Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue June 11 2013 16:35:12

Is eBay Traffic Problem Real or Is Reporting Tool Broken?

By: Ina Steiner

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Is eBay's traffic problem real, or is its reporting tool broken (again)? Last week, Julia Wilkinson blogged about a webinar presented by eBay's Vice President of Experience, Search, and Platforms on how eBay sellers could succeed in the new world of Cassini search, which eBay is in the process of transitioning.

I noticed that readers were commenting about eBay's traffic reports, some saying the reports are showing eBay is driving only a small portion of the total traffic to their eBay Stores, the rest coming from outside search engines, etc.

"Many times I have called eBay and said that Omniture is reporting the facts and it says eBay search engine is only delivering 1-2 % of all my page views when before it delivered 80-90%. Every time the CSA tells me that Omniture site catalyst is broken." But the reader, who goes by the user name Map, insists Ominiture reports are accurate and wonders where the eBay traffic went.

Omniture reports had been broken for months last year, but eBay deemed them fixed in November. I checked with eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore last week, he said eBay was not aware of any technical issues with Omniture Store reports but would be happy to look into seller(s) who are experiencing problems if provided their seller IDs.

Then I received an email this week from a seller who provided her monthly traffic statistics from last fall - it showed the same dropoff in traffic driven by eBay search as reported in the AuctionBytes Blog comments. At the same time, her sales decreased from an average of $8,000 per month, to less than $2,500 last month.

She wrote, "Can anyone explain to me the following strange discovery I just made checking on Ebay traffic report. Here are the facts concerning my Ebay Store traffic":

Sept. 2012: Ebay search 56.6 % - Google search 17.4 %
Oct. 2012: Ebay search 49.7 % - Google search 22.7 %
Nov. 2012: Ebay search 30.7 % - Google search 30.1 %
Dec. 2012: Ebay search 24.7 % - Google search 35.4 %
Jan 2013: Ebay search 19.1 % - Google search 34.8 %
Feb. 2013: Ebay search 8.1 % - Google search 34.2 %
March 2013: Ebay search 0% - Google search 43.8 %
April 2013: Ebay search 0% - Google search 49.5 %
May 2013: Ebay search 0% - Google search 41.3 %

She said, "If I understand well the purpose of those traffic report (Ebay quote): "The Search Engines Report helps you identify which search engines people are using to find your store and listings. The graph shows you the percentage breakdown of the search engines that have been used to find your store, listings, and your other pages on eBay."

"But at the same time they tell you also, "Watch for decreases in the number of searches for each search engine to determine whether you need to resubmit your URL.""

The reader continued, "How do you re-submit your URL to Ebay since that's where you are supposed to be well visible. In short the question is what's happening into Ebay world? No more visibility of our Ebay stores, no people in the Ebay search engines and thus no more sales?"

As with all anecdotal reports such as these, what some sellers experience doesn't indicate what all sellers are experiencing, but it's generally a sign that something is going on worth looking into. With eBay constantly changing and tweaking search, especially now as it is in the process of testing and launching Cassini, at least some sellers' listings are dropping in search results.

It would be very interesting to hear what other eBay Store owners are seeing in their Omniture store reports as far as the percentage of traffic coming from eBay's own search engine, please leave your thoughts in the comments below.




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Readers Comments

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by: Donna This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 11 17:23:55 2013

It's not just the Omniture reports although my traffic reports are very similar to above - 56.7% Google, 2.1% Ebay. But I checked Alexa and it mirrors what we are seeing independently.

I tried to copy and paste it here, but I couldn't but it's easy enough to check out for yourself. The downturn of page views is incredible.
 

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

Tue Jun 11 18:21:10 2013

Dear Ina, thank you one again for bringing this topic to the surface.

We have done so many changes to shake ebay search algorithms and have found that absolutely nothing works and presently that is what Omniture has been reporting for 3 months in a row that we have 0.0% of our page views are originating from ebay search.

The following things we have done have had no reaction to increase sales & pageviews. Every month for us has continued to become the new low.

We have edited all our titles, description, item specifics, condition, seller notes, Motors compatibility etc.

We are in compliance with the new photo policy, we are in line with all selling policy.

We have taken all ebay tutorials, printed and studied all ebay policy and selling suggestions. Follow spring & seller updates.

Our descriptions have nothing but the description and most are 14 Font for Mobile users.

We fist ended most of our listings and restarted them as sell similar…this did nothing to increase sales or lift page views in omniture.

