So you’ve posted some shiny new listings. Next, maybe you ran an eBay “Best Match” search to see how your items looked among all the other offers. If you found your listing buried on the second page then you’ve just discovered the power (and penalties) of eBay SEO.
Every eBay seller wants to sell their items faster. Learning how to get higher search ranking for your listings will improve their visibility in eBay’s Best Match search, earning you more views, watchers, and better sales. This article will cover what the Cassini eBay search is, knowing why the eBay search engine is so important, and the best eBay SEO tips and best practices. There is a lot you can do as a seller to improve your eBay listings and store visibility in the marketplace, so let us dive right in.
eBay SEO, Why Does It Matter?
For you up-and-coming eBay moguls, eBay Search Engine Optimization (eBay SEO) is simply fine tuning your listings and your account settings so that when a buyer searches, your item is one of the first to show up in the search results. A few years back we were all eBay’ing along with the default search method being set as “lowest to highest” or “newly listed.” eBay, seeing the ever increasing amount of not relevant items being served up in search, decided to better curate what the buyer sees.
By adding in some stronger qualifiers, eBay now tries to find selectively more relevant items to show it’s searchers. This may not sound like the most awe-inspiring thing but who really wants to scroll through hundreds of pages of listings not associated with what you were looking for in the first place. There has been some great work from the eBay Team to create a system (Cassini) which allows buyers to find the most relevant ‘best match’ for what they are searching for, and understanding this system is crucial to your eBay selling success.
What is the eBay Cassini Search Engine?
eBay’s search engine “Cassani” emerged in 2013, as a way to keep sellers from cheating eBay’s search results. Before 2013, eBay sellers could spam the marketplace with garbage. After Cassini SEO, buyers engage in a more democratic system which plays a major role in a listing’s rank. eBay sellers are now judged on the optimization of their listings, listings content and services, and the seller’s reputation. So, let’s befriend Cassini and get you ranked in that top spot on eBay.
Cassini & eBay SEO, How Does It Work?
Optimizing your content for eBay’s search engine may seem complex because it has a lot of variables that go into it. Don’t fret however, “what it really comes down to is the same work that will not only improve your search rankings but will better serve your customers and your seller peace of mind.” Maintain a good seller reputation, be competitive against other stores selling in the same category as you, be awesome with buyer engagement. and offer customer focused services and discounts.
An eBay employee, Todd Alexander, gave a great speech on eBay SEO and the new Cassini search engine during, the PeSA Internet Conference, held in Australia in 2013, shortly after the launch of the new engine. I recommend his presentation because, it gives some great insights into how eBay expects you to sell on their platform, with a ton of deeper information.
Todd describes the following criteria as what they are aiming for with Cassini eBay Search:
- Relevancy: Minimize the number of listings a buyer looks at to find what they searched for.
- Value: Displayed listings provide great value for the buyer in terms of price, shipping speed and returns.
- Trust: The displayed sellers have great feedback, reputation, and communication to seller history
- Convenience: The purchase is straightforward and fast for the buyer.
Now that you have an idea of how Cassini works, and what it is, let’s look at eBay SEO tips.
eBay SEO and Best Practices:
Account level actions that will affect all your listings at once are going the be the best bang for your buck so let’s look to those first before diving into individual listing optimizations. From here down we’ve more or less prioritized the list as what to work on first for the biggest boost in the eBay search engine.
Seller Reputation & eBay SEO, The Most Impactful Changes You Can Make:
- Top Rated Status. I know I can hear the groans already. But nothing will do more for your listings search performance than being in the Top Rated Seller program. The great news is the criteria has gotten much easier in the past year. DSR’s, and even Feedback to some extent play a much smaller part now. We’ve written a great upcoming post on why you should take a second look at getting into the program. Top Rated Sellers, and Top Rated Plus listings are in the top spots of search results without fail.
