This post is by Matthew Ferguson of Emanaged and Rich Insight.
To make sales on eBay, buyers have to find you first. The way that happens is through search. If your listings appear at the top of eBay’s search results, you will get more views and more sales. If your listings are nowhere to be found, you’ll get zero.
What is the magic formula for reaching the top of eBay’s search results? That’s what this guide is all about. By using these tried and tested eBay SEO tips you can improve your search ranking, get more views and make more sales.
eBay listing optimization is one element of that, but it’s not the whole picture. There are four key practices shown to have the greatest impact on eBay search ranking. While they aren’t practical for all sellers, you really should use them if you possibly can.
Here’s everything you need to know about improving your search ranking to get more views and sales on eBay.
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eBay’s search engine: Cassini
Cassini is the name of eBay’s current search engine technology, introduced back in 2013. It is named after the Cassini space probe and replaced eBay’s previous space-themed search engine, Voyager.
Why is search so important? eBay’s mission is for buyers to have the best shopping experience possible, to help them find relevant products and complete purchases easily. An enjoyable and efficient shopping experience keeps buyers coming back to the site which is good for eBay and, of course, good for sellers too.
Search is at the center of online shopping, for eBay and everyone else as well. eBay wants a buyer to enter a search term and be presented with competitively priced products that closely match their requirements, offered by sellers with excellent customer service.
To do this, the Cassini search engine has to take dozens of factors into account including listing information, feedback, performance metrics, sales history, previous buyer behavior and more. The result is a page of search results containing all the listings eBay believes are relevant and, most importantly, that are ordered (or “ranked”) so the “best” listing is at the very top. Let’s look at that in a little more detail.
Best Match search ranking
The ordering of search results on eBay is known as “Best Match”. The ranking is critical, because we all look through search results from top to bottom. The top three search results on any platform (Google, eBay, Amazon) get the majority of views, while the bottom three search results usually get none.
Buyers can change from Best Match to another order of results, but Best Match is the default:
Your goal, as a seller, is to get your listings shown to as many buyers as possible, by being ranked as highly as possible in the search results. eBay’s goal is to show only relevant listings to buyers, and to rank them so the “best” listings are first.
Succeeding at eBay SEO is about aligning those goals – to give eBay all the right signals to indicate that your listing should be ranked as one of the best matches for a specific search query. You can’t directly control this, but you can influence eBay’s algorithm by optimizing your listings, maintaining high standards as a seller, and using the right marketing tactics.
It’s both a science and an art, consisting on the one hand of clear-cut best practices, and on the other hand of instinct and experimentation. There is no single recipe for making a successful listing, but there are plenty of well-understood contributing factors.
A good listing needs a balance of those factors, depending on the product type, time of year, pricing and more.
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How this guide is organized
The tips in this article are in three main sections:
- The fundamental four. These are the factors that have been shown to have the greatest impact on eBay search ranking. Do as many of these as you can.
- Listing optimization. This is the detail of how to build eBay listings that give positive signals to the Cassini search engine and look compelling in the search results.
- Conversion optimization. This is how to maximize your conversion rate, so as many buyers as possible who find your listing proceed to buy your item. It’s one of the fundamental four factors and a very in-depth topic in its own right.
Listing optimization and conversion optimization are practices that you should always try to do, but there is a lot of detail and a steep learning curve if you are a beginner at eBay SEO. The fundamental four cut across both of those and highlight the most important factors to start with.
The fundamental four
There are many, many things you can do to optimize your listings and improve your eBay SEO. But if you don’t have the time and energy to take all of them in right now, and your listings are in reasonable shape already, these are the top four to focus on.
1. Optimize your titles
Your title is the number one area eBay examines initially. It’s “prime real estate” on your listings and you want to make sure it has been optimized for the right search terms before you go on to anything else.
But a word of warning first. This isn’t about “keyword-stuffing” – throwing in all the keywords you can think of, with no regard to relevance or readability. A good title should read well. It should be easy for our lazy human brains to scan and understand. The more “work” you place on the buyer to read the title, the more they will subconsciously dislike your listing, especially if other results are easier to read by comparison.
