With more than 1.3 million active listings at any given time on eBay, how do you list a product that will stand out above all the rest? Here, we’ll show you how to optimize eBay product listings for both higher rankings and better conversions in your online store.
About the eBay search engine
The exact metrics used in the algorithm for eBay’s search engine, called Cassini, is a closely guarded company secret, just like the ones for Google and Amazon searches. But certain facts can be discerned by clever and experienced sellers, and through common sense.
Basically, it reflects a combination of the attributes of buyers, sellers and the items themselves. Items are the easy part: title, photos, completeness of its description, where it’s located, and price. Buyer metrics would include their location, what they’ve recently searched on eBay, and items on their Watch List. Factors for the seller would include feedback records, return and shipping policies, and what many consider to be the most important ranking factor of all: conversion rate.
In this regard, eBay and the seller’s goals are totally in sync. You both want that conversion rate to be as high as possible. They make more money when you make more money. Therefore, the algorithm rewards those sellers who know best how to get a shopper to hit either the Bid or Buy it Now button.
Your conversion rate, and setting up for succcess
eBay calculates the seller’s conversion by dividing the total number of sales by the total number of clicks an item receives. You don’t have to do the math yourself; eBay does it for you in the reporting section of the Seller’s Hub. If you’re already registered and selling on eBay, you can find the tables showing your conversion rate by clicking on “Performance” > “Traffic” and then scrolling down.
Bear in mind that the average e-commerce conversion rate is about 2%, but that varies by the type of item sold, and how well established the seller is on the platform. If you see that yours needs improvement, there are a lot of good strategies to achieve that. See our previous post on what is a good conversion rate, and how to improve yours.
Auction or Fixed Price listing?
Whether you set your item up for auction or a fixed price sale can also affect conversion rates. Because eBay is still favored as an auction site, there will be more conversions if you go that route.
Choose auction listings when:
- You’re not sure of your item’s value and are content to let the market set the price;
- You are selling an item that’s unique or relatively rare. In that case it could attract demand and start a bidding war, where you’re the clear winner.
- The market value of your item is sensitive to season or trending popularity.
You always have the option of adding the Buy it Now button. That fixed price must be at least 30% higher than the starting bid you set for the auction. The Buy It Now price remains live until there’s a bid, and whenever the reserve price is met.
List for a fixed price if you:
- Know what it’s worth and you want that price
- Want the listing to stay visible for more than 10 days (You get up to 30 days with a fixed price listing)
- Carry a lot of inventory
You can also set your fixed price listing as Good ‘Til Canceled, for automatic renewals until it sells.
As with Buy It Now for auction listings, eBay gives you a way to hedge a little with fixed price listings too. Add a Best Offer button to your fixed price listing, to receive counter-offers from buyers which you can then accept, counter or reject.
Fixed price also offers some perks. New sellers get up to 50 free listings per month, and eBay Stores subscribers can get up to 2500 free fixed priced listings each month.
Fixed price listings can also have a positive effect on your products’ search rankings, as accumulation of sales and viewing history are also metrics used by the Cassini algorithm.
How to optimize for the eBay search Bar
1. Product Titles
Characters count: According to eBay, products whose titles have more than 60 characters have a 1.5 times more likely to sell. They give you up to 80 characters, so shoot for that range of 60 – 80 characters in a title.
A good title format would be written out like this: “NEW’ [brand] [product name] [model No] [Variants — size, color] [additional keyword]
Write the title in a clear, reader-friendly manner. No all-caps words. No asterisks and other cheesy-looking markers between words. These practices can actually lower rankings for the product in search results. If the item is new (meaning never used, regardless of age), do mark it as such since that’s a big selling point with many buyers.
2. Categories and Item Descriptions
Consistent with search industry practice, eBay’s search engine uses structured data. These include Item Categories and Item Descriptions. You must find exactly the right category or categories for your product that match the taxonomic categories used by eBay.
And you need good keywords. You can get keyword suggestions by trying various entries into the search bar, and studying the products that come up in results. Then look at the titles used for those products to recognize what are the most commonly used keywords, and where they are deployed.
One pair of enterprising e-merchants found a quality product on eBay they wanted to re-sell, also on eBay. They managed to make a deal with the Chinese supplier who’d listed it to become their dropshipper. The Chinese merchant’s product description was so badly written, all they had to do was create an aesthetically pleasing and well written product description when reselling the same product, and they more than doubled its previous conversion rate.
Though it’s not true of every marketplace platform, on eBay you can actually get higher rankings from strategic keyword usage on your Category field than in the product description, though we strongly recommended you do both.
You can get in front of more interested buyers by listing in two and more categories. There’s an insertion fee for additional categories, which applies even when using a free listing. But if you’ve set up an eBay Store, you can use both a main Store category and a secondary Store category for free.
You can post up to 12 photos of your item, though most won’t require that many. Use high-resolution images, and a white background. Don’t add borders or text.
4. Transactions and order fulfillment policies
PayPal is still the payment processor of choice for eBay, though not for much longer since eBay sold PayPal about five years ago, and they’ve now partnered with a different payment processor from Holland. You can continue using PayPal for processing payments in the U.S. until July 2023. See more about this in our previous Channel Partner Profile on eBay.
Also make sure you have clear payment, shipping and return policies spelled out. These are also ranking factors. Another important factor is handling time: the faster you can fulfill an order, the higher you’ll rise in rankings as a seller.
Following these guidelines should give you a good headstart in optimizing your eBay product listings.
You can also save a lot of these steps with a feed syndication service like Shoppingfeed, which automatically matches your listings with the best keywords, categories and product attributes for eBay. Our proprietary ProductGraph technology uses artificial intelligence to graph relational data ponts for product descriptions, titles and categories. It helps surface listed products in any kind of search query, and is especially useful for capitalizing on the growing trend in voice shopping searches.
Shoppingfeed is a single platform to list, sync, and manage your products, inventory and orders, We connect e-merchants with the world’s largest marketplaces, adspaces, affiliate channels and shopping engines.