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AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

AuctionBytes Blog The AuctionBytes Blog has been giving a voice to online merchants since its launch in 2005. Named one of the world's top 30 blogs in 2008 by "Blogging Heroes." Weigh in with your thoughts on the joys and pitfalls of selling online.
Thu May 5 2011 22:14:43

Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?

By: Ina Steiner
Sponsored Link
You don't have to be a disgruntled eBay seller to know there are flaws in the search function - eBay's own executives acknowledge it and say they are working hard to improve the buyer experience. On the other hand, eBay is deeply committed to its Best Match search algorithm and recently said it had made strides in the relevancy of Best Match. We decided to ask readers what they thought and made it the topic of our latest AuctionBytes Facebook Quick Poll.

While relevancy of search results remains a major issue - 85% of respondents said Best Match did not bring back results that were generally relevant to what they were searching for - the AuctionBytes Quick Poll uncovered something else:

91 percent of respondents said eBay's Best Match search algorithm favors some sellers over others. And many of the sellers left comments echoing that belief.

One respondent also mentioned the "self-perpetuating" nature of Best Match:

"It's self perpetuating. More clicks, higher in search. Higher in search the more clicks. In my collectibles category it rewards vague titles that one must click to see what the item is. I'm a TRS and NONE of my items show in the top 1000 listings for top key words. My listings have clear unambiguous key words and good photos that don't require click through just to see what it is. It looks like there's a linkage between the percentage of auction items sellers have and their standing in best match. In collectibles you cannot just start it low and let it go - it will go for pennies on the dollar that way. eBay says they reward free shipping. 90% of my listings have free shipping, yet they rank far below similar items with similar titles that do not have free shipping. Best match has gotten better as far as returning items that are at least sort of relevant. But it's still not very good."

eBay certainly makes no secret that seller ratings (DSRs, TRS) affect exposure in search results, but we'd like to know more about your observations and your opinions about this perceived favoritism. Let us know what you think, and look for the Quick poll results about eBay's Best Match in Friday's AuctionBytes Newsflash newsletter.

You are also invited to take the next AuctionBytes Facebook Quick Poll about Google's new requirements for Google Product Search (aka Google Base) feeds on this page.

Reading AuctionBytes Blog: Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
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Readers Comments

Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
This user has validated their user name. by: Mercy the Mingless
       
Thu May 5 23:22:57 2011
Best Match was broken when implemented and even with ''great strides'' it's still not providing buyers with desired search results,

Why was it implemented before it was working properly.  

Why is it being ''field tested''?

Why is it being fixed ''on the fly''?
Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
This user has validated their user name. by: TheCheapSkirt
       Web Site
Thu May 5 23:40:42 2011
I am a TRS. My items listed with free shipping consistently rank lower in Best Match than other sellers with worse feedback who are not TRS and who are not offering free shipping. I've tested this both right after listing an item, as well as at the end is a 30-day listing. I've also tested this at the beginning, as well as at the end, of 5- and 7-day auctions.

I've tested this from other computers, logged in to other IDs with other search histories (such as when visiting family in other states, I'll have them search using keywords for my items), from locations all over the US. My listings are consistently lower every time.

That has been my first-hand experience.
Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
by: Tim
       
Thu May 5 23:48:12 2011
I don't think you people understand.  The BEST in Best Match does not mean the best search or the best results or what is best for the buyer, it is what is BEST for eBay.

And by that definition it is working as intended.  What is BEST for eBay is that results can be steered toward favored sellers or the desired Wall Street result of the moment.  When you understand what BEST Match really is about you will not like it any more than you do now, but at least you will understand it is NOT broken, it is EXACTLY as eBay intends for it to be.

There is no point in sellers waiting on eBay to fix Best Match.  It is fixed.  Very fixed.
Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
       Web Site
Fri May 6 00:15:09 2011
Fully agree with Tim. "Best Match" was never intended by the criminal organization known as eBay to serve other than eBay by promoting their favored sellers at the expense of other paying sellers. Anyone who thinks otherwise is naïve in the extreme and is probably living on some other planet.

Enron / eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking.
Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
by: nobody
       
Fri May 6 00:20:03 2011
After looking everywhere, I was desperate enough to actually go to ebay for the first time in over 3 years and search for "sasquatch" items... it came back with 6 results in magnets and 7 results in keychains. I would've guessed there would've been 1000s of results, but nope. It didn't matter, because most sellers are so whipped into taking paypal -- and I no longer use them -- that I wouldn't buy from the 2 different sellers that I contacted anyway.

