Improve your use of the eBay Search Engine

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When you search for things on eBay do you find that either a load of irrelevant things appear or you find hardly anything.  This is probably because you need to improve the way you use the search box. This is a guide to how to get the best from searching. By the way these search tips also work with most Search Engines for finding websites too.

Before you start reading, please open another internet window, and open ebay.  That way you can copy the searches (in italics) into the search engine and see how they work.

The default way to search, which finds all the items with words in their title (not subtitle) that match.

Search Title and Description
Use sparingly - Searches the item titles and the words in the whole listing.  I say use sparingly because using this can often mean that you find dozens of items that are not relevant to you, or similar items which sellers have used words knowing it might pull you into an item you don't really want.

Basics of Searching
Be Simple. Firstly try and use as few words as possible initially.  Create a wide search initially, and then narrow it down when you know about the results you get.

Remember when you search eBay that Is no like most other websites.  Listings are created by thousands of different people, and each of us thinks slightly differently.  Two people may put very different descriptions for the same item. You need to try and think of the most common words initially when you search otherwise you may miss half the listings, worst still if lots of other people miss them too the prices on those listings will almost certainly be much lower.

Eg. Looking for a Marks & Spencer Dining Plate

First of all type

Marks Plate

This will bring up some results, but the first problem in this case is that Marks and Spencer can be written by sellers in several different ways.  Marks and Spencer, Marks & Spencer, M&S.

Now try typing
Marks and Spencer Plate
Marks & Spencer Plate
M&S Plate

You will find you have mainly different items for what appears to be the same search. What you need to do is combine them all into once search.

(BRACKETS,SEARCHES) - Find any of the different words or phrases
If you use brackets around sets of words if searches EITHER of them. The comma determintes which parts are separate searches. It can be a single word or a phrase with the comma after it.  

Eg. (Marks and Spencer,Marks & Spencer,M&S) Plate

Type above as a search and it will find all the M&S plates whichever of the three ways the seller chooses to list it. Make sure that fixed words (in this case Plate) are outside the brackets, otherwise you will get all the PLATE on ebay.

(Marks, and, spencer)

If you put commas between each word it will find all the listings with either of those words in. Try it and see.

Cutting Searches Back
If you have run the search and there are 200 M&S Plates, but you only want dinner plates you can either;

Narrow down

(Marks and Spencer,Marks & Spencer,M&S) Plate Dinner

Add the word Dinner to the search....... But you have to be careful here as the more words you use in the search the more specific you will be, and sellers may not have though of all those words, or worse they might have used a different word.  The alternative is to use -


Typing a word with a minus sign directly in front of it means that all the items with that word are removed, so you can remove items you know you definitely don't want.  You can use it more than once to remove several things see below

(Marks and Spencer,Marks & Spencer,M&S) Plate -Side -Glass

Using eBay Categories
When you search for items, on the left hand side of the screen all the categories that the items found are in appear, with the category with the most of the items in appearing at the top of the list. You can use this to narrow down to relevant items

EG. Elton John

This will return loads of items, click say CDs on the left to see all Elton John CDs.

The warning on this is people may not always put items in the category you expect, so you can miss items this way.

Spelling Mistakes
This is a bit more random, but can help you find some bargains.  People frequently make a typing mistake in their title, which reduces the number of people who find the item.  There are lots of websites you can find with which will help you find mis-spelt listings.  This is the best one I have found . They create a multitude of spelling mistake options for you to search for.  You won't always be lucky, but maybe sometimes..........

I hope you have found this useful, and if you want to email me a question I will be happy to try and help. Click my user name above and ask a question will then appear.  I will add useful questions to the page for others to see.

Please click if it was useful or not below so it can rise up the rankings and other users can benefit from it (if it was good)

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