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Mon Apr 4 2011 23:29:08

eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

By: Ina Steiner

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I spent some time this afternoon speaking to Mercent's Eric Best about eBay's pending acquisition of GSI Commerce, and what he's seeing in the ecommerce industry these days. It's no secret eBay has been courting large merchants and brands and moving away from the auction format. Eric agrees small sellers on eBay will have to compete with new large retailers as a result of the acquisition.

But Google also has its eyes on large retailers. Eric said that in addition to the Panda changes Google made in February, he's been observing Google shifting its focus in the first quarter toward larger sellers in terms of relevancy ranking. Google is also shifting more page real estate and algorithms to local in-store price and inventory availability, he said.

How can smaller retailers get on Google's radar? Eric says reputation and original content are areas that retailers can control. Google assigns big points for original content, and Eric said that would be a continued theme moving forward.

Sellers can incorporate shopper-generated content and feedback ratings into their product listings, and should also look for creative ways to provided unique and value-added information. It could be product reviews, seller feedback ratings, or it could be "non-product focused content," such as providing information about industry-related events.

A few days ago, online merchant and SEO guru Rob Snell tackled this very issue in an article for Search Engine Land called, "When Pandas Attack: Online Retailers Need To React." Rob was referencing the Panda changes Google made in February and said, "creating compelling content is paramount for SEO for online retailers."

Rob outlined, "10 Common Mistakes Many Retailers Make," such as

- "Little Or No Original Product Text Content";

- "Same Template. Page After Page After Page";

- "Really, Really, Really Big Boilerplate Text";

- "Writing Unique Content But Giving It Away".

He also listed suggestions for, "What To Do For Your Online Store Post Panda." Create unique content, and focus on your top products that drive the most traffic to your site or storefront.

It's not exactly news that content is important - but it's more important than ever for sellers to have a content strategy and think about the content they're creating and with whom they are sharing it. Rob's article is a great primer - print it out and study it!

Smaller sellers often have unique products, which can help them write unique content. It's possible they may be in a better position to win with content than their larger colleagues.

Eric Best had many other things to say about the current state of the commerce industry including the fact that Amazon is driving four times the volume than eBay for his clients - you can listen to the full interview on the AuctionBytes Ecommerce Industry Soundbytes podcast.

Let us know if you've been impacted by changes at Google and if you use content as a way to differentiate your business.




Comments (19) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

by: Fruity This user has validated their user name.

Mon Apr 4 23:34:13 2011

ie don't let ebay have your content. Pictures, descriptions, titles

eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

by: pete

Tue Apr 5 03:37:59 2011

The more I read from these so called experts the more it irritates me, sorry to say but they are boneheads.

Where do they think big sellers come from…yes you guessed it  SMALL SELLERS

Are they really so dumb to think Zappos/Walmart/ or even Dell etc started out with a multi million dollar turnover?

Google has as much common sense as J Donut and that I could put in a coke can


We could quite easily be a Diamond seller on eBay, We have the stock the system and the staff…but when eBay cap our sales how can we even break thro the wall…IDIOTS the lot of them

eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

by: Joe Average.

Tue Apr 5 03:59:12 2011

I am still not convinced that these big brands who are clients of eBay's lastest acquisition, will automatically prance over to a has-been auction site.

They can go where ever they choose, eBay doesnt own the brands, they only bought the website administration.

eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen

Tue Apr 5 05:16:00 2011

If the Chief Headless Turkey at eBay is interesting in buying GSI then it must be either a dud or eBay is paying far too much for it—watch for the agents' fees.

I agree, if the "eBafia Don" thinks that GSI's brands will all  automatically take up his offer to list on the "clunky" eBay for a STR of low single figures, he obviously still hallucinating; then he has been nibbling those magic mushrooms for a long time now.