Also recognize that keyword stuffing is intended to attract as many buyers as possible to your listing, instead of just buyers who are looking for your specific product. This is bad eBay SEO and will backfire. If you fill your titles with barely relevant words, buyers will click on your listing but quickly realize it is not what they wanted and bounce back to the search results. This lowers your conversion rate, telling eBay that your listing was a “bad” search result, and pushes your search ranking down over time.
We recommend a checklist approach to eBay title creation. When you create your titles, work through the following:
- Aim for a title between 65 and 80 characters (the maximum).
- Include the product type (shoe, bed, laptop) near the front of the title.
- Use synonyms but keep them relevant to the product. Use words that buyers use and avoid jargon or acronyms that they won’t know.
- Include as many useful details, features and USPs as you can. These help the buyer decide if your listing is what they want before they click on it, helping to keep conversions high.
- Use Proper Case (capitalize the first letter of each word), not all caps. Using all caps doesn’t help your listing stand out, it’s ANNOYING and hard to read.
- Check that the title is in a natural order and easy to read.
- Don’t falsely use a brand name such as “iPad style tablet”. You’re just annoying a lot of buyers looking for an iPad, and hammering your conversion rate. You might also get in trouble with trademark violations.
When you are doing this, always think like a buyer and do a sense check. Is it easy for someone to understand what your product is, just from the title? When they click through to your listing, will it confirm what they understood from the title, or will they be unpleasantly surprised?
Using a formula to build titles works well in many cases, but it is category dependent. Here’s a guideline for apparel:
Brand + Gender + Item + Additional Keywords/USPs + Synonyms
And an example of a title following that formula:
2. Qualify for the free shipping message
Fast and free shipping has now become one of the main factors taken into account by both the Cassini search engine and buyers. In fact, in 2019, 71% of eBay purchases were shipped for free.
Shoppers have become used to fast delivery (often one or two-day), particularly in certain categories, or if they’re Amazon Prime subscribers. If you don’t offer the four-day delivery to qualify for the free shipping message, you may lose the order to another seller on eBay, or to another website entirely.
Basically, we’re all spoiled for choice and service. Just as Amazon customers select Prime to filter the search results, many eBay buyers will select “Free Shipping” from the left-hand navigation.
If you aren’t offering this, you simply won’t be found by many buyers. Even if they don’t filter you out entirely, Best Match will push you down the rankings.
We appreciate that it is not practical to offer free shipping for every product or business model. But if you can adopt it, then you should.
Note that eBay’s free shipping program is no longer called “Fast ‘N Free” but the new free shipping message has the same requirements.
3. Maximize conversion rate
Conversion rate is so important to eBay SEO, and comes up throughout this guide because it relates to just about every aspect of selling on eBay. There’s a whole section on it later with eight tips. But it’s also one of the fundamental four, because understanding the basic principles of conversion rate optimization can take you a long way.
It’s a simple formula:
Conversion Rate = Sales/Clicks
So if there are 100 clicks to your listing from the search results, and as a result your product has eight sales, your conversion rate will be 8/100 or 8%.
The higher your conversion rate is, the higher you’ll appear in the search results (as long as your product is relevant to the search query). eBay’s Best Match algorithm sees your listing as “better” if the conversion rate is higher. The fact that, say, 8% of buyers purchased your product after viewing it indicates that it is probably a better product than one that only 1% of buyers purchased after viewing.
Far too often, newcomers to eBay miss this nuance and bombard their titles with lots of off-topic keywords. This helps boost search impressions initially, and spurs some sales as a result. But in the long term it works against you, because the irrelevant keywords lower the conversion rate, and the ranking will fall lower and lower over time.
Simply put, a high conversion rate comes from plenty of traffic to your listing from people who actually want your product. A low conversion rate comes from getting heaps of visitors who are not really interested in your listing. Less is more when it comes to conversion rate.
