2021 Fall Seller Update – Its Impact on eBay SEO

eBay "Advances" into the World of Pay-Per-Click Ads

2021 Fall Seller Update

Today, we continue our discussion of the latest seller update at eBay and go over its effects on SEO.

 

In case you missed it, eBay’s 2021 Fall Seller Update has arrived.

Professional sellers who follow our weekly eBay SEO news roundup will be familiar with a lot of what we’re going to cover in this post, as eBay has been particularly careful in recent months to announce many of the changes examined in the latest update.

But as always, I will also be covering some things here that you won’t see discussed anywhere else.

So let’s dig in and find out what’s new.

 

Promoted Listings Advanced

Since the initial announcement of Promoted Listings in 2015, we have progressively become fans of eBay’s innovative pay-per-sale advertising model.

In spite of my initial fears, the platform has proven itself to be an extremely effective tool for creating near-immediate velocity (the rate at which a product sells) and has maintained an organic to paid search results ratio comparable to that of Amazon’s.

The pay-per-click (PPC) version of Promoted Listings was first announced in eBay Connect 2021, and then described in more detail in the eBay Tech blog.

Promoted Listings Advanced, which will be made available at the end of this month to “eligible Promoted Listings sellers,” will enable businesses to land the top spot in eBay search results by bidding on specific keyword phrases.

Unlike the now rebranded Promoted Listings Standard, eBay’s new PPC ads are entirely dependent on the amount paid for the ad and the keywords selected during ad creation.

As I have written at length, the belief that it is necessary to obtain the top search result to be successful on eBay is an utter myth.

eBay’s new PPC ads are entirely dependent on the amount paid for the ad and the keywords selected during ad creation.  As I have written at length, the belief that it is necessary to obtain the top search result to be successful on eBay is an utter myth.

As such, we are not at all convinced that a “pay to play” attitude towards eBay’s top search result is a good thing for anyone.

Nevertheless, we fully expect to see overeager sellers jump on board as soon as the new advertising model goes live.

 

Last-click attribution

With the addition of Promoted Listings Advanced, eBay has also made a significant change to the way it collects its ad fees.

Previously, eBay would determine the cost of a specific sponsored ad based on the buyer’s first click on that ad.

As of the recent update, eBay has changed this policy and instituted a format known as “last-click attribution.”

Under this new set of rules, it is a buyer’s last click that determines the fee.

As an example, let’s say that I am a buyer and you are an eBay seller.  I have clicked on one of your ads twice — once today, and once two weeks ago.  Between then and now, however, you lowered your ad rate for that listing.  It is now the most recent ad rate that determines your fee and not the earlier rate you had previously selected.

In the same way, last-click attribution additionally determines which type of ad will determine the final fee.

Should a seller utilize both Promoted Listings Standard and Advanced ads, it is only the most recently clicked ad that is now used to assign the fee’s cost.  So if I, as a buyer, click your Standard ad first and the Advanced ad for that same listing two weeks later, you will only pay for the cost of the second click and not the fee from the first click — which would have been based on your Standard ad’s rate for that listing.

Last-click attribution has become the industry standard, so this change should be of no surprise.

 

Old is new again

I found this particular part of the update to be more than a little odd.

eBay sellers are being encouraged to opt into the most recent storefront experience — as if it were something new.

Much was said in the latest update about “custom branding” opportunities and even a so-called “new” About Us feature.

eBay Edit Store Page
Screenshot of “new” branding features and About Us

To be clear, the ability to add a logo and branded header has been in place since the first appearance of the existing storefront format in 2013.

In case you missed it, that was a full eight years ago.

The only difference between then and now is that eBay has finally made the current storefront experience available on mobile.  Previously, buyers could only view sellers’ listings on eBay’s app — not sellers’ storefront homepages.

It is truly unbelievable that eBay has taken nearly a decade to roll out such a simple feature to what it calls its “native” experience.

To make matters worse, the “new” About Us section is literally the old homepage Welcome Statement.  Just with a new name.

Like the custom branding features, the welcome statement has also been around for eight years.

In reality, nothing of substance has changed with either of the features eBay has made so much effort to highlight.

These changes require nothing whatsoever of sellers — as long as they have already adopted the present store format (and practically everyone has).

In reality, nothing of substance has changed with either of the features eBay has made so much effort to highlight.  These changes require nothing whatsoever of sellers — as long as they have already adopted the present store format (and practically everyone has).

Other features that should have been included in the mobile app years ago are Featured Items, seller-selected product categories, and an upcoming marketing banner functionality along with custom “policy blocks.”

The update says we will see these final improvements “over the coming weeks.”

 

More structured data changes

I know, nobody in the eBay community is talking about “structured data” any more.

Except, yeah, they totally are.

Regardless, a webpage’s structure for organizing information is (and will continue to be) a key aspect of traditional SEO.

As a result, eBay continues to cite search engine optimization as a reason for its regular category and item specifics updates.

This most recent set of updates looks to be extensive.  We are spending more time than usual this time around, dissecting the structured data changes on behalf of our hands-on optimization clients.

Keep an eye out for automatic changes to both your listing categories and item specifics, with new soon-to-be-required item specifics available as of next month and new required fields in early 2022.

 

eBay tool reviews

It would be an understatement to suggest that a lot has changed at eBay since its last seller update.

One of the most significant to me personally was the loss of Harry Temkin, who rather abruptly left the company.

Other changes include advanced developments in the area of search recall, an increased focus on search knowledge graphs, and the testing of a mobile “SEO New Model Experience” — which have all had a notable impact on the way we practice eBay SEO.

We have also tested some of eBay’s new tools, as previously promised.

