Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon June 29 2015 15:26:50

Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

By: Ina Steiner

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In referring to "Main Street" small businesses, a new research report on search engines says "the ability of buyers and sellers to connect can do much to determine which businesses succeed and which fail, what innovations catch on, and which flounder."

While the report was focused on Google's practices, the same could be said about any search engine or online marketplace.

Researchers caused a stir when Bloomberg wrote about the study, released on Sunday, that said Google is purposefully skewing search results to favor its own content over that of its competitors when it comes to local search. The practice degrades search results and harms both consumers and merchants, according to the report.

We wonder what those researchers would think about eBay's practices in which it eliminates some listings from its search results altogether. As hard as it might be to believe, eBay can hide listings for any reason without having to refund sellers who paid for exposure. That's because eBay added the following provision to its User Agreement in 2013:

"To further create a marketplace where buyers find what they want and drive positive user experience, we updated the provision regarding listing conditions to recognize that the appearance and placement of listings in search and browse results will depend on a variety of factors. So, in some situations a listing may not appear in some search and browse results regardless of sort order."

At the time, spokesperson Ryan Moore told us eBay would not be refunding any listing fees for sellers impacted as a result of the policy.

The authors of the research report indicate Google is favoring its own content over its rivals. In eBay's case, why would it deliberately leave out some listings from results since it doesn't compete with them? (Theories welcome.)

eBay indicates it's in order to make for a more positive user experience. So perhaps it might decide to hide listings from sellers with certain feedback characteristics, let's guess - but if that's the case, should those sellers be paying the same amount as everyone else if they aren't getting the same exposure?

We'll have more on the Google study in tomorrow's Newsflash. In the meantime, let us know how search algorithms help or hurt your ecommerce sales.




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Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 29 16:14:04 2015

Just big business doing what they do best.

Padding the bottom line for the stockholders and screwing those that pay for the service.

Big business IS NOT in business to  make its customers happy but to make the stockholders happy.

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 29 16:29:52 2015

When you stop searching keywords , you lose value on used & antique, collectables catagories.  

China has search preference on a lot of sites , due to massive listings & store scripts.

Cannot compete with big box , local or globally. I dont pay them a premium like big box does. One big screwed up mess. One reason I made very few purchases over the past few months. Cant get with global anything. All searches are full of china , & see few of my old sellers I like buying from.

Thus little exposure for the small , or un-ordinary. Ebay stopped caring about its base sellers , & no ease in site. They dont care what anyone thinks. They just keep going off half cocked with their turkey heads in the air. Pray for rain.

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 29 17:02:16 2015



We pay to have our products advertised,by many companies including Bing, google, and websites, if a company did not give us what we paid for, by hiding our advertising,  we would immediately terminate all business dealings with that company, it's just that simple.

It's quite unfortunate to see ebay take advantage of desperate sellers, and really sad that these sellers on ebay cannot move forward on their own, just like a pawn shop, and similar to ebay, they earn a good percentage of their money from desperate people, who need money but have no other options.

it's quite a warped world we live in  

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Mon Jun 29 19:31:04 2015

eBay's illusory promises in transactions contracts are "F-R-A-U-D-U-L-E-N-T"

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Mon Jun 29 19:53:05 2015

“Money, not morality, is the principle of commerce …”—Thomas Jefferson.

That quote demonstrably applies to both eBay and “PreyPal” … http://bit.ly/1nSA1Zl

And, not even the criminal code gets in the way of commerce at eBay Inc. … http://bit.ly/11F2eas

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 29 19:53:50 2015

I felt all this from ebay. I would do research on my items , including searching completed listings. Thought I had an idea of the" TRENDING " value of my items. I was wrong. Always coming up short , on final sales figures.

Knowing something was just wrong. Even when top rated , it did not matter. There was always a glitch , or "something" preventing from great numbers.

I kept records , trending , final , views , watchers , & decided for myself , they were full of , well , lets say jelly beans.

I come to not trust ecommerce sites when they get too big for their own good. Ebay being the worse.

Throttled is a understatement. Just downright insider bull. They have shown me lie after lie , & I cannot ever trust them , they will not change their stripes , ever. Stick a fork in them , they are done.

I found my way with other venues I learn to trust. There are good alternatives to these insane , big headed venues. Remember , change is good , & results will vary , depending on how much you put into it.

I dont buy or sell on Amazon , nor will I ever. I have no use for ebay JR.

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Jun 29 20:48:53 2015

eBay search = The Manipulations Game.

Ina says "We wonder what those researchers would think about eBay's practices in which it eliminates some listings from its search results altogether."

This would make a great story. I would love it if you interviewed the researchers.

