eBay Has a Google Search Problem


eBay sellers have reason for concern. From yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article titled, “How Google Interferes With Its Search Algorithms and Changes Your Results”:

“An eBay spokesperson said in a statement, “We’ve experienced significant and consistent drops in Google SEO for many years, which has been disproportionally detrimental to those small businesses that we support.”” The newspaper said Google declined to comment regarding eBay.

eBay has been experiencing flat-to-negative growth in GMV – a measure of dollar sales that take place on its site – and many sellers feel it. Hearing from eBay that it continues to struggle for visibility of sellers’ listings on Google search is not good news.

eBay and Google have had their battles, as documented over the years on EcommerceBytes.com. The great Boston Tea Party incident of 2007 stands out, when there was a report eBay might have briefly suspended its Google Adwords campaign during the spat between the giants over Google Checkout.

In 2013, eBay published a study that showed Google paid search didn’t work – and many wondered why eBay was poking the bear.

Things took an especially worrisome turn in 2014 when eBay took hits in search after Google changed its algorithm and reportedly took action against eBay.

As eBay’s problem with Google SEO continued, management promised Wall Street it had a solution. It launched a “Structured Data Initiative” to improve listings on eBay so they would be more search-engine friendly on its own site and on search engines such as Google.

eBay said the Structured Data Initiative resulted in improvements, but it eventually hit a wall and told Wall Street it would meet the challenge by having sellers add more “aspects” (Item Specifics product attributes) to listings. Note that eBay is still trying to fix technical issues that were the result of a major change in the Clothing category on October 15 to make some Item Specifics in the category mandatory.

eBay had another idea to try and help with its Google SEO problem: the eBay Good Til Cancelled mandate (GTC), which makes all fixed-price listings “permanent,” so more likely to be picked up by Google.

Earlier this year, eBay answered very narrowly a question from Mark May of Citi about data indicating eBay’s traffic might have been negatively impacted by Google’s (presumably recent) algorithm changes.

The eBay CEO at the time Devin Wenig responded, “On the algo change, we haven’t seen a material change in search in the May – June timeframe. From Google.”

Aside from that, we don’t recall seeing much from eBay about its SEO progress. Until, that is, yesterday’s report in the Journal.

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