Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Thu Sept 21 2017 14:46:18

eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

eBay filed a patent that gives detailed clues into how it ranks search results. One criteria it uses: the projected demand for the item in a listing. Another: the "quality" of the seller. 

The patent describes ways that eBay could (and likely does) use a variety of factors beyond mere relevance in its Best Match search rankings, which is the default order in search. For each type of criterion, eBay may create a component score, which are then used to derive the overall ranking score.

- Relevance score, representing a measure of the relevance of an item listing with respect to search terms provided in the search request; 

- Listing quality score, representing a measure of the likelihood that an item listing will result in a transaction based at least in part on historical data associated with similar item listings; 

- Business rules score, representing a promotion or demotion factor determined based on the evaluation of one or more business rules.

When determining a listing quality score, for example, eBay may factor in such criteria as price, condition of the item, shipping method and cost, duration or length of time the item listing has been active, a seller's prior conversion rate for all items or items in a particular category, and a seller's rating (e.g., based on feedback provided by buyers).

Some excerpts plucked from the patent filing provide further insight into factors eBay considers important when ranking search results:

RELEVANCE
Relevance score may be based on an analysis of an item listing's title (e.g., title relevance) as well as an item listing's item description, and historical data indicating how users have previously interacted with item listings having similar item attributes when those item listings were previously presented in a search results page.

LISTING
Many item attributes may be considered in various embodiments, in some embodiments the price of the item and the shipping cost are the primary predictors of quality. 
...
For instance, if a particular item listing is offering for sale a television set at a particular price (e.g., $100), the particular price may be compared with the prices of similar television sets that have previously been sold. If, for example, the price of the television set is lower than the mean, mode, or median price (e.g., $200) of similar television sets, which have sold recently, then the listing quality score should reflect the "good" price of the television set offered via the item listing.

BUSINESS RULES
For example, it may be desirable to promote or demote item listings that have certain item attributes or seller attributes. If, for example, an item listing has free shipping, the listing may be promoted. Similarly, if a seller has a low seller quality score (based in part on feedback from buyers), an item listing of the seller may be demoted to reflect the poor seller quality score. 

In some cases, when the business rules are transparent and therefore known to both the sellers and buyers, promotions and demotions might be used to encourage certain behavior.

As indicated under the description of Business Rules, eBay has wielded carrots and sticks to encourage sellers to offer free shipping. It's worth nothing that lately eBay has been doing likewise to encourage sellers to offer generous returns policies.

The patent indicates eBay takes into account product categories when determining the importance of various criteria when ranking listings in search. For example, it stated that "with some types of items, such as antiques and/or jewelry, the seller trust factor may be more important, as there may be more fraud prevalent in the trade of such items."

The eBay patent also describes a scenario in which its demand metric takes into account transactions (sales), views, search impressions, and watch lists. For auctions and single-quantity fixed price listings, the demand metric may be based on the number of views, the number of bids (for an auction), or the number of watch lists associated with the item listing. Or, it may be based on the performance of similar listings.

You'll notice under Business Rules eBay references "seller quality score." While there is no mention of it, eBay could conceivably give its diamond powersellers, large brands, and big-box stores a higher quality score if it wished, boosting their listings in search. 

Note that currently eBay references buyer feedback as contributing to the seller quality score - and some may like the concept of demoting "bad" sellers.

Let us know if any of the criteria or practices come as a surprise, and what you like and dislike about the methods of ranking search results.

Comments (94) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

This user has validated their user name. by: eXtinctBay

Fri Sep 22 03:41:21 2017

@TexasTwister

It states in the eBay User Agreement that they do not have to show anybody's listings at all times. Also, you as an eBay user can only sue then one-on-one, no class action suits.

Yes, by signing up, we all agree to these terms. The option is to stop using the site. None of us like them, and they are walking a very fine line as far as legality goes. Really, can a company legally state how you can take them to court??

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Sep 22 06:46:08 2017

extinctbay says "It states in the eBay User Agreement that they do not have to show anybody's listings at all times. Also, you as an eBay user can only sue then one-on-one, no class action suits. Yes, by signing up, we all agree to these terms.

To be clear extinctbay, for those sellers who have sold on eBay for a long time, eBay thrust this upon them, with their constant tweaking of the seller agreement to their legal advantage and in their quest to hide small sellers and give the enterprise sellers more visibility.

Those long term sellers never "signed up" for this and they do not "agree" with it.  eBay simply updated these agreements constantly.  Again, it was forced on sellers.  You can spin this anyway you please but it will not make eBay any less of a sleazy unethical company.

In my opinion, Devin Wenig is the "Mr. Burns" of eBay.  

