If you've spent any time searching the eBay website at all, you know that there are a lot of items for sale on eBay. Millions of them, in fact. Choice is always good, but if you're like most users, sometimes you'd rather have the search result listings you want rather than seemingly endless pages of items that merely happened to match the word you typed in the search box. And what if you're potentially looking for multiple related items? Do you really have to run multiple searches to find them?
By using a few simple techniques, you can make your searches more specific, more flexible, and easier to navigate all at the same time. And by doing so, you can save yourself an awful lot of time as a buyer.
Searching for Multiple Terms
To search for listings that contain any of several terms (rather than all of them), enclose your search terms in parentheses and separate them by commas. Consider the following search examples:
teapot cups saucers
If you type these three words into the eBay search box, you'll get only results that include all of the words in their title—listings that are selling teapots and cups and saucers at the same time. You won't, however, see listings that are just selling any one of them.
By listing the terms in parentheses separated by a comma, you can get eBay to list items that use any term in their title. You'll see listings for teapots and/or listings for cups and/or listings for saucers in your results.
As you can see, you can also use multiple sets of terms in parentheses. A search like this one will find item listings that contain one or more of the first group of terms and also one or more of the second group of terms.
The search box allows you to string together as many terms inside a set of parentheses and as many sets of terms enclosed by parentheses as you please
Sometimes you don't just want more results or more flexible results—you also want more specific results. Usually this means that some things came up in your search results that you don't want to see. When this happens, you can cause eBay to exclude those items by adding a related to your search with a hypen (-) in front of it. Consider the following exclusions:
(teapot,cups,saucers) (dutch,china) -vintage
Building on our previous example, this search returns all of the listings that are for a teapot, cups, or sauchers and that also include either the word "dutch" or the word "china," but it excludes any results that contain the word "vintage."
(teapot,cups,saucers) (dutch,china) -vintage -antique -turquoise -jade -handmade
This tool, too, can be used multiple times in a single search.
This one is identical to the previous one except that it also excludes any listings for items that are "antique," made out of "turquoise" or "jade," or that are "handmade."
As you can see, by using parentheses and hypens, you can create fairly complex searches for eBay to carry out on your behalf—and you can save yourself a lot of time you'd otherwise spend filtering through results that you didn't want.
Searching Item Descriptions
Sometimes, when you want the absolute greatest number of results possible within your criteria, or when you're searching for an item that you think sellers may have listed in various ways, it can help to search not only for items' titles, but also for words in their descriptions.
Each time you run a search, you'll notice a checkbox just below the search box on your results page that's labeled "Search title and description." To run your search again, but search through the item descriptions (i.e. entire listings) rather than just through the titles of listed items, check this box and click the "Search" button again. You'll get a much longer list of results that still match the criteria you've already given.
Narrowing By Category
Once you have run a search, whether just by title or also by description, you can narrow your search results by eBay category using the list of related categories shown at the left edge of the results page. Simply click on any of the listed categories to re-run your search only for that category.
By combining a well-formed set of search terms and exclusions with a specific category, you can produce search results that are amazingly flexible, specific, and complete.
For further illustration, here are some additional complex examples for you to evaluate. As you study the search terms for each, try to predict what results the search will return before clicking on the search or reading its description.
digital camera body (nikon,canon,olympus) (d70,10d,e-1) -strap -case
This search will find several models of digital camera body—the Nikon D70, the Canon 10D, or the Olympus E-1—and will at the same time exclude listings that have the words "strap" or "case" in them, like "Nikon D70 digital camera body strap" or "Olympus E-1 digital camera body case."
dvd (disney,dumbo,aladdin,the little mermaid) -widescreen -player
This search will find DVD listings that include the words "disney," "dumbo," "aladdin," or "the little mermaid," and will exclude any results that contain the term "widescreen" or "player."
winter coat (girls,womens,juniors,female) -fur -leather -vintage
This search will find winter coat listings that are "girls," "womens," "juniors," or made for a "female," while excluding any listings for coats made out of "for" or "leather," or that are listed as "vintage.".
Study the examples on this page and try out some complex searches on your own.
You'll soon find that you can search the eBay website like a pro!