|Mon Mar 11 2013 15:21:22|
eBay Skeptical Over Google Intentions in Merchant Crack Down
By: Ina Steiner
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?