eCommerce Blog / Best Match Search

eBay Rolls out Changes to 'Best Match' Search Algorithm


eBay has recently rolled out new changes to Best Match, eBay's sorting algorithm which determines which listings rank at the top of the search results. Best Match is crucial to making sales on the platform and therefore, this new algorithm change can affect many sellers on eBay. 

So what has changed with the new algorithm? 

Well eBay aren't dishing all the details, and don't expect them to, but spokesperson Johann Hoff has said that "The real key to getting and keeping a good position in Best Match is to focus on sound business practices and delivering great value and service to buyers, and follow best practices better than competitors". She offers the following tips to eBay sellers: 

  • Offer a good start price and reasonable shipping;
  • Provide good service;
  • List in the right format and the right categories;
  • Write accurate and relevant titles;
  • Write clear item descriptions;
  • Include great photos and state your terms clearly.

These tips are great for new eBay sellers, or others who are new to trying to rank in Best Match, but for more experienced sellers, this comes are fairly bubblegum advice that doesn't provide a lot of insight. What we can confirm, and what will help to keep up with the new algorithm, is that Best Match will no longer be placing as much weight on time ending soonest, though this will still be part of the algorithm. 

One eBay seller has already noticed that auctions ending soon do not rank as well as they used to: 

"My sales have tanked for last 8 days exactly, I knew there was something up, looked up Best Match, and saw items that were Auction ending in 3 days at top, while some sellers items ending in 15 minutes were on page 2 or 3"

Could this mean that Buy It Now listings will rank better in search results? 

Hoff's other comment that is making eBay sellers nervous was "Best Match will be using relevance and popularity factors and reducing the importance of end time in sorting auctions". The keyword here being "popular". Skeptics are saying that this alludes to eBay giving preference to major sellers on eBay and those with higher monthly revenue. If the skeptics are right, this could cripple smaller sellers. 

Have you noticed a difference in eBay's search results? How will this algorithm change affect your business? Share your comments below. 

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Comments (24)


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EM on 20:59 9 Aug
It has totally diluted the search results. For instance I am currently rebuilding a 1962 Honda CB77 motorcycle. If you search for a seat for a "cb77 seat", or a "cb77 Engine", you now get results for CB750s, CB1000s, CB550s, etc. I am not a big eBay user, I prefer not to use it. Their fees are as bad as any large auction house now. However, it is now a less useful tool than it was just a week ago.
Alice Delore on 21:17 9 Aug
Hey EM,

I've heard other eBay sellers talk of similar results. If eBay anything like Google, who are the kings of search algorithms, they will be testing different metrics and refining the algorithm as they go.

Hopefully any changes made now work in your favor.
Ali on 0:33 22 Aug
My sales all screwed up exactly after this algo update. All of the sudden sales down by 80%. We now only selling 20% of what we were selling before and this is not something we noticed on 1 account but can see throughout every account and region. We are experienced sellers selling for years and we give the best option with best services with top rated accounts and exact matching keywords etc. My observation is, all our fixed GTC listings are getting the least amount of visibility now. However 3 days Auctions are doing better so we are shifting all our listings to 3 days Auctions now. Thanks
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thegator21 on 4:50 4 Oct
My business hit a brick wall the last week. All my listings are buy it now GTC. I'm a top rated seller, have large sales on all my listings compared to others in the similar category, offer free shipping, one day handling, 14 day returns everything...however now I am at the absolute bottom of the best match search??? How is this possible? Sellers that are not Top rated sellers have only 115 positive feedback are ranking higher than I am now. I have items with 200+ sold that are ranking below newly listed newb sellers items. The new algorithm is killing my business and many others come to find out. I've been on message boards for the last week trying to find a solution. eBay customer service is ZERO help. "You are doing everything you should be." I know! WTH is going on EBAY????
Amclightin on 21:02 24 Oct
I've noticed a lot more local sales recently and a slight increase in turnover. Had more local sales in the last month than in the past year without me changing anything. Top rated power seller with 100% feedback for over a year, 16,000 feedback over 6 years, I believe this is a big benefit with the recent changes.
Electronatti on 5:46 26 Oct
This new search policy is not only bad for sellers, but if I want to search items that are ending soon to get a good deal, it's impossible. It's horrible for buying, and research is null, and void now. How could ebay make such a terrible change? It's quacking like a duck. Many recent changes lead me to believe, they don't want the small to average volume seller. I will have to phase eBay out of my portfolio. My sales tanked this past week by 60 percent. I had no idea why until I was frustrated trying to do a search tonight, and decided to see if anyone else noticed. There has got to be a way for the common seller to revolt against this tragedy. We need an alternative!
ad on 19:26 30 Nov
The search function is crap. Also if viewed by Price & P&P you stand no chance against multi-listings as the search function goes by title and not comparing multi-listing sizes/weights etc. It's all harder work now.
themi2696 on 14:38 5 Dec
Agreed, whenever I search, I immediately dump the "Best Match" result and switch to "Price + Shipping: lowest first" for fixed price listings, or "Time: ending soonest" for auctions. "Best Match" is one of those features eBay should throw in the trash.
Larry on 18:35 17 Dec
The new search engine has killed my business and I'm a top rated bronze power seller. As others have reported when I call eBay they say every thing looks fine. I truly hope that soon eBay will realize how much they are hurting their proven sellers with this load of crap search.
vick on 7:03 20 Dec
I have also been experiencing a huge meltdown in ROI in terms of marketing dollars spent on eBay to acquire a sale. Our sales are down close to 50%. I am a high volume seller with over 100k feedback. I wish the best of luck to all us and may we succeed and figure this new best match algorithm out.
Katie Page on 12:45 20 Mar
They must have implemented a new strategy on Saturday, because my rankings tanked and have not gone back up! If you do a refined search on my item - wreaths; you will find 5 of my listings at the very bottom of the last page. Now how is that statistically possible? They are screwing me, but won't admit it. I used to have great rank up until Sat. All day I was at the top or very close, then - bang, dust in the wind. They must not want my sales any more.
ian on 9:26 22 Apr
On saturday, the latest round of seller preformance ratings took place. Hence if you have been re-ranked as anything less than top rated your standing will plumet
Rocco on 16:53 22 May
Top rated seller as well. Sales have plumitted. I get the same old song and dance from EBAY, I think some of the people are truly trying to help however they have no explanation. I did call several times and complain about the new return policy. It seems afeter that is when my sales dropped .If any of you have complained to them about anything before your sales dropped please chime in
Daniel on 23:37 11 Sep
Hi Alice Moore,

