EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 634 - October 24, 2003     3 of 3

Google Shuts Off Participant in eBay Affiliate Pilot Program

By Ina & David Steiner

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Ryle Goodrich is part of a new eBay pilot program in which the auction site works with affiliate participants and explores how to make them more effective. AuctionBytes previously reported that Goodrich is using eBay auction content to boost his rankings with Google searches, then uses a cloaking technique to steer Google searchers over to eBay.

Google has already removed a number of Goodrich's sites from its index, and said they should all be out of their system by Monday. According to a post in AuctionBytes forums by a Google representative, "these sites are definitely outside our quality guidelines at"

Those guidelines include avoiding hidden text or hidden links and avoiding "doorway" pages created just for search engines. Goodrich employed both techniques in driving Google traffic to eBay. Goodrich's participation in eBay's affiliate program meant he received revenue when someone bid, bought or registered on the site when delivered to eBay by him.

As part of Goodrich's participation in eBay's new pilot program, he may use the eBay Application Programming Interface (API), a set of functions for querying the eBay platform. eBay spokesperson Kristin Seuell said the program was designed to encourage eBay affiliate participants to create innovative programs that help people find the items they are looking for on eBay.

"We did not provide guidance as to what kinds of applications the affiliates should build. We are taking steps to evaluate test member projects. We weren't necessarily aware of the specifics of the projects, but are taking a look at them now."

Seuell said the pilot program launched in mid-September, at which time the affiliates were given access to eBay's API. She said eBay takes active steps to educate affiliates on natural-search best practices. eBay sends out newsletters to its affiliates in which it shares the "dos and don'ts for improving rankings."

It's not certain if this is the first time an eBay API licensee has populated his site with content from auction descriptions in order for him to profit through affiliate links. In the past, the API has typically been used by companies who develop services to help eBay users buy and sell more efficiently on its site, and by individuals and companies who want to interface more efficiently with the auction site.

Seuell did say that eBay has the right to sublicense sellers' auction content as outlined in section 6.3 of the eBay user agreement. She said that while sellers own the content, they license it to eBay under the terms of the agreement.

About the author:

Ina and David Steiner are publishers of and have been writing about ecommerce since 1999.

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