4. Use volume price discounts
In terms of eBay SEO, volume price discounts are ranked up there with titles, conversion rate and free shipping. This might be news to some veteran eBay sellers, as it wasn’t always so important.
Volume price discounts are easy to set up. Go to Selling → Marketing → Promotions, create a promotion, and select volume pricing (or “multi-buy” in the UK). Select the dates when the discount applies and the level of discount you’re willing to offer, which can be as little as 1% off for buying two of the same item.
It’s easy for buyers to see what they’ll save as eBay illustrates each option for them, and shows a prominent message above the main image stating the maximum they can save. This really aids conversion as all the calculations are taken care of.
eBay, the seller and even the buyer all win if there is one larger order instead of many smaller ones. That’s why volume pricing (or multi-buy) is such an important factor in eBay’s search algorithm.
As an added bonus, selling multiple items in one order saves money on shipping. It’s far better to sell two or three of an item together so you can consolidate them into one package, particularly with small items. It may cost exactly the same as sending a single item. If you offer free shipping, then those savings are all yours.
If you have worked through the fundamental four, and are ready to take your eBay SEO skills further, this section goes into more detail on how to improve your listings and boost your search ranking further.
5. Use variation listings
When you have multiple versions of the same product, such as clothing in different sizes and colors, you can create a single listing that covers all the different types. These are called variation listings, and are important both for search and conversion.
Let’s look at search first. Imagine you are selling baby bodysuits that come in ten different colors. You could list them all separately on eBay, and have ten listings as a result. This is what many new sellers do, believing that ten listings are better than one.
Actually, it’s almost always better to create a single variation listing instead. There are always some products that sell better than others. Blue and pink baby bodysuits will be searched for more often, and will sell in larger quantities than turquoise or maroon. With separate listings, every color has to fight for search ranking individually. Blue and pink might do quite well, but the other colors will be lost.
If you group all these versions together, the strong mainstream sellers (blue and pink) will help boost the more fringe colors (turquoise and maroon). If one is selling well, then all will get a boost in the search rankings.
Variations are also good for conversion, because they provide a better shopping experience. If a buyer finds your blue baby bodysuit as a single listing, but realizes it’s not the right color or size, they will now navigate to another listing. There was no conversion, so your conversion rate and search ranking will be impacted.
But if the buyer is presented with a variation listing, they can see all the colors you offer in one place and easily choose whichever they prefer. As long as they buy one, that will count as a conversion for the whole listing, and it will enjoy a boost in search ranking as a result.
A word of caution: don’t force variations, combining hundreds of items with four or five different selection filters. Just create variations where eBay offers you a matching attribute for it (size, color, style, etc), and avoid combinations which are not a natural fit together.
Avoid having more than three variation attributes, even if it does make logical sense for a particular product. Buyers will be confused by all the choices and navigate away, or even purchase the wrong product.
6. Choose the right category
Some eBay sellers believe that categories are no longer important, because buyers search for products instead of browsing through the category hierarchy as they did twenty years ago.
It’s true that categories are not the first means of navigation any more, but they are often used as a secondary filter. As you can see below, even a relatively niche search like “hiking boots” has several relevant sub categories shown in both the search suggestions and the category links on the left hand side.
Choose the most accurate category possible, to ensure that buyers who filter the results will still find your product. As with titles, don’t be tempted to choose a more popular but less relevant category. This will have the opposite effect on your eBay SEO, excluding the listing when buyers try to get more relevant results, and including it when they are looking for something different. The result? A lower conversion rate, fewer sales, and a poorer search ranking.
What if your product fits in more than one category? Taking the example above, a buyer looking for a pair of women’s hiking boots might click on “Women’s Boots” or “Women’s Athletic Shoes” to narrow down the results, depending on whether they prefer an easy stroll over flat country or a strenuous mountain trek.
The good news is, with some exclusions, eBay allows you to use two categories for product listings. Then a buyer clicking on either category will still find your listing.
