“It Was A Manual Action Against eBay, Not Panda 4.0” That Caused A Drop In Rankings, According to Re/Code


Since Panda 4.0 was rolled out early this week, there have been reports about which websites saw the greatest drop in rankings. According to the reports, eBay was one of the top Panda losers.

[Update]: this article was amended to reflect that this breaking news is via a report from Re/code.

While it’s true that eBay was penalized by Google to the extent that they’re no longer showing up for thousands of different queries, there are now reports stating that Panda 4.0 may not be to blame.

Today, re/code reports that “according to a person familiar with the situation” that eBay was penalized by Google, but that the drop in rankings was caused by being hit with a manual action. It was just a coincidence that it happened at the same time as the Panda 4.0 rollout.

Google has yet to confirm that a manual action was taken against eBay, and eBay themselves have declined to comment.

The reason why it is believed to be a manual action against eBay is because only individual pages were penalized, whereas an algorithm update like Panda would affect the entire site.

This begs the question of what did eBay do to deserve a manual action? There’s no clear answer right now, but what is clear is what exactly Google penalized.

RefuGeeks took a closer look at this and found that the pages removed from Google search results were doorway pages.

Apparently these were category or sub-category pages that eBay may have been creating and optimizing with the intention to boost their search results rankings.

A commenter on the RefuGeeks article chimed in, adding this insight:

Looks like you are unto something there… as it appears to be a manual penalty.

A search for ‘site:ebay.com inurl:/bhp/’ has zero results with the /bhp/ directory.

Google seems ignoring the /bhp/ directory which was really host for doorway pages.

I’m curious to hear more about this as it develops. That is, if either party decides to comment on the issue.


Matt Southern
Matt Southern is the lead news writer at Search Engine Journal. His passion for helping people in all aspects of online marketing flows through in the expert industry coverage he provides. In addition, Matt also works as an SEO Analyst at Pam Ann Marketing, helping businesses with search and content marketing.
Matt Southern

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12 thoughts on ““It Was A Manual Action Against eBay, Not Panda 4.0” That Caused A Drop In Rankings, According to Re/Code

  1. Matt, you’re generally a good journalist, but I’m really disappointed in this piece. You state eBay was penalized with a manual action like it’s a fact, but you offer nothing definitive in the text. I was on a chat with Barry Schwartz and John Mueller earlier today where John not only refused to confirm or deny manual action or Panda, he said Google would never discuss another sites’ manual action. Unless you have confirmation from eBay, this article title should be changed.

    1. In our haste to get the story out, we did not adequately highlight that this news comes from an unnamed source in the original post by Re/Code. We’ve corrected our post here to reflect that. Jenny thanks for your attention to this.

    2. You’re absolutely right, Jenny. I appreciate your feedback, in the future I will be careful to make my article titles clearer when covering stories like this one.

  2. Hi Matt

    Here in the UK, ebay has been asking agencies to build links at such speed and volume that link buying is the most likely cause of its manual penalty.


  3. Its quite an interesting development. Manual Penalty? Well, the reason given to believe that manual penalty could be responsible for eBay’s predicament seems valid. This is especially since the entire website was not hit by the update.

    So, we are looking at a coincidence of manual and Panda Update happening at the same time.

    Nevertheless, Google alone can explain the criteria that comes into play when a website is hit by an update! I have left this comment in kingged.com – the content syndication and social marketing platform for Internet marketers, where this post was shared.


  4. I really wonder how coupons sites like Retailmeornot is not getting affected by Google panda. Since they don’t have any content just list of coupons. Can anybody throw light on stuff like this please?

  5. It seem so that it’s a manual action taken for this site. Since if it’s Panda then whole website should be affected. I was also previously hit by Panda and whole website got penalize not some pages….

  6. Taking manual spam action about such huge sites is unexpected! Now a days its getting really hard to rank for long time with Blackhat techniques! Great post bdw!