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 22 08:13:28 2017

So, now they can "project demand" for a never-seen-on-site, one-of-a-kind item? No wonder they know what the buyer wants before he wants it, eh?

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

by: HardWorkingSeller This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 22 09:05:04 2017

This is eBay's equivalent of the ''New Coke''.  It's not something that sellers want, and I question whether it's what buyers want.

Surely the buyer wants the item that most closely matches their search parameters without eBay monkeying with the data to conceal listings that have a high literal text match in favor of something that they guess might be relevant (probably from a favored eBay partner)?

For example Cassini gives a lot of weight to sellers who have sold something recently or who have just posted new items for sale (that's why we get that sawtooth feast-famine sales cycle).  Why does the buyer care whether I listed something yesterday or not?  

If factors such as seller DSRs, location, seller eBay policy compliance etc are really relevant then give the buyer the option of filtering on those parameters when the search results come back.

When they introduced this approach my sell-through rate halved almost overnight.  I've not met anyone yet whose sales doubled.  Seems like a massive own goal - like New Coke - only eBay management refuses to admit that this impacted their business (other than firing the guy who built the new search system, who was probably just delivering what he was directed to develop).

Devin is alluding to a new ''simple search'' process.  Maybe that's the beginning of eBay dialing back on the irrelevant factors and giving more weight to what the buyer asked to see?  I won't hold my breath.

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

by: Flying Childers This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 22 09:30:17 2017

Ebay and Etsy have created a closed loop with their search functions.  Potential buyers only get to see what E&E think they want to see based to some degree on their prior purchases.  They have made it nearly impossible for people to find what they are looking for.  Sooner or later they will get tired of seeing the same items presented and they will leave the site.  It's just too easy to shop for crap at Walmart.

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

This user has validated their user name. by: eXtinctBay

Fri Sep 22 10:19:12 2017

@Rexford

I am a 20 year eBay seller and DO NOT agree with these policies, just like anyone else. Didn't I also question the legality of not allowing class action lawsuits in the TOS???

My posts just state the facts. I am NOT ''pro eBay'', and don't spin any of their rules to make them palatable. And by using the site, yes, we all signed up for this.

Obviously, the alternative is to sell on another site. And we are still waiting for one with the traffic of eBay and without the silly rules and handcuffing of its sellers. No, eCrater or Bonanza is not the answer.

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

by: Donkey This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 22 11:14:07 2017

"What a shame that they don't rank items based on what buyers are actually looking for."

What a radical idea.  The idiots at ebay would never think of this.

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 22 11:50:21 2017

Hey Tool, you are always wrong, sellers are the biggest buyers on eBay, I know, because I am, and you buy from eBay too.

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 22 11:59:45 2017

eBay, the biggest piece of crap in the ecommerce biz..........

  http://community.ebay.com/t5/Seller-Hub/Seller-Hub-the-Edsel-of-e-comm
erce/m-p/27511741#M14264

  Been selling on ebay since 1998...over $500K in sales....and DROPPING.
I've endured the constant fee increases...from 5% to 10%...the 10% GRAFT on MY ACTUAL selling costs.

Then along comes Seller Hub, which luckily...for now...I have opted out of back to Selling Manager.

ebay is a publicly traded company...I can only assume that corporate decisions are made that would be geared to having a positve affect on it's stock price, which is based on SALES...NOT FUNCTIONALLY OF IT'S PLATFORM.

I wonder if Seller Hub is telling ebay how many accounts have closed in the last month, and what % of total dollar volume listings has dropped?

I wonder if ebay even cares...that 10% fee on shipping is a cash cow...and a FALSE component of total income.

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

by: bpm This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 22 12:21:44 2017

C'mon Toolie! You said:
"Buyers have no idea what "sellers hub" is and they probably don't care!" - you're absolutely right but the comment is absolutely irrelevant! Sellers care - and many hate the Hub.

"And your wrong about sellers being the biggest buyers." - Thats outright rubbish; case in point, me; I used to spend 20-30k per annum buying on Ebay for re-sale in the categories I sell in until my sales fell by 80% from May 2014 on. Now I spend 1-2k. Everyone I know who sells antiques on Ebay used to buy on Ebay (emphasis on the 'used to').

Most of my customers are buyers NOT sellers. . . - again, Toolie, absolutely correct and absolutely irrelevant; no-one is claiming most buyers are sellers.

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 22 12:31:33 2017

Tool has no idea what he is talking about, he likes to defend the inept management teams at eBay.

Sellers are the biggest buyers on eBay, they buy for off site sales too, many sell at flea markets and use, or use to use eBay as a source of merchandise, but as eBay screws those sellers who are big buyers they move on to buy from other venues.