An additional insertion fee applies for a second category, and the following categories are excluded:
- Adult items
- Some Business & Industrial categories
- DVD & Blu-ray Discs
- GPS Units and MP3 Players
- Motor Vehicles
- Real Estate
Most importantly, variation listings might not be compatible with having a second category. If you choose a second category that doesn’t allow variations, or doesn’t have the variation attributes that you need, it’s better to stick with one category and a properly constructed variation listing rather than forcing a second category.
Always choose relevant categories. Deliberately selecting categories that are not appropriate falls under eBay’s search manipulation policy.
7. Use all the item specifics
eBay is a famously “noisy” marketplace, with millions of active listings. Buyers quickly learn that they can find products much more quickly if they use the provided filters to narrow down the results.
Continuing the hiking boots example above, there are well over 100,000 results, but these can be quickly narrowed down by size, brand, width, color and even features, upper material and season.
In order for your products to appear when buyers use these filters, you’ll need to provide values specific to your product type and category. eBay calls these item specifics. Some are mandatory, some will be mandatory in the future, and others are simply “recommended”.
eBay reports that 65-80% of listings do not include the top three item specifics for their category. These products will quickly disappear from search when filtered. Many sellers are not being found on relevant search pages simply because they don’t take the time to add these details.
So fill in the item specifics on eBay, for all your products, in all categories, every time. No exceptions. It’s even more important on mobile, where buyers are encouraged to filter the results instead of swiping endlessly through listings.
You can tell which item specifics are most used by buyers, by searching yourself and then looking at their order in the left hand navigation, or clicking the “More filters…” button to open the box shown above. eBay is also showing how many searches include different item specifics when you list items directly on eBay (as opposed to using a third-party listing tool).
Some item specifics are also indexed in search, making them extensions of your title and making a direct impact on eBay SEO.
eBay provides a number of features for finding missing item specifics. Use these to identify listings which can be improved and then make changes in bulk.
8. Get a boost with Promoted Listings
Promoted Listings is eBay’s advertising scheme for sellers. It is relatively new compared to eBay’s 25 years as a marketplace, and was introduced in 2015. There were some teething problems at first, but those have all been fixed now.
Promoted Listings works by providing a higher “sponsored” position in the search results in return for a percentage of the sale price that you choose (in addition to the usual final value fee). For example, if you sell a product for $10 and offer 10% for the Promoted Listing ad, you’re effectively offering eBay one dollar to boost the listing’s ranking in the search results.
Importantly, you only pay eBay if you make a sale from the ad. This differs from the more conventional PPC model of Google Ads and Amazon Sponsored Products, where you pay for every click. You don’t pay eBay the Promoted Listings fee for sales that come from your ordinary placement in the search results.
eBay Promoted Listings can be a powerful tool to boost new listings and bring in some early sales. This creates an immediate sales history and conversion rate, helping to avoid the drop in search ranking that often occurs once a listing is no longer “new”. This feeds back into eBay SEO and the search algorithm, as the paid sales also improve the organic (unpaid) ranking of your listing.
Promoted Listings can also help to get a new seller account off the ground, speed the liquidation of excess stock, or simply be used as part of an ongoing marketing strategy.
With over sixty potential ad placements in the eBay search results on desktop, mobile and the mobile app, sellers with Promoted Listings can hoover up a lot of the sales from those who are not using it.
9. Be competitive on price
eBay has always been known for low pricing. eBay buyers expect it and they have a reputation as bargain hunters. While all online channels need to offer competitive prices, on eBay it is even more important.
The search results have their own pricing filters, and it is also possible to switch from Best Match to sorting by price. eBay buyers who are really determined to find the best price will refine their search terms and use the filters (categories, item specifics) to get really relevant results, then sort by price to find the very lowest.
Note that the filters use price excluding shipping. Some sellers will bump up the shipping cost so their listings appear cheaper at first glance and are shown for lower price filters. We don’t recommend those kinds of deceptive tactics. Not only are they misleading, but they are likely to lower your conversion rate. Your listing should always meet buyers’ expectations, and a surprisingly high total price is likely to cause frustration.
