|Wed Oct 30 2013 13:34:31|
Cassini Penalizes eBay Listings with HTML
While eBay refuses to release exact details around Cassini search, there are a few things sellers know. First, Cassini will hide some listings from visibility (eBay tells us this but does not say why). Second, Cassini reads not just titles and item specifics, but listing descriptions as well when ordering items to present in search (eBay did tell sellers this).
We recently discovered something that eBay has not told sellers that will cause items to rank low or not appear in search at all.
Excessive HTML in listing descriptions is apparently a visibility killer as it seems Cassini does not read excessive amounts of HTML when ordering up items for search results.
Here is how we discovered this... We subscribed to eBay's Webstore app which creates a separate store front and URL while displaying eBay listings in the store front. Potential buyers check out through eBay. We figured the separate storefront with a unique URL might give us some additional exposure in search engines at very low cost. Our sales did increase a bit after we signed up for the store so something appeared to be working.
In the webstore app, there is an option to add a banner to the top of your listing description which links to the webstore. When we signed up for the app, we did not elect to add the banner, but a few weeks ago we decided to try it.
After adding the banner, our sales nosedived. We put the eBay store on vacation and took it off, but nothing helped sales. After a full week of declining sales, we happened to look at out listings and made the discovery that changed everything.
The webstore banner we added inserted HTML text to the top of each listing description so the banner would render when the listing was viewed. This was a considerable amount of HTML text that took up quite a few lines of code.
We decided to edit our listings and manually remove the banner. We opened our listing page, and clicked on the HTML tab which is how we found the large amount of HTML code.
We then removed all HTML text up to the first line of our listing description. To make sure our edit did not change our listing. Before saving our changes, we switched back to the standard tab to view the description and confirm we did not edit out too much.
It took quite a few hours, but we removed the banner HTML along with every other line of HTML at the start of our descriptions up to the first line of our description.
After editing our listings, we placed our store on vacation for an hour so our items would fall completely out of search, then took the store off vacation so the items would re-index.
This morning, we woke up, and found 7 eBay sales waiting to be processed, and while processing those orders, we received several more. A few of the items which sold had been going somewhat stale but suddenly, today, the items sold which would indicate they suddenly started appearing higher in search.
Based on our experience, I suggest that sellers try editing their listings, and remove any and all HTML which precedes the first line of their listing description.
eBay thus far has been silent on the issue, but based on my initial experience it would seem that when ranking items, if Cassini finds too much HTML text, it simply does not read far enough into the description thus sending the listing lower in search or burying it completely because items with descriptions which it finds easier to read are placed above those it does not read easily because of the excessive amount of HTML.
For sellers who use them, listing frames, templates or other decorative features added to listings may require so much HTML text be added to the listing description that it is preventing Cassini from reading the description and causing items to rank lower in search or even be eliminated from search.
Based on the difference I see in one day of sales, I would suggest sellers take a look at the HTML tab of their existing listing descriptions and edit out all HTML up to the first line of text in their descriptions even if it means sacrificing templates etc... to overcome the inadequacies of Cassini and see what happens.
Sellers may want to reconsider their use of listing frames, templates and the like when those add ons are inserting HTML to the beginning of their descriptions.
Cassini cost eBay millions to develop, yet it can not handle -search input, and apparently considers HTML to be jibberish which is preventing listings with too much HTML from ranking higher in search.
It is a shame that sellers must learn by trial and error how to work around the dysfunctional search engine eBay has wasted so much money developing.