Tabke: Google Penalized eBay For Dropping AdWords Ads

Jun 2, 2014 • 8:48 am | comments (81) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Penalized eBayAs you know, eBay was penalized by Google either via a manual action or algorithmic action or both. Google and eBay won't confirm it, but it is clear from the SearchMetrics charts.

The reason for the penalty is not 100% clear, a site like eBay likely had lots of issues with the site. But there are also a lot of theories out there. Some citing that eBay stopped AdWords ads and thus this is the way Google is going to get back at them.

Brett Tabke, the founder of WebmasterWorld and head of the PubCon conference, he's been around the block for a while, said at WebmasterWorld:

eBay 1 Year After Dropping AdWords: Pay up or get booted.

I don't think I have seen a more egregious case of Googles complete duplicity and lack of transparency in it's search methods. I think it clearly sends a signal to others that if you want organic results, you have to "pay up" or you will be booted.

Why did Google wait a year according to Tabke?

Yes. They needed ye Old plausible deniability after ebay has been running AdWords for almost 14 years. I've heard it is well over a billion that they spent.

Of course, not all agree with Tabke's theory but many do.

Do you think this is Google's ad side connecting with the organic side and pay back on that?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Previous story: Google: You Rank As You Should, It's Not Panda



06/02/2014 01:04 pm

Whoa. Where are you getting this "penalty" from? Has google said that? I never said I thought this was a 'penalty'. There is a huge difference from google denying someone index access because of their methods and because they no longer pay for the right to be in the index.


06/02/2014 01:05 pm

No. I don´t think google would do that as it is dishonest. Google may not play fair because the way the algo is weighted but I don´t think they are thieves. This would be theft and I honestly do not believe they would do that. Brett needs to start chasing UFO´s


06/02/2014 01:06 pm

i think he was just referring to the reason for the drop and what has been mentioned around the forums for the last week... all speculation.


06/02/2014 01:08 pm

I know, but a penalty makes it sound like it was eBays fault, when in fact many believe this was a total Google retaliatory hand job


06/02/2014 01:09 pm

No. I don´t think search engines would do that as it is unethical. Google may not perform reasonable because the way the una cosa is calculated but I don´t think they are criminals. This would be robbery and I genuinely do not believe they would do that. Brett needs to begin pursuing UFO´s


06/02/2014 01:10 pm

Ugh, the 'use adwords or else' seems ridiculous, and especially in this circumstance. Tabke is doing, in my opinion, a disservice to whatever is left of the SEO community that doesn't point and scream about adwords spend/organic ranking being intermingled. Ebay is a mess and the reasons for their decrease are potentially very numerous. An honest SEO wouldn't come out and make the adwords claim without having worked with the site itself. Maybe I am completely incorrect, but I think the theory being referenced is a joke and the certainty with which he states an unknown as a known is silly. Nice piece of comment bait though.


06/02/2014 01:12 pm


Kyle Risley

06/02/2014 01:13 pm you mean hatchet job?


06/02/2014 01:13 pm

Who cares? I visited their site already!


06/02/2014 01:13 pm

I used to believe that Google would not do anything like this until I saw a client get a Google penalty lifted by simply speaking to the right people at Google. So, I don't know anymore, anything is possible.


06/02/2014 01:14 pm

Great. Spam works ... Hooray :)

Adam Heaton

06/02/2014 01:22 pm

I agree, I can't see why this would be the reason for the drop at all. SEO's love to throw around radical theories to appear superior amongst other SEO's, but this one just takes the micky.


06/02/2014 01:25 pm

I have been saying this for long now. The theory built in my mind after analysing back-links of big player of e-commerce in UK and seen many many grey hat techniques implemented. Even few black as well.


06/02/2014 01:26 pm

I have been saying this for long now. The theory built in my mind after analysing back-links of big player of e-commerce in UK and seen many many grey hat techniques implemented. Even few black hat as well.


06/02/2014 01:38 pm

No I don't think this is the case, but the Google haters will absolutely love this and claim it as true. Why I don't believe it: - what would Google gain by doing this? Would they seriously believe ebay would start AdWords again after such a stunt? Of course they won't - Google is so massive, loss of ebay's adwords spend barely registered, the gap was filled by other advertisers - no decent company would risk their reputation pulling such a stunt - Google would open themselves up to all sorts of fair trading investigations, and punishments if this were true - Google would lose other advertisers and the public's trust.