 

Listing Quality Report

As you may recall, I said in my analysis of the previous update that I would be providing a review of eBay’s Listing Quality Report in this post.

Much of its content should, in fact, amount to common sense for most eBay sellers.

What concerns me specifically about the report’s summary is that, in addition to calling out basic issues like missing product identifiers and a lack of free shipping, it functions primarily as a correlation study.

eBay Listing Quality Report
Screenshot of Listing Quality Report summary tab

Just because a successful listing had 12 title keywords or nine completed item specifics fields, does not mean that the number related to each of those specific features actually caused the success of that listing.

In my opinion, counting title keywords or completed item specifics fields only results in wasted time.

On the other hand, we do find the analytics data by category tabs to be a colorful way to visualize and better understand the buying funnel.

eBay Listing Quality Report
Screenshot of Listing Quality Report category tab

But even more important is the Google Shopping rejections tab.  I highly recommend that you download your Listing Quality Report from the Performance Summary page in Seller Hub for this helpful list alone.

As I have written about many times, eBay’s organic search results in Google still do not perform well.  Consequently, it is critical that all of your listings show up in Google Shopping to have any hope of driving substantive external organic search traffic to your eBay listings.

It is critical that all of your listings show up in Google Shopping to have any hope of driving substantive external organic search traffic to your eBay listings.

The tab will not only provide you with an exhaustive list of products not appearing in Google Shopping, but the reason for each omission as well.

 

Helix — the unified listing tool

Nobody calls the new unified listing tool, “Helix,” but I do in honor of Temkin.  He coined the term when he first revealed the tool in December of last year.

In spite of its lack of negative impact on SEO, I was not happy with the amount of time it took to make simple listing changes within the unified tool when I last reported on it.

I am now happy to say that, in response to feedback similar to my own, eBay has made significant inline editing improvements to Helix.  The tool is said to now be even faster than the classic “Create your listing” page.

eBay has made significant inline editing improvements to Helix.  The new unified listing tool is said to now be even faster than the classic “Create your listing” page.

Nevertheless, we have stuck to the old view for the time being as we work with our hands-on optimization clients.

It is our general policy to not be early adopters of eBay’s new tools, so as to avoid the possibility of wasting our clients’ time through the use of new tools and to allow the developers to make the inevitably required improvements to them.

We expect to make the switch to Helix before the next seller update, and we will provide a final review of the tool at that time based on our regular usage of it.

 

Promoted Listings automation

I also said in the last seller update review that I’d have some analysis of the Promoted Listings automation features.

We’ve had a lot of time to test this one, and I can’t say we’re content with what we’ve uncovered.

As most professional sellers are aware, the original Standard model provides three different options for setting up Promoted Listings ads — Simple, Bulk, and Automated.

eBay Promoted Listings Standard Options
Screenshot of Promoted Listings Standard options

It’s true that eBay allows sellers to automate both their pay-per-sale ad rates as well as adding and/or removing listings from a specific campaign.

But in order for either of these to take place, sellers must select the Automated option — which has limited listing selection functionality.

Having run sponsored ad campaigns for a number of eBay SEO clients, we have found it frustrating that sellers cannot automatically keep their listings at the daily suggested ad rate without selecting their listings in bulk.

As sellers are limited to product category designation and price, brand, and condition filters, it is virtually impossible to select listings individually when using the Automated option.

Our practice, then, is to continue to utilize eBay’s suggested ad rate with an ad rate cap based on our client’s margins, while making one-click updates for all listings within a single campaign via the “Adjust suggested ad rate” option.  We have ceased making updates via CSV file entirely.

 

Multi-user account access

As of the Fall Update, the multi-user functionality, MUAA, has now expanded to managing refunds, requests, and disputes.

In the next few months, sellers will also be able to provide limited access to managing unsold, ended, and scheduled product listings.

It does not appear that MUAA will be useful to SEO practitioners — who need access to a client’s seller dashboard and analytics — any time in the near future.

 

The “c” subdirectory

If you’ve stuck around to the end of this post, you’re one of our determined followers.  This update has been a lot of picayune details and not a lot of fun.

But if you have made it this far, then you’re going to enjoy this last little tidbit because you’re truly one of the friends of eBay SEO.

You will likely recall a post from last year that, among other things, analyzed eBay’s “c” subdirectory.

At that time, I wondered aloud if eBay was beginning to relive its past with a whole new set of product pages that didn’t reflect properly in their Google search results.

In many cases, the listing titles and HTML title tags of these pages were for different products entirely.

And I was worried that it might be eBay’s terrible SEO past all over again.

I am pleased to now report our testing using Semrush shows the “c” subdirectory now forwards to legitimate structured data browse nodes.

In fact, the page I made an example of in last year’s post now forwards to a browse node for men’s bags:

https://www.ebay.com/c/1545389472

Additionally, Bradford Shellhammer revealed this summer that pages looking and functioning like those from the old “c” subdirectory — sans the confusing coding issues — are going to eventually replace eBay’s current listing page and will be called “DS6.”

Based on present data, I am extremely hopeful that the original pages were a test and that the bugs will have been fully worked out by the time the final version of the DS6 pages goes live.

This subject is not deserving of its own article, but it is worth noting for those who care about the future of eBay.

Especially for those of you who have followed the journey of eBay’s subdirectory along with us, each step of the way.

And it’s for you that I really write these posts.

Keep your chin up.

About Dave Snyder 18 Articles
Dave is Founder & Chief Analyst at List Rank Sell. He began his intensive testing and study of eBay SEO in 2010, which eventually grew into a full-service agency dedicated to the practice. Dave has developed a methodology that embraces traditional search as well as technical SEO specific to eBay. Previously, he led a successful career as a tax analyst representing Cook County property owners.

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