Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Thu Sept 21 2017 14:46:18

eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

By: Ina Steiner

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eBay filed a patent that gives detailed clues into how it ranks search results. One criteria it uses: the projected demand for the item in a listing. Another: the "quality" of the seller. 

The patent describes ways that eBay could (and likely does) use a variety of factors beyond mere relevance in its Best Match search rankings, which is the default order in search. For each type of criterion, eBay may create a component score, which are then used to derive the overall ranking score.

- Relevance score, representing a measure of the relevance of an item listing with respect to search terms provided in the search request; 

- Listing quality score, representing a measure of the likelihood that an item listing will result in a transaction based at least in part on historical data associated with similar item listings; 

- Business rules score, representing a promotion or demotion factor determined based on the evaluation of one or more business rules.

When determining a listing quality score, for example, eBay may factor in such criteria as price, condition of the item, shipping method and cost, duration or length of time the item listing has been active, a seller's prior conversion rate for all items or items in a particular category, and a seller's rating (e.g., based on feedback provided by buyers).

Some excerpts plucked from the patent filing provide further insight into factors eBay considers important when ranking search results:

RELEVANCE
Relevance score may be based on an analysis of an item listing's title (e.g., title relevance) as well as an item listing's item description, and historical data indicating how users have previously interacted with item listings having similar item attributes when those item listings were previously presented in a search results page.

LISTING
Many item attributes may be considered in various embodiments, in some embodiments the price of the item and the shipping cost are the primary predictors of quality. 
...
For instance, if a particular item listing is offering for sale a television set at a particular price (e.g., $100), the particular price may be compared with the prices of similar television sets that have previously been sold. If, for example, the price of the television set is lower than the mean, mode, or median price (e.g., $200) of similar television sets, which have sold recently, then the listing quality score should reflect the "good" price of the television set offered via the item listing.

BUSINESS RULES
For example, it may be desirable to promote or demote item listings that have certain item attributes or seller attributes. If, for example, an item listing has free shipping, the listing may be promoted. Similarly, if a seller has a low seller quality score (based in part on feedback from buyers), an item listing of the seller may be demoted to reflect the poor seller quality score. 

In some cases, when the business rules are transparent and therefore known to both the sellers and buyers, promotions and demotions might be used to encourage certain behavior.

As indicated under the description of Business Rules, eBay has wielded carrots and sticks to encourage sellers to offer free shipping. It's worth nothing that lately eBay has been doing likewise to encourage sellers to offer generous returns policies.

The patent indicates eBay takes into account product categories when determining the importance of various criteria when ranking listings in search. For example, it stated that "with some types of items, such as antiques and/or jewelry, the seller trust factor may be more important, as there may be more fraud prevalent in the trade of such items."

The eBay patent also describes a scenario in which its demand metric takes into account transactions (sales), views, search impressions, and watch lists. For auctions and single-quantity fixed price listings, the demand metric may be based on the number of views, the number of bids (for an auction), or the number of watch lists associated with the item listing. Or, it may be based on the performance of similar listings.

You'll notice under Business Rules eBay references "seller quality score." While there is no mention of it, eBay could conceivably give its diamond powersellers, large brands, and big-box stores a higher quality score if it wished, boosting their listings in search. 

Note that currently eBay references buyer feedback as contributing to the seller quality score - and some may like the concept of demoting "bad" sellers.

Let us know if any of the criteria or practices come as a surprise, and what you like and dislike about the methods of ranking search results.




Comments (94) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

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by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 21 15:06:04 2017

Its no wonder that ebay is like the sinking of the titanic. Bet they don't even understand all those
criteria. The idiots in the ivory tower are on drugs and their addiction is getting worst each day.

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by: GretchensFetchins This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 21 15:44:46 2017

And just this week we were told they were "streamlining" search so this complex nonsense would be passe.

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by: SomeeBaySeller This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 21 15:46:14 2017

Where is the link to this Patient ?

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by: glasspackaging This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 21 15:58:23 2017

that is a tad funny = as it doesn't appear to work well. What happens when code monkeys decide they know business.  For example- we are doing this many decades - a well respected company in our field - a high traffic item - sold at most decent housewares stores... (we know for a fact LOL) ...  we offer value - a 100% solid history - and under all these revisions - our sales have dropped to a miniscule level .... while growing by leaps and bounds on our own websites.  It does explain why many old time sellers are no longer happy at ebay  with their disappearing in search .. we disappeared - we know!  