We then ended all listings and began to create them from scratch. This too did nothing to increase sales or lift page views in omniture.

We revisited one of our early theories that since we violated ebay fee circumvention policy on July 18th 2012 that we were still being flagged because we were still doing something we were not to be doing.

So we changed our user name from Michel_Auto_Parts to 5_Star_Auto_Parts.
We did this because at the time that we got a policy violation for fee circumvention we had www.michelautoparts.com redirecting to our ebay store home page. We did not realize we were breaking the rules because we had not read the ebay policy concerning this. Changing our name then removed the similarity to our website name.

Changing our user name did nothing.

We changed our phone number also because we got a policy violation for having our phone number in the listing.

Now,We do not have our phone number anywhere in our listings or our store pages and I updated my phone number with ebay. This also made no improvement.

I am 100% confident we no longer have any policy violates. The only thing that still eats at me is does ebay have a zero tolerance policy for fee circumvention? Guess we may never know.

I also wonder if everyone complaining on ecommerce bytes has violated a fee circumvention policy and that is why everyone is experiencing the same issue.

In researching I found two very old letters about fee circumventing from 2005 & 2006 one ebay has taken down since I posted it here on ecommerce bytes.

In our attempts to tweek something in order to get a reaction in omniture we did make a positive strike one time in omniture.

On March 25th 2013 I stumbled upon the tutorial at ebay on fee circumvention. My eyes were opened and I saw we were still in violation. In my store page on the left hand side of the page under a promotion box we made for payments and returns we had our company phone number to help our customers.

At 12.30 EST I removed the phone number. One hour later at 1:30 EST we got a huge spike in omniture with a forecast of 1600 page views. We closed the day out at 610 actual page views. This 610 page views was normal daily traffic for my store. We on average did 30k page views per month.

The next day traffic continued it’s drop and we have remained month over month continuing to drop lower.

This event alarms me and cements my speculation because I had already gotten an ALL CLEAR from TRUST & SAFTY. This department at ebay told me the 4 violations we received on July 18,2012 were passed and we were cleared of the violation.
July 17th 2012 was the peak of our traffic and sales record for our whole time on ebay and for 2012.

I think we were able to over ride the policy enforcement algorithm just for that day. That is if this is truly what is going on.

You do not need to have a actual policy violation to be docked. Ebay has detection in place. There are two types of reporting, Manual and policy algorithm detection.

For everyone, at the bottom of this letter are the percentages of my ebay traffic from the ebay search engine.
Google was low during the months I have high ebay search traffic. Now google is filling the void left by ebay.

I know that all my sales that I get on ebay come from google users.

I know that many of you will scream at me that you are not in violation of fee circumvention but take the tutorial to find out if you are in some way violating. http://pages.ebay.com/help/tutorial/feecirctutorial/intro2.html
>Every
indication that I am getting from Omniture tells me Omniture is working and delivering Factual information.

Ebay however has been no help at all because the regular CSR’s are a blockade and we just can not get any higher help at ebay to overcome this very long time problem. Over 500 phone calls to them since August 2012.

Regards, Chris.

Our numbers are……..

Jan 2012 92.9%
Feb 2012 91.7%
Mar 2012 86.8%
Apr 2012 80.1%
May 20120 78.6%
Jun 2012 71.0%
July 2012 79.5% I noticed a down turn starting July 18th. Also July we started Bonanza importer from our ebay listings..
Aug 2012 72.3%
Sept 2012 53.9% I CALLED EBAY A LOT THIS MONTH.
Oct 2012 2.9% HUGE FALL.
Nov 2012 1%
Dec 2012 1.5%
Jan 2013 2.7%
Feb 2013 1.8%
Mar 2013 0.0%
April 2013 0.0%
May 2013 0.0%
June 2013 0.0%

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This user has validated their user name. by: Map

Tue Jun 11 19:03:20 2013

Dear Ina, I also want to comment about one other possibility as to why ebay search is showing so little exposure to seller listings.

We just recently found and reported to ebay and to you that we found that the GLOBAL SHIPPING PROGRAM was excluding the UNITED STATES as a country that we ship to.

We found that a majority of our listings had this error. The UNITED STATES was not always in the same spot it would jump to different locations where it would be hard for the eye to see it in the vast list of nations in the excluded list.

I was seeing this in the actual live listing on the tab for shipping & payments.

I then checked my ended listing on ebay and found going back 90 days that the problem was chronic and was at least 90 days old.

