Currently ranked the 35th most popular website in the world, eBay continues its impressive growth and shows no signs of slowing down. With more than 176 million monthly visitors from all over the world, it’s one of the best options for putting your products in front of a massive audience.
That’s why eBay remains an online destination of choice for so many businesses. With thousands of thousands of sellers currently offering their products on the site, visitors have to use the search option to find what they’re looking for.
In fact, reports show that up to 90 percent of searches on the website are done using this option. The official list of the most popular and trending products shows that thousands of people use product names and other keywords to look for them; for example, one of the hottest items right now - Travis Scott Air Jordan shoes - has been searched for 8210 times.
This supports the fact that eBay has evolved into a search engine by itself, which raised the need for eBay SEO. To make sure that your product has the best chance of popping up in the search results, optimizing the listing is essential now.
If you’re looking for tips with getting that right, check out the rest of the article!
The Basics of eBay SEO
Knowing the essentials of optimization before developing and implementing your eBay strategy will go a long way in giving your products a great chance to get appreciable exposure. That’s why we’ll begin with the basics so you know what you’re doing.
To help visitors with finding products, eBay has a dedicated search engine called Cassini (fun fact: it was named after a NASA space probe which studied Saturn and its moons). You can’t see it directly because it’s embedded in the site, but knowing about how it works is just as important as knowing how Google’s algorithms impact website ranking.
Like Google and other search engines, Cassini collects tons of data regarding searches, engagement, browsing and purchasing behavior, among other things. For example, it gathers and analyzes the search-related data to define the most popular products and rank their sellers accordingly.
The main principle that describes how Cassini works is the so-called Sell-Through Rate (STR). Simply explained, it’s the percentage of the sold inventory out of the total inventory in stock. For example, if your prices are some of the highest in your category and you’re not selling a lot, you’ll have a low STR.
This is something to be avoided, as Cassini considers a low STR a sign that a seller is wasting everybody’s time with high prices and other conditions that buyers don’t appreciate. By “other conditions,” I mean poor return policies, inaccurate product descriptions, a lack of buyer-friendly shipping policies and delivery times, poor product descriptions, etc.
In other words, if you’re a seller on eBay, you’re being watched at all times.
Based on the STR and other data that Cassini collects, it assigns a certain score to a product listing. This score shows well - or not - that listing meets eBay’s criteria.
eBay’s creators call it an algorithm, so we’re going to follow suit. In the next section, we’re going to review the techniques that allow meeting the requirements of Cassini’s algorithm.
How to Create a Winning eBay SEO Strategy?
So what does Cassini want from you? The best answer that I can give you is “be as buyer-friendly as possible.”
Just like Google, it wants sellers to consider the needs of the customers first, which means making the search for items as simple and easy as possible. This includes giving them accurate and clear information, being reasonable about prices and shopping/return policies, and offering the convenience of the shopping experience.
So how to deliver that?
Write Optimized Product Titles
As we already know, product descriptions are critical for a good STR. If the majority of customers visiting your listing leaves without purchasing anything because you don’t provide them with enough product-related information, Cassini will notice that.
Heck, Cassini even tracks the number of times customers have enlarged your product’s images (check out this guide to eBay image requirements to know how to make your visuals more attractive to customers)
To increase your chances of providing positive feedback to Cassini, you need to get product titles and descriptions right.
First, the product description is like a big billboard showing Cassini what your product is about, make sure to write it according to these recommendations:
- No more than 80 characters
- No copies, only unique title
- Try to include some of the top features in the title
- Avoid HTML, promotional text, prices, sale conditions, etc.
- All-caps is a big no-no (unless the actual name of the product must be written this way)
- Include keywords associated with the product (name, features, etc).
- Use power words as well as words that foster customer trust, e.g. “official” or “genuine”
- Avoid superfluous and salesy words like “fantastic.”
For example, the titles of the products below meet the above requirements beautifully.
Next stop, descriptions.
Write Optimized Descriptions
Here’s what to keep in mind here:
- Write clear and accurate descriptions to avoid misleading customers (doing so is a huge no-no according to eBay’s Item Description policy)
- Make the description easy to read and scan. Unnecessarily long and dense writing is a sure-fire way to make visitors leave. To hold their attention for as long as possible, you should write concise paragraphs and include only the most relevant information. Limiting paragraphs to two or three sentences is generally a good idea
- If you need to present features in a table, please do, it’ll make it easier for readers to consume information
- Use lists to describe features
- Include keywords. This one is first and foremost for Cassini; make sure to include the keywords your customers use to look for your products
- Avoid adding text to visuals; neither Google nor Cassini detect it
- Separate sections so the reader could scan the text quickly and avoid confusion.
This product page has a good example of a description that meets these requirements.
As you can see, the text is well-structured, concise, and to-the-point.
We’ve mentioned keywords multiple times above, but they certainly deserve a separate section. For Cassini, they’re just as important as for Google, so you as a seller should have good keyword skills.
First and foremost, keywords are the words and word combinations that your customers use to find your products. They include:
- Product type, e.g. “smartwatch”
- Product characteristics, e.g. “stainless steel case smartwatch”
- Product generations, e.g. “iPod Touch 4th generation.”
Featuring these in the product title and description is a must to help Cassini to provide accurate results for numerous people searching eBay for new buys.
Important: never use keyword stuffing. Search engines are really hard to fool by including a bunch of keywords, plus this practice leads to penalties. For example, Google has made it clear that keyword stuffing results in a poor ranking and Cassini should have a similar attitude towards this unwanted practice.
There are multiple ways to perform keyword research for eBay. For example, you can take a look at what the best sellers use to describe similar products, use Google Keyword Planner, or simply search Google for options.
For example, here’s how a Google search can turn into keyword research.
As you can see, even a single Google query can give you a lot of ideas about how to describe your product, so feel free to begin your research. Make sure to search in your target language, too, if the title includes non-English words.
End Good Til Cancelled Listings Automatically
It’s a known fact that Good Til Cancelled listings provide greater exposure to buyers and improve eBay SEO. In this eBay Community post, the company quotes Harry Temkin, VP of Seller Experience as saying:
“We’re making this change because we have seen that GTC listings offer more sales opportunities than any other fixed price duration. Over time, GTC listings keep and grow watchers, sales history, and SEO authority as they maintain the same item ID and URL for the life of the listing.”
Since the number of sales generated by such listing influences the ability to rank on eBay, using Good Til Cancelled can be a good idea. However, to avoid being charged for new listing fees when your listings renew (they do so every 30 days) as well as the delay that comes with the change, you should end them yourself.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of eBay SEO as well as essential techniques, you can apply this knowledge to improve your authority and get ranked higher in search results. As you can see, doing SEO for eCommerce is rather a marathon than a sprint, so be patient and keep improving every day. Believe me, Cassini will notice that, as it’s always watching!