Google Hits eBay With Manual Penalty In Search Results

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What really happened to eBay dropping in Google’s search results this week? A source familiar with the situation tells Search Engine Land that Google hit eBay with a manual penalty this week.

A manual penalty is when a human being at Google reviews a site and decides that it deserves some type of slap. Previously, it was assumed eBay was hit by the Panda 4.0 Update that rolled out this week, where a wide-range of sites were with with automatic penalties.

That might also be the case — eBay might have been hit by Panda in addition to a manual penalty, which was reported earlier by Re/Code.

The timing of the manual action — which may have been deliberate on Google’s part — certainly made it look like eBay’s troubles were Panda-related. Further confusing matters, Google also announced that the Payday Loan 2.0 update was rolling out the same day.

In the aftermath of the Panda 4.0 announcement, both Moz and RefuGeeks dug into eBay’s situation, with the latter site revealing that eBay had lost visibility on keywords that began with www.ebay.com/bhp in the URL:

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.

It’s possible that Panda did also hit eBay, but as I said above, we’ve learned that the site was hit with a manual action penalty that happened at about the same time as Panda. Whether the manual action penalty is instead of Panda, or in addition to Panda … we don’t know.

Google rarely comments on individual sites and, as expected, declined to provide a statement on eBay’s situation.