Defining Search Engine Keywords - A Seller's Guide

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My eBay → Manage My Shop → Search Engine Keywords

So what are they and what do they do?

Put simply, search engine keywords, used properly, are words that are used by a search engine, eg Google or Metacrawler, to find things. - A description of a particular vehicle could run to several thousand words, but using such a means to locate something through a search-engine would be completely unwieldly for both the search-engine and the person trying to find that something so, instead, a search engine will use particular words or phrases from that description instead, eg: Volvo, ATV, FWD, V50, Ford, etc. to enable users to home in directly on things they are trying to find.

To aid the search engines in the task of matching keywords to what people are searching for, web developers can add their own keywords to their sites and any content they produce for the world wide web ( note: this is only a part of what is commonly refered to as the internet, hence the use of world wide web).  eBay does this automatically for items listed on their site, but sellers are able to modify this to some extent; although the method used is somewhat clunky and works like this:

After navigating to the Search Engine Keywords page (path shown above), and clicking on "Edit" to the right of Shop Front Page or one of your shop categories, you will find yourself on a page with a Primary Keyword line ( Shop Front Page, or Primary Keyword 1 and Primary Keyword 2 lines for any other category pages) and 6 Secondary Keyword lines, so 7 or 8 lines in total.  Any words that you then input into any of these lines are used to produce a Meta Description for that category (similar to the keywords, only this is meant to be a description, as opposed to individual keywords,  The Page Title and Meta Keywords for that category will then be generated automatically from those keywords or descriptive phrases that you enter on the 7 or 8 keyword lines.

Your category search-engine keywords are not, therefore, from these lines, but generated automatically by eBay using whatever keywords or descriptive phrases you enter for your categories on those 7 or 8 lines; however, this is complicated by the fact that your descriptive phrases are entered into a template of eBay's own making, as can be seen when you preview your descriptions under the middle title: Meta Description.  Thus your descriptive phrases for each of your categories not only need to satisfy your keyword requirements, but also need to fit in eBay's Meta Description template to give the products in your categories a good "come and see" description when people hit upon them in the search engines, hence my describing the process as "clunky".

For your Shop Front Page you may have a Meta Description like:

Buy Lite-Bitz, Heavi-Bitz, Door Locks items from Lighting by Litez eBay Shop. We sell Lite-Bitz, Weird-Bitz, Kidz-Bitz, Light Bulbs Reflectors items on

...with a Meta Description like that shown below for all your shop categories:

Lighting by Litez : Sleeves Cases  - and - all at low prices

The italicized words are the eBay template words.  The trick, after adding your keywords, is to work your keywords into some kind of description (avoiding nonsense, duplicate, and spamming words) that won't break eBay's template and end up making your category descriptions look daft or dubious on the search engine listings.

For the Shop Front Page, the Primary Keyword line will follow the We sell, but your first 3 Secondary Keywords won't neccessarily follow Buy and your remaining Secondary Keywords won't neccessarily fit between We Sell or items on because there is some kind of 'intuition' at work in the coding of the template.

For my Shop Front Page Meta Description (shown above) I removed Lite-Bitz, Heavi-Bitz, Kidz-Bitz, and Weird-Bitz because nobody knows what these are unless they are familiar with our advertising or lighting products.  I left Lighting by Litez because that is the name of our shop and therefore needs to be associated with our Shop Front Page, whilst tweaking the rest to:

Buy designer lamps, door bolts, home electrical items from Lighting by Litez eBay Shop. We sell designer lamps, lighting, security, electrical accessory items on

- Much better!

The other category pages are more awkward because the - and - will ruin the flow of your Meta Description unless you enter something in either every one of that category's keyword lines ( Primary Keyword 1, Primary Keyword 2, and all of the Secondary Keyword lines) or ensure that something is entered on the final line even if nothing else on all but that line and the two Primary Keyword lines, eg:

Primary Keyword 1:


Primary Keyword 2:


Secondary Keyword 1:

Line3 or leave blank

Secondary Keyword 2:

Line4 or leave blank

Secondary Keyword 3:

Line5 or leave blank

Secondary Keyword 4:

Line6 or leave blank

Secondary Keyword 5:

Line7 or leave blank

Secondary Keyword 6:


...which, assuming you did not leave any of the lines blank, would give you the category Meta Description:

Line1 : Line2 - Line3, Line4, Line5, Line6, Line7, and Line8 - all at low prices

...with template additions in the form of a colon, hyphens, and the italicized words.

The two Primary Keywords go at the beginning and then just after the colon, like so:

Lighting by Litez : Designer handcrafted giftware - Line3, Line4, Line5, Line6, Line7, and Line8 - all at low prices

...and, again for my Designer Handcrafted Giftware category, I then changed the Secondary Keyword lines to show the following:

Lighting by Litez : Designer handcrafted giftware - Litez designer lamps, electrical accessories, light bulbs, door bolts, handtool repair, and clothing accessories - all at low prices

Again, a big improvement!

Note: Whenever you add new listings to a shop category, sell, relist, end, etc. listings the keywords are automatically updated (usually back to same gibberish that existed previously), so it is a good idea to make a note of your custom keywords to reduce the hassle of resetting eBay amended words.

As usual, I hope that this guide helps someone and can confirm that yes, spending an hour or two on this is well worth doing; although you do need to be patient! - The search engines can take several weeks to update themselves with any amendments that you make to your category and keyword details and sales can actually dip whilst the search engine databases are updating, where you have made major amendments or updated allot of records in one go.

John Barnes,
Litez Design & Wholesale

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