Enron / eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking.

eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

by: Barlow

Tue Apr 5 08:45:01 2011

It wouldn't surprise me to see some of those GSI merchants migrate over to Amazon instead. I imagine some of them will object to having the word "eBay" anywhere near their content.

eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

by: B Wildered

Tue Apr 5 16:00:20 2011

It is impossible to write compelling content for low-end collectibles.

eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

by: Mister Tubbles

Tue Apr 5 16:43:07 2011

Good luck boiling the ocean, ebay! Here's a tip for you, JD. Pick up a copy of Titanic sometime. Pay close attention to the part where the ship sinks.

eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Tue Apr 5 19:59:02 2011

The internet giants are colluding, and the sign in the windows says:

"Small sellers no longer need apply."

Initially courted, used to make billion dollar fortunes for a handful of mega greedy b school grads, cruelly abused to create even more billions of dollars for a small number of criminal corporate execs and Wall Street banksters, and finally discarded into the trash heap of internet commerce.

It's the macrocosmic paradigm for 21st century America.

Only a modern pitch fork and torch revolution will change anything.

eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Tue Apr 5 21:00:12 2011

"It is impossible to write compelling content for low-end collectibles."

That sounds like an interesting challenge. :)

eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Tue Apr 5 23:57:01 2011

If anyone wants the basic blueprint for how these corporate criminals illegally (allegedly) collude with Wall Street banksters, Google these three words:

Raj Galleon trial

and read how a relative handful of arrogant, sociopaths are effing the rest of us.

And this guy's story is the NORM, not the exception.

Can't wait for the ebay related testimony.

eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 6 00:34:07 2011

"It is impossible to write compelling content for low-end collectibles."

not impossible, but probably not time efficient depending on how low end the collectible is.

eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

by: John

Wed Apr 6 01:51:33 2011

>>>>''It is impossible to write compelling content for low-end collectibles.''<<<<

eBay has been allowing compelling content for years in the counterfeit department, which still seems to be alive and well, and is about as low end as it gets

eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

by: B Wildered

Wed Apr 6 12:26:25 2011

Thanks Ina---"Challenging" rather than impossible. Me bad.

Upshot though: Have a large yard sale where most of it was found in the first place. It is difficult to pound round pegs into square holes these days.

The "challenge" is in finding better merchandise that will fit today's sellability parameters...

Or find a digital niche.

eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

by: On Lies and Secrets This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 6 13:07:42 2011

Ina writes - ''Smaller sellers often have unique products, which can help them write unique content. It's possible they may be in a better position to win with content than their larger colleagues.''

I am inclined to agree with Ina's observation.  I think small and medium sized sellers and niche sellers have an advantage over large retailers when it comes to including original content on their ecommerce pages/sites.   In the olden days of ebay before the ebay corporation started instituting an impossible number of rules which cluttered up listings with contract minutiae, small sellers of collectibles, higher-end used merchandise and one-of-a-kind items used to write very thoughtful and informative item descriptions.  Often the sellers were dealers, fellow-collectors or they had deep knowledge of the product category that they sold and many of them helped to educate buyers about their items.  Many smaller sellers also excelled in personalized customer care because they understood the specific needs of buyers in their niches.  In the olden days, it was rewarding simply to read item descriptions on ebay written by sellers who cared about what they sold and who knew about their merchandise.  When ebay changed (under Whitman), the corporation had no respect for the deep knowledge and expertise of small sellers.  So instead of interesting, rich content in product descriptions, ebay listings these days consist primarily of terms of sale with very little space devoted to high quality item descriptions.  

The type of content that is currently being favored by search engines is the type of content that small sellers who care about their merchandise can easily produce when there is no disincentive to do so (as there currently is on ebay).  Large retailers are into moving product, generally they don't know much or care much about their inventory (most of it is made offshore at the lowest possible cost) and they don't care much about their buyers (because they see buyers as a commodity that can be replaced).

SEO appears to be a moving target as the major search engines appear to constantly tweak their algorithms.   These days, the presence of fresh, user generated content and reviews on product pages is prioritized.  I think small and medium sellers can be more nimble and flexible when it comes to refining  their product pages.  They can also offer far more personalized service and can connect with their buyers better than the large, impersonal chains.