Michael Martinez

06/02/2014 01:44 pm



06/02/2014 01:47 pm

Best Sauce? Basking Shark? Ben Sherman? Oh, Michael, you are the man of many facets. One minute I think you are a complete tit and the next a genius and then back to tit again.

Michael Martinez

06/02/2014 01:49 pm

So stop thinking about me. Go about your life and don't worry about what to think of other people.


06/02/2014 01:52 pm

But you don´t let me Michael. I want to, I really do but you just will not allow it to happen.


06/02/2014 01:58 pm

I rarely am motivated to post on forums, but this thread has LOTS of spammers in it which is very disturbing. About 45 minutes ago, 'sofenza' made an almost-identical post below as 'Fox-Mouldy'. There are other posts in this thread which are also very alike in composition. These are GREAT examples of what's wrong with the Internet. Not much difference in saying: 'pursuing UFO's' and in 'chasing 'UFO's' and the rest of the comment follows suit - almost identical in composition. Post a decent pic beside of your comment, and yeah....that'll make it valid, right? This type of behavior is what I'd define as unethical, deary - or gent. This UFO behavior also transfers to web content, which is the whole ball of wax. Unethical. Disturbing.

Michael Martinez

06/02/2014 02:16 pm

Your obsession with me suggests you need to find another hobby. Have you tried stamp collecting? They may soon become very rare.

Durant Imboden

06/02/2014 02:39 pm

Ever heard the term "stirring the pot"?


06/02/2014 02:52 pm

"- no decent company would risk their reputation pulling such a stunt" I agree with your other points, but google is far from a decent company


06/02/2014 02:55 pm

This is absurd. Some people need to remove their tin foil hats. Do you really believe that Google would risk having government action against their company to squeeze a few $$ from eBay for a few ads? Yea I know, it's millions of $$.


06/02/2014 03:00 pm

Google has no risk of government action. Eric Schmidt sits on the President's advisory committee and is a fundraiser for him too. Google feeds data to the NSA and is the top lobbying tech firm. Why else do you think Google has a free pass to devour the entire internet economy and clobber small businesses over the head?

PM Fiorini

06/02/2014 03:05 pm

Indeed. Indeed.


06/02/2014 03:21 pm

Cpt, with all due respect, small businesses don't matter to Google. They could care less about businesses succeeding. But to assume that if Google essentially removes eBay from their index to force them to buy Ads is ridiculous. This would be an anti-competitive action. Now if Google has a good reason (which they never do) to remove eBay from their index then so be it. But to start saying that THE reason eBay had an action is so they will buy ads is just crazy. If it is the truth then I expect eBay to call on the government for regulatory action. Oh and spare me with the Eric Schmidt stuff, he's no longer in the Google loop and merely a mouthpiece.


06/02/2014 03:24 pm

Oh brother. Do you really believe that Google is forcing eBay to buy Ads? If this was the case, why not make it less obvious, kind of like MetaFilter, a slow leak over time.


06/02/2014 03:24 pm

I'd say no, it was not revenge. But it might have caused a Google employee to take a look at ebay closely and if you look, you'll find reasons to penalize. Everyone has a skeleton in their closet regardless if caused by website owner or not. Google would find reasons to penalize on nearly every website in the world. The smaller the website, the easier to find though.

gregory smith

06/02/2014 03:54 pm



06/02/2014 03:58 pm

These people who think Google has nothing better to do than be vindictive, and that sheer greed is their only motivation need a reality check. Just because YOU might operate that way does not mean everyone else does.

Nick Ker

06/02/2014 04:01 pm

Smells like this came right out of the link-bait chum bucket.


