8 Tips for Mastering eBay's Search for Sellers

How to Get Your Product Listings to Rank Higher in eBay Search

Are you an eBay seller looking to get your product and sales listings ranked higher in eBay search results?

If not you should be because there's no doubt that the higher your listings rank in eBay the more sales you're going to make, period.

With that said, let's take a look at some tips and tricks you can start using to leverage eBay's search engine to get listed and found for exactly what you're potential customers are looking for. While geared toward eBay sellers, these search optimization skills are useful for buyers as well (how many times have you had to do multiple searches to finally find what you're looking for?).

For buyers, mastering the eBay search system allows you to find hidden gems that others don't see. Generally, the fewer watchers/bidders an item has, the lower its selling price will be.

As a seller, understanding eBay's search system helps your bottom line. Being aware of how buyers might search for a product helps you create listings with more descriptive titles. Further, search mastery helps you find competing listings so you can price your item accordingly.

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Use More Words

Online Auction Concept with Gavel on Laptop
Online Auction Concept. BanksPhotos/E+/Getty Images

eBay's search engine only finds listings that contain all the words you typed in the search box. That means the more terms you use in your search phrase, the more precise your search results will be. Consider all the features, functions, and traits of the item you want. Some possible attributes to include:

  • Manufacturer/Brand
  • Model Name/Number
  • Color
  • Size

For example, let's say we're searching for floor mats for our vintage 1967 VW Beetle. A search for "beetle floor mats" would return thousands of results with very few relevant ones. Using more words -- e.g., "VW vintage beetle floor mats ladybug black" -- returns fewer, but much more relevant listings.

Keep in mind if you get very specific, such as "1967 vintage VW Beetle floor mats" and nothing comes up you may want to step back just a little bit and be a little less specific.

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Use Different Words

Most sellers try to cram as many ways to describe an item as they can fit in the listing title, but there is never enough room for all the variations. To cast as wide a net as possible in your search, think of all the different ways your item might be described. Then think of synonyms for those terms.

Some ways to generate more search words:

  • Different ways to say the same thing. For example, laptop/notebook, Bug/Beetle.
  • Abbreviations. For example, Volkswagen/VW.
  • Misspellings or alternate spellings. For example, floor mat/floormat.

In our search for floor mats, we could try different phrases to find as many listings as possible. For example:

  • VW beetle floormats
  • volkswagen bug floor mats
  • ... and so on ...

Check out what your competition is doing. You might be surprised to find what they're doing to get the top search results.

When it comes to descriptions you can never include too many variations, descriptions, etc. as you never know exactly what your potential buyer may be typing in to find what they're looking for.

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Don't Worry About Capitalization

Lowercase, uppercase, mixed case... it doesn't matter in eBay search, so don't worry about it.

Sellers: This is a good tip to remember when creating listings. Use capitalization in the title and subtitle to draw attention to your listing, not to have proper grammar. The floor mats listing might be titled like so to maximize visibility:

FLOOR MATS complete set rubber VW BUG BEETLE vintage

The all-uppercase words immediately catch the reader's eye and tell them the most important information about the item for sale.

It's not necessarily about being grammatically correct but more about having your listing stand out amongst the competition.

This is also a good place to include common misspellings of words.

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Use Parentheses for "Or" Searches

To search for one word OR another, put the words in parentheses, divided by commas.

To further refine our search for floor mats, we can consider other ways to describe the item. For example, the VW Beetle is often called the Bug. We can look for listings that contain either of these words by surrounding the words in parentheses:

(bug, beetle)

You can also have multiple OR groupings. For example, the following pattern looks for listings that contain "bug" OR "beetle" AND "vintage OR air cooled OR collector" AND "vw OR volkswagen":

(bug, beetle) (vintage, air cooled, collector) (vw, volkswagen)
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Use minus signs (-) for Negative Words

If you put a minus sign in front of a word (e.g., "-carpet"), you're telling eBay's search engine to not include any listing that contains those words.

This feature is useful for eliminating items related to the one you're looking for. For example, in our search for the perfect lady bug rubber floor mats for a VW Beetle, we might use negative words like "-dodge", "-carpet", or "-jetta" to focus our search results.

The following example tells the search to look for listings that contain "VW" and "floormats" but not "jetta":

vw floormats -jetta

This pattern also works with an OR grouping. For example, the following pattern means DO NOT include listings that contain "carpet,""jetta," OR "passat:"

-(carpet, jetta, passat)
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Use an Asterisk (*) as a Wildcard

An asterisk (*) in your search phrase means "any combination of any letters, numbers, or symbols can go here."

For example, searching for "floormat*" would match "floormat" and "floormats" due to the possibility of the wildcard.

Fun tip: this also works for most search engines, including Google.

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Use Quotes to be Literal

If you put double quotes "like this" around a phrase, the results will only show listings where the words in quotes are in the exact order you specified.

So if you put double quotes around "lady bug floor mats," only listings that match the order of the words will show up in the results. That means listings that use the same words, but in a different order, will not be included.

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Mix and Match the Best Search Tactics

Using a few of the preceding tactics, we can create a super search query that gets us exactly what we want.

(vw, volkswagen) (bug, beetle) (floor mat*, floormat*) -(jetta, passat, rabbit, carpet)

This search query is asking for listings that match the following criteria:

  1. contains "vw" OR "volkswagen", AND
  2. contains "bug" OR "beetle", AND
  3. contains words beginning with "floor mat" OR "floormat", AND
  4. does NOT contain any of the words "jetta" OR "passat" OR "rabbit" OR "carpet".

Whether you're a seller or buyer on eBay, using these search tips can be helpful to help your potential buyers find your listings and makeit easier for a seller to find an item from a buyer - making it easier for buyers and sellers to get connected and do business.

Edited by Brian T. Edmondson