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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1769 - April 15, 2008 - ISSN 1539-5065    2 of 4

eBay Pulls BayEstimator Tool for Optimizing Best Match

By Ina Steiner
EcommerceBytes.com
April 15, 2008




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As sellers are coping with eBay's new algorithm-based search engine that sorts listings by relevancy and seller performance instead of by price or time, eBay has yanked a tool that some were using to optimize their listings.

Scot Wingo, CEO of inventory-management firm ChannelAdvisor, has been writing about eBay changes affecting sellers, including Best Match. He advised sellers on his blog to use a tool on eBay Research Lab's site called BayEstimator (http://labs.ebay.com/raghavgupta/demoto/to).

Using the tool, Wingo compared two auction titles to see which one would rank higher on Best Match. "New nintendo wii includes controller and 5 games" earned a 40 percent score, he wrote. "Nintendo wii console new new new new new new" pushed the score to 100 percent.

Sellers began using the tool to rank higher in search results. But eBay's Research Labs pulled the tool and placed the following message on the site: "Unfortunately, we have been asked to pull this tool down. However, if you found it useful and want it back, please log your request here." Sellers have been leaving comments asking for the tool to be brought back, such as: "Please bring it back! Sellers need some way to test their listing titles and get some guidance on managing Best Match," and, "The tool was helpful in determining which keywords to use in the title as there is not enough room for everything when you start describing cities, states and locations. Please bring it back. Although some abused it, many many more were using it as it was intended."

eBay pulled the tool after it was revealed that some sellers were gaming Best Match by putting the word new in auction titles multiple times to rank higher in search results (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y08/m04/i11/s01). ChannelAdvisor's Wingo published an interview with a seller using the technique on Monday. The seller explained how he came to learn the importance of placing the word "new" in listing titles:

I was optimizing my titles in the BayEstimator tool when by chance I had the word NEW twice in the title. I took the extra new out so I could use other relevant keywords and to my surprise the tool's "BayEstimate" dropped significantly. So I added a few more NEW's and the relevance jumped to 100%. Ah ha! The trick was born. (http://ebaystrategies.blogs.com/ebay_strategies/2008/04/interview-exclu.html)

A check of BayEstimator's FAQs section explains why the tool allows repeated words: "There are legitimate cases on site where something cannot be described without repeating words, for example "To Be Or Not To Be", or the book "The New New Thing". This tool does not make any attempt to detect malicious intent, and was not designed to do so."

Comment on the AuctionBytes Blog:
http://blog.auctionbytes.com/cgi-bin/blog/blog.pl?/pl/2008/4/1208268331.html

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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