I remember we participated in the advancement of the program last fall. A customer service agent told me the program wet live for some sellers on August 21st but this needs to be verified as i am not 100% sure.

This date fits the timeline of low page views in ebay search engine.

So my point is if the GLOBAL SHIPPING PROGRAM has been excluding the UNITED STATES as a county that a UNITED STATES seller ships to then this most likely affects those listing in ebay search engine on the US site.

A ebay CSR told me when i reported this that when he and a few other reps tried to buy my products with their test account that they were able to buy it. THIS REALLY irritated me because it is a "no brainer" that search has been greatly affected and not the ability for a buyer to purchase it.

When i reported this to ebay i pointed to where the agent need to look. I asked them to tell me if they could see what is wrong. it took them a long time to study and finally say "THE UNITED STATES".

I have screen shots if anyone wants to see.


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

Tue Jun 11 20:17:30 2013

Worst two months in more than 14 years of selling on ebay.

Cassini is a bust. Turn it off, ebafia.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Tue Jun 11 22:33:55 2013

I don't have a store, but my views have tanked. I haven't had any listings get views out of the single digits for the past couple of months, even on some very hot and desirable items that would have inspired bidding wars just a couple years ago. I refuse to pay any listing fees once my free ones are used up, since I might as well just flush my money with those kind of results.  

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by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 11 23:55:57 2013

The first 4 months of this year I experienced typical lackluster eBay sales. In May, they fell off the cliff, almost a 50% drop. I don't need any sort of report to tell me things stink.

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by: thediamondguy This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 01:23:06 2013

Sales are terrible for us, we have all the so called bells and whistles that are supposed to give you better visibility in search but that's just not happening.

This is how its been for us

Since December 2012 our sales have fell 75-80% - Also our best offers have dropped 80%

Prior to December we used to get 2-3 offers per day and at least a sale or 2 a day. We sell in the diamond jewelry section so this should be the norm for us and was normal for us prior to that date.

After December 2012 until now we are lucky to receive an offer every 3-5 days and maybe a sale once a week. Our sales literally went from 100K + per month to 10-20k per month. We pay almost 4-5k in eBay fees every month to eBay and this is what we get in return? Im almost sure that i pay them for exposure to an audience and that i have not received.

We operate 3 accounts on eBay all top rated seller accounts, all our pictures are 1200x1200, with white backgrounds, no logos, no watermarks not boarders. We have all the correct item specifications ( all valid specifications ) for our  listings, all our listings have very good titles the match the description of the item. In fact every title have this keyword in it '' Diamond Engagement Ring ''   which is the highest searched term in our category. Overall we have over 15000 listings active, when i go to do a search for our listings they are no where to be found. I have even went as far as 50 pages deep at 200 listing per page.. and still we cant find ourselves anywhere with our major search terms '' Diamond Engagement Rings ''.

So i thought i would get smart and try using a proxy to search to see if an IP address would effect results, also tried using another Zip code... but nothing... nilch.. nada!

We use 1 Day Handling, we offer very very low prices, we have awesome products! Great feedback, free shipping, 30 day money back! great customer support.. but you know what we don't have??? VISIBILITY! and that my friends means no sales!

I'm honestly tired of forking out 4-5k per month in fees on average to just get slapped in the face, i worked hard to cover all my bases and eBay did nothing to cover mine. Luckily for me i have amazon backing my corner and they seem to be keeping our online sales afloat unlike eBay. eBay was once this awesome market place that people wanted to sell on, and now it seems like the marketplace everyone wants to get rid of.

Only thing i could ask for is real support, someone who cares, someone who can really answer my questions as to WHY this is happening to us! Only thing we get from support is please wait 3 days for our technical team...?? really? seriously ?? The best is when you call back in three days and they tell you nothing is wrong and they cant do anything that's all they see in the notes... but that's if your lucky, most of the time they just tell you there is no notes in the system so nothing must be wrong, and to make life more grand they send you off to some call center in the Philippines where they are restricted to the tasks they can do.

Technical support should be dealt with in the country that you are selling on, by a real technical support representative, not someone that has little experience with eBay and no understanding of technical issues what so ever!

You know what i love about Amazon! When i call i get who i need, when i need it... and the best part!? they actually solve problems!

eBay is simply the company people ''LOVE TO HATE'' and honestly they are bringing it all on themselves with all this mismanagement. They are trying to deploy several different things at one time and messing everything up...