I think it is hard for small sellers to beat the large chains on prices of commodity items, but small sellers can run rings around large retailers when it comes to service.  I think for certain commodity items, good service matters as much or more than price.  


eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Wed Apr 6 17:51:47 2011

The problem with any of these major e commerce sites and search engines is constant and often destructive changes that come so fast that they're often both difficult and expensive to keep up with.

Ebay and Google create and delete algorithms frequently. Bing probably does as well.

My small business needs a reasonably stable e commerce platform. The purpose of being in business is to sell and make money rather than spending time and resources fine tuning for the constantly changing landscape of SEO.

Further, it seems obvious that what ebay says about ebay.com visibility is far from the reality of their algorithms.

In addition of wasting many hours optimizing for this quarter's algorithms, we can't be certain we're even being told the truth.

We know with ebay that truthfulness isn't in their corporate DNA and never has been.

Lately Google seems to be straying from their Do No Evil mission statement.

I'm not anti change. I'm anti change for the sake of change only (The Ho), I'm against innovatively destructive changes, and I'm against secret changes in which a select few get cheat sheets while we serfs and peons do not.

Small e commerce businesses REQUIRE stable, dependable platforms in order to flourish.

Amazon at least provides these two elements if you can sell there.

Ebay doesn't and has become so moribund under The Ho that it's institutionally incapable of sound long term planning.

Possibly ill advised acquisitions doesn't constitute effective long term planning.

The jury is still out on Google.



eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

by: F Simmons
Web Site

Thu Apr 7 08:10:01 2011

First, google in its new changes is looking for content that is original, descriptive and correct in syntax, that will get you higher in its ratings.

Secondly,the sites like Amazon are exactly what eBay wanys to become, Check out the Feb 10, 2011 Fox Business article, where CEO Donahoe stated that eBay was still re-tooling from an online auction site, to a commerce site similar to that of Amazon. This change, is why so many eBay sellers are so un-happy.
Even if you are happy with eBay there are good reasons to seek out an eBay alternative.  Ealtbay  is an eBay alternative dedicated to the niche market, of allowing the sale of perfectly legal items, that are banned on eBay. Ealtbay allows the listing of all items for free, has very low final value fees, lets you accept payment in any legal form, and truthful feedback is allowed for both the buyer and seller. Give it a try

eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

by: Rick1313

Thu Apr 7 09:46:48 2011

What Ming said pretty much sums up the situation a seller faces in trying to reach the maximum number of potential buyers, which is the bottom line in anyone's business module.

Any business works on the basic principal that they know and understand all the factors involved in developing their business, especially making contact with potential buyers.

In the ecommerce world, unless you have your own iron clad agreement with whichever third party search engine you are using (whether Google, eBay, etc.) to bring your wares to the public, you are at the mercy of the third party search engine (x-factor).

Then bring in another x-factor of a third party service feeding other fourth, fifth, etc. party search engines.

It is ever changing (sometimes secretive) at the whim of whichever search engine provider one is using or has a third party doing the product feed.

There is no assured stability with an x-factor (search) in the business equation, unless you have your own separate agreement to negate the x-factor.

As a B&M business, would you pay for someone to handle your advertisement without knowing the exact parameters of the endeavor?

That is not to say that someone cannot be successful as a seller, even on a small scale, in the ecommerce world.

But it is a crap shot when one does not control all aspects of one's business factors.

eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

by: Fruity This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 8 23:04:44 2011

Joe, once they kick out the bulk of us smaller ones and banish us to their classifieds section.

Ebay is converting their site over to PPC/ "ads". the SDC_Prod fiasco was a sign. When ebay providers advertising like that, then the advertisers will follow suit. Because they just want their stuff pounded into the eyeballs of buyers. The only thing they didn't want was the feedback system and what big brand retailers considered "annoying nit picky buyers".

eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers   eBay, Google Heart Big Merchants - Content Key for Small Sellers

by: Jordan Foutz
Web Site

Sun Apr 10 18:42:50 2011

It is just like anything else. Whether you're selling on eBay, your own eCommerce site that relies heavily on how Google places it, it all boils down to the fact that you need to have a carefully carved out niche that is based on pre-sale research and keyword analysis. If you do these things, your strategies will be nearly fool proof.



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