or is out of stock, but more about how to quickly transition to the other state in the search results when that happens.

I think there's a trade-off either way, and part of my decision would probably be based on how long the product could be out of stock for, because if the page were indexed and people were looking for exactly product-a while product-a was out-of-stock for months I could see their behavior downgrading the rankings of the page, which would, imo, be much tougher to overcome than it is to wait a few days to get the page back in the index after being noindexed ... The longest I've had to wait is 7 days or 8 days if I remember correctly, and some have been back within (less than) 24 hours of having the noindex removed and being spidered.

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