eBay SEO: How to Apply Winning SEO to eBay Listing Titles

Marketplaces 101
eBay SEO: How to Apply Winning SEO to eBay Listing Titles

When it comes to SEO, the title of your eBay listing is now more important than ever. SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is what determines your ranking in search results — not just on eBay, but in Google, Bing, Duck Duck Go, and other internet search engines.  


Here are some tips for creating effective listing titles using SEO. (Hint: SEO is all about keywords.)


First, a little bit of eBay’s backstory. eBay started out as AuctionWeb, an auction website built by Pierre Omidyar over Labor Day weekend in 1995. As you can imagine, what worked in eBay listings then — or what worked in 2000, 2005, 2015, or even 2020 — does not work in 2022. For one thing, now most eBay items are listed as fixed price (Buy It Now), not at auction.


Nowadays, a common error among eBay sellers is not updating old listings whose format and eBay SEO have become obsolete. Or worse yet, creating new listings based on outdated information from back in the olden days of eBay.


One landmark change to the platform came about in 2000, when eBay created an API (application programming interface). APIs serve as virtual middlemen in getting applications to work together, sharing data and functionalities. 


Once eBay had its own API, developers could harness eBay data and create tools to help eBay sellers. Another benefit was that the API required eBay data to be better organized than it was in its early years. Well-organized data is crucial to SEO, so having an API in place was a game changer for eBay.


After the debut of eBay’s API, the next big thing for sellers concerned with how to apply SEO to eBay listings was the introduction of eBay Mobile in 2008. This brand-new application for mobile devices — first Apple, then Android as well — amounted to a seismic shift for sellers.


Why? Because it changed the way that buyers viewed sellers’ listings on eBay. Now there was an app view as well as a desktop view — and what worked on a laptop or PC did not necessarily work on a mobile device. Fancy templates and other old school eBay listing elements were suddenly irrelevant and even a disadvantage!


In the 14 years since eBay Mobile made headlines as one of the first applications put out by a major company, it has made great strides in getting desktops and devices to play together nicely. In fact, the mobile app has exploded, with more than 80% of all sales on the platform now involving eBay Mobile at some point(s) in the transaction.


Also, make sure you check out: 10 Great Marketplaces Every Reseller Should Consider


So what does this mean for eBay SEO? 


One rule of thumb still holds true for eBay sellers: Think like a buyer. Consider what a buyer needs to know about your item as well as what shoppers are looking at — and looking for. That, too has changed over the years as the novelty of ecommerce has gradually turned into the norm.


With all of these changes to eBay and eBay listings plus the huge uptick in mobile shopping, what works nowadays to attract buyers? You’ve got to know how to apply eBay SEO to your listings, and that starts with an effective title. 


Buyers overall have become more sophisticated and better at searching eBay and the internet. However, SEO is still all about the keywords. The right keywords will help your listings to rank higher in search results, thus increasing the chances of your items getting found. Remember: It can’t sell if it isn’t listed — and once it’s listed, it won’t sell if nobody can find it.


In eBay for Business’ recent YouTube video Listing Essentials, eBay tells us exactly how to apply SEO to eBay listings: “Having strong titles…helps your items place higher in search results, so it’s important to get it right.”


Especially with the explosion of eBay app users and mobile buyers, the title is premier real estate on an eBay listing. As eBay for Business put it, “Your title is the first thing buyers see, and it gives them a quick snapshot of what you’re selling.” That quick snapshot is made up of keywords — and your listing’s title is the first and best place to put them.


eBay gives you 80 characters for your title. Your keywords should use up at least 75 of those characters. Bonus points if you can use all 80! What key terms should you put in your title for the best eBay SEO? Here are some guidelines:


Lead with the most important information. Typically this is brand, style and/or period. With some items, it might be its use. If it’s a no-name brand, then lead with the style — e.g. Cold Shoulder Womens Dress, Edwardian Womens Maxi Skirt, etc.


