Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Fri July 31 2015 00:00:18

eBay Search Is Seriously Messed Up

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay's search engine has a serious problem relating to Item Specifics and filters. I worked with a seller today to try to understand what she discovered with her listings, and the results are disturbing.

For some of the examples she supplied me (clothing), if I filtered search results using all the item specifics she had set in a particular listing, eBay search excluded her listing from search results - even though some other sellers' listings appeared.

This is exactly the opposite of how it's supposed to work - the seller is being penalized for using Item Specifics when listing her products. And in these cases, she wasn't alone.


Along the way, I also discovered that despite certain listings containing a particular attribute in their Item Specifics, that attribute didn't always show up as an option in eBay's filter. The example I found was for a brand of cookware called Lagostina - I hadn't heard of it before, but it certainly was well known to Google's search engine and shopping ads and appears to be a somewhat popular brand.

Despite finding four listings where sellers had been able to add the Lagostina name under the Brand attribute, it didn't show up in the search filter - meaning shoppers who searched for skillet and tried to narrow down search results to that brand would be unable to.


That's two problems: one is that your listing may be excluded from search for using an Item Specifics attribute. The other is that a particular attribute you use may be excluded from eBay's filters.

The end result is the same in both instances: shoppers ain't gonna find your listings if they do broad searches and use eBay's filters to narrow down the results.

The second phenomenon you can try yourself. Go to eBay, enter the word "skillet," and try to find the brand "Lagostina" in Item Specifics under Brand. 

Yes, you can find items if you search for "Lagostina skillet" in eBay search, but a shopper who doesn't do that to begin with is going to see the long list of other brands in eBay's filter, and the shopper is most likely going to think there are no Lagostina-brand skillets on eBay.

And remember, this is not about the fact that eBay isn't including Lagostina as an attribute. You can see the Brand=Lagostina inside each of the four sellers' product listings.

Note that the reason I selected that particular term was because I read about a person having a problem finding that brand of skillet on eBay in this discussion board thread from yesterday, so I started testing it for myself.

The first phenomenon is in my opinion much more worrying, and a bit harder for someone to test - I could test it because the seller gave me actual examples of her listings. But based on her description of the problem, it shouldn't be too difficult to discover on your own.

I suggest you try using eBay search - enter a broad term for your item (i.e., "pants" or "sweater"), then try using the filters for all of your Item Specifics and see if your listings show up in search results when you narrow it down all the way (size, color, material, pattern, etc.).

The more I tested the seller's listings and experimented myself with Item Specifics, the more confused I became - I couldn't find a pattern to explain the cause of the malfunction.

What's so insidious about this problem with eBay search is that it isn't readily apparent. You really have to be looking for it to realize it exists. And since eBay is excluding relevant listings in search results, buyers may end up leaving the site unable to find what they were looking for, not realizing there are actually matching products for sale on the site.

Does anyone in eBay's search department know about this problem with Item Specifics? Does anyone in management know about it?




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by: TeddyElectron This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 00:49:53 2015

It's been this way for several years now. Part of the "rolling blackout" phenomenon or whatever the buzzword/excuse is. The seller's listing may show up in the search results then disappear again as if by magic or devine intervention of some sort. This the norm at eBay.

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by: TeddyElectron This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 00:55:05 2015

Maybe the other sellers whose listings do show up have found the answer. Wipe away the item specifics, make it more generic and achieve higher foot traffic.

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by: Lamprey This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 01:06:15 2015

Throttling

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by: alaska This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 04:07:15 2015

Until eBay gives us a filter for relisted auctions it won't make much difference because buyers are giving up on searching eBay. Traffic is way down because of all the relisted stuff that never sells. It's not worth wasting so much time trying to find a needle in a haystack. The relisted auctions is the haystack.

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by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 06:41:49 2015

This is exactly how a search engine acts, that is being highly manipulated by it's creators,

Nothing makes sense, results are not correct, missing results, random results,

This is one of ebays greatest downfalls, they think search manipulation is in their benefit, but it's killing their customers, and in turn killing themselves,  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Jul 31 07:03:18 2015

Yes, it was designed so that they CAN manipulate it, but it is killing them.

Can you imagine going to the market to shop for bread, and only being shown crackers, flour, pasta and bread baskets?  You'd likely never go back to that store. So many of my friends, co-workers and relatives have told me that they don't go to eBay anymore because search never show them what they are looking for.

What makes my blood boil is to read about how they are experimenting with this and that (gotta WOW those Wall Street analysts) when eBay marketplaces is in need of triage, and fast.

We had great sales earlier in the week, and then boom.....crickets.  There go the rolling blackouts. It has gotten really predictable too...a few great sales days and you know you are in for a shutout shortly thereafter.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Jul 31 07:08:26 2015

And I meant to comment--this is a brilliant article that everyone in senior management at eBay should be forced to read.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 07:57:30 2015

Unfortunately you have to use Goog search and put in the keywords "skillet Lagostina ebay" to get a list of brands.  I've had to do the same with my Urban OUtfitters brands.  You can't find shyt with Ebay search.  It's ancient.
http://www.ebay.com/bhp/lagostina

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 07:57:56 2015

Everybody should cut this article and send a copy to Wenig at Ebay.