06/02/2014 04:09 pm

eBay recently underwent a security breach. This forced users to change their passwords: As a result of that: a) Some users may have been discouraged from using eBay b) Some users may have lost their login credentials c) Some users may have changed to a password they don't usually use, lost access to their account and abandoned the platform d) Some users may have lost their accounts due to malicious activity Because it is likely that there has been a multi-vector hit to eBay's user-base (even if only slight), UGC and activity must have dipped slightly. I can see that this would affect search rankings - even if Google didn't penalise the the site for risking its users (which is another possibility - albeit a remote one). Is it possible that this 'penalty' is the result of more broad-reaching, real world issues surrounding eBay? Just throwing it out there. I have no idea - this could easily become another 'conspiracy theory'.


06/02/2014 04:18 pm

You said it..."small businesses don't matter to Google. They could care less about businesses succeeding"... I do believe this manifests in the changes web search has had in the past 5 or so years.


06/02/2014 04:20 pm

So I suppose that all the press/active investigations regarding Google abusing its dominance in the EU, India, etc. is all nonsense and entirely baseless because you say it is so. And you called Eric Schmidt a mouthpiece! LOL

Yo Mamma

06/02/2014 04:22 pm

i so agree with Tabke. Also, Amazon was a big financial supporter of Google when Google went begging for cash in its startup days. Ebay isn't Amazon, but both sell new and used products in a big way. My guess is Amazon and Google would like to see Ebay go the way of every other video website other than youtube. Google is simply wiping out companies and destroying the freedom of the internet. Something has to be done

Mark Warner

06/02/2014 04:22 pm

Google conspiracy theorists have the same type of predisposition to use poor logic as other conspiracy theorists. It is an irrational mentality.

Yo Mamma

06/02/2014 04:30 pm

My thoughts of Google today!

Yo Mamma

06/02/2014 04:33 pm

The world will smell much better when you clean up that mess of facial hair under your nose


06/02/2014 04:51 pm

small business sellers have had their listings dropped in ebay search via use of new ebay search algorithms that promote the huge warehouse sellers. A taste of their own medicine wont do them any harm .

Durant Imboden

06/02/2014 04:57 pm

Right, so that must be why the Wall Street Journal published an article a while back titled "Amazon vs. Google: It's a War for the Shopping Search."


06/02/2014 05:06 pm

You're still missing my point. Maybe I'm splitting hairs here but to say that upon the one year anniversary of eBay terminating Adwords spend, they were given an "organic action" is shortsighted and absurd. It could however be coincidental. I'm not here to defend Google but what I'm saying (and possibly not explaining right) is that I find it ridiculous that Google would purposely ban eBay to force them to buy Ads. This is the assertion Tabke has made. I fully encourage folks to use other search engines because Google has way too much power.


06/02/2014 05:10 pm

And they often suck at the Internet

David DuVal

06/02/2014 05:15 pm

Traffic Data: If you stop advertising, the traffic (from Google) will go down. Google has said they do look at traffic. I expect that Google is going to dominate for a long time to come, and building a business around Google has major pitfalls. I predict Android is going to beat our iOS in the coming years too. Google will have the dominant operating system, search engine, and advertising platform.


06/02/2014 06:34 pm

So niave. Do you not realize Google is a publicly traded company who has an obligation to increase revenue? You better believe they'll step on anyone's toes to make that happen. Google is a company ran by men just like any other and has absolutely no moral obligation when it comes to business PR or otherwise. Don't be so foolish

Yo Mamma

06/02/2014 06:34 pm

Watch on NETFLIX "Google: Bloomberg Game Changers" or here to see their Amazon history together. Danny Sullivan has a small role When Google was pre-garage era, they needed money and nobody wanted to invest but eventually an Indian (Ram Shriram) and 3 investors raised $1 million including $250,000 from Jeff Bezos of (12.:49 on video) Read this as well New Yorker: Bezos' Initial Google Investment Was $250K in 1998 Because "I Just Fell in Love With Larry and Sergey" According to WIKI "Kavitark Ram Shriram is a board member of Google and one of the first investors in Google.[2][3] He earlier served as an officer of working for Jeff Bezos, founder & CEO. Shriram came to in August, 1998, when Amazon acquired Junglee, an online comparison shopping firm of which Shriram was president. Before Junglee and Amazon, Shriram was a member of the Netscape executive team, joining them in 1994, before they shipped products or posted revenue."