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by: JohnGermaine This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 21 16:01:23 2017

Cripes.  When do they refund us the money we give them since they are working against us instead of providing a platform where we can sell????

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by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 21 16:05:18 2017

Here is the algorithm that matters, Devin who is no doubt a mad man is featuring China sellers on the US facing site in the search results when they should not be in the US results at all, they should be showing up on eBay China.

The other Devin algorithm is Promoted Listings that are sold to dummies he is forcing into that abomination of an interface he called Sellers Hub where sellers will be fleeced like Sheep until Devin is fired and these polices that have destroyed US based sellers are done away with.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu Sep 21 16:08:25 2017

Whatever

What a shame that they don't rank items based on what buyers are actually looking for.

As John Germaine said, they are working against us, not for us.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu Sep 21 16:10:18 2017

Ina,

I would love to know if this same criteria applies to enterprise sellers. We constantly see enterprise sellers with lots of negative feedback who get top placement in search, so I guess there is your answer.

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This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Thu Sep 21 16:19:43 2017

Will this work as well as eBay's suggested pricing which is usually substantially off the mark?  eBay suggests I list a brand new Prada iPad sleeve anywhere between $20-$40. Operative words such as quality and relevance (as stated above) are not factored into their pricing suggestions so it does not lend much credibility to their 'patented' search rankings.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Sep 21 16:24:15 2017

No problem for some sellers & major problems for others.

For me it's business as usual.

Another day another listing. . .

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

Thu Sep 21 16:26:36 2017

BS

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This user has validated their user name. by: 2Tired4This

Thu Sep 21 16:26:48 2017

''Let us know if any of the criteria or practices come as a surprise''
NO!!!! etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.
The only thing eBay could do to surprise us, would be for eBay to make a common sense change that could help us sell something... Before all the ''Changes To Improve Things For Sellers and Buyers'' eBay really worked well. It was a real joy to do business back then. But that was a LONG TIME AGO!!!!

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by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 21 16:28:58 2017

They need to patent make sales search.

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by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 21 16:34:06 2017

A long time ago was before Donahoe, yes, the man that hired Devin who is a Ho clone, this kid has even more dumb ideas than the Ho and is even more cut throat than the HO and less concerned of what sellers think of him than the HO was.

Sad really when you have a dummy forcing things like Sellers Hub and Promoted listings on customers that want nothing to do with these dual abominations.

When you try to force something on customers they don't want, they leave, just like they left Yahoo when they ruined their email product and polluted it with a massive amount of ads, eBay has done the very same thing.

Bet the buyers love those 'insurance ads' Dummy Devin is running on his new home page....

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by: Janek This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 21 16:48:42 2017

What Ebay executives don't realize is for 1 small or medium seller they drive out of business they loose 5-6 buyers. The sellers are not buying on ebay anymore for themselves their families and friends because of the way Ebay is harassing them. Ebay sellers will pay more to get item directly from other websites just to teach them a lesson. It is so sad !!!!  

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by: eBay Shill Buster This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 21 16:53:54 2017

You're right, Devin is not smart enough to understand that eBay sellers are actually their biggest buyers, and when you ruin their cash flow they quit buying on eBay.

Devin got fired on his last gig, he did not leave, he got canned for non-performance and we all know why, eBay is not performing either and Devin is not the man to improve performance either.

http://www.thewrap.com/thomson-reuters-ousts-five-execu
tives-29421/

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by: frustrated This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 21 17:31:44 2017

Feeling froggy is right on the money as usual.

why do you think they have to start charging fees for UNSOLD items??

???

This comes under the heading "Things that make you go HMMMMMM...."

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Sep 21 17:32:09 2017

@eBay Shill Buster

Buyers have no idea what "sellers hub" is and they probably don't care!

And your wrong about sellers being the biggest buyers.

Most of my customers are buyers NOT sellers. . .

Perminate Link for eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets   eBay Patent Reveals Search Ranking Secrets

by: RL15 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 21 17:59:37 2017


a patent filed for a horrible search system?

really?? like someone will want use a moronic search system?

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by: Janek This user has validated their user name.

Thu Sep 21 18:05:58 2017

I know I am on the black list on Ebay, I will not sell anything now !!! Peoples need to tell how it is. I always do !!! We Small sellers build Ebay !!! Don't sell us chip !!!

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