Many established retailers and e-commerce businesses that expand onto eBay are surprised when they don't achieve their eBay sales targets.
Similar to Google, being listed on the first page of search results is critical for sales. Even if your website has achieved, organically, the first page rank on Google search results, the same tactics often can't be used on eBay.
This article looks at the differences between selling on your own online store verses on eBay, and how your tactics need to change to improve your rank on eBay.
As eBay also has an online store service, in this article when we refer to an "online store" we are referring to your business' online store that is not part of eBay.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ONLINE STORES AND SELLING ON EBAY
1. Optimisation Goals
In general, product titles in your online store are optimised for customer experience, store search, and web search.
However, on eBay inclusion in search results relies heavily on the product title, so sellers must optimise product titles for visibility, while readability for the customer is a secondary goal.
2. Buyer Discovery Flow
Many customers in an online store start their search by browsing the categories. For instance, a clothing store will have categories based on types of attire (tops, pants, men, women, children, and others). A bookstore will have categories based on genres (fiction, non-fiction, self-help, spirituality, history, politics, and others).
However, on eBay, most buyers start with a keyword search, due to the thousands of categories and sub-categories and millions of product listings. The competition to reach the first page of eBay search results, thus, is fierce.
3. Search Result Volume
In most online stores, once customers have narrowed their search by category, the number of products to scroll through is acceptable.
However, on eBay, thousands of search results may be presented based on the search terms used by the customer. To prevent buyer fatigue and to increase the likelihood of a successful transaction, eBay's search algorithm ranks the listings based on what eBay believes will most likely sell.
4. Competing Listings
In an online store, there are no multiple listings of an identical or near identical product. However, on eBay, the competition between identical and similar products is intense. Thus, eBay's search algorithm determines which ones are likely to result in a sale and a positive buying experience.
PROBLEMS CAUSED BY MULTI-CHANNEL LISTING AND EXPORTING TOOLS
eBay has an 80-character limit for product titles, while online stores and non-eBay listing tools allow for more. When product titles are directly exported to eBay from other sources, any title with more than 80 characters will be truncated, with "..." added to the end of the listing title.
This can be problematic in two ways:
Critical keywords may be truncated, leading to a buyer dispute.
The remaining keywords may not be the most relevant, thus affecting search visibility and sales.
For example, in a seller’s online store, their product title is:
Country Inspired BEACH GIRLS Cinnamon Cork baked Placements or Coaster Set 6 NEW
However, when exporting to eBay, the product title has been truncated to:
Country Inspired Kitchen BEACH GIRLS Cinnamon Cork baked Placements or Coaste...
In this example, customers searching for coasters, or a set, or a set of 6 would not see this listing.
Popular listing tools have manual override options that allow for eBay-specific titles, so make sure to use this function. By using this feature, you can ensure that the critical keywords are in your eBay product titles.
TITLE TACTICS TO ACHIEVE A HIGHER RANK
In this section, we will demonstrate how a very successful retailer with their own online store is missing out on eBay sales and the means by which they can rectify it.
Our case study is Tentworld, which has a national chain of brick-and-mortar stores in Australia and sells online through its own online store and through eBay. Customers love them because of their high-quality products, affordability, and excellent customer service.
A search on "pop up tent", using Shelf'Trend’s Top 500 report, reveals Tentworld are only achieving a rank of 149, 150, and much lower. One might argue that their premium-priced products are causing the low rank, but there are a handful of premium tents in the top 50.
Let's see how this incredibly successful off-eBay business can improve their eBay sales with better titles.
1. Using 80 Characters in a Product Title
Unlike other marketplaces and online classifieds sites that apply the buyer's search to the listing descriptions, eBay search results depend primarily on the listing's title. This is why most of eBay's high-ranking listing titles are keyword packed.
In the Top 50 search results for "pop up tent," the average number of characters used is 78. However, in the "Explore Planet Earth Speedy 2 Pop Up Tent" product title, there are only 41 characters. Tentworld's product listing is missing keywords that prevent it from being shown to customers. This may result in lost sales and, depending on their competitors’ listing sales, can also lead to a lower search rank.
Thus, it's recommended to include as many relevant keywords as possible in your product titles as your 80-character limit will allow.
2. Use Search Keywords in Product Titles
When adding eBay keywords in the product title, you may find that you have many to choose from or there are many different ways to communicate product features. Or, you may simply not know the search words used by customers.
ShelfTrend shows the most frequently used terms by buyers when you start entering a keyword on the Create New Report page. Below we use ShelfTrend’s keyword search bar to see the other words often included alongside “pop up tent” and the buyer terminology used to describe tent size.
In this example, it's evident that when buyers search for pop-up tents, they often include these terms and characteristics:
Instant (which may refer to Coleman Instant Up Tent or a product feature)
Size (use the "4 person" and "4 man" formats rather than "4P")
Activity (such as hiking)
Specific brands (like Black Wolf, Oztent, and the Instant Up Tent by Coleman).
3. Learn from Higher-Ranking Listings
A word frequency count of the Top 50 search results (using ShelfTrend's Live Listing Top 500 report) provided some additional relevant keywords for Tentworld's pop-up tent:
4. Keep the Title Readable and Persuasive
Online stores often have easily understandable product titles as they don't have the pressure to achieve a high rank. On eBay, while cramming in relevant keywords is crucial, product titles still need to be easy to comprehend by customers and persuasive.
Capitalisation must be used sparingly, as when buyers skim down the search results words in all caps are quite difficult to read. However, capitalisation can be used to highlight critical features that make a listing unique.
PUTTING INTO PRACTICE
The original product listing titled "Explore Planet Earth Speedy 2 Pop Up Tent" could be revised as follow:
Instant Pop Up Tent 2 Person/Man Waterproof Double Layer Camping Hiking Fishing
A subtitle could also be added, which isn't searchable but adds more to persuasiveness, such as:
Explore Planet Earth Speedy 2 - Top Quality from Australia's #1 Tent Retailer
Alternatively, depending on the popularity of the brand, this option may achieve better results:
Waterproof Instant Pop Up Tent EXPLORE PLANET EARTH 2 Person for Camping Hiking
Product titles that work well in an online store might not rank well on eBay due to the differences in search engine algorithms, buyer search habits, and marketplace competitiveness. ShelfTrend is an excellent starting point to identify and learn from high-ranking listings and to uncover related and popular buyer search terms, to make your product listing competitive and rank high in eBay search.
ShelfTrend is a real-time eBay marketplace intelligence tool with ready-made reports that helps professional online sellers to research competitors and visualise eBay’s merchandising and sales activity.
Users can search by product, category, or competitor across more than 20 eBay countries on 3 different data reports: Live Listings, New Listings, and Supply Demand.
Try it for free and upgrade for US$14.99 per month when you need more. No commitments or annual contracts.