2022 Winter Seller Update – Its Impact on eBay SEO

Ad Features, Higher Fees, and Weird Data

2022 Winter Seller Update

We continue to discuss eBay’s recent seller updates from a search and SEO perspective, including new Promoted Listings features and keyword targeting options.

 

Other than the addition of “winter” to eBay’s 2022 Winter Seller Update, it comes as no surprise.

As some may remember, 2020’s spring update was also released in February.

But unless you are a serious eBay advertiser, there isn’t a lot to cover this time around from a search engine optimization point of view.

We’ll go over this small handful of items, as well as some important changes we’ve been uncovering recently — ones that weren’t referenced in the official update.

 

More eBay advertising features

Other than the occasional revelation from eBay (such as an official confirmation that seller feedback ratings are not a ranking factor), SEO has been kind of quiet on the eBay front since last fall’s update.

Except in the area of paid marketing.

eBay has continued to roll out new seller advertising functionality on a regular basis, with user experience, industry standards, and improved reporting as the focus.

 

New Promoted Listings Standard dashboard

eBay recently released a new campaign feature that allows pay-per-sale advertisers to have more direct control of their pay-per-sale ads.

eBay Promoted Listings Standard Dashboard
Screenshot of new eBay Promoted Listings Standard campaign dashboard

The amount of information presented in this view can be a bit overwhelming at first, but we have found its overall layout ultimately pretty helpful.

Three things to keep in mind, however, when using the new feature:

  1. If you want to utilize the suggested ad rate with a cap (instead of a straight ad rate), you must set up the campaign that way from the beginning.  This means you must select the radio button labeled, “Adjust suggested ad rate,” when first creating the campaign.  Otherwise, you won’t be able to apply a cap for any listing in that campaign without recreating the entire campaign from scratch.
  2. Don’t waste your time like I did trying to figure out how to make this new dashboard visible for your Automated ads.  It’s only available for Simple and Bulk campaigns.
  3. It is recommended that sellers group their advertised listings by category or another key similarity, and we generally follow this strategy with our clients.

As we have been saying for a long time now, eBay’s innovative pay-per-sale advertising model has become a key component of our successful application of eBay SEO.

 

Additional keyword targeting options

Promoted Listings Advanced, eBay’s pay-per-click (PPC) ad platform, was released to the seller community last fall with exact, phrase, and negative exact keyword matching.

eBay revealed in the Winter Seller Update that it is currently testing broad match, as well as a planned roll out of negative phrase match in the coming months.

In the context of marketplace search, this isn’t particularly easy to understand.  So here’s an example:

Let’s say you’re selling a Superman cape and choose to bid on the phrase, “superman cape.”

  • If you select Exact match, buyers must search, “superman cape” — in that order and with no other keywords — in order to find your listing.
  • If you select Phrase match, buyers can search phrases that contain other keywords either in front or after the exact phrase — like “red superman cape” — and find your listing.
  • If you select Broad match (not yet available), buyers may search any phrase, regardless of keyword order, as long it contains the two words — such as “large cape for superman costume — and still pull up your listing.

Google recently discontinued its broad match targeting, incorporating some of its elements into their existing phrase match option.  I wonder if eBay will do something similar, instead of rolling out an entirely new match type that is largely seen by the industry as no longer necessary.

Google recently discontinued its broad match targeting, incorporating some of its elements into their existing phrase match option.  I wonder if eBay will do something similar, instead of rolling out an entirely new match type that is largely seen by the industry as no longer necessary.

Back to our Superman cape example.

Let’s say you select the negative keyword phrase, “black costume,” in your ad campaign.

  • If you select Negative Exact match, buyers will be prevented from seeing your listing only if they search the exact phrase, “black costume,” without any other words.
  • If you select Negative Phrase match (coming soon), buyers will be prevented from seeing your listing if they search additional keywords in front or after the exact phrase — such as “superman cape black costume.”

Negative phrase match targeting can’t come too soon for PPC advertisers on eBay, especially if we are to get a sense of what Advanced ads can really do.

 

Promoted Listings Express reporting

In addition to eBay’s sponsored ads intended for fixed price listings, eBay has also developed an ad platform geared towards auction listings.

The 2022 Winter Seller Update reveals mobile-based reporting functionality for these ads, as well as newly provided access to the platform on desktop.

 

eBay fee increases

Much has been said already about the many seller fee increases in the latest update, including Richard Meldner’s treatment of the disingenuous way in which eBay reports percentage increases as percentage point increases.

We don’t talk a lot about fees at List Rank Sell, due to our primary focus on SEO.

However, there’s a couple of recent changes that I wanted to highlight because of their relationship to search.

 

Promoted Listings costs go way up…

Since the program’s inception, Promoted Listing Standard ad costs have been based on the item price.

This summer, however, this is going to change.  And in a big way.

Starting June 1, pay-per-sale ad fees are going to be calculated on the item price, shipping, what sellers charge for handling, sales tax, and “other applicable fees” (a description of which I’ve been unable to find).

To think that this form of advertising has been available for over six years, and only now has eBay decided to dramatically increase its cost.

This move appears very much like a desperate money grab, and I think it stinks.  A number of our eBay SEO clients already operate under tight margins.

