2022 Spring Seller Update – Its Impact on eBay SEO

When They Say SEO Is About Your Photos, They're Wrong

2022 Spring Seller Update

Another post discussing eBay’s regular seller updates and their impact on SEO.

 

It seems like it’s only been a couple of months since we got together like this.

Oh, right.  That’s because it has.

Which is just fine, because I’m feeling angsty today and in the mood for a rant.

We have received a rash of low quality inquiries recently, including a pushy veteran seller who had previously created over 250 nearly identical eBay reviews — on their own products.

And to make matters worse, they used their own account!

I thought I’d seen everything.  But it’s clear that there are more ways to be a moron on eBay than one guy can personally witness in 13 years.

Practices like the above contribute to a negative quality score on any marketplace.

But those who implement them generally seem to believe that anything goes — just as long as it’s done in the name of marketing.

And it isn’t only the spammers who can just be flat-out wrong.

 

Best practice isn’t SEO

It is common in our industry to receive erroneous information that has been repeated from one source to another, particularly in the area of search.

Search optimization and conversion optimization, for instance, are consistently confused by those we would believe to know better.

In Optiseller’s recent article devoted to the topics of online visibility, driving traffic to listings, and eBay SEO, four of its five recommendations — templates, item descriptions, photos, and return policies — are not eBay ranking factors.

Likewise, another big name, Frooition, cites updating titles, images, shipping policies, branding, and adding videos as methods for stemming the tide of decreased listing visibility.  In the same way as Optiseller, only the first of these techniques is actual search engine optimization.

It has been a long-standing belief that eBay sellers are optimizing their listings for increased search rankings by simply following best practice.

To quote Frooition’s article, “When your listings fail to abide by those eBay best practices, the chances of being found on eBay search are next to zero.”

As much as this statement is true — SEO will not work on listings that ignore best practice — the mere implementation of solid selling techniques will rarely improve search rankings on eBay in a significant way.

As much as this statement is true — SEO will not work on listings that ignore best practice — the mere implementation of solid selling techniques will rarely improve search rankings on eBay in a significant way.

Our clients consistently follow best practice.  In fact, they’re generally already doing most of the things that they need to from a conversion point of view from the time they first reach out to us.

The reason why they contact us, and the reason why so many businesses suffer on eBay, is that they just can’t find their listings in search.

And that’s where genuine eBay SEO becomes so vital.

 

Listing displacement is alive and well

In the fall of 2019, eBay started implementing a little-known search technique called “search index trimming.”

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve heard of it by now.

The process seeks to make search more manageable for buyers by actively reducing the size of eBay’s visible search index.

When the number of listings accessible to buyers is diminished in this way, the result is listing displacement.

In this scenario, listings aren’t pushed down in search.  They are effectively removed altogether.

They simply aren’t there.

eBay commonly executes search index trimming by filtering to a single product category as buyers search for something.

Listing displacement occurs when a seller’s listing isn’t in the “back-end” category that eBay has associated with the specific query.

eBay Search Index Trimming
Screenshot of eBay’s search index trimming to a single “back-end” category

For instance, every DC Comics action figure categorized as a collectible instead of a toy currently disappears from search completely when a buyer searches the phrase, “dc comics action figures.”

The only way to combat this phenomenon is for the seller to optimize the listing.

In contrast to what most people believe, then, the first step of fundamental SEO on eBay isn’t to update the title keywords or item specifics.

It’s to change the category.

 

Category changes as “enhanced SEO”

We’ve finally arrived at the first search-related aspect of the 2022 Spring Seller Update — which I highly recommend you read for yourself.

Starting on May 17, eBay will again automatically change the product categories of some listings.

eBay has said in the past that they will notify sellers when they make these changes.

This time around, we have a client whose main product line will be affected by them.  So I hope to have a report for you as to how it went at the next update.

As before, eBay has described this ongoing process as one intended to “enhance search engine optimization.”

If done right, that’s exactly what it will do.

When eBay says that it must keep up with “industry-standard classifications” by regularly updating its categories, they aren’t joking.

Unlike traditional search engines such as Google, marketplace search hinges primarily on the structured nature of the site’s taxonomy.

