Andy
by Andy

Websites for eBay Sellers

Why eBay sellers need websites, how to build one, add eBay auctions, and promote the site.

Tags: Selling, Websites

Contents

Why does an eBay seller need a website?

As discussed in the Selling FAQ, there is a lot of work for a successful eBay seller to do. Why should you put so much time and effort into your auctions? Ultimately there is only one reason: to make a profit by selling your items for the best possible price. To get the best price you need your auction to be seen by as many potential buyers as possible.

At any one time there are around fifteen million items listed for sale on eBay. Fifteen million. Your auction is like a needle in a haystack - it will not simply be stumbled across. The most common way items are found is through the basic search on the home page, which by default searches only the 55-character auction title. So, to get your item seen on eBay, you have to distill everything that can be said about it into a handful of carefully-chosen words that you think buyers will search for.

How can you increase your chances of your auction being found? One way is to pay extra fees for eBay listing upgrades, another is to target potential buyers outside eBay, who you can then bring to your auctions. If you do not promote your auctions outside eBay, you are missing a huge audience of potential buyers. By developing a simple, content-rich web site built upon your trading knowledge, you can build trust with potential buyers and encourage them to view and bid on your auctions.

How do I go about building a website?

You will need the following to begin building your site:

  1. A web host - this is a company that gives you space on their web servers where you can put your site. Your ISP (the company that provides your Internet connection) may offer you free or discounted hosting services, or there are many independent hosting companies that sell affordable web space.

    Many hosts tell you that they offer huge amounts of web space (how much hard disk space your site can use), and data transfer (how busy your site can be), but the most important factor is the speed of your web site - if your visitors have to wait more than a few seconds for each page to load they will give up and go elsewhere. Choose a hosting company that offers a free trial, or a short contract period, to get a feel for the site speed that is really available.

  2. A domain name - this is the first part of a web address, e.g. "yahoo.com". You do not need your own domain name to create a website - you can often use your host's domain name, e.g. "http://users.host.com/user123abc/", but this gives an amateur feel to the site and may hurt your position on search engines. If you choose to register your own domain name, it may be cheap and easy to do this through your web hosting company, but test them out first - if they are not up to scratch you will need to transfer the name away, which can be a slow process.

    Try to choose a domain name that matches your eBay ID - so visitors quickly associate you with the site, or a name that concisely describes your business.

  3. An HTML editor - this is a program that you use to create web pages and sites. Do not be tempted to use your word processing package - it may offer to save documents "as web page" or "as HTML" but the results, once viewed with a browser, can be very unpredictable. There are many excellent HTML editors available which can produce great results - try creating sample pages with a few of them before settling on one. When creating your site, keep it simple and easy on the eye, look at other sites for ideas, and ask friends for feedback. Above all, take the point of view of the average visitor to the site - someone who wants to find relevant information very quickly and with the minimum of effort.

What should I put on the site?

The purpose of the site is to project a professional and approachable image of yourself, and to direct visitors to your auctions. To help project the right image, include information about yourself - not wedding photos and irrelevant hobbies - but describe your approach to selling on eBay, include experiences and qualifications that are relevant to items you sell, and provide contact information. To avoid receiving spam, only include your email address in an image (which cannot be read by spamming programs), or use a contact form instead of displaying your email address.

Web site "content" is the key to attracting visitors to your web site from search engines such as Google. Content is textual material on your site that is useful to visitors, for example articles or advice about the kind of items you sell, and information about your current inventory. The more relevant text there is on your site the better. Try to keep in mind the keywords potential visitors will enter in search engines - particularly unusual combinations of words, jargon, or product names that are related to what you sell - and include these words in your content.

How do I add my eBay auctions?

You can add details of your auctions manually or automatically. The manual method has the advantage that you can include detailed information which is seen as additional content by search engines, increasing the chance that visitors will come to your site. The disadvantage is that you have to work hard to keep the information up to date.

Adding your auctions automatically is done with Javascript - hidden text inserted into your web page which displays your auctions when the page is viewed in a web browser. This service is provided by a number of services, many of which are free.

An alternative and simple method of directing visitors to your auctions is to add a link to your "Items for Sale" page on eBay.

How do I promote the site?

You can have the greatest web site in the world but it doesn't matter if nobody sees it. There are many search engines and directories on the web but the most important is Google, which attracts around 250 millions searches each day, and accounts for 80% of the traffic to many web sites. First, either submit your web site to Google by using their add URL form, or get a web site already listed on Google to link to you - either method will cause Google's "spider" to visit your web site and add your pages to its database. Secondly, ask sites that are related by topic to your own (but not your competitors!) to add a link to your site, and submit your site to one or more directories - a listing in DMOZ in particular should have a noticeable effect on your Google ranking (your site's position in the search results).

Don't forget to advertise your site on any media you have control of - your eBay About Me page, email signature, packing slips and business cards. Your web site is an important way to attract buyers and encourage repeat business, use it to your advantage!

Where can I learn more?


Article Added: 11 November 2003
Last Updated: 12 October 2007