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by: Russ This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 08:41:17 2015

A third question for the last paragraph:

''Does anyone at eBay really care?''

I believe most of us know the answer to that question.

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by: Leesantiques This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 08:49:05 2015

It isn't just search that is seriously messed up right now on Ebay.

I tried to do listings - and found that I can't!  Photos won't upload, Item Specifics don't have a way to be added, etc.  I use the Basic Listing form and am running Vista on an old Gateway, if that makes a difference.  Didn't have problems like this yesterday or any other previous time.

Another problem - the Community Boards are all in hiding.  I could reach, and post on, one thread that I had previously posted to - but in terms of finding other threads or seeing the overall boards, forget it.

I don't know what is going on with Ebay today, but it certainly isn't good.  I see an announcement that some work was done last night, and now I'm wondering if that is what has lead to these screw ups.

Lee

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by: Owen This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 08:53:16 2015

Thanks for publishing this article. We all know how terrible eBay's search engine is. Manipulating searches is not what buyers want. They put in a straightforward search and are given someone else's idea of what they want. How is that, in any way, productive. When will eBay remember the old saying, simple is best. People are just going to waste their time trying to counter-manipulate search results, and they will move on.

Obviously, this is one of the many reasons sales are way down for eBay. I had to laugh at your other article about Wenig thinking that Twitter and other social media sites would be the answer to eBay's woes. Really??? Correct all the terrible problems of the past administration, and you might see some improvement.

For one, search has got to be straight, simple and easy to do. We aren't techies or IT people. We just want to be able to find what WE want, not what someone else wants us to see.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Jul 31 08:56:11 2015

Cassini was devised to steer buyers to Donahoe's darlings.  It was a disaster from the get go and it is one of many things that is killing the site.

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by: Leesantiques This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 09:07:24 2015

Further update:

I tried to contact Ebay customer service, but the contact page comes up blank.  No way to contact them in order to ask what is going on.  No announcements, either.

Whatever they messed up this time around, it's a doozy!

Lee

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 09:28:29 2015

Rexford is %101 correct!

Search (like every other part of eBay) was written to be MONETIZED.

Pay eBay money and you get to be seen, pay eBay money and the rules dont apply to you, pay eBay and you get to VERO people, pay eBay and you get deal of the day promotions that no one else gets.

The list goes on and on.

eBay is WORSE then the mafia, at least they are honest about their dealings. eBay denies it all then does it in your face.

Does eBay care? NO, its how they make money - the one thing (that despite Gary (Buck) Owens says is ok to loose) eBay will never loose or give up.

Users (buyers and sellers) should demand that Cassini be scrapped and a Google engine be put in its place - but you have a better chance of finding DB Coopers money in your backyard, then getting that to happen.

In NY the Attorney General is more interested in his crooked dealing and stopping fracking then helping anyone out, and in CA the AG there is busy chasing farmers who want their water rights.

No one wants to go after eBay, so no one will - and we will all continue to suffer under the reign of Wenig the Stupid.

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by: wildgravity This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 09:52:46 2015

There have been holes in eBay's search-by-specifics interface for years.  There are item specifics eBay provides in their listing templates which are not shown to users who refine their search with item specifics.  In addition, any specific related data a seller adds to a listing beyond ebay's predefined specifics and specific values is not visible when using specifics to refine a search.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 10:09:37 2015

To find the Lagostina skillet, I went to Goog Search and typed keyword, lagostina skillet ebay.  The ebay after the search brought up a page with only that brand.  Frankly, I think search engines are imperfect messes.  I've had trouble trying to search within AMZ and had to go external to goog search and put the amazon in keywords.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 10:16:37 2015

I haven't had a sale from Ebay in months, and I'm now going through inventory to see what I can (safely) move to Amazon.  I suggest we all a) cut this article and send it to Ebay; and b) look for another temp site until they fix their tech glitches.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Fri Jul 31 10:22:47 2015

Search works perfectly for me on eCrater.

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by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 31 10:27:03 2015

For most high volume categories it's difficult to pinpoint exactly how ebay manipulates it's search, but in our product category, we only had about 5 competitors, and approx. 5000 items total of those sellers,
and since we are very familiar with our competitors and their products, we were seeing the extent of eBay's damaging and corrupt manipulation for many years.

I am sure if you look at ebays data, their manipulation looks good on the books, but the long term damage is severe, it's killing sellers and ebay itself

For example one product that was always a best seller for us, became our worst seller almost over night, we could not understand, it just never became popular again on ebay, and stayed like that for years,

Then when we left ebay, and started promoting our website, all of a sudden, as if a switch was turned on, that unpopular selling product was popular again, and we are selling it like crazy again,  

So eBay's massive manipulation, is only hurting themselves, we continue to sell just fine, without eBay, we sell everywhere except ebay, and we're doing great,

All the BS they spew out about the hack, Google search, and whatever they claim is causing failure at ebay is non-sense, they themselves are to blame, for their downfall and no one else

Wait until next quarter, without hiding behind paypal, this company is in some serious trouble, JD did irepairable damage, and it will be next to imposible to fix,

They are so deep into this manipulation they cannot get out of it, everything they do is based on it, from defects, to agreements with large sellers,  

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