However, it is a good idea to consider price filters, and pricing in general, as part of your eBay SEO strategy. Search for your product type and look at the price filters with the checkboxes. In the example above, these are:
- Under $40.00
- $40.00 to $55.00
- Over $55.00
Many buyers will choose one of these price filters rather than typing in their own numbers, so you should avoid pricing your products at the bottom of these bands.
For example, pricing your product at $41 will cause it to fall out of the results for the lowest price band above, and pricing your product at $56 will mean it is excluded from the middle price band. A slight price drop will bring it back in both cases. Bear in mind that these bands are automatically calculated by eBay, based on the prices of the items in the results, so they can change over time.
Automatic repricing on eBay is a growing topic, but there are challenges. eBay, unlike many marketplaces, is not catalog-driven. This means that one product can have thousands of listings from different sellers. In contrast, a catalog-driven marketplace like Amazon requires sellers of the same product to “connect” to one listing in the Amazon product catalog.
Because eBay listings are not tied to a central catalog, eBay repricing tools must find their own way to identify listings of the same product. Some simply restrict repricing to listings with a UPC, while others use keyword matching and machine learning to match items in a more sophisticated way that works even if there are no product identifiers.
This does, however, mean there can be occasional mistakes leading to unnecessarily low prices because your listing is matched to a product that is not the same. Conversely, your prices can be too high and impact sales negatively, because the system fails to match your listing to a competitor that has a better price.
Overall, a repricing tool can be very effective on eBay for many sellers, but you should choose your strategy carefully and be prepared to vary it over time. Repricing is useful, but needs to be used with caution and monitoring, rather than turning it up to the maximum on all products at all times.
10. Use subtitles strategically
Subtitles have been around on eBay almost since the very beginning, providing a way to help your listing stand amongst the crowd. In tests, adding a subtitle to an existing listing showed an increase in page views of 26%, according to an eBay study back in 2012.
However, subtitles attract an additional fee. Those fees have increased in recent years, and currently stand at $1.50 for a Good ‘Til Cancelled listing with a price under $150. This is why subtitles should be used strategically. Just adding them to all your listings expecting a uniform sales boost across the board, risks a big unexpected invoice from eBay a month later.
At times, eBay has provided subtitles for free for specific product categories, so these are a no-brainer for your eBay SEO and should always be used. Where subtitles have to be paid for, take a more measured approach. Here are some recommended ways to take advantage of them:
- Provide details of an offer you are running
- Reinforce your product’s most important selling points
- Give extra information about the product
Highlighting offers and drawing extra attention to selling points can help your product stand out in the results, particularly when you are in a category that is flooded with similar listings.
Providing extra details about your listing can serve a different purpose, and help answer common questions or address misconceptions about your product. As well as bringing in more buyers who are looking for your product, this can also avoid attracting buyers who actually want a different product, improving your conversion rate.
11. For weak listings: end, optimize and relist
As mentioned above, sales history and conversion rate is an important factor in eBay’s search algorithm. This creates a circular problem for eBay SEO because a listing with a poor sales history will get a low search ranking, so it won’t be seen by buyers and generate any sales, and it won’t establish a better pattern and move up the rankings.
Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much you optimize an old, poorly performing listing because it will always be weighed down by its weak (or non-existent) sales history. All your improvement efforts will be in vain.
The trick here is to end and relist these listings so that they can be given a fresh start. However, you should also update and optimize the listing when you relist, as otherwise it is likely to fall into the same hole. Use all the tips in this guide, with a particular focus on conversion rate optimization. Getting a good sales history and high conversion rate when your listing is new is crucial to maintaining your search rank.
Also consider using Promoted Listings to give the listing a kick start. The initial conversions from the paid advertising will give it a boost in the organic results as well.
But don’t save listing optimization for when sales have dropped so low that only a fresh listing can reset the performance. It’s a good idea to continually monitor and improve your listings, to catch weak or declining sales before your search ranking deteriorates completely.
12. Use the right product Identifiers
Product identifiers are a unique code, usually shown as a barcode and number, which identify a specific product and help distinguish it from other products.