It’s unwise to lead with condition unless it’s very rare for this particular item to be in its particular condition. This might be true for a vintage collectible that is not usually found in its original box. However, if your item is, say, a new top by the brand Anthropologie, don’t start your title with New Anthropologie Top. That’s not good eBay SEO.


Because eBay feeds its listings to Google and other internet search engines, it’s smart to look at these search engines to see how to apply SEO to eBay listings. At several past in-person eBay Open events, Google team members presented tips for creating eBay listings that will rank well with Google. 


Like eBay, Google strongly advises sellers to lead with listing’s most pertinent information when writing its title, saying, “Put the most important details first.” Those details serve as keywords — literally, keywords that define and describe your item, such as its brand, color, style, gender, size, pattern, model number, or use. 


The primary keyword for every item is “the noun”, i.e., what the item is: book, dress, pants, puzzle, and so on. Details about an item may also make good eBay keywords, including waterproof, wind resistant, lined, zip-out lining, detachable hood, and so on.


Yes, details like brand, color, and material are in eBay’s item specifics. One synonym for “keyword” is “attributes”, so item specifics serve as secondary eBay keywords in eBay SEO. But you want those key details in the title, too, for both eBay and Google SEO. 


You also want those key attributes in your listing’s title for the same reason that they are valuable in SEO: because that’s what buyers are looking at, especially when  they’re shopping via their mobile device. Pull out your smartphone and open the eBay app. Look at a listing. What grabs your eye? The picture and the title, of course!


We’ve discussed what to put in a good SEO eBay title; now let’s talk about what not to do.


Google encourages sellers to use keywords in an eBay listing’s title, not meaningless verbiage such as Beautiful, L@@K, or Wow. Words like that are just a waste of characters. 


Ditto for emojis and random special characters. Sellers used those to attract eyeballs at the dawn of ecommerce; however, for modern eBay SEO, they are worse than useless, because they obstruct the search engine’s efforts to figure out what you’re selling. Such ways of attempting to gain attention for your title are old-fashioned and no longer an effective way to apply eBay SEO to your listing.


Furthermore, Google advises against using ALL CAPS in your listing’s title. The exception to this would be brands that capitalize their own name — for example, AEROSOLES, BCBG, BONGO, COOGI, CROCS. Otherwise, your eBay title should be in standard title case, i.e., with the first letter of every word capitalized.


The reason for avoiding uppercase listing titles is that they may be seen by search engines as spam. You don’t want search engines thinking your eBay listings are spam!

You don’t need punctuation in your titles, either. Think keyword keyword keyword.


Also avoid using jargon in your titles — meaning terms like NWT (new with tags). In the eBay Seller Center, eBay discourages sellers from using “acronyms, like NIB, that buyers may not understand.


Vendoo enables you to easily apply eBay SEO to your listings and their titles. You can make eBay listings using Vendoo’s listing creator or simply import listings from other selling platforms to eBay. 


Note to sellers exporting effective listings from other sites to eBay: You may have discovered that using special characters and all caps works for you on other sites. 

Congratulations on discovering tactics that drive sales on those sites! 


But when you export that inventory to eBay, I recommend you follow eBay’s and Google’s guidance with regard to listing titles. I often work with sellers coming to eBay from other ecommerce platforms who are disappointed with their eBay results. Typically, it’s because the seller has not studied eBay’s listing best practices. With a few changes, these sellers are thrilled to watch their eBay sales grow!


In closing, let’s review the reasons that eBay listing titles are more important than ever:


  • Bear in mind that more than 80% of eBay shoppers are finding your listings on their mobile devices.
  • Your title is among the first thing your shoppers see, so make sure it’s fully loaded with strong, pertinent keywords.
  • Use keywords to apply SEO to your eBay listing titles.


Put these tips and strategies to work when crafting your eBay listings. Strong eBay titles will help your listings move up in eBay search results and get you more sales!

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