My eBay site with 300 listings has been outselling my site with 1500 listings in the last month. The products on both are quite similar.  Can you say MANIPULATION?

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Mon Jun 29 20:50:41 2015

And ditto to what Shop and Ship and gizmo have stated.

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

by: Ebay Seller-Ebay Buyer This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 29 22:03:21 2015

Some people commenting  seem to think Ebay is helping their profits and their shareholders by not showing some listings and favoring some listings over others.  People seem to be saying that Ebay is immoral but has good business sense.  But they don't.  Ebay remains just a $59 stock, so Ebay has gotten completely buried by not only Amazon, but by the vast majority of Nasdaq 100 companies and even the smaller caps.

Ebay has lost many sellers and buyers in many categories they've always dominated and it's due largely to listing fees that Amazon doesn't have and their search engine, which drives many sellers to quit Ebay and try Amazon.  Categories like baseball cards and vinyl records are 2 examples of categories where 3 years ago there were under 300,000 cards and records on Amazon, but now those categories both exceed 3 million cards and records. And as Amazon adds sellers and grows their listings in categories that ebay has always dominated; buyers begin not finding items they want on ebay but finding them on Amazon; or finding a better deal on Amazon.  

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 29 23:46:18 2015

The eBay penalty imposed by Google, not only hurt sellers but buyers. Google has penalized a company, but has hurt millions, maybe billions of citizens in the process.

And beyond the eBay penalties, Google is hurting millions and billions of users who think they are getting legitimate online search results, free from any monetary gain for Google. Well, that is just not the case. All searches are manipulated to put money in Google's pocket, and we are just not seeing all that is available to see.

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

by: ConnecticutGal This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 30 00:48:30 2015

I'll put my two cents in from a buyer's perspective this time.  I've been looking to purchase a vintage or antique mahogany chest of drawers for a while now.  I need a pretty specific size, so it's not easy.  When I search through Google these days, all of the results are either 1) the same sites I've visited over and over again, like OneKingsLane or 1stdibs; 2) photos of chests on Ebay but the link from the Google photo takes me to a weird place on Ebay that is essentially unrelated, or 3) the item has already been sold but is listed on Google as active.  Sometimes a chest on Pinterest comes up but then the link from Pinterest doesn't work.

What I did discover through pages upon pages of searching over the past couple of months is that there are at least two new sites that have started up to sell antique/vintage items.  One is called thehighboy.com and despite glitches, could be interesting.  However, the items on there right now are the same ones in large part as on 1stdibs, ebay, etsy, OKL.  Another site is Viyet.com which again, has a big overlap with 1stdibs, ebay and etsy.  Never once did a listing come up on google for Ruby Lane or TIAS and certainly nothing on 11Main.

Makes you wonder where the sites for antiques/vintage will be within the next few years, as the number of vintage/antique items are dwindling on ebay.

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

by: ConnecticutGal This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 30 00:50:39 2015

Oh, and Google search is rapidly becoming useless unless you like to spend hours getting through pages of repetitive stuff.

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Kitty Ninja

Tue Jun 30 01:55:56 2015

Question...  If I ''pay'' to have something listed and show up in search results and eBay deems that in some situations my listing may not appear in some search and browse results regardless of sort order...isn't that failure to provide the service I'm paying for??  And if I am not receiving the service I am paying for shouldn't I be entitled to a REFUND? Hmmmmm???  At some point I hope this comes back at eBay and bites them in the...well you know... What goes around will come back at ya at some point eBay.  Karma is a ...

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 30 02:18:08 2015

I searched for HEARING AID items on ebay and was given allegedly SIMILAR items--that were headed something to do with--I am NOT making this up-!!!--Alaskan Dogs and some sort of CAMPING BLANKETS category--no lie!

When I DID manage to find a few of these---after a day or so during which the number and selection CHANGED drasticly  every time I looked--I was ONLY able to find sellers in--China;  except for one in Cyprus which I was sceptical of as they might not even HAVE a Government this week (they shut their banks down today)---and thus no Post Office!

Well!

Lets say--I went to Amazon--AGAIN.  This makes four times in the past three weeks where I was FORCED to go to The River for what I NEEDED---on some of these searches
I would get weird outside links TO ebay--but they showed as some odd format I have NEVER seen ON ebay so--I did not trust them.  

I found it--odd--that on ALL of these searches for very diverse items--motorcycle items;  the hearing aid parts etc---I got a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT Search result EVERY TIME I went to ebay.    One time I would see a number of US sellers (using Advanced Search FOR this was not "working"  apparently!)  and the next--even just MOMENTS later---I would see ONLY Chinese sellers!

