How To Improve eBay Search Rankings

It’s easy to hate on eBay when they make changes that impact us as sellers.  We sit at our desk reading the changes and start to go down the dark hole that is fear of losing our hard earned money or even worse, our business.  Do we fear the change because it’s something new to learn and adapt to, or do we fear the change because it’s just what it is…. Change.

eBay search rankings are changing faster than we can keep up so we need to make sure we do our best to know as much as we can.  If you are like me and have been selling on eBay a long time, you remember that when you would search, you would either search for ending soonest to take advantage of that auction nobody bid on, or you would search for lowest price first so you can find the best deal.

Well, that’s the old way, it’s time for change.  Here’s a breakdown on what we know about the newest “Best Match” search rankings:

Relevance and Keywords

It should be obvious by now that keywords matter.  Not just stuffing your title and listing with a bunch of words, but actually investing in the time to do research and determine the best and most effective keywords.  Look at the sold history of a relevant item and see if there is a pattern of the best titles that have sold.  I would also recommend using a title builder to help determine the best keywords.  I would recommend Titlebuilder.com, it’s free and easy to use.

Listing Quality

This is probably the most detailed ranking score and the most important.   It’s broken down into a several parts but is all equally important.

  1. Image quality and quantity – The better quality image that is zoomable paired with more pictures, will get you ranked higher. Starting in a few months, water marked pictures will also negatively impact your ranking.  So take a quality picture with a white background and it will all help now and in the future.
  2. Structured Data – This is a growing necessity that has been overlooked for a long time. eBay is starting to force our hand by using their catalog when putting in the UPC.  But all of those details that aren’t automatically inserted need to be added.  Not only do they count as keywords for search relevance, but they also add to the sort filters.  We have been trained for years that we need to put the information in the description, but that’s changing fast.
  3. Pricing – The thought that the cheapest price gets you to the top is an old idea that’s irrelevant in the new eBay search age. eBay takes the average sold price and based on that data, determines the most relevant and best match price.  If you are selling an item that is normally $200 but you are listing it for $300, you most likely won’t be a the top of the search results.  The same goes if you are selling that $200 for only $100.  The search algorithm is smart enough to know that something must be different or wrong with the listing or item.
  4. Conversion Rates – If you have a high number of impressions but nobody buys, you start to fall down the rankings. If you have an item that sells well, you climb the rankings.  So next time your item expires and doesn’t sell, don’t just take the easy road and hit the relist button, take the time and hit “sell similar” and make some changes.  This will reset the listing like it is brand new and will help your conversion rates.

Seller quality

Some would say that this is an unfair advantage because newer sellers or sellers who have had some recent issues are pushed lower on the list.  But those sellers who are established and work hard for their status will tell you that’s the way it should be.  The “Best Match” search ranking is supposed to showcase the products that are best for the customer, and that includes the buying process.  Just because you are a new seller doesn’t mean you need to be discouraged.  There are several things you can do to increase your seller status.  I would start by offering unique items that there aren’t 100 sellers offering the same thing.  I would also make sure you create the best possible listings with the best pictures.  You will soon get to top rated seller status and be on the top of search rankings.  I would also make sure you take care of your customers, even if that means every now and then giving in to a customer’s complaint or return.  Just think, it’s for the good of your seller status and future sales.  Even though a negative feedback doesn’t affect your seller status anymore, it does affect your ranking and customer trust.

Shipping and Handling

This is the fastest growing category in eBay search ranking.  eBay is trying to compete with Amazon so they want their sellers to ship fast and free if possible.  If you want to climb the search rankings, you need to start thinking about the new changes and how they will impact you.

30 day returns – I know this stinks and I can smell it from my warehouse.  But, this is what they say “part of doing business”.  Yes, there will be customers that abuse the 30 day return policy, but those numbers are far and few between.  I still get mad and threaten to quit every time it happens, but then I take a deep breath and realize, I sold 100 items and had to deal with this 1 ridiculous return.  Those are good odds.

0 or 1 day handling time – For the beginner seller or part time seller, this can be a tough feat.  You need to figure out what works best for you.  But for the sake of search rankings, the 0 or 1 day handling times get you ranked higher. Period.  If you can offer it, you need too.  We all like the thought of an extra day safety net and the feeling when a customer leaves positive feedback saying the item arrived earlier than expected, but we may have lost 5 more sales because of it.

eBay Guaranteed Delivery – This is new and as I’m writing this, it’s not an impact yet.  However, in a few weeks this will be all the rage in trying to steal Amazon customers.  Everybody knows what Amazon Prime is and how it has changed the online buying experience.  eBay is now trying to take back a piece of that pie by offering Guaranteed Delivery.  It’s not a bad thing and I’m not sure why people are complaining.  It invokes buyers trust and increases your conversion rate because buyers want their items fast.  What do sellers lose?  Well, the main thing right now is the fact that if you don’t want to be responsible for the return shipping charges, then we have to use eBay, Shippo or ShipRush (Make sure you sign up through eBay so these apps are free).  I’ve tried both and if I had to choose, Shippo has the better interface.  For those of us that have been using a 3rd party shipping service, it’s a tough choice and a big adjustment.  I recently switched to Shippo and we have increased our shipping labor time by about 10%.  In theory, I should see an increase in sales by at least 10% because I’m offering the service so it’s a give and take.

Markdown Manager and Promoted Listings

This is the one thing that makes all of our bloods boil.  It’s aggravating to know that after we pay our seller fees, our store fees, and our PayPal fees, we now have another fee if we want our item to be seen more.  However, to know all the facts, we have to know that these 2 things rank us higher.  eBay wants customers to feel like they are getting a great deal along with a great buying experience.  I’m not saying we should all go online and mark all of our items down 5% or promote all of our items and give eBay an extra 5-10%.  But, if you have some items that aren’t moving, then give it a shot.  Inventory can be worth more at a loss than on the shelves in a lot of cases.  Only you can make that evaluation, but sometimes we need to remember that if we sold that slow moving item, we could use those funds to purchase inventory that does sell.  Don’t forget, if you have a Premium Store, you get $30 of promotions for free.

So before we start chastising eBay for making changes, let’s think about how the changes can help us.  If we start thinking about the upside of the changes instead of resisting them, then maybe we can use them to our advantage.  Every day I try to invest 20 minutes to improving my existing listing to comply with the changes and search for better keywords and titles.

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