My eBay Item Isn’t Showing Up in Search Results – What’s Wrong?

18 May

When a seller submits their listing to eBay it will not necessarily be immediately searchable by keyword.  Many people assume this is because of some issue with eBay’s systems, but it’s actually so eBay can tell the courts they’re proactively removing counterfeit and fraudulent listings.  EBay instituted the search delay around March of 2007, in reaction to a number of lawsuits alleging that eBay is responsible for the illegal activities of its sellers.  The outcome of these lawsuits has been mixed, but eBay is scared of the negative press these lawsuits bring as much as the multi-million dollar verdicts.  Supposedly, the delay between when the listing is submitted and when it shows up in search results is so the listing can be checked by eBay employees to make sure it’s a legitimate listing.  In practice, I have never seen or heard of a listing being denied.  It would be impossible for a human to look at every listing that is submitted to eBay and eBay fired pretty much everyone over the last year, so I wouldn’t be too concerned about your listing getting denied unless you’re selling used needles or Xanax bars.  Usually, items that are delayed become searchable by keyword within about 12 hours, but eBay states it can take up to 24 hours and occasionally it will be even longer.

I Didn’t Agree to This!

Actually, you did. Right before you submit a listing, eBay has a little blurb that reads,

Your listing will be posted on eBay and can be viewed in My eBay. Your listing may not be immediately searchable by keyword or category for several hours, so eBay can’t guarantee exact listing durations. Where your listing appears in search and browse results may be based on certain factors including listing format, title, bidding activity, end time, keywords, price and shipping cost, feedback, and detailed seller ratings. You can read more about where your listings appear in search and browse results in eBay’s Help Pages.

By clicking the List your item button, you agree to pay the fees above, accepting the listing conditions above, and assume full responsibility for the content of the listing and item offered.”

What Can I Do to Avoid This Delay?

The easiest way to avoid search delays is to schedule your listings in advance.  If you are not sure how to do this, see my Guide.  You should schedule your listings at least 12 hours in advance of when you want them to go live and up to 24 hours if your items still aren’t immediately searchable with a 12 hour advance.  To find out if your items are visible to bidders via a keyword search, you can either search for your exact item title or click on one of your auctions and then select “view seller’s other items.”  Your items that are searchable by keyword will be listed and the ones that aren’t yet searchable will not show up. If you just want to take a look at your listing, you can view it immediately after it’s submitted in “My eBay.”

How does eBay Decide Which Listings to Delay?

The keywords you use in your title are the most important factor of whether or not your listing will be delayed.  If you are selling a brand name item and you have the brand listed in the title, eBay will likely delay the listing. One of the only ways eBay can easily identify the item you’re selling is by the item title. That’s why the item title is the go-to when deciding if an item should be delayed.  EBay says they also delay listings based on Detailed Seller Ratings, feedback, and past selling activity.  It’s difficult to determine how much these other factors, if any, affect the search delay. If you’re concerned about losing bidders because your item isn’t visible by keyword search for the first few hours, it’s best to schedule the listing in advance.

What About A Delay Due to “Indexing?”

Prior to March 2007, eBay items were immediately searchable by keyword.  EBay may move backwards from a policy/customer relations/logic standpoint, but they don’t move backwards technologically.  The reason for the search delay is solely to appease the courts when they get sued for trademark infringement.  EBay can tell the court that they imposed a strict approval process for all new listings identified as having a high risk of fraud. 

The search delay is a definite hassle, but scheduling listings in advance is helpful for a variety of other reasons too. If you plan ahead, you can list your items joyously and never experience a keyword search delay.

6 Responses to “My eBay Item Isn’t Showing Up in Search Results – What’s Wrong?”

  1. kiman 16. Aug, 2009 at 5:17 pm #

    Tnx. Great info *****

  2. Matt 11. Feb, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    Thanks for the information. Will I have to wait 24 hours for this comment to show up? :)

  3. Steve 21. Sep, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

    I don’t have a problem waiting a while, but I listed a Guild acoustic guitar for sale, which cost about $12 for all the bells and whistles in the ad, and not once thereafter could I find my guitar under searches for “Guitar,” “Acoustic Guitar,” “Guild Guitar,” “Guild Acoustic Guitar,” etc. etc. etc. The only way I could find it on ebay was to follow the link for my item by number.

    Fast Forward: I called Ebay and explained. There IS no telephone support so I chatted with two different people. One hung up and left me for 20 minutes before I realized she had done so. The second gave me a credit and told me to relist, which I did and got EXACTLY THE SAME RESULTS. I think Ebay may be a good place to buy a $0.99 SB reader from Hong Kong, but when the average Joe tries to sell something, GOOD LUCK. Oh, and by the way, after a week, 4 people had managed to view my guitar. GEE, I WONDER WHY?

  4. David 04. Nov, 2010 at 8:50 pm #

    Thanks for the useful information. I have sold gift cards with a three day listing in the past and once noticed a delay of almost 24 hours for the item to show in search results.

    Today, I listed a gift card with a three day listing. Several hours later, I checked and the item was showing up in search results. I looked at my own listing and noticed a grammatical error in the description. I revised the item, changing only the minor error in the description. After that minor revision…eBay removed the item from search results.

  5. Brian 07. Jan, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

    This is annoying. I’ve sold 20-30 gift cards and all have shown up instantly. However, I list this one using their app. It has been 3 hours and it still hasn’t shown up. Also, when I click my name to view items for sale from this seller, nothing shows. It has been 3 hours. This is very annoying. It’s a $500 Walmart card with no reserve. I’m cancelling auction if it’s not in search in the next 6 hours. It’s only a 1 day auction….

  6. Alton 03. Sep, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    Hmm…I’m not sure why there’s a delay but thanks for the info! I was wondering why my item hasn’t shown up yet.

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