As i have read on here before its pretty much all just'' SMOKE AND MIRRORS '' for the investors so they can make its another year.

Thanks eBay for costing me thousands of dollars! and giving me nothing in return!

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Jun 12 07:53:36 2013

Ina, does Ryan Moore have nothing to say about these complaints?   Is he reading what I am reading here but also on the eBay discussion boards? Is eBay in complete denial that this is going on?

Someone at eBay knows what is going on.  Ebay are a very data driven company--they know what is going on.  How does one get to the truth?

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by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 09:52:58 2013

It is a myth that Cassini is affecting only a few sectors at the beginning.  It is outright broken for every category.  Only the reporting of sellers was slightly delayed due to difference in rate of transactions.  

Ebay wanted sellers name and category so they could punish those who report problems openly.

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by: Soggy Dollar This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 10:00:16 2013

I don't think for a minute that Ebay cares one way or another.  Best Match has become the biggest nightmare a seller can have with the new search criteria catering to China sellers who are breaking every listing rule in the book and being given postage rate preferences. Reporting duplications is a waste of time.  American Sellers are being strangled by Ebay mismanagement. How long is it going to take them to see the loss of revenue we are experiencing?  My store paid 30% less in fees for May due to declining sales. The past 30 days are the worst I've seen in over 3 years.  Management doesn't seem to care -- maybe the Stockholders should.    

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 10:10:45 2013

If they are re-directing traffic then what's with the arts categories?  They are suffering the same lack of traffic.  Who would Ebay be re-directing traffic to in that case?  I have nothing on Ebay now...nothing at all because I can watch items go days without one view!  That's using my own counters and not Ebay's crooked counters.

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by: Truk This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 10:21:28 2013

We had a couple of days last week that we sold nothing zero that's never happened in the six years we have been on Ebay
In general we average around $1000.00 a day on ebay give or take a couple of hundred
Ebay says it's just the economy

Well we also are a brick & mortar warehouse and I did not see the same trend out the front door

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by: auctionguy This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 10:27:17 2013

My ebay listings are down 50% due to higher fees and constantly-declining regard for sellers by ebay. Page views are down 88%. Sales are down 85%. 'nuff said.

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by: Cyclestripper This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 10:27:44 2013

One thing to check is the date that traffic drops or increases. Ebay rates sellers on or about the 20th of every month. I changed to an anchor store on April 16th and reported traffic (and sales) dramatically increased immediately. On May 21 something changed. Traffic dropped to 10% of what it was in prior weeks.

Now, seriously, does that sound like Omniture was suddenly broken on the day following the ebay revisions date?

Still a Top Rated Seller Plus. Still only ONE below 3 DSR for the last year. BUT I had 2 neutrals in the last review period.

My guess (just a guess) is that the seller rating system is much more varied and complex that ebay wants to admit and that Best Match placement is NOT the method used to promote or demote a seller but some kind of bandwidth allocation program that reduces bandwidth available (particularly during peak hours) to sellers who the ebay system has rated somewhat less than perfect.

The idea of doing this is defensible if the goal is to protect buyers from sellers who are suddenly have some kind of problem delivering satisfactory customer service but, this is, after all, EBAY and the revisions to this program may have pushed it beyond it's design parameters.

Just a guess.

Final thought; there is absolutely NOTHING a seller can do to address the situation. Ebay will not admit fault or do anything to correct such issues. No amount of tweaking can be done to circumvent this seller rating system.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Nolle

Wed Jun 12 10:38:01 2013

the search engine and referring domains reports stopped including ebay over a year ago.

checking my last month's stats on omnicrap showed 1,250 views.  search engines referrals showed 26.  get the picture - and that was supposed to be 81%  obviously that stat no longer counts ebay as a source.  

stats mean nothing if you don't know what is being counted.  

i use my own website stats to track several images that only appear in ebay listings.  they matched the views almost perfectly - with about 99% refers coming from ebay.

views are way down,sales are way down, but don't trust anything on omnicrap other than total views.

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

Wed Jun 12 10:51:05 2013

Ok, when did all of you sellers begin to have account limits implemented?

In 2012 ebay told me that at some point by the end of 2012 that all sellers would have account selling limits.

My account was with out limits until Sept 9 2012.

This is the month that we had a sizable step down in page views from ebay search engine.

If you do not know when your date was you can call ebay and they will give you the date. That is how i got my date.

