Chapter 5 Improving eBay Product Listings (To Rank + Convert)
Improving eBay Product Listings (To Rank + Convert)
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Online marketplaces provide an opportunity to feature your products on some of the world’s most visited retail websites — and they’re a great way to reach new customers and increase your brand visibility.
But listing your products and making them available for sale is just the first step toward leveraging the power of marketplaces to connect with more customers.
Just like with your online store, the more time and effort you put into the marketing and optimization of your eBay listings, the more exposure your brand will get.
If you’re new to selling on eBay, or have been selling already but haven’t found the success you were hoping for, it may be time to stop thinking of eBay as a marketplace.
Think about it as a search engine, instead.
Just like Google, eBay is a search engine — one that’s specific to ecommerce, used by millions of customers with high purchase intent, and, also just like Google, you need SEO (search engine optimization) to push your eBay listings to the top of the search results.
eBay Listing Rules 101
Let’s start with some basic tips on eBay listings. Just like any search engine, before you can start tweaking your content for SEO, you need to check a few boxes to satisfy eBay that you’re meeting their basic criteria for a quality listing and avoid being red-flagged.
1. Write accurate descriptions.
One of the biggest advantages of selling on a marketplace like eBay, particularly for lesser known brands and sellers, is the ability to reach customers new to your brand that may otherwise be hesitant to buy from you directly.
Because of the safeguards and assurances eBay have in place to protect customers and maintain a quality catalog across millions of merchants, eBay customers can feel safer buying from a new or unfamiliar brand or seller.
eBay is very protective of the customer experience. A surefire way to frustrate your customers is with misleading, inaccurate, or incomplete product descriptions.
Keep eBay and your customers happy by including:
- Full and accurate descriptions of your product,
- Shipping and handling costs and timing,
- The return process and warranty information, and
- Accurate information about the location you’re shipping from.
2. Avoid keyword spamming.
While factors like keyword density do weigh into the eBay ranking process for search results, you’re not going to trick it by overstuffing your listing titles and descriptions with keywords.
Here’s where Google and eBay are different: for Google, relevance factors such as keyword density are of particular value when surfacing the best content for a search. On eBay, the measurable revenue outcomes have a far higher weighting on search results.
An eBay listing titled “Shoes Shoes Men’s Cool Shoes Footwear and Shoes” isn’t going to improve your discoverability on eBay’s search engine for the search term “Men’s Shoes.” It will make your listings look bad and lower your conversion rates — leading to fewer sales and less revenue.
On eBay, conversion rate, sales velocity, and revenue are key indicators of which sellers and products are the best to surface in shoppers’ search results.
Don’t hurt your chances by utilizing outdated SEO tactics that aren’t going to work.
3. Don’t duplicate listings.
Amazon’s catalog-based system combines all sellers of an available product onto one product listing page. But eBay still offers individual product listing pages unique to each seller of a product.
This means an eBay search for a product could return hundreds of different product listing pages for the same product but from different sellers.
When competing against so many other sellers, it might seem like a good idea to bolster your chances by duplicating your product listing — maybe even tweaking a few bits of content to target different search terms. eBay hates this.
Their seller-based product listing catalog system is already complicated enough, and difficult at times — something they’re working to improve with PBSE (Product-Based Shopping Experience) listings. The last thing they want sellers to do is to add to the bloat with duplicate listings.
Breaking any of eBay’s listing rules, including the creation of duplicate listings, will hurt your search rankings and can lead to deletion of your listings — or even your eBay store.
4. Avoid including irrelevant links.
Unlike on Amazon, competing sellers with the same product on eBay have the opportunity to showcase their own unique product listing and feature their own content.
If you are one of several merchants selling the most recent model iPhone, you can use your product listing page to showcase why you’re the best seller to buy from — for more reasons than just your price point.
Because you are creating your own product listing, eBay offers a bit more freedom than Amazon to be creative with your product page. Even if you are selling your own uniquely branded product, the eBay selling experience provides greater opportunity to really sell customers on your brand, your products, and the service you can promise them.
You can take full advantage by providing links to additional information about your brand, the product, the shipping experience, customer service, and warranty information — basically anything you can think of that will aid the customer in making their purchasing decision.
However, a common mistake made by new eBay sellers is using their listings to move traffic away from eBay toward their own pages, or linking to content that isn’t relevant to the product in question or whether to buy it from eBay.
eBay will be quick to shut you down if your listings violate any of their conditions, including:
- Sending shoppers to your ecommerce site to buy the product at a cheaper price,
- Linking to marketing sign-up forms, or
- Linking to related products you sell.