Steve Erlich

06/02/2014 07:24 pm

First let me clarify that I think small businesses that think this way are wrong. There is no causation between the 100k you gave Google last year and them dropping you in the rankings this year. However, when there are millions and in this case billions at stake, I find it more plausible. I think what we forget though, is that these types of actions would be Google robbing Peter to pay the piper and make little sense. Google is Google because of their organic search results. Once the integrity of those results are compromised simply for the sake of profit, another competitor would take a large chunk of that traffic. As Google's record tying numbers last month show, users don't feel that the integrity of Google's results are compromised. So in theory, in this one instance, is it possible? Sure. Is it plausible that this happens on any kind of mass scale? I lean heavily towards no.

Yo Mamma

06/02/2014 07:32 pm

"Google is Google" not true. If you read my posts below you will see a cozy relationship going back to the founding days of Google and Amazon. The 2 pretend to be at odds but are in actuality secret partners. Partners that want to dominate online shopping. IF you look at you will not see the word GOOGLE mentioned. yet without GOOGLE, Jeff Bezos wouldn't exist. Bezos gave Google $250,000 in 1998 as an investment. This is a huge coverup. Ram Shriram (1st Google investor) worked for Amazon and is on Google's board.


06/02/2014 07:32 pm

If you think Google is stupid enough to blatantly engage in such a practice, think that taking a year to do it would somehow make it ok - you are exactly the type of shortsighted ranter I was referring to. You may not believe it, but google is not some half-baked site run by nitwits as a get rich quick scheme.


06/02/2014 07:35 pm

Well said. Those who think google is so shortsighted that this is plausible are likely the type who would do something that foolish if they had the opportunity. That's why they are predominantly people who can't figure out why they get penalties for breaking rules.

Yo Mamma

06/02/2014 07:37 pm

Maybe Google talking over the shopping world in cahoots with Amazon was the plan all along.

Steve Erlich

06/02/2014 07:45 pm

Don't get me wrong, I'm not putting a halo over Google saying they do no wrong. It's my firm belief that every company of that kind of size is corrupt and used questionable tactics to get where they are today.That's just reality and not really new. However, that's here nor there as far as I'm concerned in this discussion. The question is, would Google risk the integrity of their organic search results on any kind of large scale for lost Adwords budgets. The answer to that is no. Would they do it over a billion dollars? As you point out, maybe.

Durant Imboden

06/02/2014 08:13 pm

"The 2 pretend to be at odds but are in actuality secret partners." Soap opera in the worlds of search and e-commerce. Why would have guessed?


06/02/2014 08:37 pm

Thanks for proving my point. Niave. You don't need to tell me anything about Google. I've been following them from the beginning, and probably before you could reach the keyboard.

Yo Mamma

06/02/2014 08:37 pm You didn't care for this durant? No comment? Cat got your finger? You need to face fact durant. Google and Amazon are TIGHT. Very tight and I have shown you very very clearly why. But you are like an abused wife that cannot let go of the relationship, too scared. You must accept the bad situation Google is now in.

Durant Imboden

06/02/2014 08:51 pm

Sorry, but you're the one who's obsessed with Google--and who can't bring herself to let go.


06/02/2014 08:53 pm

I am old enough to remember the advent of the internet, and have been working in this area since before Google existed. So you are wrong again, and your foolish delusions of grandeur are showing. Sure... you know everything about google, me, and the spelling of naive. Conspiracy theories wrapped in a childish argument of "I'm older than you and you are naive" with nothing factual to back them up must make you feel really special.


06/02/2014 09:38 pm

And then a new guy will come into the scene and the cycle will continue =)


06/02/2014 09:41 pm

And Yo Mamma is at it again =) Someone stop the evil oppressive Google conspiracy before the entire universe is destroyed! Oh wait...


06/02/2014 09:42 pm

Oh great. More food for the Google conspiracy theorists. As if we don't have enough of those...


06/02/2014 11:40 pm

I don't think they ever pretended to be at odds. Anyone who tracks rankings knows that amazon has always gotten special love. Ebay used to get special love... ebay would rank for keywords that the pages didn't even have in the source... sad thing is that it is the sellers who use ebay who lose the most and that again is a lot of small businesses.