There are several different types of product identifiers, including Universal Product Codes (UPCs), European Article Numbers (EANs), Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) and International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs). eBay also uses Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPN) as product identifiers, although there is no standard for these and they can be unreliable.
eBay uses product identifiers to show listings on Google Shopping, and they also make it possible for product reviews to appear on your listing (on supported eBay sites, including the UK and Australia). eBay has experimented in the past with other features that require identifiers, such as Group Similar Listings, which was an attempt at providing an Amazon-style search experience with unique products shown instead of listings.
The eBay mobile app includes a feature to scan a barcode using the phone’s camera, which is very convenient for buyers who want to buy more of an item they already have or are comparing prices in a store. This feature will only find listings with a matching barcode, so has a direct impact on your eBay SEO. It’s particularly important if you sell items that people will want to replenish regularly, such as personal care or beauty products.
Product identifiers also provide buyer assurance. A barcode number will confirm that the listing matches a product they saw in a store. This can help avoid refunds, especially for products which are difficult to identify or have many similar versions, such as spare parts for cars and appliances.
For many categories product identifiers are now mandatory, and are linked to the eBay catalog, so when you’re creating a listing you just need to enter the code and all the other information will be filled in for you. If you need to obtain barcodes for items that you manufacture yourself, you’ll need to obtain product codes from GS1.
Conversion optimization is one of the fundamental four factors for eBay SEO, but also one of the most complex.
As a refresher, it’s about maximizing the proportion of visitors to your listing who proceed to buy the product. A conversion rate of 8% means that out of 100 people who visited your listing, eight of them purchased the product.
A higher conversion rate provides positive feedback to eBay’s search algorithm and pushes your item higher in the search results. A low conversion rate does the opposite. So you should aim for attracting buyers who really want your product, not people who are only vaguely interested.
Here are the top factors to improve your conversion rate on eBay.
13. Work on your images
Without a doubt, images are crucial in ecommerce. Your products won’t sell without them, on eBay or anywhere else. Concentrate on providing plenty of photos that are high quality and accurately reflect your product. This will help buyers understand what you are offering and if it’s what they are looking for.
High quality images also reflect well on you as a seller. If you compare a listing with lots of great photos to one with a single blurry image, which seller would you expect to provide a better service overall? The one who cares about showing their product as clearly as possible, or the one who can’t be bothered?
eBay’s picture policy sets a minimum size of 500 pixels, but we suggest aiming for 1500-2000 pixels. Do not apply watermarks, logos or text. eBay’s policies have changed in this area and become more strict, and they are also policing violations more actively.
Your images are also important for buyers and browsers on mobile, who will often use pictures alone to make a buying decision. eBay allows up to 12 images per listing so use as many as you can (but stay relevant – the buyer does not need to see a series of near-identical images).
Include photos from different angles, brand labels and detail close-ups. Shoot on a white background, with a tripod and proper lighting.
Above all, understand the audience for your product and create images to provide visual answers to the questions they have.
If you sell fashion, think about a composite image for the main photo, so you show buyers that the product is available in many colors. Think about lifestyle shots to show the product in context as well.
If you sell technical electronic products, images of the ports, plugs and sockets are a good idea. If you sell furniture, include an image or two to show the product’s dimensions. Products like cosmetics or nutritional products are good to picture with ingredients and photos of how it was made.
Images may not seem immediately connected with conversion optimization, but they are probably the most important factor. A listing with poor images is likely to turn buyers off immediately, and send them back to the search results. A listing with great images will encourage the buyer to take time browsing and understanding exactly what is being offered. They are much more likely to make a purchase, lifting your conversion rate and search ranking.
14. Have a detailed description
Descriptions have become less important on eBay over time, as photos have gained in importance and eBay has made the description harder to find when using a mobile device or coming to the site from Google. As a result, some sellers add barely any information to the description, believing that it will never be seen.
The importance of the description does depend on the specific product and category, but in many cases buyers still look at the description to make an informed decision about their purchase. They will look for answers to their questions, often to make sure that they are not about to buy the wrong item. If you don’t answer those questions for them, they won’t make a purchase, negatively affecting your conversion rate and SEO.
