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Mon Mar 12 2007 22:46:36

eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait

By: Ina Steiner

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A user on the Vendio discussion boards noticed something interesting as she was browsing items on eBay Monday. eBay is including a box at the bottom of some pages that is full of brand names related to the items being searched or browsed. 

It appears to be a veiled attempt to show up higher in Google and Yahoo search-engine results. This will be of special interest to eBay sellers, who are strictly prohibited from using this marketing technique in their own listings. (eBay calls it Keyword Spamming.)



There is a reason for the policy - it would be very frustrating for eBay shoppers who are looking for Nike shoes to find thousands of non-Nike items in their search results just because sellers included the term in order to get eyeballs.

But I've spoken to sellers who have gotten in trouble with eBay when enforcement has gotten out of control. For example, if you are selling generic replacement parts for a brand-name item - say a "smith" printer cartridge that is for a Hewlett-Packard printer - you may be in trouble if you include the words Hewlett-Packard in the description because it is not a Hewlett-Packard printer cartridge - even though it's made for HP printers!

I put the search term "Sonicare electric toothbrushes" in the Google search box, and half-way down the first page of results was a link to an eBay page.



Clicking on the link brought me to the eBay results page for Sonicare, with a box at the bottom titled "More Info About Sonicare." It was full of keyword terms such as vitamins, weight loss, dietary supplements and pills, and included about 40 brand names (they even managing to include "Britney Spears").




Comments (15) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait   eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait

by: Chris

Mon Mar 12 23:56:00 2007

Doesn't surprise me. Do as I say not as I do. Should be ebay's new slogan.

eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait   eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait

by: FrustratedResearcher

Tue Mar 13 00:32:59 2007

I'm so torn at odds because I make my living on the so-called practice of unbiased, objective (ha, ha!) market research.
 
I used to like Google a lot because its organic search seemed unbiased.  However, I now read how organic produce may not be so pure as I thought, never mind the illegals adding their own cultural diversity.  And apparently, it seems that philosophy has spread online too.
 
Gosh, how can we (I?) seem unbiased and still make a living too?  I'm becoming more cynical than the cynical man's cynic Don Henley.  Maybe the way to prosperity is I need to also be selling dirty laundry.  I wanted to not pollute search results anywhere, be they on the eBay site, or the Google site.  Integrity, shmetegrity, it don't pay no bills.
 
You know what they say about if you can't beat them -- a joiner, I shall be!

eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait   eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait

by: Randy Smythe

Tue Mar 13 03:02:00 2007

eBay continually shoots themselves in the foot on the PR front. Maybe they think they are wearing Bill Clinton's Teflon Suit. Nothin sticks to eBay

eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait   eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait

by: Larry Shaffer

Tue Mar 13 06:32:39 2007

One would think that eBay might notice that so many long standing dealers are unhappy. If they do take heed, it is not evident. Nothing shocks or takes me off my feet with eBay. We are just doing as many others have and are. We are searching for all of the other methods to e-sell. We have been fairly agressive with eBay since 1999. However, I would rather sit on my inventory while searching other venues than to put up with more unjustified price increases, and try to remember more rules. I wonder if eBay ever reads any comments from sites like yours or even their own. I suppose not. What can frighten the biggest gorilla in the forest?

eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait   eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait

by: Peter

Tue Mar 13 07:55:15 2007

Ebay management must be getting pretty desperate to attract buyers. They still seem to get lots of sellers to pay listing fees, but do they get more buyers generating final value fees? Our tumbling sales says they do not generate enough traffic anymore.

eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait   eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait

by: John Stack

Tue Mar 13 14:26:42 2007

I think this is brilliant.

I realize eBay has a keyword spamming policy against this which is intended to reduce nonrelated items from showing in search results.

I would assume this text area does not affect search results within eBay.  However, it would allow the items to be shown in more Google search results and with a higher ranking.