Having a moron at the top who is pissing sellers off by forcing them into Sellers Hub a interface designed to sell Promoted Listings is and has already backfired on eBay and the guy at the top needs to be fired for this massive embarrassment that he is still advertising with banner ads.

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Fri Sep 22 12:44:35 2017

@eBay Shill Buster

I've been reading this forums for over 10 years, maybe even 15

Ebay went out of business everyone of them ~ LOL

I have NO idea what I'm talking about, even though I've shipped over 35,000 items that were sold on eBay!

I'm CLUELESS right?

Neg Meg was the Docs tag line for years, then the Ho has to go!

Now it's Wenig's turn to be evil.

His time will pass just like the ones before him, I'll adapt to who ever takes the job. . .

It's ME against the WORLD. . .

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

by: Toledo Maude This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 22 12:47:22 2017

In the early ''good days'' on eBay, a seller knew exactly how their listings would be found - based on when their auction listings ended.  Simple!

If there was to be any bids, they usually came in the final hour of the auction.

Today with fixed price listings and some with buy-it-now options mixed in with the few remaining auction listings,  coming up with solution to fairly show everyone's listings is a challenge.

And unfortunately, for many years and for eBay's cracker jack MBA management team, this search engine challenge has gone unanswered.  

Are slow falling sales the result of hidden listings, sales quotas, and failed search engines?

Or is the good ship SS eBay sinking into ever increasing ocean of miss managed companies?

Not one sale on eBay for me in two weeks!  Crapola

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 22 12:49:44 2017

eBay has a major problem, Google cut them off years ago and  they just made a major deal with Walmart to forward traffic to Walmart.com from the Google speaker, eBay should sell the company to Google ASAP.

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Fri Sep 22 13:25:52 2017

I don't what would possess ToolGuy to claim that sellers aren't buyers.  He should at least have the wherewithal to differentiate between markets like his, industrial tools, where that may be true and makes like mine, collectibles, where it is definitely false.  But I will tell you, as somebody who was a heavy buyer and part time seller pre-Donahole, it's a complete 180 for me now.

First off, eBay has never been my source of new toys.  That was KB, TRU, and online stores.  What I went to eBay for was always older stuff.

Now that my options are dwindling, with KB bankrupt (thanks Shit Romney), TRU headed down the same path (again Shit Romney), and online stores alternating between bundling and cutbacks, I still rarely shop on eBay.  I just don't have the sellthrough there.  It's much easier to spend in the closing hours of a con.  There's something different about making $500 in a day or two versus waiting for it to trickle in over two or three MONTHS.

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Sep 22 13:35:49 2017

XtinctBay, the facts as  you see them.

Again, we DID NOT sign up for this.  eBay continually tweaks the user agreement.  No one signed up for anything.  Who would "sign up" for such nonsense. Yes we are all free to leave, and I pretty much have, but don't tell me I signed up for this because I didn't.  I know what I sign up for and what I don't.

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Sep 22 13:38:39 2017

RKTOYS, you should do what I do. 99% of the time when I see a ToolGuy post I just move on to the next post.  I don't know that I have ever agreed with anything that he posted.

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Fri Sep 22 13:40:40 2017

eBay sellers have options, RubyLane, Pricefalls.com, Walmart marketplace, Shopify.com, Bigcommerce.com

Do not allow Devin and his warped ideas hold you prisoner of this cesspool he has created with Sellers Hub, Promoted Listings and all the other policies like the unjust pulling down of listings that sellers worked hard and paid to put up on eBay.

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Sep 22 13:43:49 2017

Extinctbay says "No, eCrater or Bonanza is not the answer."

Again, not factual.  ecrater is working well for some of us.  Just because you can't make sales there you come in with these "alternate facts".

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Sep 22 15:06:25 2017

@rexford

If you are a seller on Ebay, you have to Accept the UA electronically or you will not be able to sell on Ebay.  Certainly there are portions none of us likes, but we did agree to them so we could sell on the site.  It is like any other site with a UA, you must agree to it before proceeding to sell or shop or whatever it is the site offers.

Click to view more comments
1 2 3 4 5  [Next Page]


Login is required to post comments.
To sign in to leave a comment using your AB Verify User Name, fill in the form below. If you have not yet signed up for AB Verify, or if you'd like more information, go to the Registration Page
.

Login for AB Verify
Be sure and use your email address and password to log in.

 
Email:
Password:
 
 Forgot Your Password?
 Even though you are signed in with the AuctionBytes Blog, you will have to sign in to the EcommerceBytes blog. But you can sign in with your existing AB Verify info.