|Tue Aug 20 2013 23:08:16|
Google Rewards Site that Steals Traffic from Etsy?
By: Ina Steiner
Etsy sellers began noticing that their listings were showing up in searches on Google - good news, right? Not exactly. Sellers say their listings are being used by a Hong Kong website as Google bait and are trying to figure out how to stop the site from allegedly stealing their intellectual property.
Clicking on certain of their listings in Google search results are bringing them to a site called EtsyStore.net instead of Etsy. Sellers have speculated that the site owners are copying Etsy listings to their site and using them as Google bait to attract shoppers, and may be making money by displaying ads served up by Google. The listings on EtsyStore.net include a "Buy on Etsy Store" button that directs shoppers to Etsy or, in some cases, to a 404 error page.
Here's a screenshot of a listing on Etsy.com.
Here's a screenshot of what appears to be the same listing but on EtsyStore.net.
A seller by the name of Carly posted about the EtsyStore.net website on an Etsy discussion board on Sunday afternoon. An Etsy moderator responded on Monday morning to say Etsy was looking into it. "If you see what appears to be infringement of your intellectual property on another site, you may want to contact that site's administrator about it (as I see that some of you have done already)."
On Tuesday, another Etsy moderator responded after a seller posted EtsyStore.net contact information obtained from the site's WhoIs domain registry, reminding users that it was against Etsy's policy to publicly post another person's private information without their explicit consent - despite the fact that the WhoIs database is a public database. The moderator came back a few hours later to reaffirm that Etsy was looking into the matter.
Carly told EcommerceBytes that while she and other sellers were initially able to get EtsyStore.net to remove their listings upon request, the site operators subsequently became "increasingly stubborn and/or elusive about having links taken down."
Another Etsy seller told EcommerceBytes that she sent a cease and desist letter to EtsyStore.net and received the following response:
hi dear,this is shopping recommend website,
The Users like goods, click on the button to enter etsy.com for purchase.
the website will recommend the best goods to customers on etsy.com.
If you don't like it, or involving infringement images, you can tell us the link address.
We will be the first time for you to delete this linknowbe
The seller explained, "There are over 7,000 pages of beads that my handmade beads are mingled within. They are unwilling to remove all my listings under my shop name, which is how they have it listed."
Etsy sellers have expressed several concerns about their listings and photos appearing on the EtsyStore.net site, and say:
- EtsyStore.net contains outdated information - including inactive listings and incorrect pricing.
- Google penalizes sites for duplicate content, so the duplicate lisitngs on EtsyStore.net will hurt their standings in search results.
One seller speculated about whether EtsyStore.net was using the Etsy API to power its site.
Interestingly, the site EtsyStore.net was first discovered by Etsy sellers 5 months ago in a March 16th thread titled "What is the etsystore.net?" Some sellers thought the site was meant to help drive traffic to their listings, others thought the site looked fishy, but after 7 pages of speculation and no response from Etsy moderators, the thread died out.
We sent inquiries to Etsy and Google upon finding out about the issue on Tuesday afternoon and will update the story as we learn more.
Update 8/21/13: Google has apparently expelled EtsyStore.net from its AdSense program, and the company provided EcommerceBytes with a statement; Etsy has not yet responded to our inquiry. See Thursday's Newsflash story for the latest developments.
Update 8/22/13: EtsyStore.net removed the Etsy listings from the site and pasted a copy of a cease and desist letter received from Etsy followed by this message: "But I’m just a student, making etsystore.NET is just a hoax. Really, really sorry. This domain is for sale. EMAIL:firstname.lastname@example.org."