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Fri Apr 8 2011 12:39:52

Merchants Use eBay Variations for Keyword Spamming

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay seller Matthew Ogborne says some sellers are using eBay's "variations" feature to keyword spam their listings, the equivalent of getting extra space in the Title field. The issue is important, since more keywords in a listing means higher placement in eBay search results.

Matthew posted a video on his blog that shows an example of an eBay merchant who puts keywords into some of the variation fields for its listing for flip flop sandals.

The seller uses four Variation fields: Exact Colour; Size; Gender; and Purpose.

In the color and size fields, the seller uses the fields as they are intended - to allow the buyer to select which color and size flip flop they want to purchase.

But in the Gender field, the seller includes the keywords: girls, ladies, womens, woman and bell. In the Purpose field, the seller includes keywords: wedge, sandals, comfort and leisure. The shopper does not need to select gender or purpose attributes to purchase the shoes.

eBay looks at a number of factors when determining the order of search results, with keywords in the Title field being a major factor. Matthew says these "pointless" keywords that are placed in Variation fields by some sellers give them an  advantage over other sellers.

I tested the example Matthew used in his video by going to eBay UK and searching simply for "wedge comfort leisure." These are words found in the listing's Purpose variation field. None of those words are in the title for the listing, yet the fifth search result was for the same exact pair of flip flop sandals from the seller in question, which had a listing title "LADIES PINEAPPLE TOE POST FLAT FLIP FLOPS SHOES UK 3-8."

In his blog post, Matthew writes that he does not condone the use of variation fields for keyword stuffing. He says the reason he published the post is so it will be noticed and action would be taken.

Since Variations are used by sellers who have multiple quantities of the same item, it's widely used by large merchants on eBay. Sellers who use variation fields improperly are putting sellers with one-quantity items at a disadvantage in search results.

Not only that, but shoppers looking for wedge shoes may be puzzled to see flip flops come up in search results.

You can read his full post and watch the video on Matthew's blog, called The Last Drop of Ink.




Comments (5) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Merchants Use eBay Variations for Keyword Spamming   Merchants Use eBay Variations for Keyword Spamming

by: NullApps This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Apr 8 13:12:44 2011

The reason this works is because eBay appends all of those variations to the title for search purposes.  So the title of one of those variations is really:

LADIES PINEAPPLE TOE POST FLAT FLIP FLOPS SHOES UK 3-8. black UK Size 3 EU 36 girls ladies womens woman bell wedge sandals comfort leisure

That is a lot of extra keywords when you are normally limited to 55 characters.  They do benefit from appearing in searches they shouldn't but eBay does penalize with the impressions score when you aren't relevant and thus not generating sales.

Merchants Use eBay Variations for Keyword Spamming   Merchants Use eBay Variations for Keyword Spamming

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

Fri Apr 8 13:46:21 2011

I think the odds are quite good that ebay itself suggested this tactic to selected sellers.

Merchants Use eBay Variations for Keyword Spamming   Merchants Use eBay Variations for Keyword Spamming

by: pete

Fri Apr 8 21:01:10 2011

What’s new, this is how eBay operates.
The average seller on eBay does not stand a chance they are basically being ripped-off with re-re-re-re-listing fees due to very low STR caused by manipulations just like this.
The US BBB dont care or something would be done about how eBay basically scam sellers with poor visability of product in search but still charge the same fees.

The sad thing is eBay just don’t care, they have their 5 year plan and that’s how it is.

Remember only a couple of years ago how eBay brand was always being dropped into movies etc.....not anymore their 5 minutes is almost up.

Wait until the massive slowdown hits the US later this year, even the Diamonds will be out of luck

Merchants Use eBay Variations for Keyword Spamming   Merchants Use eBay Variations for Keyword Spamming

by: Joe Average

Fri Apr 8 21:52:25 2011

Noticed alot of ''not specified'' when I do my searches. In other words, the seller is not using the variation fields at all.

With this in mind, and the piles of rubbish listed on the site due to all of the auction promotions, the best way to search is by your specific preferred brand and size in the title. ie: Merrell Sandals 13. Otherwise you can spend an evening wading through overpriced old stock that belongs in an eBay store out of main search, or inferior stuff offered by our Chinese and Hong Kong friends (or fiends).

Merchants Use eBay Variations for Keyword Spamming   Merchants Use eBay Variations for Keyword Spamming

by: Fruity This user has validated their user name.

Fri Apr 8 22:57:03 2011

Ditto Ming

plus this has been going on ever since they rolled out. Same with item specifics.

When you cut out the oxygen in the room for traffic and then say do this and you get traffic, ebay knows exactly what's going to go down.



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