5. Keep your shipping promises.
You must set clear and accurate expectations regarding shipping timeframes and reliably adhere to them.
Things don’t always go right, so eBay doesn’t expect 100% on-time delivery rates — but if your shipping experience repeatedly falls short of your promises, they will take action against you, and your product visibility will suffer.
Dropshipping is allowed through eBay, but only if you can deliver within eBay’s maximum 30-day delivery window.
What Makes a Good eBay Listing?
It may seem like optimizing your listing for search discoverability and optimizing for sales and conversion are two distinct, and sometimes conflicting, considerations. But eBay’s search algorithms are designed, above all, to maximize revenue by surfacing the products most likely to be purchased by a customer based on their searches.
This makes discoverability and conversion two sides of the same coin. The factors that most determine the visibility of your products for a given eBay search are those that are most influential in a customer’s decision to buy.
Here are some easy eBay listing tips to ensure you are creating high-quality, optimized listings that don’t violate eBay’s rules.
Include product condition, price, and shipping info.
These are the core details that make your product offering unique, especially when you are competing with sellers with products of the same brand and model as yours.
These days, over 80% of products sold an eBay are brand new. This is no longer a differentiator on eBay and is hardly a consideration. If you are dealing in refurbished or resold products, however, it’s imperative to communicate the product’s condition as accurately as possible.
When considering identical products, price will be the primary consideration for most buyers. Therefore, if eBay can recognize a group of sellers with the exact same product, one of the first things their algorithms will consider is price. It will often be the deciding factor where all other considerations (e.g., shipping or condition) are equal.
Shipping is the next most common consideration for eBay customers. More so than with other marketplaces (such as Amazon, where FBA has standardized much of the shipping expectation), the combination of price and shipping is a major differentiator when looking at competing sellers — making it a priority for eBay’s search algorithms.
While having a lower price than competitors can help your standing in search rankings, what eBay really looks at is price plus shipping. When pricing your product in relation to competitors, you need to consider their shipping rates and how the combined price matches up against yours.
Bundling the cost of shipping into your selling price to offer free shipping is a great way to make the buying experience easier for customers. Items with free shipping also get better placement in eBay search results.
But shipping isn’t all about price. Customers want products inexpensively, and they want them now — so gain an advantage by getting your products into customers’ hands sooner than your competitors. Offer shorter timeframes on your standard delivery or provide options for express shipping, as this can help get your product featured more highly in eBay search results.
Some customers want products sooner and don’t mind paying for it, while others are happy to wait if it means they’ll get a good deal. eBay has to balance these conflicting priorities as they offer up search results. Look at competitors’ product listings in your space and see where there might be room to differentiate.
As an example, let’s say multiple sellers are offering low prices with free shipping, but long wait times for delivery — but no sellers are offering next-day shipping service. You may want to consider including a next-day shipping option to both improve your search rankings and satisfy the needs of customers willing to pay more for faster service.
Create accurate, engaging content.
We’ve already mentioned the importance of providing accurate content to avoid being flagged by eBay, but a good listing isn’t just accurate — it’s also highly detailed and engaging.
The more relevant information you can provide about the product and your shipping experience, the happier both your customers — and eBay — will be.
This could mean including detailed product specifications, weight and size dimensions, full “what’s in the box” inclusions, materials used in manufacturing, etc., as well as information about you as a seller, your returns and warranty policies, and any aftercare or customer support you offer.
While you want to provide detailed content, you want to keep it as succinct and easily digestible as possible. Get your key points across with as few words as possible so that your descriptions are informative without becoming boring and over-written.
In addition to robust content, you also want your listing to be tailored to your target customer profiles. You should use language and tone that is both informative and suitable to your audience.
Define your target audience for your product and write content with them in mind. For example — it’s probably not going to help to use lots of Millennial buzzwords and fun, casual language if your product is targeted toward seniors.
Always be mindful when writing content of who will be reading it, and the style of writing and tone of voice that they will be most receptive to.
If you aren’t proficient in copywriting, it’s easy to find services that specialize in writing eBay listings — from low-cost freelancers to specialist agencies.
As important as it is to get your titles and descriptions right, the old adage, “A picture tells a thousand words,” rings as true here as ever. Your eBay listings need to be backed up by high quality, professional-looking product photography that showcases the product and, by extension, your brand.
If you’re already selling through your online store, you probably have high-quality photos (or at least you should), so your eBay listings will benefit from the work you’ve done on your existing product catalog.
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