Google’s latest Panda update rolled out yesterday and looks to be affecting 7.5% of English searches. The algorithm is thought to be a softer version of Panda that will lay the foundations for future changes; targeting sites with poor quality content.

Whilst many sites won’t notice any changes, eBay have officially won the crown of ‘Biggest Loser’, by seeing their share of the top 10 rankings massively drop to put them in position 25, out of Moz’s Big 10 players list.

There have also been some winners in this update too, with office favourite Buzzfeed.com seeing its share of rankings increase by 25% and myrecipes.com increasing by 250%.

So, why did eBay lose so many of its rankings?

Panda historically targets sites with weak or poor content and doorway pages. Unfortunately, eBay’s category pages tick both of these boxes, with hundreds of site-wide anchor text links on every page thrown in too, for good measure.

Doorways pages are pages on the site that exist purely to gain ranking and then direct the user to another page. eBay will naturally have pages that look to be doorway pages through the site structure and category pages. However, the anchor text rich internal links down the left hand side and in the footer are the real nail in the coffin, as they make the pages appear as though they’re there purely for spam purposes, rather than for the user.

eBay sell a varied range of products and so have lost rankings from quite a strange range of phrases including; ‘Mockingjay pin’ for the Hunger Games fans, ‘Beats by Dr Dre’ – a historically spammy keyword and ‘batman costume’ – who wouldn’t want to dress up as the caped crusader? Whilst these phrases may have low search volumes, the fact that eBay have dropped for 33% of their searches, is an awful lot of potential clicks and sales- not just for eBay but for businesses and sellers who use the site.

The Future…

Once again, Panda 4.0 has showed the importance of having strong, good quality content on your website that helps the user to make an informed decision about your service or product. For e-commerce websites, having product descriptions isn’t enough anymore. Each category page also needs content which is where eBay fell down.

For more information and advice please contact our SEO team.