One of my side hustles is buying and selling and naturally, eBay plays a part. eBay is not always my first choice for certain items/categories, but in many cases, it is. In those cases I use eBay, I am OK with the high eBay fees and eventual PayPal transaction fee because I know I am getting a lot of eyeballs (impressions) on my item compared to other sites.
I want to share some of my eBay search engine optimization (SEO) tips to help you better list and get more eyeballs to your items. I get contacted from time to time to provide tips on optimizing eBay listings and I figured I would help my OMG My Money community.
1. Research keyword, description, and category and check other listings (active, completed, and sold items)
The first thing I recommend is to do your research on eBay and check active, completed, and sold listings. These will give you ideas on keywords to use, description language to use, categories to select, and average prices listed and/or sold.
My main side hustle is buying and selling sports cards. I am very familiar with the industry and have enough experience, but every single time, I will research completed and sold listings to get an idea of price. Another fun side hustle I started thanks to my occasional business trips is thrift shopping. This was an area I did not have any experience so I researched keywords used in the title, categories selected, and text used to describe the item.
Ignore any advice that recommends you go through extensive keyword research. This is absolutely unnecessary. I am a long time eBay buyer and seller and I can tell you that the basic research I recommend is all you need. It already takes enough time to take pictures and list the item.
2. Use the item listing title character limit to the max
You must maximize the limited real estate you have in the item listing title. As you can see below, you have 80 characters. Make your title readable and do not keyword stuff. eBay will actually flag you and possibly take down your listing if you put irrelevant keywords in your title.
An example I recently experienced was when I listed a t-shirt from the 90s. I noticed many sellers listing similar shirts as “vintage”, so I included that word in my listing. Nearly a month later, eBay flagged my item citing that my listing title included keywords that were not relevant to the listing.
3. Watch out for duplicate keywords and different variations in the item listing title
One tactic that I have used and worked out well is realizing that duplicate keywords provide no extra benefit and including different variations of words help. I have seen some include misspellings, but the search volume for these tend to be very low so I would not use the valuable and limited real estate to include misspellings.
For example, if I am listing a Men’s tshirt and I have enough characters remaining in my listing, I will include “Men’s” and “Mens” as well as “t-shirt” and “tshirt”. The word “shirt” is already captured in “t-shirt” so that would be a duplicate keyword that wastes characters.
4. Do not use emoticons, special characters, or say “free shipping” in your item title listing
Emoticons/emojis and special characters such as #, $, %, ! have no impact to when a person reads your listing. People can easily compare your listing with others with just a few clicks. I have found no evidence of my item being viewed more often or my sales increasing because I included an exclamation point or any other special character.
The words “free shipping” used to matter, but now, eBay will let the buyer know if the item has free shipping. There is no need to waste the valuable space in your product listing title. See the example below in which eBay clearly states free shipping even before you click on the title to view the item description.
5. Use relevant eBay categories and subcategories
The category you use is important. Using a relevant category for your listed item is critical. eBay will flag you if you try to use a different category other than the category you are supposed to be using. I have been flagged before for trying to get more visibility on my item by listing an item in a different non-related category. Will eBay catch every single mis-categorized item, no, but why risk it.
6. Take good quality pictures and close up pictures
This is important for your potential customers and for visibility of your items. You want to make sure your pictures are of good quality (professional quality not necessary) and also have close up pictures. People are generally visually focused and when they cannot feel something in their hands, you want to comfort them as much as possible by giving as much details with your description and pictures. I take both close up and standard pictures using my iPhone.
7. Write your description and include additional details and keywords
Although I do not take this one as seriously because of the time I spend on my item listing title and pictures, I do recommend you add additional details and keywords in your description. Do not spam the description and keyword stuff this section. As you can see in the screenshot below, customers can search and “include description”.
8. Fill out eBay specifics, but skipping is fine if you want to save time
This is going to be up to you, the seller. Obviously the more time you spend filling out the details, the better it is for your potential customers and for visibility. That said, I personally do not bother filling out the “item specifics” section of any of my items. The reason is because I manually list all my items and in order to save time, I focus on my product listing title, description, and pictures rather than spend those extra minutes filling out the item specifics. This is my personal preference because the other items listed takes so much time for me to complete. If you want to save time and quickly list, skip it.