Michael Martinez

06/03/2014 01:54 am

This kind of nonsense really should not be called out regardless of who writes it. All you're doing is propagating the ridiculous conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact or science, which is a disservice to all the gullible people who actually pay attention to this kind of unfounded speculation. They need to be shown better, far more credible ideas.


06/03/2014 02:16 am

Nothing is wrong in love, war, and business!

Syed Shariq Ehsan

06/03/2014 03:36 am

I don't know why people forget that Google is not a "non-profit organization". After all, it out there for business


06/03/2014 05:00 am

Whatever has been the reason, eBay deserves it, they treat like shit to its affiliates,


06/03/2014 07:24 am

I assume Barry highlighted this because of the stature of the author (Brett Tabke). It's not just your usual Google hater spouting off. I am more surprised that Brett decided to write this nonsense, than that Barry chose to highlight it.

Michael Martinez

06/03/2014 07:56 am

Yeah, I guess we let off steam every now and then, don't we? :)

Novelyn Cabural

06/03/2014 08:59 am

I'm just curious as it was not mention in the article, how did ebay got penalized? I mean, what type of penalty Google give them?


06/03/2014 10:10 am

I have said the same thing earlier on 8th May


06/03/2014 11:07 am

The fact that Google had eBay listings so predominately displayed in their search results was proof that Google really did not care about the "user experience." Often those listings in Google led to outdated auctions that ended. From an affiliate program that screws affiliates out of money to a flood of products being auctioned that are sold and ship directly from China, eBay went downhill rather fast. Top that off with a major security breach and eBay has no right being in any search engine's results.

Suraj Rai

06/03/2014 12:03 pm

It is really difficult to know the mystery behind Ebay penalty but it is clear that there is something hidden from us and only visible to Google and Ebay. Tabke may be right because neither Google nor Ebay confirmed it till now.

Adam Heaton

06/03/2014 12:46 pm

Sarcasm is so very hard to pick up online...

Michael Martinez

06/03/2014 02:17 pm

Google has not confirmed the penalty. So far Search Engine Land and at least one other site have published articles saying that "someone very familiar" with the situation told them privately (apparently asking not to be named) that eBay received notice of a manual action. Speculation has settled on one section of the site triggering a penalty but so far I haven't seen any proposed explanation that convinces me of what the supposed reason should be.

Henry Mangult

06/03/2014 02:43 pm

Ebay doesn't need google

Henry Mangult

06/03/2014 02:55 pm

I believe yo mamma's conspiracy is the right way to blame anyone :)

Jenny Halasz

06/03/2014 03:18 pm

My 0.02: Correlation is not causation. Ebay was doing plenty of bad practices that could have gotten them into trouble, whether with a manual penalty or an algorithmic impact. Google has been looking to reduce eBay's command of search results for many years... there were changes to quality score that were targeted specifically at advertisers who set up campaigns like eBay's - remember the "Buy Zebra at eBay" ads? On the organic side, Panda was specifically designed to root out thin content and spam practices - the former of which eBay had a lot of. Yes, they cut their AdWords spending. Amazon (their largest PPC competitor) also ramped theirs way up. It could have been just that eBay was priced out of the market. Either way, I don't believe that Google would sacrifice the validity of their organic results just to "get back" at eBay. Now, did their significant loss in AdWords revenue prompt a manual reviewer to look at the site closely and find things that were against organic guidelines? Perhaps. But without bad organic practices in place, I doubt we would have seen any impact to eBay's site at all. In my opinion, it's just about simple logic, not Google is/is not evil. They probably are. But it's not logical to undermine the quality of the organic results to prove a point or as a vendetta. I can't see their shareholders ever allowing that.


06/03/2014 04:12 pm

I think the biggest looser of Panda (1,2,3,4) and Penguin 1,2,3,etc is google.

Ben Griffiths

06/04/2014 09:25 am

What's the emoticon for rolling my eyes? Imagine I used it just then.

Bhaskar Dihingia

06/05/2014 06:03 am

Wow! your comment is so relevant!! :-/

Matthew Boyle

06/05/2014 10:01 am

hahhaa, thanks, you gotta pass me what your smoking dude !!

Henry Mangult

06/05/2014 10:06 am

I am smoking fresh air I don't know about you though ...

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