When a buyer searches for an item on eBay the default search method is “Best Match.” Although eBay has never stated outright what criteria it uses to decide where an item is placed in search there are several tried and true techniques to raise your item in search results. Here are a few of the easiest and most proven methods.
Visibility in search is (arguably) the single most important aspect of selling your item. It does not matter how well you describe the item, how attractive the lighting is in your pictures, or how inexpensive the price is if no one sees the listing. For these reasons maximizing your visibility is imperative. Now that you are truly convinced let’s have a look.
1. The single most important aspect of where your item will be placed in “Best Match” is your Detailed Seller Ratings (DSR). It is ideal that all of your ratings be above 4.7 for the last 30 days for your listings to be “raised” in search. eBay decides your search standing based on a mentality of “What have you done for me lately?” Your 12 month DSR are important to your overall reputation, but only the ratings for the past 30 days are counted towards your search standing. Thus, DSR are updated every second as feedback older than 30 days no longer count so it’s important to check often. If you follow the rest of the information in this guide, you will still be able to get your items to the top of search results with “standard placement” but of course “raised” is better.
ProTip: eBay allows you to create as many eBay accounts as you want. Amusingly, eBay actually favors sellers that do not have the necessary 10 ratings to have a calculated DSR (You need at least 10 ratings in the last 30 days for eBay to calculate an average). For this reason it is helpful to have at least one backup account. This way if you do receive a drop in your ratings you can use the backup account until the bad rating expires in 30 days. If you create a new account today and follow the rest of these instructions I guarantee your item will be at the top of search. If you listed the exact same item on your account with “lowered” or “standard” visibility your listing would be listed much further down. A surprising amount of buyers will bid on items from sellers with very few feedback. For this reason, you may benefit from continually opening new accounts to list on because eBay basically gives these accounts “raised” status in search. Open a new account today and use it to buy a few items to build up enough feedback to sell “Buy It Now” Listings. You’ll be glad you did.
2. Make sure your Item Title uses general keywords people are most likely to search for. It’s difficult to generalize about what keywords you should use because there are as many categories as there are nuances within each category. But here is some general advice: You may find this tool helpful that estimates how successful your item title will be: eBay Research Labs The easiest way to choose a successful title is by searching for completed auctions. Choose a common search term for the item you are selling, such as “xbox 360.” After searching, look on the far left column under preferences and then under “Show only” and choose “Completed Listings.” Take a look at the items that are selling for the most money and emulate/copy their title. This should guarantee that you have a title with keywords that buyers are searching for. Don’t include phrases like “L@@K GREAT DEAL” as they are a waste of valuable space. If you have extra room in your title add relevant keywords but be careful not to “keyword spam” with irrelevant words. For example, if your title is “NEW XBOX 360 PREMIUM CONSOLE 20GB” add “controller,” “system,” “game” or a combination to maximize your keywords and have your item show up in more searches. Always use as close to the full 55 character limit as possible.
3. Offer “free shipping.” eBay greatly favors items with free shipping. Search for “xbox 360” and note how many of the items on the first page of the results have free shipping. eBay claims that buyers want free shipping and that is why they are pushing sellers to “ship for free.” While that may be true, the truth of the matter is that eBay has tried to force sellers to lower their shipping cost since the inception of eBay because eBay does not collect any fees on the shipping cost. If you, the seller, offer free shipping and add the cost of shipping in to the cost of the item eBay collects a higher final value fee. For this reason eBay promotes listings with “free shipping” now more than ever in an effort to force more sellers to convert their paid shipping listings to “free shipping.”
ProTip: Offering free shipping can be detrimental to your profit margin if you don’t get a higher price for your item. For this reason you may want to limit the number of items you do offer free shipping on at least to test the waters. Offer free shipping on several items you know will be popular with buyers and will also be cheaper to ship. Then near the top of your listing tell your buyers to view your other listings for other great deals etc. This is a good way to get more visibility on the items you are not offering free shipping on. Offering “free shipping” will greatly affect your placement in “Best Match” search and you will ideally find that you receive better prices than you would have because of the increased visibility and page views. For this reason you may want to move more and more items to “free shipping” if you notice your prices are going up on these items. eBay currently offers increased final value fee credits for items with “free shipping.” More on this later but check out Powerseller Discount for Free Shipping for more information. If you study what other sellers are doing you will notice more and more are listing all of their items with “free shipping.” There is a reason for this!
NotAdvisableTip: If you charge an amount higher than eBay wants you to charge for shipping you will receive a warning message before you submit the listing saying that you are charging too much and your item will suffer lower visibility in search. If you want to circumvent this message try choosing “Priority Mail Flat Rate Box” or “Large Flat Rate Box” as your shipping method rather than the standard “USPS Priority Mail” even if you don’t plan to ship with a flat rate box. This will allow you to raise your shipping cost up to around $12+ without receiving lower visibility. I don’t recommend doing this as it will likely lead to a lower DSR for Shipping and Handling charges, but in limited situations it may be beneficial to your bottom line.
4. If you have more than one of the same item list them together in a multiple quantity “Buy It Now” listing. “Best Match” favors items that have sold in the past, so each time you sell one of the multiple quantity you will get a significant bump in search results (Your listing can move hundreds higher from one sale). After you sell all of the items in the listing or the item’s listing duration expires you can relist the item without any changes and it will be placed exactly where it was when it ended (I.E. If your listing expires and it was the 4th item in search when you relist it will show up in the 4th spot again). For this reason, it’s possible to sell in lower quantities to make it appear as if the item is in limited supply while still benefiting from many sales as you relist the item continuously. An important note is that you can not make any changes to the listing or you will not receive these relisting benefits.
ProTip: Allow buyers to submit a “Best Offer” and sell the first several items of a multiple quantity listing for less than full price in order to raise the listing in search and be seen by many more buyers. Receiving “Best Offers” also helps raise your listing in search standing as it makes eBay think your item is more desirable to buyers.
BonusTip: During the holiday rush (or whenever) it may also be beneficial to run several popular multiple quantity listings at or around cost in order to gain visibility on your other items. Big Box retailers like Best Buy do this during Black Friday to get you into their store. You can adapt a similar principle on your eBay listings by selling popular items at a discount and then driving buyers to view your other listings or offering additional package discounts.
5. There are a few other things you can do that may increase your search standing slightly but to a much lesser extent than offering free shipping or keeping your DSR high. First, “Best Match” favors new items, so if your item is new make sure you put “NWT,” “New,” or both in your item title and in the “Item Specifics.” Also, make sure you fill out as many other relevant “Item Specifics” as possible. Second, make sure you specify a return policy. Check the “Yes” box even if you specify that there are no returns unless the item is grossly misrepresented or the completely wrong item is shipped etc. Third, make sure you use a gallery picture. Finally, your location does play a part in where your listing is placed in search. Since I live in the continental U.S. I don’t have any experience listing items in Hawaii or Alaska but if you do live there you might consider changing the item location to somewhere in the continental United States if you notice that doing all of the previous things does not improve your search standing or sales.
If you have any questions or need more specific answers please post a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org