The end result is more traffic to the eBay items with no extra cost to the eBay sellers. This is done through eBay's seo and natural search.

eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait   eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait

by: Randy Smythe

Tue Mar 13 17:54:15 2007

John, I agree with most of your post. You do realize this change will not stop the annual fee increases and the benefit to any one seller may be a small increase in sales but it will continue to cost sellers. Any efficiencies that eBay can wring out of their system will ultimately benefit their bottom line not sellers.

eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait   eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait

by: Laura Lancaster

Tue Mar 13 21:40:48 2007

but WHY is Ebay allowed to keyword spam and Ebay sellers are not?  

What makes that OK?

Why do we have to look at it on the Ebay pages?  Do you seriously think there are not enough keywords in Ebay to effect Google rankings?  Come on.  

It is just one more Ebay thing they are getting away with because they "are Ebay".

It's a do as I say do and not do as I do situation.

It's Ebay giving us the sellers the finger - again.

Between the hijacked accounts and bogus listings it's clear Ebay is past its prime when they have to resort to something like this.

   

eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait   eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait

by: firemeg

Wed Mar 14 08:24:44 2007

eBay already ranks higher than most sites on Google/Froogle and related sites, not only because of the size of eBay but because the item titles show up about four places on the listing page that is cached by Google.

Many visitors to our ecommerce sites have started adding "-eBay" to their search strings to weed out the annoying eBay results, many of which are months old.

eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait   eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait

by: John Stack

Wed Mar 14 10:12:56 2007

Randy,

I think we need to differentiate between eBay's marketing and fee increases.  I don't think this keyword marketing attempt will directly cause a fee increase.

I do agree that eBay's ever increasing fees make eBay a very hard place to make a profit unless the only items you are selling are used items starting at $.99.  I realize eBay's goal is to maximize Revenue Per Listing, RPL, and I see more of their sly methods every day.  But, that is a different topic.

We need to realize that eBay's keyword spamming policy is designed to help generate better search results for customers.  The text eBay is placing in the listing most likely does not affect search results on eBay.  I think this is the important fact moat people are missing who are posting the criticism.

However, the presence of the text area helps generate more traffic to eBay.  Ebay just needs to be careful they do not violate Google's rules.  I wonder if Google would put eBay in their penalty box for keyword spamming.  Does Google enforce their rules without prejudice?  Is their a ''level playing field'' on Google.  

Or, is the text considered proper content?  Showing on the search results page, the text would probably be considered content.  Google likes good content.

eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait   eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait

by: postcardpeddler

Wed Mar 14 10:31:09 2007

eBay has had huge lists of keyword spam at the bottom of their stores pages for quite some time.  Though, as a seller, I might benefit in some remote way from this, it grates on me, nonetheless.
Get on the wrong end of a keyword spam issue with eBay, no matter no innocent it may be, and a hasty crucifixion awaits you.  This is quintessential eBay philosophy.  WE will do as we damn please.  YOU, little seller, will do as we say or else.

eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait   eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait

by: Randy Smythe

Wed Mar 14 11:18:59 2007

John, I probably wasn't clear enough in my first post. I'm not making a connection between this keyword spamming approach and a fee increase. You are correct they are not related.

eBay saves money on Google AdWords - sellers get little benefit from increased exposure - even with the cost savings for eBay they will still raises fees on sellers again next year and maybe on stores again this August.
eBay's bottomline is improved but that doesn't translate into any help for sellers.

eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait   eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait

by: Frank Ross

Thu Mar 15 12:12:53 2007

I wonder if eBay will get VERO'd for the use of all those trademarked names?

eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait   eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait

by: Beyond the Treelin

Mon Mar 19 08:57:10 2007

Ina used the term "veiled approach".

I'm not sure that such blatant keyword spamming is nearly so "veiled".

One obvious consideration is what kind of repercussions this kind of move will have. This is neither novel nor intelligent. What makes eBay think this kind of garbage won't lead to search engine penalizations? This is a very 1999 approach to improving SEO, and it won't be good for anyone when the engines start doling out the levies.

eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait   eBay Gets Aggressive with Google Bait

by: Red

Fri Mar 23 09:23:59 2007

Grr.....and some of my listings have been pulled for keyword spamming (harshly too, I had the action reverse coz they were wrong) Well least we know that keywords on ebay and every page works for SEO as ebay are doing it!



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