Just a short time ago one of the largest sites on the entire web was hit with what looked like a manual penalty from Google. This week it sounds like they’re firing back with a little tongue in cheek report stating “there is no measurable benefit” to paid ads – aka Adwords.
It’s an interesting read as eBay is one of the largest ecommerce sites on the web and they would definitely have the budget and manpower to really determine how much paying for a service like Adwords really benefits them. For a quick review of just what Adwords are to search, they’re the paid advertisements that appear on the top, bottom or to the side of the search results page. They’re like the chocolate bar isle in the grocery store as when you click them you’re brought to exactly where you would expect to. Search for ‘buy cars winnipeg’ for example and you’ll see ads from companies like Ford and Hyundai at the top or side of the page, having paid to appear for that term. eBay contends that using paid advertising is ineffective and that in the majority of the cases they researched the leads generated were people already loyal customers of the company whose ad they clicked.
They did however admit that when using generic terms like a brand name search there may still be a benefit attached to spending on those ads.
Unlike branded search, where a firm’s website is usually in the top organic search slot, organic placement for non-branded terms vary widely
As a search marketer however there is a handful additional uses that Adwords can be used for. We can use paid ads as a test bed of sorts, just to gauge the interest of a set of terms in a specific location for example, over a very specific length of time; instead of investing man hours and effort optimizing for a set of terms that have no traction. Paying for a campaign also allows us to receive important keyword data, doubly important now that Google encrypts all of their searches coming through the results pages, this keyword data can allow us to adjust content based on interest quickly, and accurately.
For eBay to come out and say that paying for advertising isn’t worth the cost is a little short sighted, perhaps they’re just feeling a tad left out after being on the wrong side of the search engines wrath this past week.
A recent update to Panda has rolled out over the last little while and while everyone likes to cry foul that the search engines play favorites, but as the signals from the last few days become clearer it looks like one of the giants on the web has been targeted with a penalty or two.
This recent update to the Panda portion of the search algorithm has been a true update, not just a typical refresh of the data that happens on a monthly basis. The short version of what they’ve done is that Panda can now interpret different languages easier than they could before, laying the ground work for future updates and additions if needed. So how did this affect a site as large and influential as eBay you might ask? Well it actually has more to do with the people behind the scenes at Google rather than just the algorithm itself.
While it looks like eBay was perhaps affected by the algorithm update a tad, it looks more and more like it has had a manual penalty levied against it for some of it’s urls on the site. Doing a thorough dig through of the urls that were penalized on the eBay site it seems targeted at urls that have “bhp” in them – which is why it looks like a manual penalty instead of terms being caught up in an update.
So what is there to take away from this example? That no matter how big you are you can still be caught running on the wrong side of the search engines and their algorithms. As with previous large companies being caught up though, like BMW and Teleflora for example, I wouldn’t expect eBay to be on the wrong side of the SERPs for long.
How did the internet get started? Here is one story you might find interesting
In ancient Israel , it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot.
And Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.
And she said unto Abraham, her husband, “Why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade without ever leaving thy tent?
And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said, “How, dear?”
And Dot replied, “I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price. And the sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah’s Pony Stable (UPS).”
Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent.
To prevent neighboring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew. It was known as Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures – Hebrew To The People (HTTP).
And the young men did take to Dot Com’s trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS.
And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land. And indeed did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates’ drumheads and drumsticks.
And Dot did say, “Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others.” And Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel , or eBay as it came to be known. He said, “We need a name that reflects what we are.”
And Dot replied, “Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators.” “YAHOO,” said Abraham. And because it was Dot’s idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com.
Abraham’s cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot’s drums to locate things around the countryside. It soon became known as God’s Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (GOOGLE).
That is how it all began. And that’s the truth.