How Your eBay Designer Can Hurt Your Search Placement

Monday, 26 April 2010 at 4:32 am Pacific USA Time.

eBay is tougher than ever. They crack down on more rules than they used to. And they're organising search results partially by item relevance, partially by your seller reputation, and partially by whether or not you, as a seller, are compliant with eBay policies.

That means if you break eBay rules, it goes on the old permanent record. It used to get you a slap on the wrist. Now, breaking the rules COULD get you pushed lower in search results. It's hard to spiral back up from that. Also, your competitors can't wait to catch you breaking the rules so they can turn you in! Your items come down, and you are scrambling to fix whatever it was. So play by the rules!

One thing that amazes me is that amount of eBay listing templates (and eBay Stores) that have broken rules in them. That means that when you hire someone to do design for your eBay items, you are not just hoping for something "nice." You should also be hoping that this person or company really knows eBay rules, and will keep you out of trouble. Because if your designer puts something in your listings that is against eBay rules, guess who gets in trouble. Not the designer!

Here is a great example. I saw an eBay item last week where the template was pushing people to sign up for this seller's email mailing list. That may sound fine, but that's against eBay rules. On eBay, you can only push people to sign up for your eBay Store mailing list… no outside mailing lists (like Constant Contact, Mad Mimi, etc…). So a design company that works that into your template could be hurting your business when eBay starts removing your items for breaking rules.

Same is true for putting in URLs and live chat. Against the rules. Same with displaying contact information in the design of your eBay Store. Yes, really. And let's not forget the famous Site Interference rule, which we've known about since eBay created it in 2004… as in there is no excuse for someone claiming to be eBay experts to not know about this rule. When eBay cracked down on that in January 2009, one design company claiming to be the best in the world had 1600 non-compliant Stores they had to fix. But they told their customers there was nothing wrong with their Stores, so they could pay to "upgrade" them or just uninstall them. Super ugh.

eBay's keyword spamming rule is another that so-called eBay experts often break. Here are some examples of what you CAN'T do that I see so-called professional eBay designers doing:

  • Drop down menus. Unless you do special coding around them or build them in Flash, eBay can see every word in a drop down menu. It's indexed for Title and Description searches. And that's why it's keyword spamming.
  • Paragraphs in your listing or template summarising what you tend to sell. You might have a paragraph listing all the types of items you often have, or maybe it's a list of brand names you often have. This is against eBay rules. You can write this info, but it has to be in a graphic so the words aren't indexed for the Title and Description search.

And this is without me mentioning the bad ideas designers put in… things that can actually hurt your sales! I'm just talking about non-compliant things that can get you flagged in eBay's system as a rule-breaker.

How do you find a design company that will take proper care of you? Well, I only know that we will. I don't know of any others that are creating compliant designs. Our contract even says that if anything we do is found to be non-compliant (based on rules that existed when we built it), we will fix it ASAP for free. I don't even know of another eBay-related design or consulting company that gives you a contract, let alone a promise like that.

So we feel it's time to shoot for quality over price. Expertise. Personal attention. A truly unique design that doesn't look like anything we've done for other clients. It's your branding and marketing. It's your eBay business. Choose wisely!

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Categories: That's Bad Marketing

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