SEO for eBay – To do and not to do

There’s been a lot of talk recently about how eBay listings display on mobile and how Cassini will view eBay listings as it rolls out. The big question is of course what should you be doing so far as listing design goes to make them attractive to buyers?

Firstly it’s impossible to recognise that an increasingly large proportion of sales on eBay are through mobile devices. These can vary from the eBay mobile apps on various platforms as well as a variety of devices with different screen sizes. What looks great on a desktop quite frankly looks horrible on a tiny smartphone screen, and although I’ve a fairly large Galaxy S4, I still find listings with a description that are impossible to zoom and scroll.

eBay Mobile ListingDesigners such as Frooition (see image to right) and WIDShop already have mobile options available to ensure your templates look beautiful on mobile devices. Failing a mobile optimised description, as a buyer I’d actually prefer a plain text description to a heavily templated design where all I can see to start with is a list of your shop categories down the side of my mobile!

A bigger question that’s been asked time and time again is what will Cassini make of listing templates? There’s no doubt that spurious keywords will through any search engine out of kilter. It’s also been rumoured that a ton of HTML at the beginning of your description will fox Cassini. I believe the first, I find the second hard to accept – surely any search engine is smart enough to ignore anything in HTML tags, although if a list of your shop categories comes first in your template’s HTML that’ll be the first thing any search engine reads.

The answer to “What should eBay seller’s do” however remains as simple as ever, and that’s to ignore search engines and trust eBay to make search work, instead stop wondering how it works and just focus on creating listings that are clear to the user. If information is not helpful to the user don’t include it, and definitely check how your listings appear on eBay mobile apps and a variety of mobile devices (both large and especially on small screens) to see what your buyers see.

No one knows eBay’s search algorithms although many have tried to guess how they work, indeed from time to time eBay have published patents (e.g. here’s one on Best match) which give us some guidance. In truth most of what’s said is pure speculation and no one knows for sure how eBay’s last search engine Voyager worked, let alone what Cassini might be doing or might do in the future.

Tamebay has never done any SEO work. We’ve never tried to get good placement on search engines. All we do is write (hopefully) great content that’s important to you and makes you want to read it and SEO is the last thing on our mind but the search engines love us. If you do the same for your eBay listings, create great listings that buyers love that work over a variety of desktop and mobile devices you can forget about “eBay SEO” and your listings will work for you.

eBay Listing Description SEO 101

1) Your description is just that, a product description. It is not a ton of terms and condition. It is not a place to link to all your other products. It is not a place to refer to your feedback. It is not a place to refer to how fast you ship. It is not a place to lay out your returns policy. If any part of your description isn’t about the product is should be in a different box in the Sell Your Item form or your listing tool.

2) Your description has to work on multiple devices – check it on your Android mobile, borrow an iPhone to see if it works there. Check an Android tablet, borrow an iPad. And then check every device again but this time use the eBay app.

3) Short and sweet works, pictures on eBay are free, use them instead of large images in your description (especially for mobiles). Make sure your code allows users to pinch and zoom to expand on mobile devices. Keep it relevant to the product and by all means include all relevant information buy buyers don’t want to read an essay!

4) The worst thing you can possibly do is use images instead of real text – they just don’t work on mobiles.

5) Think like a buyer, do you like what you see or are your competitors doing better than you, both dispassionately when viewing their listings and when comparing their actual sales. If they’re beating you why, what can you learn from them and how can you do it even better?