When was this article written?

I have been a TRS for 2 years plus and have over 600 listings on offer. On 02/09 i noticed that all of my listings had dropped to the bottom of all search results where previously they were all at or near the very top. Several of my items cannot be matched in terms of price and qty of sales (one of my items has sold 1800pcs)

For a simple case study, i had a friend list the exact same item as one of mine with the same title and everything and they don’t offer anything a top seller does (ie. 30 day money back, free postage, cheaper price, TRS badge etc). Yet, their listing appears above mine.

Something is dragging and keeping all of my listings to the bottom and I or ebay cannot workout what it is. Please help!
Melissa Johnson on 17:01 12 Sep
Hi, Daniel!

Algorithm changes happen pretty much constantly, though some are bigger than others. Search engines are constantly evolving to provide the most relevant results. And since algorithms are mostly kept secret for competitive reasons, it's hard to say exactly what is different. Only Google engineers know what their algorithm entails and to what extent -- SEO experts are basically just guessing based on what works and what doesn't.

Have you looked at these eBay resources? They explain Best Match and provide some listing tips that might help you.

http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/listing-analytics.html
http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/searchstanding.html

If that doesn't help, I might recommend doing some testing and experimenting with your own listings, so maybe you can identify the cause.

I hope this helps!
Prices Paving & Tile Ltd on 9:52 10 Mar
Hi
My company has had an eBay account for about 5 years, always had no trouble coming up in best match for a fairly niche market. Top rated, offered the correct returns policy, fast/economy free delivery options etc etc. To clarify I noticed the same horrible change almost overnight in January 2015. Searching almost the full title of some of my items word for word it would still appear at the bottom of the last pages with a load of rubbish brand new listings on the first page. We set up a new account in desperation and found we had all the glory on the first page despite having no feedback, no seller status. So we did an experiment, like described above, exact same listing, same image, price, item specifics, listing duration, and set them running at the exact same moment. Sure enough, new account shows in position 10 - old ('good') account shows at the bottom of page 4. I sent a full blown technical report to eBay saying this is proof right here and about a week later received a one sentence email back saying new accounts get a temporary boost and perhaps some of my old listings may have errors/recommendations which could be fixed. We even paid an eBay consultant and got nowhere. It's ridiculous. Please someone help because our company has come to rely heavily on eBay and now they're shafting all of us - the long standing-rule abiding-fee paying top sellers!!!
Unique LED Products on 1:32 28 Mar
We have also experienced a large drop in sales over the last couple weeks.
Jason J on 19:39 30 Aug
I have been searching to see what is going on! I have been selling since 2000 and recently came back when I found out etsy was no better and wasn't worth the profit cut....but I was noticing something odd when I was searching....I work on my mercedes 300D and so I am always searching to see what is posted....I have been noticing that even though I select all categories and newly listed....ehell is changing my category and search results....even after I get the results...I will go back and it will have me listed in the cars for sale 300 series when I was just in all categories....I went searching for settings to change and there isn't anything to change anymore....it is extremely annoying...
Yude Gneen on 18:06 29 Dec
I hear your pain my fellow ebayers.

Like many of the comments below, we too experienced some very unfair placement in the Best Match search.
We have one of the highest turnover in our category and have done for 8 years now.

The problem is we sell unique items, so there is no sales history on our purchases and ebay does not like that.
They want to see a high quantity of products per listing and a good sales history, leaving people selling unique items such as diamond jewelry, antiques,... in the Best Match gutter.

