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Signs of Hope for eBay’s Exposure in Google Search

There may be signs of hope for sellers who’ve felt the effects of Google’s penalty against eBay. While not a resounding improvement, Wall Street analyst Mark May of Citi Research published a report indicating some signs of stabilization.

The effects of Google’s treatment of eBay listings began last spring, resulting in a drop in traffic coming to eBay from Google’s search engine.

Citi’s current report refers to data from AdGooroo and SEMRush since June – May explains:

“As shown in Figure 1 below, data from two different search engine data providers suggest that SEO traffic to eBay finally began to turn positive again on a Y/Y basis starting in June 2015 and has been sustained in the months following. This suggests, in our view, the possibility that 1) the impact of the Google changes from a year ago may in fact comp starting in 3Q15 and 2) there could be some – albeit modest – upside bias to expectations in 2H15.”

Last year, a site called Refugeeks pointed to eBay’s category pages created especially for search-engines as a possible cause for the Google problem (the practice is known in the industry as “link bait”).

And while it has never been confirmed, it’s possible that eBay SEO strategies such as the ones described in this March 2014 Newsflash article may have contributed to Google’s treatment of eBay listings in its search results. Google had pointed us last year to its thinking on low-quality sites, described in a 2011 post, when we inquired about reports of eBay’s drop in standings:

“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites – sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites – sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

eBay’s new CEO Devin Wenig outlined a new strategy in April to respond to the problem: “We’ll move toward becoming the world’s first online global marketplace to use structured catalog data at scale for all listings,” he said.

And in July, Wenig told analysts eBay would be looking to social media and messaging platforms as a way to grow new-user growth after continuing to experience “SEO challenges.”

In his report, Citi’s Mark May pointed to eBay’s recent statement that SEO traffic issues were still impacting new-buyer growth, he said the first 6 months of 2015 “do suggest at least stabilization.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.