About the 301 Redirect
You know how when you’re driving and there is a road closure, traffic will be redirected to another route? Well, the same thing goes for your site, when you’re out of a specific product or it’s been discontinued.
Instead of your site traffic hitting a roadblock or dead-end that leaves them frustrated, you can re-route it along a different shopping path to an updated product or something similar using a 301 Redirect.
The 301 Redirect can come in especially handy when you’ve made a major update to your site (Again, think of it like road construction that you need to help your site traffic navigate around). On the back-end, it helps preserve legacy inbound links, search engine references and page ranking, while presenting updated material to your shoppers.
A shortcoming of 301 Redirects, however, is that they can’t redirect traffic that comes from a search engine query. But, as the old adage goes, there’s more than one way to handle this. We’ll illustrate how to do it below.
Bob, owner and operator of Superwidgets.com, has a hit product, the Mega Widget 10. It's been such a popular seller that searching for "Mega Widget 10" on Google returns the link to the Mega Widget product page within Bob's online store. However, this product has just been discontinued by its manufacturer. Its replacement, the Mega Widget 11, is now available.
Bob has to create a new product in his store to sell the Mega Widget 11. However, in doing so, he's going to sacrifice the SEO ranking he built up over time with the Mega Widget 10 on Google, Yahoo! and other search-engines.
Bob could simply sell the updated product on his site as the original Mega Widget 10, but this could cause shopper confusion and frustration. It would also make it very difficult, if not impossible, for him to distinguish between versions when processing returns. Therefore, Bob needs to create a new product in his store for the Mega Widget 11.
While Bob can’t use a 301 Redirect to send his customers who searched for the Mega Widget 10 to the new widget's product page, he can essentially create his own product redirect.
Bob just needs to create his new product, hide the original product, and then make it a “child” of the new product. Here’s how:
In your Admin Area, go to Inventory > Products
Click Add to set up the new product (in this case, Mega Widget 11)
After adding the new product, go back to the Products page
Find the original product to be discontinued (in this case, Mega Widget 10) and click on its ID to edit it
Under the Advanced Info section on the Product Display tab, enable the Hide Product option
Next, under the Advanced Info > Misc tab, go to the Parent Product Code field and enter the product code of the new product (Mega Widget 11)
With this configuration in place, a customer searching for "Mega Widget 10" on Google will see the link to this product within Bob's online store in the search results. Clicking on the link will direct the visitor to the original Mega Widget 10 product within Bob's store. However, because the discontinued product is hidden and is now a child product of Mega Widget 11, any visitor to Mega Widget 10 will automatically be redirected to its “parent,” Mega Widget 11.
Use this handy workaround when you have to replace products within your store but want to maintain the SEO power your existing product page has built up.