Maybe the time your account got it's limit is the beginning of your death spiral and your omniture numbers may closely mirror mine and the woman Ina is reporting in this article. As mine for sure do.

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by: tawhite This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 12:31:22 2013

@Map noted of one event that caught my eye: ''July 2012 79.5% I noticed a down turn starting July 18th. Also July we started Bonanza importer from our ebay listings..''

I don't think we need to look much further than this to explain the drop in views.

I made the same mistake - imported all my ebay listings and feedback to Bonanza. THEN I read ebay's User Agreement, which became effective on July 1, 2013 for current users. Take a look at this clause:

''While using eBay sites, services, applications, and tools, you will not: transfer by any manner any eBay application or your eBay account (including Feedback) and user ID to another party without our consent;...''
http://pages.ebay.com/help/policies/user-agreement.ht
ml

I
raised cain over at Bonanza because that is exactly what happened when I imported my ebay feedback. Bonanza has since closed down this part of their forums because so many sellers were up in arms about zero sales. As far as I'm concerned, Bonanza was complicit in undermining my ability to sell online by encouraging sellers to import ebay feedback, and providing a means to do so.

But there is more...

Google classifies ebay as an online marketplace just like Bonanza and Etsy & the others. Sellers have to be aware that Google has a set of rules in place governing these marketplaces. Ebay is not immune to Google's rules.

So not only did I violate ebay's user agreement when I imported feedback to Bonanza, I violated Google's rules when I listed items on two separate marketplaces.

Here is what Google says:
''Duplicate offers within the same account, or between separate accounts that you control, are not allowed.''
https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/2796531?hl=e
n&ref_topic=2701481

I
asked for clarification of this policy just to make sure that my interpretation was correct. And the reply I received from a Google rep assured me that my interpretation was correct.

So when I imported my ebay feedback to Bonanza, I violated ebay's user agreement.

When I listed items on ebay and Bonanza, I violated Google's Shopping Policy.

I got screwed all around. My sales at Bonanza are nonexistent. My sales at ebay have dwindled down to a figure I am embarrassed to mention.

I am surprised that Ina has not connected the dots. As far as I'm concerned, poor views/sales have nothing to do with Cassini. They have everything to do with ebay's user agreement and google shopping policy.


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by: tawhite This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 12:44:51 2013

and just as a follow-up to Google's policy with Marketplaces.

Ebay is responsible for creating "sub-accounts" for every seller (how many million is that?) AND ebay must submit a market feed to Google for every sub-account.
https://support.google.com/merchants/answer/2796531?hl
=en&ref_topic=2701481

Do
I think ebay is technically capable of handling this massive operation? Well, do you?

Now, get this:
"All items within each sub-account must comply with Google Shopping Policies and Terms of Service. Sub-accounts that are not compliant will be deactivated. Excessive deactivations as well as violations of quality standards will lead to temporary and/or permanent deactivation of the marketplace."

DEACTIVATION OF THE MARKETPLACE!

Ebay is that marketplace. So if ebay's internal search feature is screwed up AND they violate Google's Shopping Policy, then we sellers are just SOL.

Someone tell me I'm wrong.

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by: OneDandelionWish This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 12:46:57 2013

Actually I believe Omniture has changed the way it is reporting the traffic.  eBay traffic used to be found in the Site Traffic area.  Now it is found in the Finding Methods/Referring domains.  That is where I could see that eBay brings 74.8% of my traffic verses 7.1% search engines.  However with that being said, the actual conversions (sales) is waaaaay down from last month and most last year!

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by: GazLanNaThai This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 12 12:55:48 2013

The last time I saw such incredible traffic falls as those reported above were in February 2007 when eBay cut the trans-Atlantic visibility between UK and the US.

For several months after that cliff edge drop, eBay UK said they had done nothing to cause it before finally admitting on the PowerSeller board (in May) that it had been deliberate policy to no longer show UK listings on the US site because the UK sellers were swamping dot com.

The graph curves then for UK sellers were the same as US sellers are seeing now.  

Has dot com cut cross border visibility to Canada is one question that would give a small percentage of the drop?  Another would be if Cassini has been blocking search bots erroneously, including eBay's own.  Of course, there is always the question of eBay's notorious rolling visibility blackouts - have they now forgotten to switch back on after the blackout has rolled over sellers for the prescribed period?

Don't trust eBay to answer honestly on this, when it comes to traffic and visibility transparency history has shown their first reaction is to lie through their back teeth and divert blame onto seller's listings content and "staleness".

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