I gave a webinar last week on Search at eBay. Thank you to those who attended and asked great questions. The webinar was recorded and you can listen and view the slides here.
Search at eBay. A tour of search from a recent webinar.
In the webinar, I present a background of some of the facts and figures about eBay (an updated version of this post), a short introduction to how search works, and a tour of our current and future search platforms. The talk concludes with over thirty minutes of Q&A. The middle of the talk is dedicated to explaining how to sell successfully on eBay, and I summarize that advice in this post.
Listing for Success in Search
It’s important to remember that search isn’t the only step in selling on eBay. It’s a three-step process:
- Finding an item in search
- Choosing an item
- Purchasing the item
Visibility in search is therefore important, but it isn’t sufficient to guarantee sales. You must also focus on ensuring buyers click on your item and make the choice to purchase it.
On the first point: it’s true that most successful sales begin with a search on eBay, but many others occur through buyers finding items on another search engine, in an email, through the merchandizing that we feature, or through another source such as a social network. Searches on eBay also don’t always have a keyword: many buyers browse through our categories to find the item they want.
Visibility in Search
Our search team focuses on three tenets of delivering a great experience for our buyers:
- Trust: ensuring our buyers get a retail-like experience from great sellers
- Value: ensuring our buyers find great deals, including shipping costs
- Relevance: ensuring our buyers see items that match what they want
If you focus on these three tenets, you will be successful in gaining visibility in search.
Delivering Trust, Value, and Relevance
Here is some specific advice on how you can be found in search, have your items chosen in search, and drive sales:
- List in the correct category with a meaningful title; a meaningful title contains only words that accurately describe the item, it omits “spam words” (off-topic words) and isn’t unnecessarily short or long
- Use item specifics and item condition; we match queries against the item specifics, and to be found successfully we recommended you adopt item specifics
- When it makes sense for your business, use a long-duration, multi-quantity Buy It Now format
- Study what it takes to be a Top Rated Seller on eBay; it is our definition of the key tenets of being a trusted seller on eBay, and we use those trust signals in search
- Have great, large, clear pictures for your listings; we know from many experiments that pictures matter to our buyers, and you’re much more likely to be chosen in search and have sales if your pictures are high-quality
- Be price competitive; this changes frequently, and you need to understand the market price for your items and be prepared to make changes
- Specify shipping costs; our customers want great value, and that includes value in shipping
- Have a clear, structured, and comprehensive item description. Stay “on topic” and describe your item accurately
- Offer fast shipping and international options; fast shipping matters to our buyers, and offering international options means you have more exposure to more customers
We don’t offer specific answers to specific questions about how Best Match works on eBay. For example, we don’t comment on how we use each of the item specifics in search or whether having certain keywords in certain places in your titles matters. Why not? We want sellers to focus on the key tenets of Trust, Value, and Relevance, and not on specific features that may change or that might give sellers a short-term unfair advantage over other great sellers. Indeed, if a shortcut works today, it may not work tomorrow — we want a level playing field for all sellers, and we’re continually improving Best Match to use more Trust, Value, and Relevance information.
I encourage you to listen to the webinar for a richer explanation of how to sell successfully on eBay with a search-centric focus. See you next week.