- Seller Ratings and eBay Seller Feedback: Next to top rated status, keeping high feedback and good DSR’s will add a bonus. There’s plenty written on this topic, so we’ll keep it to this. Just get it resolved. There will always be problem buyers, give them some options, give a discount and focus on getting the negative feedback removed. More often than not, a 15% “courtesy refund” will get the job done, and isn’t your peace of mind and a better seller reputation worth it? Pay the couple bucks, write a nice email, and move on.
- Providing Value: Value does not only come in the form of a low price. These are value setting that eBay rewards with a search boost. They also are a great way to compete and provide more value to your customers.
- Provide Free Shipping: Don’t let it worry you. Just predict the cost and insert it into the price of your item, Cassini and customers alike will approve of this practice. 9 out of 10 buyers say Free shipping is the biggest motivator when buying.
- Fast and Predictable Package Processing: It means a lot to a customer if, within 24 hours (or 1 business day) they have their tracking number and see their package in route. Knowing that the item is on the way makes waiting a lot less stressful for a suspicious buyer. eBay specifically gives a big search boost to sellers who have one-day handling. (counting business days only)
- Provide Excellent Customer Service: Customers hate anonymity and delay. Until they receive a first point of contact from you (usually a tracking number) they don’t know who you are or what to expect. Always start communicating on the first day.
- 30 day, no questions asked, return policy: Although returns are unpleasant, as long as your item is described well, and has a great photo set, you should have a low return rate. Providing free return labels to not as described problems will also instill trust in your buyers. Just monitor the costs of your return program and build that into your margin.
- Using eBay Advertising. eBay has really been pushing a couple of their promotion offerings this year. While we have some mixed feelings about the markdown manager, Promoted listings is an easy pay to play option where for as little as 1% you can get your listings right to the top of the page.
- Fresh listings eBay want’s you to keep posting. When you add fresh listings to your account, it’s boosts all of your items in search. If it’s been a while since you posted, pull some of your old listing and create them again as new one. Be sure to use new titles and edit the descriptions a little.
eBay SEO: Optimizing Listings Practices
Keywords And Title
Title optimization has long been the tent pole issue of improving your eBay listings. We believe it’s still very relevant but rather than focus just on title’s, we’ll direct your attention to a couple of other resources. A very popular app for keyword and title improvement is TeraPeak,
eBay now places a lot of ranking on whether or not a buyer engages with a listing. Every listing gets a score based on how many clicks it gets, how many sales it receives and even how long someone spends looking at the listing
Keywords directly relate to buyer engagement. If the title of your listing has keywords that are trying to pull traffic from other products, you may have a bad engagement ratio because that is not what the buyers are actually looking for. Even if they click on your listing, if they quickly leave, it results in lowering your ranking. When optimizing your title you must target for engagement.
eBay Title Generator Checklist: Targeting Buyers
TeraPeak & a TeraPeak Alternative
If you want to know what keywords buyers are using when searching, TeraPeak can help you. If you would like to go the cheaper route, try typing in your specific item in eBay search and check the keywords that have the top hits. Be sure not to just mindlessly copy-paste the title into your listing because duplicating is looked down upon. Instead, focus on the core keywords relevant to your listing and implement them into your title and description.
Keyword Stuffing Ramifications
Avoid ‘keyword stuffing’ this is mentioned in the video at 11:40. Todd sells seed packets on eBay, he tested with tricking the system by inserting general keywords to his titles such as “garden, outdoor, plant, planting” to get more impressions. Stuffing keywords into your title, will lead to bad buyer engagement/impressions ratios. His listings were unable to compete with his competitors who were focusing on seeds as their core keywords, so where they had very high buyer engagement/impression ratio and he did not, which lowered his ranking.
eBay Keyword Positioning
‘Professionally Humanize’ your listing titles, this means to make your title read like a real (and literate) person actually described it, this just involves re-positioning your keywords so that they make sense and can be read smoothly. This follows the pattern: brand or main keyword-> model -> Description/specifics. There are other details here to perfectly describing your item title.
