Due to the global economic recession, eBay has now become a highly competitive place. More and more people are “diving” into eBay totally unprepared, hoping to miraculously generate a steady stream of sales. As a seller, the keys to survival are about understanding and mastering eBay’s powerful but often overlooked ranking system.
1. Move with the times
eBay was traditionally an auction site, but is now moving away from this. Initially listings on eBay were dominated by the Auction style format. Today the inventory is dominated by Buy it Now listings with many more businesses selling their products on the site. With the shift to fixed price listings it is now more important than ever to position yourself on the front pages of the eBay search results.
2. What is best match?
As I am sure you all know by now, the default search in eBay is “best match”. Best Match allows eBay to arrange Auction style and Buy it now listings in what it considerers to be “the most relevant, best value items”.
In a nutshell this means that when someone types a keyword in the eBay search bar, all the items automatically appear in a pre-sorted way by eBay. Although many of you will think “why not sorting by other criteria like time ending soonest or newly listed”; unfortunately, the sad reality is that most people will not change the default search and will merely start looking through what is presented in front of them.
For example, if I was to type in the search bar “mp3 player” the results show me that there are 21,054 results and probably over 100 pages.
A prospective buyer will browse through the first couple of pages, but rarely goes beyond the first 5/10 pages. So the further your item is located on the search pages, the slimmer your chance of making a sale becomes.
3. How does Best Match Work?
The idea behind best match is to have the search system reward seller’s behaviour that eBay likes and to penalize behaviour that eBay doesn’t like. Sellers and listings with high rankings are shown to buyers on the first pages of search results. Sellers and listings with low rankings appear much later or even not at all.
4. What can you do to get your listings to appear at the top of search results?
The following is relevant for Buy It Now listings:
Title: The listing title needs to be relevant for the listing. eBay allows you only 55 characters for the title. Use these characters wisely and don't waste space with characters like @, WOW, L @ @ K!!!!, etc. You want to maximize your chances of the search finding your items so only use characters that buyers search with.
Offer competitive prices: The better value a listing is the more buyers it is likely to get. Sellers who price items low and try to make up for it with high P&P costs will more often than not have their item demoted in the search result. So I would definitely not recommend this method.
Gain a recent sales history: The more sales you get from one listing, the better it will be displayed in search results. What it means is that if, for example, you have 5 of the same item, instead of making 5x separate listings, just create 1 listing and put 5 in the quantity field. Once you have gained some sales and the listing is ended, it would be best – in order to keep the history – to relist your item.
Free Packaging and Postage: Try to offer free shipping; listings offering free shipping will get a boost in search and appear higher. I know it can be a bitter pill to swallow, but try to work it out and include the cost of shipping in your listing price.
Seller Performance & Detailed Seller Ratings: This is one of the most important criteria.
Try to reach the minimum Seller Performance Standards(see link), as listings from sellers not reaching the minimum Seller Standards are automatically demoted in Search results. If you reach the Top Rated Seller thresholds your listings will get an additional boost in Best Match sort order.
5. So what now…?
eBay can still generate a substantial income, if done right, but Sellers must understand how the ranking system works. The benefits can make the difference between having a thriving business or a struggling one. Therefore, you must take proactive steps to make sure that your listings are near the top of the search results, otherwise your listings will not be seen and unfortunately you won’t be selling.
NB: I have implemented all the above recommendations in my listings and believe me it DOES work!