Firstly, what is a potato head page?
A potato head page is a common occurrence on Salesforce Commerce Cloud websites and occurs when a product is removed from the catalog, but the PDP still loads and returns a 200 (minus the page content).
Therefore, like a potato head, the page is similar to a head and feet, much like the famous toy we know and love from Toy Story.
Depending on the SFCC installation, some potato head pages return static text that can be found using custom extract or Xpaths on Screaming Frog/Sitebulb.
Others, unfortunately, don’t display anything outside of the usual header, footer, and injected body content — making them relatively difficult to trace.
From experience, and depending on your integrator settings, potato head pages may be more useful, and instead of blankness:
- Return a funky version of your internal search page, but with the text saying it can’t match the term (with the search term just being two quote marks)
- Redirect to a 404-esque template, but return a 4xx error code (sometimes a 404, more often than not a 410)
The differences between various Salesforce CommerceCloud installations (from a technical SEO perspective) can be quite staggering, as we showed in our study of 1,900+ SFCC websites.
That said, potato head pages can be problematic for both users and SEO.
Why potato head pages are an issue
When a product is removed from your website, and in this case, removed from the Salesforce product catalog, it should be handled correctly for both SEO and user experience; potato head pages represent challenges for both.
As a potato head page returns a 200 response code, they’re not registered or seen by Google as a non-existent page. Therefore, these potato head URLs take longer to exit the search results.
This means users can still click on them and receive a negative experience of what is effectively a broken page. It could also turn them to your competitors.
Depending on your product turnover, not managing this process (over both time and scale-dependent) can generate negative user signals within the SERPs, and the situation could begin to impact your rankings.
Identifying potato head pages
As mentioned previously, removing products from the catalog can break the PDP page.
Some installations avoid potato heads through the weird search results page, or with the already buggy SFCC error code handling.
But if you are getting potato pages, how do you go about identifying them so you can remove internal links and handle them correctly for both SEO and users?
Unfortunately, there are only two real ways to do this – the first being that hope Google Search Console picks them up as soft 404s.
This could be problematic, given Search Console’s data rotation and the likelihood that you’re not a small site with a small number of SKUs.
The second method is to utilise both crawl emulators and analysis to identify data anomalies.
You can do this through either Screaming Frog or Sitebulb.
Outside of those, key data points and abnormalities to look for include:
- Title tag changes to something Demandware-esque, such as Sites-Websitename-Site
- A lack of H1, or other H tags on the page versus other product pages
- A lack of content (words on the page) versus other product pages
- A lack of canonical tags
- Much faster load speeds versus other product pages
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