So make the description clear and easy to read, including information about materials, sizing and technical specifications. For example:
- Product features
- What makes it appealing such as style and aesthetics
- Unique selling points
- What’s included in the box
- Care instructions
Here’s an example of a good description:
There are, however, some things which you should avoid putting in the description:
- Contact or shipping details, as these are shown elsewhere on the page.
- Links to your own website, which is against eBay policies (and will also harm your conversion rate if they buy from your site rather than eBay).
- Very complex HTML designs, which can take a long time to load and provide a bad user experience, especially on mobile.
If you sell electronics, you will probably want to have bullet points for the technical specification. If you sell fashion and are building your own brand, think about the identity and lifestyle you represent as much as the product.
Most critically, check the design on multiple devices. Use mobile devices as well as a PC to check your listings and make sure they look good across the board.
15. Use a listing template
An eBay listing template provides a professional design for your listings rather than a plain text description. Many eBay sellers don’t use a listing template, sometimes believing that it will have a negative impact on their search ranking or be incompatible with mobile devices.
There is some truth in this, particularly in the past when listing templates could be overly complex and badly coded. Also, in the early days of the Cassini search engine, there were widespread rumors that it did not work with HTML descriptions.
However, modern listing templates are light and mobile-friendly, cheap to have designed, and cause minimal extra work when using listing software. Most importantly, they can make a huge difference to the impression that your listings convey of you as an eBay seller.
A listing template with a brand, logo and consistent styling gives the impression that there is a real, professional company on the other end of the transaction. The seller has taken the time to make their listings look as good as possible, and that effort should continue with the product quality, shipping and customer service. Of course, that’s not always the case, but this is more about perception than reality.
Conversion optimization as a whole is all about perception. After all, the buyer does not know you and does not have real experience of buying from you until after they make a purchase. So, improving your conversion rate is about influencing their decision, by providing as much reassurance as possible and making them feel completely comfortable about clicking “Buy it now” on your listing.
Of course, you have to follow through with great shipping and customer service, but providing that comfort and reassurance is key to improving your conversion rate.
16. Influence buyers with promotions
We’ve already talked about volume pricing as one of the fundamental four factors for eBay SEO, but there are other promotional tools you should take advantage of. They might not have as much of a direct impact on search ranking as volume price discounts, but they do help convert buyers once they are on your listing.
In total, there are five types of special offers you can set up using eBay’s Promotions Manager:
- Order discounts
- Codeless coupons
- Promotional shipping
- Sales events
- Volume price discounts
Order discounts, for example, provide money off when you buy more than a certain number of items, or spend more than a specified amount. Here’s an example of a quantity-based discount, with a promotion of “Buy three, get one free”:
Order discounts are a great way of enticing buyers to increase their order size by browsing other items in the offer, and work particularly well for related items that are often bought together.
Using promotions on eBay is a large topic in its own right, with many different strategies you can adopt depending on your products, the time of year, previous promotions and more.
The primary goal, as it relates to conversion optimization, is to persuade the buyer to make a purchase right away. There can also be a bonus of increasing the order size, when an order discount or volume price discount convinces the buyer to add additional items. But all of the different promotion types can be useful, when used in the right way.
17. Enable the Global Shipping Program
eBay’s Global Shipping Program, or GSP, allows you to send an order overseas without any more effort or cost than it takes to send a domestic shipment. You ship your order to a warehouse in the US (or your own country if outside the US) and then eBay takes over the shipping, sending the order to the international buyer.
Once the parcel has reached their warehouse, eBay takes responsibility for making sure the order is delivered and any problems that relate to the international part of the shipment should not affect your seller performance metrics.
How does using the GSP relate to conversion optimization and eBay SEO? Well, it is an easy way to make your products available to an international audience. The international shipping cost and any duties are automatically calculated and shown to the buyer, so they know exactly how much it will cost them to buy from you. This has two important advantages:
- Your products become available to more buyers but with less competition.
