Deconstructing eBay.com’s Organic Loss Using SEMrush

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Dr Pete over at Moz just covered some interesting ground over Ebay.coms ranking losses on a post titled Panda 4.0, Payday Loan 2.0 & eBay’s Very Bad Day.

Now unless you have access to the keywords that Moz tracks, or your own inventory of regularly tracked keywords, you have to take Dr Pete’s word for it when he notes down keywords that eBay lost out on. However, there are alternative ways of understanding how to deconstruct such a major hit, and one of them is by the use of SEMrush’s Organic Positions drill down.

So lets see what SEMrush shows us:

initial view ebay dot com

As you can see, SEMrush recorded a dramatically higher volume of lost keywords vs the keywords gained. So this supports the theory that Ebay.com took a major hit.

By clicking on the lost keyword bar, I can extract  the full list of keywords SEMrush say a decline in rankings for eBay.com:

ebay dot com keywords lost

Now, if you search for “Black mens jumpsuit” eBay seems to have gone https://www.google.com/search?q=black+mens+jumpsuit&oq=black+mens+jumpsuit&pws=0

What’s more interesting to me, is that I often see the dot com version in UK serps for long tail queries. It seems that this update or whatever it was, has hurt the dot com in UK serps:

ebay dot com keywords lost UK

One of the lost keywords was https://www.google.co.uk/#q=iphone+5+cases And a search in the UK indicates the fall from the top 10. This is a heavy search term keyword, so you can assume its loss from the top 10 could significantly impact traffic and sales. However at position 9, maybe the loss wasn’t as significant. But how do I know that the data is correct?

Well, you can check historical search engine result pages using SEMrush, so I dug into the March SERPs for the phrase “iphone 5 cases”:

iphone 5 case serps Mar 1

Wait, hold on, is that the .co.uk with sitelinks? Interesting. But not what I was looking for.

iphone 5 case serps Mar 2

Ah, there you go, position 9 as recorded, it’s the .com. So ebay had both the .co.uk and .com versions of that page indexed and ranking. So maybe the loss in the traffic isn’t  so bad, since the UK page is still there… right?

Actually no. This is todays screenshot:

iphone 5 case serps May 21

So eBay has not only lost the .com ranking in the UK serps, its lost its .co.uk rankings too. Lets see what SEMrush says:

ebay dot co uk keywords lost UK

Looks like ebay uk hasn’t had a great week either then.

Well this is getting interesting. Lets dig a bit deeper.

As Dr Pete highlights, Some of the losses he tracked were on category pages such as /www.ebay.com/ bhp / led-fiber-optic-christmas-tree

In my example, the loss was www.ebay.co.uk/ bhp/ iphone-5-case

Can you see the “bhp” in the URL?

The interesting thing about THAT url is that a normal user journey will NOT take you to it. I.e, if I open up eBay.co.uk:

ebay journey

The actual URL to the computer category is http://www.ebay.co.uk/electronics/mobile-home-phone  which then redirects to : http://www.ebay.co.uk/rpp/mobile-home-phone:

ebay journey 2

That url should be: http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/Cases-Covers-/20349/i.html

ebay journey 3

After this, you have to use facets to get deeper.

You can t try it whichever way you like, I couldn’t see how a non google referred user gets to that “bhp” page. Links to it might be buried deep in eBays mammoth site somewhere, but essentially these “category” pages aren’t real category pages, but pages created for search engines, and users alike as target starting pages.

Edit: Dan from Screaming Frog had some additional observations:

I have seen them before and analysed them and even joked “BHP” stands for “Black Hat Pages”, but I would like to stress, I DON’T think that there was anything wrong in the way the site created and optimised these for the serps. It was pretty clever actually, but I think it WAS overdone.

BHP Pages an Issue

So do I think these category pages are part of the problem?

Using SEMrush’s filter functions, you can actually see that of the 120K plus pages that lost rankings, nearly 90K were those with “BHP” in the URLs:

BHP pages to blame

Infact, SEMrush hasn’t completed its scan, but here are keywords it still thinks that eBay ranks for, which have “bhp” in the URL: http://www.semrush.com/uk/info/ebay.co.uk+(by+organic)?filter=%2B%7CUr%7CCo%7Cbhp&page=1 (you need pro account to access screenshot below):

BHP pages still losing

But here are some examples for those without Pro access:

  • star trek uniform
  • ryobi parts
  • iron man mask
  • ping i20 irons
  • slipknot masks
  • nitro rc cars
  • oompa loompa costume
  • honda c90
  • koi carp for sale
  • cheap xbox 360 games
  • motorola gleam
  • gameboy advance sp
  • decoupage paper
  • disney dvd collection
  • sticker bomb
  • deadpool costume
  • scart to hdmi cable
  • nokia 6310i
  • beach chairs
  • wooden activity cube

A cursory check indicates that majority of these no longer rank. And that indicates how you could carry out some simple audits on rank losses using JUST SEMrush. For the full SEMrush Guide, follow this link.

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Deconstructing eBay.com’s Organic Loss Using SEMrush
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Rishi has been a consultant in online marketing for over 10 years, specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing, Email and Social Media. Over the years he has worked with many brands as well as many small businesses.