eBay merchants who also sell products in other venues will no longer be able to provide hyperlinks from eBay to their off-eBay websites, under one of several new policies announced Monday.
On the same day eBay rolled out its controversial new feedback policy in the U.S.allowing sellers to leave only positive feedback for buyers, but still receive neutral or negative scores in returnthe online auction giant unveiled a handful of additional policy changes that either expand or roll back long-standing rules that dictate how sellers can promote their items for sale.
In addition to new rules related to links, new policies were introduced that concern offering multiple choices in one listing, multiple listings limits, manipulation of search results and mystery auctions.
According to John McDonald, senior director of U.S. Trust & Safety at eBay, the reasons for the policy changes are to "create more choice and selection for buyers and make it easier for them to find what they're looking for," and secondly, to "add flexibility, convenience and cost-savings for our sellers."
Following is a rundown of the changes afoot:
Choice policy: Effective immediately, sellers will be able to offer a choice of sizes, colors and/or configurations for similar items in a single listing. According to McDonald, this will reduce sellers' time and insertion fees to list, for example, two of the same pair of shoes in different sizes. Offering a choice of completely different items in the same listing, such as a computer and a cell phone, is still prohibited.
Multiple Listings Limit policy: Starting in June, eBay will allow remove the limits on multiple identical listings, which now limits sellers to listing 15 of the same item at the same time. To prevent one seller's listings from crowding out others in search results, eBay's Finding engine will bring up a maximum of 10 listings from the same sellerand only one of identical listingsper page.
Search & Browse Manipulation policy: In early June, eBay will combine Keyword Spamming, Misleading Title, Miscategorization, and Brand Name Misuse policies into a simplified Search & Browse manipulation policy. The new policy will expand on the replaced policies to include "any type of activity that harms the shopping experience," says McDonald, whether it's using terms or pictures in a listing that don't pertain to the item being sold, or "gaming" the system by creating listing titles that produce unfair exposure in search and browse results.
Mystery auctions: Also in early June, so-called mystery auctions will be banned under the same policy that now prohibits raffles, giveaways and random drawings, due to a high rate of fraud.
Links policy: The updated links policy, which takes effect in July, limits the use of links from eBay listings or other eBay pages to sites within eBay or eBay properties like Half.com or StubHub. For example, eBay sellers may use the About Me page to promote their eBay listings, but they'll no longer be able to use the page to link to their off-eBay Web stores.
Additionally, sellers will no longer be permitted to link to pages that further describe the item for sale or explain additional terms and conditions. All of this information must now be included within the item description, according to McDonald.
Exceptions to the links policy include: links to third-party solutions and services directly related to the listing (such as Auctiva); and links to photos of an item for sale on eBay, as long as the page displaying the photo does not reference or link to any off-eBay site offering products for sale.
McDonald also announced that an expanded version of the Seller Dashboard will be available this week to give sellers more information about their status and how to improve their eBay business.
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Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.