|Sun June 8 2014 20:06:19|
Is eBay Testing a New Search Feature?
By: Ina Steiner
eBay could be about to change one of the ways shoppers find items on its site. An eBay seller spotted something unusual in his search results recently, a possible indication eBay is planning to add relevancy to search results beyond its default Best Match search. And it could mean some listings might never appear in search results.
Years ago, eBay added Best Match as the default order so that search results would bring back listings that eBay had determined were more relevant and so it could also give a higher boost to listings from what it determined were higher quality sellers. But eBay left in place other ways to sort results, including by price and by time, the latter especially important to auction bidders.
A seller told me that when he sorted search results by "Price + Shipping Lowest First" on Friday, he noticed his listings were missing from the results, and a message appeared at the top saying "Showing the Most Relevant Results for (keyword) first. Click here to see all results."
There were over 186,000 listings that matched his search term, but the new relevancy search he saw brought back just under 5,000 (less than 3 percent of matching listings).
The seller wrote, "It appears eBay has now added filtering similar to Best Match even when you sort by price. But the formula appears different, as many of our items that appear at the top of Best Match results do not appear when sorted by price."
If you click on "Show all results together" then it appears the way it used to, he said. "So if a buyer sees this they can click that, but if the buyer overlooks this message, they may be under the impression they are seeing all results."
Another concern, he said, was that without knowing how eBay determines what is relevant, sellers are left in the dark when it comes to visibility.
"For brand searches related to my business, "relevant" results currently return some of my competitors' items that are identical to mine, but not mine, and vice versa where my listings may appear but not theirs. We are talking about identical SKUs. My first guess was that eBay just added best match filtering to the price sorting, but what is considered relevant is different from best match."
While sellers may wonder how eBay could suppress listings that match the shopper's search when sellers have paid for their listings to appear in search results, they should remember that eBay gave itself permission to do so in September when it added a provision to its user agreement.
We've only received a report of this new feature from one reader and have found no online discussions about it. We asked eBay on Friday for more information but have yet to hear back.
What would you think if eBay added relevancy to searches sorted by price or time? And if it does, should it continue to bring back all search results, or winnow it down to only those listings it considers most relevant?