Is eBay Item Specifics abuse the new Keyword Spamming?

A reader got in touch with an interesting example this week. It regarded eBay’s search, item titles and Item Specifics.

eBay Search FeatHaving undertaken a number a number of searches in the Music Memorabilia category he noticed that a stack of items were appearing in search results that didn’t have the keywords he was searching for in their item titles. In this case, items searched for using “Led Zeppelin” were appearing in search results when the words “Led Zeppelin” weren’t in the title and moreover the items were not relevant to the search term.

A closer look at the items in question revealed that Led Zeppelin was indeed included in the listings as an Item Specific. Have a search around and you’ll doubtless find a few similar examples (I have).

This is interesting for several reasons. Firstly, it shows how important those Item Specifics are for helping eBay search catalogue and present results to eBay buyers. In this instance the Item Specific actually seems to have greater weighting than the Item Title in ordering the results. (We knew that Item specifics were important…)

And moreover, these irrelevant listings were above other items that did indeed have the Led Zeppelin keywords in the item title. Obviously, Best Match was also taking into account the seller’s other attributes.

As for the motives in including irrelevant Item Specifics, I’m not sure. I suspect, rather than this being a malicious attempt to skew Best Match, that it may be a template issue where some Item Specifics have been included from generic listings by accident. Seller error seems likely.

And I can’t see how it’s going to offer the seller much of a commercial edge. But it is, perhaps, another small nugget of insight into how eBay’s Best Match system operates.

Have you seen anything similar?