- The buyer gets all the important information that they need to feel comfortable buying internationally.
If you offer a good price on products that are in demand but hard to find in some other countries, the GSP provides an easy way to engage with buyers where there is lower competition while making it easy for them to complete their purchase. That’s a good recipe for a higher conversion rate.
18. Try Best Offer
Best Offer allows buyers to negotiate the price with you by submitting an offer. You can then accept or reject the offer, or make a counter-offer.
Of course, you need a sufficient profit margin for this to be commercially viable, and there is some time required to respond to offers. Thankfully, eBay has added automation making it possible to automatically accept or reject offers within a range that you specify.
Best Offer fits high-margin items best. It caters to the bargain-hunting buyers who are common on eBay, and helps them feel like they have saved money, even if the accepted price is only a few dollars less.
As above, the connection with conversion optimization might not be immediately obvious. Best Offer helps conversion because it encourages a buyer to stay on your listing and make an offer, instead of navigating back to the search results.
Rather than agreeing to pay the full price straight away, they can take a smaller step first (even though technically they are committed to completing the purchase if you accept their offer). It’s easier psychologically for people to complete a few small steps than one big one, and Best Offer provides a great way for them to do that.
Best Offer is also well-suited to clearing out discontinued stock or refurbished items, where you often can be more flexible on the price.
It’s important to remember that once you receive an offer, you won’t be able to edit the listing for 12 hours, and eBay does not allow Best Offer on variation listings.
19. Get the Top Rated Plus badge
eBay has two seller badges that are relevant here, which are Top Rated Seller and Top Rated Plus. These work together, so that you only really benefit if you have both. The main requirements are:
- A transaction defect rate below 0.5%
- Cases closed without seller resolution below 0.3%
- Late shipment rate below 3%
- Valid tracking uploaded on time of at least 95%
- Same-day or one-business-day order handling time
- Free returns accepted for 30 days or longer
- General compliance with eBay’s selling practices
As a result, a Top Rated Plus seal will be displayed in the search results and on your listings. Here is how it appears in listings:
The benefit for conversion optimization is relatively small, but the inclusion of the badge can help buyers feel more comfortable when making a purchase, particularly for high-value items and items where returns are more likely.
Top Rated Plus also comes with a 10% discount on final value fees, which is valuable for high-volume sellers. Note that eBay’s old “PowerSeller” status ceased to exist in 2021.
20. Set a reassuring returns policy
Returns are a big deal on eBay. The perception from buyers is that eBay offers less security than Amazon, because you’re dealing with the seller directly. When you buy on Amazon, you are always Amazon’s customer and you know they will bend over backwards to make sure you are satisfied with your purchase.
In truth, eBay is much the same. They mediate disputes and usually side with the buyer. But it’s the buyer perception that matters for conversion optimization. This means you need to make an extra effort to demonstrate that you will accept returns without argument, so the buyer is reassured that they will not be stuck with the item if they later decide that it is not what they wanted.
Research suggests that as high as 80% of online shoppers check a website’s returns policy before making a purchase. This is why eBay puts returns information in the top section of the listing, and includes free returns as one of the main requirements for the Top Rated Plus badge.
In the US, unlike many other countries, you are not required to accept returns by law. But there are few more glaring warning signs on a listing than “seller does not accept returns”, particularly on apparel where sizing and fit problems make returns common.
Most sellers do accept returns on eBay now, so being the odd one out will send buyers running to find another seller and be disastrous for your conversion rate and search ranking.
This post was by Matthew Ferguson, Director of Business Development at ecommerce agency Emanaged and Director of Strategy at consultancy Rich Insight.
The very very best article about ebay SEO I have ever read, and the most usefull about ebay in general, and I have read a hunderds of articles about ebay on plenty of websites. It is explaining in simple hard facts every important aspect a seller should know to optimise the sales on ebay. Thank you very much Mr. Ferguson. Regards from Bosnia and Herzegovina
Agreed, I have also read a few on eBay SEO and this one is to the point and mentions a lot that the others don't.