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A Few Ideas to Optimize for eBay Search

Posted on 5.18.2015

With 157 million buyers worldwide, 800 million listings at any given time and $20.2 billion in closed transactions in Q1 2015, eBay remains a viable marketplace on which to buy and sell new and used goods. 

In fact, a pair of shoes is sold every 2 seconds in the U.S. on eBay, a woman's dress every second and a major appliance every 16 seconds. With so much competition, however, individuals and businesses selling on eBay need to understand how the marketplace's search engine works. 

Dan Fain, VP of search technology for eBay, has spent the better part of 4-1/2 years improving the search platform (he was formerly with Microsoft and Yahoo), resulting in technology that allows small sellers to compete alongside larger retailers to deliver buyers relevant results. This is done in part through machine learning (eBay is able to predict, for example, whether there will be a problem with a transaction) and using its three search dimensions (trust, value and relevance) to determine results. 

For those looking to optimize for eBay search, start here:

Be Trustworthy – When it comes to how products are delivered to shoppers through eBay search, trust is of high importance. According to Fain, sellers should be asking themselves: How do the shoppers perceive you; do they know the transaction will go smoothly; are your policies and refunds fair; do you have a good reputation?

"In our marketplace, sellers compete based on trust," said Fain. "Whatever your niche is, you are in competition with other merchants [in that niche], so the more trustworthy of an experience [you offer], the better." 

Offer Value – The second dimension of eBay search is value. Sellers should know whether their items are competitively priced based on the condition of the item (and keep in mind 81 percent of products listed on eBay are at a fixed price, rather than "action," which made eBay so popular so many years ago). What's more, eBay's marketplace has changed dramically in that 80 percent of the products sold on eBay are new. Therefore, shoppers are expecting a similar experience to what they would find on major retail websites: fair shipping, quick delivery, etc. Finally, sellers will want to know that 59 percent of items sold on eBay ship for free. 

Prove Relevancy – The third dimension of eBay search is relevance, which is similar to the importance of relevancy in a website's SEO initiatives. Fain recommends that sellers make sure they have clean (no typos, for example) and concise titles, make sure the products are in the right category and make sure to provide structured data, like catalog data. What's more, just like optimizing for Google, Fain warns against keyword stuffing in the listing titles or putting in misleading keywords. 

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