Despite the fact we are TR on all markets and are offering, free shipping, return policy,... ebay still treats our listings as if we were blow standard with policy violations.

According to one of the ebay technicians, this will change at the start of 2016.
We can live in hope but not holding my breath.
EMM on 19:50 31 Jan
Thank you for providing this information about eBay's new search algorithm. I knew something was wrong because the items I sell (antique jade pieces) are pretty specific, category-wise. But suddenly, a ring that I knew was a prime piece of Art Deco was suddenly lucky to get more than 10 watchers. And, of course, my auctions were just DOA.

I went to Buy It Now, which isn't a good way to discover what the market will really pay.

And, lo and behold, that method also sucked.

So I opened a shop on Etsy.

I got discouraged watching Sotheby's, Christie's, Freeman's et al, have their listings dominate the top of pertinent categories. It's pretty obvious now that those of us who've done eBay for a long time are now either losing money or listing elsewhere. Luckily, there are some great new sites out there.

I've been an eBay member since 2003. I have a 100% feedback rating and have NEVER had a negative feedback. It's because a) I keep the number of listings to a manageable amount, b) I don't argue with customers. They are my bread and butter, and c) I go that extra mile for people.

Ebay seems like an ill managed city governments. They're always looking for that magic development bullet that's going to bring in lots of revenue - like building a Nordstrom's in a poor neighborhood. (Check out Long Beach, CA).

Ebay, the megalith, has abandoned its core base - the smaller entrepreneurial business maintaining high feedback ratings. So megalith becomes dinosaur.

And, like I said, I've moved over to Etsy. It takes some getting used to, but the pieces I sell on Etsy are going for the prices they should get. and it's fees are cheaper.

I'm not completely giving up my eBay account. By assiduously searching, I find some real bargains - way back in steerage where eBay has relegated them.

WTF, eBay. RIP
Adam Smith on 10:24 29 Aug
eBay's e-mail notifications relating to 'followed searches' just ballooned from small and accurate to huge and useless. They must have been tampering with the algorithm. This post is dated 2016, as this site stupidly does not give the full date.
Melissa Johnson on 5:13 31 Aug
Hi, Adam!

Thanks for letting us know.
Rose on 17:26 19 Nov
Thank you for this information. My sales have taken a serious nose dive in the last 7 days and I couldn't figure out what changed, but I just knew ebay was up to something. It's unfortunate that their focus is always on the high profit sellers only. I don't make $100 000 a month on eBay but does that mean that I just don't matter. So disappointing that the small seller are always jumping through hoops. And just as soon as we've figured things out another change holds us back.
Sue C. on 0:57 17 Dec
My sales have absolutely TANKED the past few months. I am a top rated seller with a Premium level Ebay store that I've had for years. I specialize in estate sale, vintage and unique finds. I was averaging 4-5 sales a day before the change. Then I went almost a week without a sale. Lots of my items are going a full 10-30 day listing with ZERO hits. ZERO! How does that happen? Normally even the most obscure or rare item would have at least a couple of hits by the end of the first day listed. Twice on weekends I've suddenly had a burst in sales for mostly Sunday and then again the full week with maximum a sale per day. It's crazy. Ebay seems to have strongly leaned toward retail sellers of new products for the past few years, especially in their return policies and their contant push for Free Shipping. I must get 3 emails a day promoting how everything ships for free on Ebay - like Ebay is paying the shipping. I wish. For a store with a huge variety of products in value, size and weight, free shipping is just not viable and frankly I feel totally unfair to those who order from me that live within a postal zone or two as I would have to raise my prices to accomodate that shipping rate on all items. Don't I pay the same store rates and commissions to Ebay as all other sellers? Why are my items not equal to others in the listing algorithms? Why have they changed them to so negatively impact the hits that my items are receiving. I search Ebay constantly to set the prices for my items fairly and accurately. Lately I will search for an item that used to get lots of hits and it comes up with ZERO - I actually have to narrow the search by adding more details to my search and voila, suddenly the nonexistent items using the SAME search terms but adding more terms appear. It makes it so hard to find items. So as a customer, I am supposed to happily choose from the 15 items that Ebay returns in their search when I know there are hundreds and perhaps thousands of items on Ebay that I am NOT being shown? It is so frustrating. Suppose I am trying to find a brown elephant figurine - it will tell me zero results or give me very limited results. I put in the brand name and suddenly there are 5 of the exact item I am looking for, although none of those were in the original search results! If I knew the brand to start with - why would I have searched more generically? Generic results have been destroyed. It is just so disheartening. Surely Ebay is seeing a downturn in their sales because of it? I know as a customer when I get a wonky search result that doesn't return what I was looking for, I am going elsewhere to do my shopping. I can do my search in Google - find what I want - ooops - it's on Etsy or one of the many other sales sites on the web, and I go buy there. I believe if they don't change this, they will retrain their once loyal customers to look further afield than just searching on Ebay and open a whole new world for them, and lose a lot of sales for us.
Dave on 23:51 21 Dec
eBay are now promoting major retailers over smaller ones. Smaller stores are being squeezed out of the online marketplace.

 

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