Way to drive even MORE traffic OFF the site ebay!

I would LIKE to "support"  where I sell--but--I cannot DO that if I can't FIND the things I NEED there. I am positive that there ARE USA sellers OF these things---but we are NOT allowed to SEE them.  

IF I could GET my items visible by paying;  I have to say if it was a reasonable fee I would DO that.  But now---not so much;  it doesn't seem to MATTER what FB I have or how big my accounts are or even what I am listing--nothing is SELLING.  I have one item with well OVER 125 views---and watchers--and a great price on a designer item--and NO nibbles.  eBay of course would like me to ask 99 cents for this several hundred dollar Ralph item--nope!  I will send it to consignment first!

And they yanked a VINTAGE no brand item for-=-copyright infringement!  LOL!!!!

Clowns.  

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

by: dreamweaver149 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 30 03:35:36 2015

Markets work and they work well for the people in them until inevitably it seems, bigger fish always start gaming the system for their own ends. It ends up working well for the very few at the top and no one else.....Until eventually, they even screw it for themselves.
@Commet.....We tend to get the same sort of thing as you with UK search, only in some cats it tends to be loaded with USA, then Chinese, then British items.....Brit only filter does not always seem to work well...lol.
Thanks for a good article Ina, though I am at a loss to know how it will get sorted, if ever!

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

by: GotToGetOut This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 30 06:31:24 2015

Well, Google is in business to make money just like Ebay so it's not surprising they are skewing results to their own sites and trying to impact Ebay's. Ebay is losing marketshare and it has to be to Google's advantage. The more they don't sell, the more Google's sites will benefit.

Ebay has to reinvent itself and find another way to compete. If they can't everyone will be impacted.

Store sellers on Ebay are the losers because they have outrageous listing fees (Ebay likes to call it a subscription fee but it is actually a listing fee). The best bet now is to list without a store with no listing fees like Ebay is advertising on it's home page whenever we open their site. I have to laugh at that when I see it. How can they have a blanket statement of no listing fees when store sellers are paying a listing fee for the allowed # of sales in each category AND for listings over the specified amount allowed.

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 30 07:05:22 2015

"Researchers caused a stir when Bloomberg wrote about the study, released on Sunday, that said Google is purposefully skewing search results to favor its own content over that of its competitors when it comes to local search. The practice degrades search results and harms both consumers and merchants, according to the report."
^^
If this is the case, then why don't those sites (I assume AMZ, Etsy, EB, Webstore, and others) take their business to Bing and Yahoo search?

I found out that EB is also trying to charge sellers "extra" for positioning their items at the top of searches.  They are offering EBclassifieds sellers a charge of $4.99 to do this....it seems that parent company EB is now wanting to do the same.

I have items on EB and I am getting NO watches whatsoever and haven't for the past 2-3 months, so I guess I'm at the bottom of the pile.

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 30 07:15:09 2015

Maybe EB should study what Ecrater has done.  For a bump up in Fee% you can get a better search position in Google search.  They have three levels of Fee%:
"If you would like to increase your presence in these search engines, you can select a different advertising level. The higher the advertising level you selected, the higher our bids will be, thus you will probably get more traffic and sales."
Normally the charge is 2.9% if your item sells, but it can go higher to 5.9% and more if you want to be found in the searches. And it works!

 

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Jun 30 08:10:21 2015

gottogetout says "Ebay has to reinvent itself and find another way to compete."

eBay have done enough "reinventing".  eBay needs to go back to their roots.  Donahoe was clueless regarding what made eBay successful in the early days and he still is.  eBay was a healthy ecosystem of buyers and sellers looking for unusual or one of a kind items.  When sellers were successful, they spent money on the site. eBay was unique, not the West Town Mall.

When management of a company do not listen to "the voice of the customer" they are a foolish bunch.  Of course when you have management who are more concerned with their personal gain than the business's gain what would one expect.    

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search   Online Sellers Hurt by Skewed Search

by: Flying Childers This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 30 08:28:32 2015

Bottom line: small US sellers/ business owners are getting screwed by their own Big Government and Big Search. Big Government has instituted most favored nation status to China which most recently committed what some regard as an act of war by hacking over 30 million records of Federal employees.

Instead of doing something about it or sanctioning China in some way, the US Govt. has to capitulate even further by allowing Chinese merchants to have free shipping for the same services that American merchants have to pay for, i.e. E-packet mail.

Meanwhile, Big Search (that would be Google) pays a fraction of the corporate taxes that other businesses would have to because it enjoys "most favored" status with the Obama administration and many members of Congress.

Face it folks, Ebay and Etsy have decided if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

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