There are many variables that go into optimizing your listings for successful ranking in the Cassini system, again this is all about appealing to your buyer by staying relevant to your main competition and what is working for them.
Using correct eBay Categories:
If you are listing in the wrong category you may be receiving unwanted traffic on your searches thus lowering your buyer engagement/impressions ratio. Also, listing in the wrong category is against the eBay listings rules.
I know there can often be a fee advantage for using the wrong category but by doing so you’ll be lowering your search rank. Any savings will be quickly offset by the many insertion fees and holding interest. Just don’t do it.
Catalog and Item / Listing Specifics:
Adding in the UPC will allow eBay the better populate item details for you. It will also bring you directly relevant searchers. In addition to eBay search, google optimizes listings in their product advertising by UPC as well. Bottom line, we know details can be a pain, particularly on used items, but the extra work will pay off.
Often this is where a seller can provide a lot of SEO value to their listing, and is overlooked. Using a saved template will help organize your efforts.
Use H-Tags in description
H1,H2,H3 (Heading Tags)
These can be implemented into the the HTML editor on your eBay listings page. These H-Tags or headers, organize the importance of your keywords in your listing’s description.
<h1> Keywords and Keyword Phrases – Most Important to SEO </h1>
<h2> Keywords and Keyword Phrases – 2nd Most Important to Search Engines </h2>
<h3> Keywords and Keyword Phrases – 3rd Most Important to Search Engines </h3>
Every eBay listing should have photo sets that show a 360 view of an item. Good quality photos will help to reduce returns as the buyer will know what they’re getting. All photos should be large, crisp, and well illuminated.
Listings with less than 4 photos will be devalued in search, listings with only one photo will get a very low ranking.
Occasionally using auctions makes Cassini happy, it promotes eBay user engagement and Cassini will reward you for doing so. Even though we all appreciate instant results, keeping around 5-10% of listing an auction can help drive traffic.
Using Guaranteed Til’ Cancelled to keep sales history. For items you keep in stock, this will retain your sales history and buyer engagement ratio. If listings has no sales after 30 days, you’ll want to END these listings then relist them.
This will re-index the listing and get rid of the bad sales history. Once it’s relisted, it will be a “new listing” and be given equal ratios to your top competition. Using GTC, always relist items that have no sales after 30 days but keep any with transactions, as they get a boost.
Here’s one more dog gif for a job well done reading our long article.
Simple economics my dear Watson. Scarcity will increase a buyer’s incentive to act. Implement an “almost out of stock” tactic by using eBay’s feature called “Out of Stock Inventory Control”. This feature protects your GTC listing sale history when you “sell out.” Third party software out there such as “Quantity Manager” will allow you to control the amount of stock shown to your buyer, and potentially drive buyers who don’t want to miss out.
This is very important to buyers considering that a lot of buyers purchase their items on their mobile devices. When creating a listing template (and using chrome), you can view what it would look on various mobile devices by right clicking the preview of the page, then going to inspect (“ctrl+shift+I” will also bring it up.) At the top of the page, in the center, there is a drop down list of different popular mobile devices. Clicking on these will show you what your page will look like on those devices. eBay also provides a mobile inspection tool.
Ebay SEO Summary
These are some of the main things to check on for getting your eBay Cassini search rankings up, helping your listings to display higher, and be more relevant to a buyer’s search. Take a look at some of your account settings and practices first, as those represent your biggest impact. Once you’ve dialed those in try digging into your listings, your saved templates, and improving your keyword research (particularly on listings you carry quantity on.) With a few small tweaks, you can see a big bump in sales and it’s definitely worth the extra effort.
Going forward expect eBay to continue to refine how they deliver relevant product listings to searches. The takeaway in eBay search engine optimization is that you won’t beat it with tricks. Focus on good business, be great to your customers, try and improve your products representation, and you will stay right in the middle of the action.
Sell more. Sell Better.