If you’re selling on eBay, you’re more than likely doing it to make money and grow your business. Now while there are a whole host of factors that influence how successful you are in achieving these goals, on the eBay marketplace it largely comes down to two things – visibility and conversion.
The fact is, how visible your products are to potential buyers and how good you are at converting them into sales, is almost all that stands between you either succeeding as an eBay seller or investing a lot of time for little results.
So, what exactly does it take to increase the visibility of your products in eBay’s search results and further generate sales? Ultimately, it comes down to listing optimisation. Fortunately, eBay themselves recently ran a webinar dedicated to this specific topic which you can either view here, or alternatively read on to understand the key points and best practices that were covered.
Understand how buyers search on eBay
While this may seem like common sense, if you haven’t actually taken the time to think about your customer’s search behaviour and the process they take to find an item, you could be missing out on a valuable opportunity.
Specifically, there are two areas you should be thinking about – firstly, the keywords they are using to search for an item and secondly, how they are refining their search.
Let’s start with keywords. Being able to identify the right keywords and using them in your title can make a huge difference to the amount of traffic that your eBay listing attracts. After all, the closer your title comes to matching a search query, the more likely it is to be seen by a potential customer.
Of course, there’s a whole algorithm behind search rankings, i.e. how high up your listing sits on the results page, and while I’ll get to that in a bit, your starting point should be to optimise your title for increased visibility.
How to identify the keywords your customers are searching for
There are a number of steps you can take to identify which keywords your customers are searching for, the first being to think like your customer. Obvious as it sounds, put yourself in their shoes and think about the search terms they are likely to be using to find a product that you offer. Remember, the more descriptive a users’ search query is, the more likely they are to make a purchase.
Once you have come up with some terms, you can then use a tool such as Google’s Keyword Planner, which provides the monthly search volume for individual keywords, as well as Google Trends which provides relative search volumes over time. The eBay search bar is another great resource, as it will deliver the most popular search queries based on your keywords.
How to optimise your product listings for advanced searches
Optimised titles are only the first step in increasing the visibility of your listings and to improve the chances of appearing in the search results, you will need to complete the Item Specifics. The fact is, when a user refines their search (or uses the advance search feature on desktop), they are provided with the most relevant results and only the listings that include item specifics will be shown.
Another thing worth noting is that if you solely include information about the product’s details within the description, your listing will not appear in the results page, unless the user selects the ‘Search in Description’ option which is unticked by default.
This basically means that Item Specifics are incredibly important if you want to be found by potential buyers. Here’s an example of how they work in a common search query.
As you can see, a search for brown shoes in the Men’s Shoes category delivers 327.504 results. Now if a buyer was to refine this search by selecting the shoe size as UK 9, they would then be provided with 47,740 results. Again, just to reiterate the point, if you hadn’t selected the item specific as size 9, your listing wouldn’t be one of the 47,740 listings.
Now assuming the buyer was specifically looking for desert boots, they would then be provided with 1,101 results, a lot less than the original 327,504 for brown shoes.
How to increase your chances of ranking higher in eBay search
Appearing in these relevant search results by completing the item specifics is only the first stage in increasing visibility. As you can see, 1,101 is still a lot of items and users are highly unlikely to search through them all.
This is why eBay’s algorithm for determining a listing’s search position is so important. While eBay have not given all of the details on how this algorithm works, they have outlined some of the key things that are taken into account and some of the listing best practices that can influence a better search ranking. Below we have compiled some of these best practices for listing optimisation:
List in the correct categories – Not only does this help you list using the most relevant Item Specifics and help buyers find your listings, there are other implications to keep in mind. For example, if you want to sell internationally, listing in the wrong category can limit you from being found by international customers.
Provide item specifics – Once again, make sure you’re completing the item specifics as this will a play a key part in improving your listing ranking. Specifically, you should attempt to complete all of them including size, colour, brand name etc. Obviously the item specifics will be dependent on your product category and you can download the list of item specifics available for your category here.
Include product identifiers – You may already be aware that it is now mandatory to include product identifiers within listings in certain categories for branded new and manufacture refurbished goods, as these make it easier for users to find your items. While the use of these product identifiers help to boost listing visibility, they also help you increase visibility in eBay deals, bargains and other promotions, and help you create more robust listing information and items specifics. You will also have more accurate pricing guidance when you list an item.