Everything else flows from there.

 

“Required Soon” item specifics

At the same time of the site’s automatic category changes, eBay will also be rolling out new item specifics — limited only to Collectibles, Health & Beauty, Home & Garden, and Motors Parts & Accessories.

All of the new fields will be tagged “Required Soon” on May 17, and they will then be updated to “Required” by mid-July.

I’ve already written concerning our position on eBay’s item specifics deadlines.  They’re overrated and generally used as a ploy by agencies to drive a sense of urgency in potential customers.

However, the data fields themselves are as important as they ever were.

eBay’s item specifics deadlines are overrated.  However, the data fields themselves are as important as they ever were.

Fail to complete them appropriately, and you will experience listing displacement in much the same way you would if your listings were in the wrong category.

So fill them out!

Just be sure to use eBay’s dropdown menus, or they’ll be almost entirely ineffective.

 

eBay’s own SEO tools

Besides structured data improvements, the Spring Seller Update also gave us an overview of eBay’s SEO tools.

eBay Download Upload File
Screenshot of eBay’s item specifics tool, provided in a Download / Upload file
  • Our favorite among them is the Download/Upload file.  Many paid tools on the market mimic its functionality, but we continue to utilize eBay’s own item specifics spreadsheet — particularly for eBay SEO clients that sell closely related products.  (We are still seeing the eBay Motors duplicate data source issue we discovered two months ago, but our decision to optimize according to the spreadsheet’s data looks to be paying off.)
  • eBay’s Quick Filters, which can also be seen in the above image, are useful to the extent that they help isolate listings that need the most help in terms of both item specifics and sponsored ads.
  • There are also Required Soon labels within the listing flow itself, as well as actionable Seller Hub reminders.
  • In contrast to the other tools, however, the item specifics Bulk Editor within Active Listings has been a real disappointment.  It’s honestly very clunky, with a frequent loading lag and an interface that often just doesn’t work.

 

An update to eBay’s traffic data

Probably the most talked about aspect of the recent seller update is the change to the way in which eBay collects listing page view data.

There are two main components of this initiative.

First, eBay is attempting to filter out all non-human traffic from the page views metric.

This approach has already been in use “for some time,” according to eBay, in sellers’ traffic and Promoted Listings reporting.

Within the next week, the listing page view data visible in Active Listings will also be reflecting the new methodology of counting only what eBay’s AI detects as actual visitors.

Secondly, eBay will soon only be showing a 30-day, rolling number of page views in Active Listings — instead of the listing’s entire history of views.

For those worried about the lack of data, a new “Listing traffic history” feature will be made available and will permit sellers to see up to two years worth of page views.

eBay Listing Traffic History
Screenshot of upcoming Listing Traffic history feature in Active Listings

As this change is being made across all listings and across all eBay accounts, the result is a zero-sum game.

It will have no impact on views themselves or on sellers’ click-through or sales conversion rates.

It only changes the way eBay reports page views.

But get in line for the cacophony of blind eBay conspiracy theorists who will insist their traffic has taken a nosedive.

As this change is being made across all listings and across all eBay accounts, the result is a zero-sum game.  It will have no impact on views themselves or on sellers’ click-through or sales conversion rates.  It only changes the way eBay reports page views.  But get in line for the cacophony of blind eBay conspiracy theorists who will insist their traffic has taken a nosedive.

Mark my words.  It’s coming.

 

A reminder and a rejoinder

And don’t forget, so is the change to Promoted Listings Standard fees.

We have already begun preparing our clients for the upcoming revision to how eBay calculates its pay-per-sale ad costs.

Please start getting ready for it, as they will go up significantly on June 1.

Sometimes I wish being in this business was as easy as just giving people friendly reminders.

But that’s not realistic.

Ecommerce businesses, and especially sellers on marketplaces, are bombarded every day by the worst possible advice.

What are we supposed to do when eBay’s own page dedicated to SEO is still talking about keyword density?

I guess the only option is to become a truth-teller.

And let your competition continue to be mediocre, self-assured, and utterly forgettable.

Keep your chin up.

About Dave Snyder 20 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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