Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Mar 11 2013 15:21:22

eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay hasn't been happy over Google's ecommerce initiatives, but the tensions brewing under the surface don't usually make light of day, with the notable exceptions of the Boston Tea Party kerfuffle in 2007 and eBay's very public lawsuit in 2011 over Google's hiring of eBay and PayPal executives Stephanie Tilenius and Osama Bedier.

But on Sunday, an eBay executive gave voice to skepticism over Google's impending crackdown on merchants that was reported in a Search Engine Land article, "Bad Merchant? Google May Drop Your Rankings Later This Year," that may reflect seething resentment over the search giant continued invasion of eBay's turf.

It all started when Google's Matt Cutts revealed the coming merchant crackdown in a session at SXSW moderated by Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land called "How to Rank Better in Google & Bing." According to Sullivan, Cutts said Google was looking at signals it could use to identify "whether someone is not a great merchant" and use those signals to influence search rankings.

Cutts was responding to concerns a merchant had about bad competitors outranking him.

But eBay Marketplaces president Devin Wenig expressed skepticism over Google's stated intentions. On Sunday, Wenig took to Twitter to link to Sullivan's article and write, "Let me guess. More changes purely for benefit of consumers that just happen to put g properties to the top."

What kinds of "signals" could Google be referring to that indicate merchant "quality"? Google gets enormous insight into merchants' businesses through Google Analytics, Google Shopping feeds, AdWords, Google Trusted stores, etc. Google knows how much traffic merchants are getting, their ratings and reviews, and it even tracks conversions on some merchant websites.

What "merchant quality" factors do you think Google will use to influence search rankings? It sounds to me like this could have implications as big as Google Florida and Panda combined, with lots of potential for unintended consequences. Should online merchants be worried?




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Perminate Link for eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down   eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Mon Mar 11 17:28:55 2013

Interesting to note Mr Wenig's vocal disapproval of Google's actions when eBay essentially does the exact same thing to their own merchants.

Google seems to be using a similar process of ranking sellers to determine search visibility in much the same way eBay ranks their own sellers.

I fail to understand Mr Wenigs righteous indignation given eBay does much the same thing.

Perminate Link for eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down   eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down

This user has validated their user name. by: Nolle

Mon Mar 11 18:12:48 2013

nobody cares what google does any more.  a tiny tiny fraction of merchants have signed on to the new paid shopping.  

have you tried google shopping lately?  totally worthless garbage.

i've had to resort to regular search to find anything - or even better - just go straight to amazon.

google is nothing now to ecommerce - and they are losing ground in search too.  google could easily become just-another-yahoo...

Perminate Link for eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down   eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down

by: AgendaSwallowsAll This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 11 18:27:58 2013

@nolle

Then there is more identical direction for both than @Ric has properly stated re: search.

Good Info

AgendaSwallowsAll

Perminate Link for eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down   eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Mar 11 19:03:06 2013

Ric says "Interesting to note Mr Wenig's vocal disapproval of Google's actions when eBay essentially does the exact same thing to their own merchants."

Isn't that the truth? What goes around comes around.  Hypocrisy at its best.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Mon Mar 11 22:36:31 2013

Nolle observes: ''nobody cares what google does any more.  a tiny tiny fraction of merchants have signed on to the new paid shopping.''

You may include me in the group of sellers who chooses not to pay for Google shopping ads.

I do, however buy Amazon ads... and the results have been splendid! It's just anecdotal, I have no scientific studies... but it seems that the Google shopper is about as fickle as an eBay shopper. (And this is based only on my experience when Google shopping ads were free.)

In contrast the Amazon shopper (or the ones who click on my ads) is someone that's READY to buy. And most of the time they DO!! Totally worth the cost-per-click!

Perminate Link for eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down   eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 11 23:05:35 2013

Remember the good old days when Google was just a search engine and ebay was just a venue and sellers were worth something?  The older i get the less i want to jump thru their hoops just to make a couple of extra bucks :-(. It all seems so sleazy.

Perminate Link for eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down   eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down

by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 12 01:27:25 2013

You'd think that by now Devin Wenig would know how merchants/sellers on ebay are evaluated and ranked. It's doubtful that Google would do it any worse.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Mar 12 07:49:08 2013

Patricia says "Remember the good old days when Google was just a search engine and ebay was just a venue and sellers were worth something?"

Yes, that was before they got REALLY, REALLY greedy.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Mar 12 07:56:15 2013

One more thought...did eBay not learn anything back in Boston back in 2007?  Why would eBay continue to poke a stick at the most powerful search engine in the world.  Not really smart in my opinion.

And eBay do what eBay want to do in their sandbox, why would they think Google would do any different?

Any presence that eBay have left on Google will likely dissipate.