Improve your product titles – We’ve already touched on the use keywords in your titles, but it’s also important to remember that you have 80 characters to use and you should use them to be as descriptive and relevant as possible. Try and include key details (even if they also appear in the description), state exactly what the item is and make sure you use correct spelling and avoid using ALL CAPS.
Have a good sales history – Another thing to keep in mind is that if your listing converts well, or is similar to other listings that convert well, you increase your chances of ranking higher. One way to improve your sales history (other than simply making more sales) is through the use of variation listings. If you sell an item in different colours or sizes, a multi-variation listing will combine the sales histories for each and, assuming you have positive feedback, will automatically push your listing up the rankings.
Factors such as competitive pricing, postage options and returns can also influence the visibility of your products.
Overall, by following eBay’s listing best practices, you not only increase your chances of ranking higher in eBay’s Best Match, but you also increase your chances of achieving Top Rated Seller status.
How to improve your listings for better conversions
Now assuming you’ve managed to increase the visibility of your listings and are successfully driving traffic to them, you will then need to optimise them for increased conversions.
Getting views on your listings doesn’t secure sales, which at the end of the day is the main goal. As with increasing visibility, there are a number of best practices you can follow to increase the chances of a user converting into a sale.
Use high-quality images – Good-quality, professional looking product images can ultimately help you to sell more and you have 12 to use free of charge. For some tips on taking great photos, have a read of eBay’s best practices. When taking these images, make sure you’re also accurately conveying product details such as colour and any faults. You should also avoid using text or artwork on the image (including tags such as Free Shipping or your logo). eBay further require a minimum length of 500 pixels on the longest side of the image, however if your images are over 800 pixels, you will enable the free zoom/enlarge feature on the view item page which can also increase the chances of making a sale.
Create detailed product descriptions – When crafting your item’s description, make sure you are describing the item in as much detail as you can. eBay suggest using around 200 words of text, however make sure you avoid using non-relevant information as the search engine will only read a certain amount of information per page. In addition to this, you should use image alt tags, add links to your other products and your eBay store, and avoid keyword spamming. With regards to links, do keep in mind that text such as “Visit my Store” and “See other items” will be more effective than simply using “Click here”.
Free postage – While it may not be viable to offer free shipping, it is certainly something that can encourage more sales.
A clear returns policy – Ensure you include your returns policy within your listing. If you’re not sure what you should be including, take a look at our good returns policy checklist.
Competitive pricing – While pricing is of course one of the factors that encourages a user to view your listing in the first place, it is still something you should keep in mind when it comes to converting them. If you are a Linnworks user, we would recommend that you download the eBay Price and Competition Analysis App from our Linnworks Application Store.
Good presentation – At the end of the day, regardless of whether you do all of the above, a poorly designed listing template is going to limit your success as an eBay seller. With this in mind, make sure your HTML template makes you look both professional and trustworthy. If you are looking for a HTML eBay listing template that you can edit to meet the needs of your business, we have designed one that you can use free of charge.
SEE ALSO: Get Your Free HTML eBay Listing Template
Getting started with listing optimisation
Knowing that you need to optimise your listings in order to increase both visibility and sales is one thing, but finding the time to actually invest in doing it is entirely other. The reality is, it comes down to prioritisation – if you want to generate more sales, you’re going to need to invest the time.
To make the process easier for you, eBay themselves propose a plan that will require as little time as possible, yet has the potential to significantly increase your results.
1. Firstly, set aside an hour for research
- Take a sample of at least 10 listings that have had steady sales for the past 2-4 weeks
- For each listing, you will need to spend around 5 minutes researching the competition
- Start by typing in the phrase that you think buyers would search for and see where your listing appears
- Now apply the filters that your buyers are likely to select
- How visible is your item?
- Next, use advanced search to search for the following – live listings, completed listings and sold listings – write down what you notice and how your listing compares with those from other sellers
- Look at how they describe the same item, for example what keywords they are using
- Take a note of the price it is selling for
- Finally, think about what it is that is making buyers choose those listings over your own
2. Apply what you've learned
- Amend your 10 listings based on what you've found
3. Monitor the results over the following two weeks
- How have these changes impacted your sales?
While following all of the steps and best practices listed above won't guarantee sales, it will significantly increase your chances of increasing visibility and generating more sales. The final point to remember is that for listing optimisation to be effective, it is something that requires continuous work and simply doing some research once won't automatically make you an eBay success.