How to Engage in Keyword Spamming without Violating eBay Policy

Posted on November 5, 2008. Filed under: eBay | Tags: , , , |

For years, eBay removed seller’s listings that violated the keyword spamming policy.  An explanation of keyword spamming comes directly from the eBay website (click HERE):

Examples of listing practices that are not allowed on eBay include:

  • Using brand names or other words inappropriately for the purpose of attracting buyers to a listing (called keyword spamming).

So, just to reiterate what the eBay website says – keyword spamming, a violation of eBay policy, is where a seller uses multiple brand names in a title for the purpose of driving traffic to a listing.  For example:

Timex watch leather wristband Fossil Casio Bulova

would violate keyword spamming policy.  A wristband with the brand name Timex cannot have other watch manufacturer names in the title because the purpose of those brand names is to drive traffic to the listing not to describe the item.  Someone searching for a Fossil wristband to fit their Fossil watch, for which they broke the wristband, would find the listing above.

But, then came along best match and eBay decided that keyword spamming was okay as long as the seller uses a key phrase “compatible with“, “for” or “fits“.  Now, of course, it is extremely difficult to locate these exceptions to the rule on the eBay website but I am going to show you where to look.

Currently, you can visit eBay’s website for the NEW rules about Search and Browse Manipulation (click HERE to read about Search and Browse Manipulation):

Members are not permitted to engage in any activity for the purpose of inappropriately gaining attention or diverting members to a listing. This includes any activity that harms the shopping experience by making it difficult for buyers to find the items they are looking for. Ultimately, it is the seller’s responsibility to ensure that each listing accurately reflects the item being sold, while not using any unfair methods to divert members to their listing. This includes, but is not limited to, a listing’s title, subtitle, item specifics, description, pictures, links, and meta tags.

Activities that are not permitted include:

  • Creating a listing title or subtitle that does not accurately describe the item for sale, or that includes information that could mislead buyers as to what is actually for sale. (Misleading Title)

  • Listing an item in a category that is not representative of the item being sold, or listing an item outside of a required category. (Miscategorization)

  • Including any information that does not describe or is not directly relevant to the item being sold or is intended to misrepresent the terms of sale. (Keyword Spamming)

  • Using brand, product or celebrity names inappropriately throughout a listing, such as comparing an item to another brand named item’s style or calling out an indirect relationship between the item being sold and a celebrity. See Additional Information for exceptions. (Brand Name Misuse)

  • Any other activity that eBay deems as inappropriately diverting members to a listing or harming the finding experience for buyers. 

Now, of course, you are probably saying to yourself “Hey, I don’t see where keyword spamming is allowed” and I would agree with you.  You have to click on the arrow with the words “Additional Information” in order to see the exceptions to the rule.


After clicking the arrow, you will then see “Members are permitted to indicate the compatibility of an accessory to various specific brand name items and/or models, as long as words such as “compatible with”, “for” or “fits” precede those brand name or model references.”

Timex watch leather wristband fits Fossil Casio Bulova

Aha!  Now we have been able to change a keyword spamming title to a non-keyword spamming title by using the word “fits” in the title.

So, what are the implications of this new eBay policy of allowing keyword spamming?  Well, it is possible that because of so many brand names that are “irrelevant” to the actual item, that initially the listing could lose a few “search points” for the multiple brand names.  However, for a seller who has an eBay store, this would more than be made up with the fact that now the seller appears more often in the list of stores that appear on the left hand side of the search results.  A seller who is able to sell a few of the spam-filled listings on fixed price will then rise to the top of the search results which will then make those irrelevant keywords count more thus turning them into relevant keywords and creating a disadvantage for the sellers who are not engaging in keyword spamming exceptions. 

Best Match actually rewards gaming of the system by those sellers who are the most knowledgable about the unadvertised exceptions to the rules.  And now, you too, know the secret of how to engage in keyword spamming without violating eBay policy!  If you ask me, Best Match is going to get a whole lot more difficult to use from both a buyer and seller perspective, as if it weren’t complicated enough already.


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3 Responses to “How to Engage in Keyword Spamming without Violating eBay Policy”

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The other side of Best Match is that… if buyers realize the title is keyword spamming, they will not click on it. By not clicking on the listing, the score associated with each keyword in the title is devalued. That, in turn, will reduce visibility of that item. Its not clear to me how much boost you get from Recent Sales… but I tend to think keyword score ranks higher up in the algorithm. We’ll just have to see how Best Match handles the situation.

WOW! So eBay Trust & Safety must now have a team of brand experts who can promptly confirm item compatibility across brands to ensure that sellers remain honest and accurate. I didn’t know that eBay was hiring…thought it was just firing. More likely, savy buyers will receive items of one brand advertised by title to “fit” or be “compatible with” other brands and then “discover”, in their opinion, the title not to be sufficiently accurate, resulting in SNADs or the “resolution process”. Buyers can’t be wrong, so we know how that will turn out. The game continues…sellers game the system and buyers game it right back.

I think keywords play a less significant role now than they were when best match was first rolled out 8 month ago. Best Match is giving more weight to recent sales and DSR. This creates another loophole – some sellers are buying their own items to boost ranking. It seems this game ebay created is never ending.

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