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This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
Web Site

Tue Mar 12 09:10:51 2013

eBay doesn't have morale to said nothing against Google.

About Froogle/Google Shopping, I don't see any improvement in sales in all this years. Some of my items appears in the list because the owner of eCrater decide to post items, but I will not enroll.

Let see if Google has the guts to finally create a marketplace and not just be a bidding shopping engine because many of the results are just a piece of garbage not related to your search only to how much somebody pay to be display.  

Perminate Link for eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down   eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down

by: Eagle This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 12 09:29:46 2013

Don't know what's going on at Google? Our site has posted on first page (normally 1-5 in list on 1st page) for our 3 main search terms since 2008. Now we're bouncing around at times 3 pages back, then recheck next day and back on 1st page? It's definitely affected our sales and total visitors. We are getting half the visits per day than usual and sales are down even worse. With the constant irregular posting, a person doesn't even know what SEO changes, if any, will work? At the moment, we're just letting the site bounce around without any new SEO tactics and see what happens?

Perminate Link for eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down   eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Tue Mar 12 10:37:18 2013

@Ric

This has got to be my FAVORITE post by you EVER !!!  It is just so darn good.  I just have to repeat part of it again here.  As it deserves to be read again and again.

"I fail to understand Mr Wenigs righteous indignation given eBay does much the same thing."
Explain that one Ebay !!!!!!

It's like that OLD saying "Do as I say, not as I do"!

Perminate Link for eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down   eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down

by: ebay refugee camp This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 12 10:42:43 2013

I quit paying google in November 2012 when my clicks spiked 4 times as many in one month with less conversions. Google refused to prove the clicks were valid citing it would endanger the integrity and security of their system. Google rating sellers just like ebay so what is ebay complaining about. Google shopping is absolutely not what it is. Google should crack down on SEO's who are using others website addresses and business names in their ads and meta tags. Google turns the other cheek when sites like ripoffreport.com hold honest businesses hostage until the business caves and pays ripoffreport to remove the complaint. There are businesses that have one complaint out of tens of thousands of transactions and google allows this it is just like ebay's one sided feedback. I just do not get businesses are not going to please everyone and these giants are completely overstepping. In the end Google is going to favor those merchants paying them for clicks no matter how bad their service or products are. This all favors big business that has been on a major push to eliminate small business in ecommerce just like they did in towns across America. It is all about money.

Perminate Link for eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down   eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Mar 12 10:54:10 2013

I knew Google Shopping was pointless when I did a search for "Simplicity Sewing Pattern XXXX" and only got a few patterns returns, the rest were all something so unrelated to sewing it was laughable. How can a search engine display mechanical parts when it has such specific words in the seach string? I tried several times using free coupons Google sent me to do Adwords and I never had a single sale that I could attribute to them.

@Annie I'm curious about what you mentioned about Amazon ads and will look into it. You always seem to have a clue what is going on :) unlike the headless exes at ebay and google.  

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by: Will This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 12 10:58:47 2013

As others have stated, I also stopped paying for Google advertising. Why pay for something, when the best case scenario is only a slight possibility of ROI? Same for eBay. Hardly list items there anymore. More trouble than it's worth. I'll pay higher fees at Amazon, but at least my items have somewhat of a fighting chance to sell.

And yes, how ironic it is with eBay's stance on this search engine problem.

Perminate Link for eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down   eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue Mar 12 12:19:10 2013

@Annie - How much do you pay per click for an Amazon ad?  

Perminate Link for eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down   eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Tue Mar 12 13:25:10 2013

@Iheartjacksparrow: It varies per category. Amazon has set minimum bids for each category and each advertiser can bid higher for greater exposure. In some categories I bid the minimum. In other categories I bit about 10% over minimum.

My average cost-per-click is 35-cents.

Perminate Link for eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down   eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down

This user has validated their user name. by: monkey

Tue Mar 12 13:35:32 2013

When I shop for anything online, I too have noticed that google returns more unrelated links every time.

Now I go to Bizrate or some other shopping platform first -- which bypasses google, filters for price and other attributes, and generally doesn't waste my time.

Perminate Link for eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down   eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down

by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 12 22:27:19 2013

Here's how Google works best.
If you want a bike light and you prefer buying them on ebay... search "ebay bike light".  If you prefer to buy them from Amazon... search "Amazon bike light".  If your prefer seller is KINGLY, search "KINGLY bike light" If you simply search "bike light"... then the results would be varied. So it is truly futile for ebay to expect special treatment.  ebay should not expect Google to purposely mistreat small sellers like ebay does on its site.  

Perminate Link for eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down   eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 12 23:42:28 2013

"Me thinks the Lady (ie Mr Wenig) doth protest too much"

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