On a side note, my God has that horrid site slowed down even worse while it infects your computer with crap. Never again.

I can totally see why buyers have turned into such jerks. You're so frustrated by the time you get out of there you want to scream.
Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
by: nobody
       
Fri May 6 00:22:36 2011
P.S. To sellers: you're paying for a service that ebay no longer provides when your items are invisible. Lawsuit time.
Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri May 6 00:29:30 2011
when i'm running a search the first thing i do is change it to ANY other sort than best match.  best match results, while possibly relevent, never make any sense at all.  and yes i do believe that they are tilted towards ebay's diamond sellers.

@nobody

a general search for "sasquatch"?  just tried it and came up with 2580 items...

Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
by: Best is the new Worst
       
Fri May 6 00:42:28 2011
The sad thing about most criminal activities is it's hard for the victim to prove until it is too late. Stalkers, spousal abusers, rapists, theives etc commit their crimes and the justice system needs proof before they can proceed. The victim is powerless to do anything and unable to even prevent their victimization.

With eBay's Best Match and DSRs, the manipulation is invisible and difficult to prove. Aterall the wolf is guarding the hen house.
Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
This user has validated their user name. by: Ric
       
Fri May 6 00:46:51 2011
eBay managements' continued support of Best match illustrates how badly out of touch management is with their buyers and sellers.

eBay management admits that BM ''sucked'' for the first three years. eBay management also admits that Best Match is constantly in need of ''tweaks'' and fixes.

eBay management knows that Best Match has decimated sales across categories and the marketplace in general.

eBay management knows that Best Match search results still are not relevant in many instances.

Yet for some reason, eBay continues to throw management and personnel at Best Match. It would be interesting to know how much time, staff, labor and money has been dumped into the whole Best Match program since it was first implemented.

Don't forget the cost of creating new seller alienating policies allegedly implemented because they would make Best Match function better but have yet to show any significant improvement.

Compare the cost to run, research, fiddle, twiddle and tweak Best Match to the corresponding decline in sales and I bet management has a multi-billion boondoggle on their hands.

In the meantime, Time Ending Soonest would resolve many problems faced by buyers, sellers and eBay itself.

The marketplace was built around Time Ending Soonest. GMV was at it's peak when Time Ending Soonest was at it's peak. Sellers would receive equal exposure under TES. Impulse buying would increase under TES when that bargain appears one page one of search with only a few minutes remaining. Browsing categories would become a habit again. Impulse buying would increase when that special bargain appears on page one of search with only minutes remaining.

Auction listings would increase. ASP's would increase when auctions close with multiple bids.

Buyers would be reinvigorated and excited about eBay again. Sellers seeing multiple bids and higher closing prices would be thrilled about selling on eBay again.

The expenses related to Best Match would be eliminated and sales would increase which would translate into lower operating costs for eBay. Lower operating costs would mean eBay would be able to avoid increasing fees every 8 to 10 months.

The benefits of discontinuing Best Match as the default search are plain as day. What is not clear is why eBay management continues to stand behind something that is a major pain point to buyers, to sellers and to eBay itself.

That management continues to waste time, energy, brain power and huge amounts of revenue on a search method that is a failure in every respect illustrates how the current leadership at eBay continues to fail buyers, sellers, and even eBay investors.

It is time for a change not just of the default search method, but of the failed management team that are ignorant to the fact their efforts have totally failed to produce any positive result.

Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
by: another side of the coin
       
Fri May 6 01:12:16 2011
The only reason IMO, JD & Co. stay with Best Match is to have total control of their buyer and seller minions.

"Power Corrupts, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely"



Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
by: Kurt
       Web Site
Fri May 6 02:55:55 2011
Ebays so called ''Best Match'' is the biggest waste of time I've ever seen. I use to sell 200+ items a month and now I just sell for friends or a item here and there. I'm starting to sell on Amazon and I'm making more money and I don't have to put up with Ebays so called ''policys''. It all started with me on the ''feedback system'' where a seller could not leave feedback other than Positive. What about the buyers that would not pay? Can I leave them bad feedback? NO! They get a free ride at my expense! Good by Ebay you've lost a seller!
Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
by: Gary
       Web Site
Fri May 6 03:12:47 2011
I am not sure Best Match benefits anyone. It seems to change on a regular basis and lately it seems to be doing it more often than in the past
Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie
       
Fri May 6 05:15:23 2011
This is one of the main reasons that I have abandoned eBay. There's nothing ''best'' about it! The constant tweaks and changes are not improvements. Instead, they only make it more difficult for me to optimize my listings, and as a result I do not receive the exposure that I pay for.