To think that this form of advertising has been available for over six years, and only now has eBay decided to dramatically increase its cost.  This move appears very much like a desperate money grab, and I think it stinks.

But this change will impact all businesses on eBay, not just those with budget constraints.

As a result, we will be reviewing the Promoted Listings Standard ad strategies for all of our clients in early April.

We can only hope that between then and now, eBay decides to roll this increase back — at least in part — should seller outcry be strong enough to get the company’s attention.

 

…while another increase could bring the right people down

I honestly have very little sympathy for eBay sellers that consistently underachieve, particularly those that cause buyers headaches due to their own incompetence, laziness, or indifference.

It actually takes quite a bit of effort (or lack of, depending on your point of view) to acquire a transaction defect rate larger than 2%.

I know, because I’ve seen how many seller-initiated canceled transactions due to lack of inventory it takes to drive a high defect rate, even when the total number of sales aren’t enormous.

In my opinion, poor sellers who misrepresent their inventory levels — whether intentionally or not — deserve to be demoted to Below Standard status.

On March 1, eBay will increase final value fees for these sellers by 20%.  This is meant as a deterrent, and as such it makes sense to me.

However, I can tell you from experience that the sellers being targeted by this specific increase won’t be listening.  Not, at least, until they get their invoice.

And in case you were wondering, eBay search rankings for Below Standard sellers absolutely tank.  This is as it should be, as poor sellers should not be rewarded with listing visibility that is comparable to those with Above Standard or Top Rated status.

In addition to being buried in search results, Below Standard businesses can also no longer run ads to improve their rankings or achieve increased velocity.

They’re pretty much stuck in seller status limbo for three to 12 months, depending on the number of transactions they’ve had over the last three months.

Regardless, you really, really don’t want to go Below Standard.

But if you’re a seller about to drop into eBay “no man’s land,” you won’t likely be reading this anyway.

 

Removal of custom storefront pages

This one wasn’t in eBay’s recent seller update, but it certainly should have been.

Thanks to the helpful communication from one of our long-time clients, we discovered that sellers were informed by eBay in an email that all custom storefront homepages and other custom pages are going to be fully deprecated as of late March.

This means that they won’t be able use their custom pages at all.

All eBay stores, including those currently hosted on eBay’s non-secure “ebaystores.com” domain, will again be hosted on eBay.com and will feature the “standardized” page format consistent with the mobile platform.

(As far as we are aware, custom HTML listing templates won’t be impacted by this update.)

At the same time we were informed about this upcoming change, we discovered a recent custom page glitch that continues through the time of this writing.

eBay Custom Homepage Image Glitch
Screenshot of broken image glitch in custom eBay homepage

For all clients that have custom homepages, they are presently experiencing broken images in their listing galleries.

These galleries are connected directly to eBay’s own gallery functionality, and the links do still work.  However, the images are not visible and are clearly broken.

eBay has confirmed that they are aware of this glitch, but our feeling is that it may be a sign of the end coming in March.

Sellers with custom pages should immediately check the images in the listing galleries associated with these pages, and they should also consider switching to eBay’s standard storefront page format sooner than later.

 

Two sources of eBay’s structured data?

While optimizing a client’s eBay listings, we discovered two distinct sets of data for the same item specifics field.

In working with eBay’s downloadable spreadsheet for updating missing information from required or recommended fields, we encountered a problem we’ve not seen in our nine years of doing eBay SEO.

Several options for the Brand field for an automotive listing are different than the options for that same field in the old “Create your listing” page.

eBay Item Specifics Brand Field from Spreadsheet
Screenshot of “Ford” option in item specifics Brand field

As we worked in the spreadsheet, “Ford” was the only Ford-related option (followed by FOX Racing), while the listing page itself showed only a “Ford Performance” option (followed by Forecast Products).

eBay Item Specifics Brand Field from Listing Page
Screenshot of “Ford Performance” option in item specifics Brand field

While the spreadsheet offered both “Dodge” and “Chrysler” options in the Brand field, the listing page showed neither (as well as nothing containing either word).

From our testing, the two sets of data are clearly coming from separate sources.

This is problematic, as buyers who filter by “Ford” at the lefthand of eBay search will not find any listings that are utilizing “Ford Performance” in the Brand field.

In fact, any such listing will be displaced entirely from eBay’s visible search results.

Which means they’ll be invisible to buyers, and that’s disastrous for conversions — let alone SEO.

As practitioners in the field, it is our job to determine which data from eBay is valid for search purposes.

We went with the spreadsheet.

The main reason for our decision was that it’s data is in line with the same data appearing in eBay’s structured data browse nodes for the product type we were optimizing, as well as eBay’s corresponding search filters.

The brand data specific to the listing page itself is coming from somewhere else entirely.

And that’s super concerning.

We will continue to keep an eye on this development and report back what we find.

 

Join us on LinkedIn

Speaking of reporting our findings…

I rarely make a pitch on this blog, but we’d honestly like to see you over at our company page on LinkedIn.

We do a weekly roundup of eBay SEO news, and we regularly feature content like the last two sections of this post.

If you are serious about your interest in the subject, we highly recommend that you join us for a discussion of everything search-related at eBay.

One more seller who’s never entering no man’s land.

Keep your chin up.

About Dave Snyder 21 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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