In most cases the auction listings that were beating us out were not expired. I had heard that this auction site had recently put quite a bit of effort into SEO for their listings. This seemed to be working for them, because up to this point, we were getting crushed in the SERPs by auction listings.
There may be no correlation, but I found it interesting that a few weeks ago, this big auction site pulled all of their advertising from Google (possibly) in retaliation for an incident that took place at the auction sites annual convention in Boston.
See: MediaPost Article [publications.mediapost.com]
Several different articles mentioned that the pulling of the ads seems to have had little affect on traffic to the auction site. Considering that this auction site spends about $170 million annually on Google ads, this is a big deal.
Just about the time that those articles came out is when I saw this tweak in the SERPs for the auction listings. If I were Google and $170 million in annual ad revenue from this auction site was at stake, I'd probably take a long hard look at how much free traffic I was sending them from the SERPs.
[edited by: tedster at 9:32 pm (utc) on June 28, 2007]
[edit reason] fix link [/edit]