As a small seller, I simply do not have the time to continually experiment with re-writing and re-submitting my listings with the hopes of achieving any improvement (and even then, such gains are marginal at best, and do not justify the time and effort). Further, the changes I make *this* week are likely to be forbidden NEXT week, and as a result, I must edit yet again to be in compliance with new policies that are vague, subjective, and which have inconsistent enforcement.

My time and effort have VALUE! I can't afford to spend and entire day every week with experimental micro-adjustments. So, instead, I'll just continue to list only a small percentage of my own ''core'' items and let those listings auto-renew every month.

Considering that a hands-on and proactive approach is a waste of time, my hands-off approach allows me more time to increase and improve my presence on other venues (including my own site).

I give eBay the EXACT amount of attention that it's worth... and that's not much.

I'll remain a passive and disengaged seller on eBay and allow whatever small sales happen to trickle my way... from customers who accidentally stumble upon my items.
Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
by: Nancy
       Web Site
Fri May 6 05:55:08 2011
After being an ebay seller since 2003 with 100% feedback 3765, I closed my store this year & former 200 listings have been whittled down to 12 Fixed Price Multi Variation listings. I was also an eBay buyer, but now find Best Match frustrating, sellers I look for are gone.  eBay has become irrelevant for both sellers & buyers.
Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
by: dan
       
Fri May 6 07:16:52 2011
the internet is a big washing machine -- the machine itself needs an overhaul by the government.  Perception is reality and the perception that eBay does not treat people equally or fairly is reality.  American monopolies have never created prosperity.

eBay is not an employer so their manipulation of the search mechanism "on the fly" that does not ensure fairness is an abuse that needs regulation.  Ebay has made no change to best match since its implementation except the programmer who designed it left the company and admitted himself that its flawed.  When you squeeze too tight, you crack....people are not robots.
Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
by: Doubting Thomas
       
Fri May 6 07:54:58 2011
Ebays best match changes its direction more often and faster than a squirrel trying to cross a 6-lane highway.

And we all know what usually happens to the squirrel.
Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
by: Kathy
       
Fri May 6 08:27:15 2011
You're a seller. What does eBay care about what YOU think?
Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
This user has validated their user name. by: permacrisis
       
Fri May 6 10:27:46 2011
To get rid of Best match and return to Time Ending Soonest, you'd either have to split the site or randomize virtual "end times" (actaully just a turnover cycle) to those fixed price items that do not have an expiration date.

I say, split the site.

I used to think it was the auctions and bidding themselves that made eBay's auctions hop. But now I'm coming around to the notion that visibility in category and keyword searches was an even bigger factor.

Just look at Craigslist. People list there because that they KNOW they will be seen, and thier listing will have its day in the sun.

And buyers go there because they know that if it doesn't turn up in search, there aren't any. Result: the site is JAMMIN' with activity.

In fact, if someone would write a 3rd  party shipping calculator / aggregated search hub for all of the different Craigslist locations, they would have a real monster on their hands.

And if THAT took off, ebay would be instant toast.  ☺
Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
by: jest say'n
       
Fri May 6 10:31:14 2011
best match favors eBays corporate diamond sellers
it is a backroom deal that has benefits untied to revenue
benefits untied to selling products
its all about selling stock
the beauty of ebays platform is completely ruined
it has , in effect, been hijacked by a cadre of corporate criminals who produce nothing, build nothing , provide nothing in exchange for their huge salaries and benefit packages.
if buyers know to switch to TES they find what they want
but TES is not sticky so they have to re choose with each search
so the buyers are leaving in droves and those who are left are being harvested by the corporate diamond sellers to their own off eBay sites as we should all be doing before the bubble bursts and JD floats away on his billion dollar umbrella
Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?   Does eBay's Best Match Search Algorithm Favor Certain Sellers?
by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.
       
Fri May 6 10:58:17 2011
I'm beginning to think best match is a figment of Ebay's imagination.  It seems to not work at all....unless its only working for the big sellers.  Now that listings are free I throw something on there from time to time and watch it roll off with few views and no bids.  Ebay is dead for art whereas a few years ago it was really hot!  I no longer know if its the economy or its Ebay I just know I rarely go there now...even with free listings.
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