How to Effectively Use Keywords in eBay Listing Titles

The title of a listing, alongside an image, is the first impression a potential buyer has of an item. It strongly influences their decision to read more about the product and potentially later purchase. For this reason, writing effective listing titles should not be underestimated by new sellers. Keywords are a crucial factor in creating successful listing titles. But what exactly makes a word ‘key’? And what makes some keywords more useful than others?  This back to basics guide will answer these questions and more, to help new eBay sellers get to grips with using keywords in listing titles.

What is a keyword?

A keyword is a significant word or short phrase. In the context of eBay, the most common usage of keywords is in listing titles. The chain of keywords used in a listing title act as a shortcut to understanding what specific item is being sold and its main features.

An example:

Imagine you are selling a pillowcase. The word “pillowcase” is a keyword that must be used in the listing. Other keywords related to this pillowcase may include the material that it is made from (polyester), the design (printed stripe), the colour (blue and white), the size (18″ x 18″ or kingsize).

Using keywords in listing titles

The most critical part of using keywords in listing titles is to make sure they are always relevant. One of the core values that influences eBay’s search engine Cassini is the relevance of a listing. The reason is simple. The more relevant a listing to a customer’s search, the more people will click on it and purchase the item. This is a win-win for both the buyer and seller, as well as eBay.

Avoid being misleading

On a basic level, ensuring relevancy is very easy. To put it plainly, do not use any keywords to describe an item that is not true or correct about the item. When selling a striped polyester blue and white pillowcase, for example, it would be unhelpful to use keywords such as ‘Egyptian cotton.’ This would mislead the buyer and is also against eBay’s rules regarding selling practices.

Determining the most important features

A more sophisticated example of relevancy would be not including the origin of the striped polyester blue and white pillowcase in the title. While it may be perfectly true that the pillowcase was ‘Made in China,’ it is not one of the most important features of this particular item. The type of fabric, size, colour and style are probably going to be much more crucial for a buyer when making a decision to click on the listing.

How to choose keywords for eBay listing titles

With the above lesson on relevancy in mind, here are a few tips on how to choose keywords for eBay listing titles.

  1. First, think about desire and motivation. Why does the customer want to buy that specific item? What are the primary features of the product that make it appealing? For the pillowcase example above, it was the fabric, size, colour and style. For a computer, for most people it will likely be the brand, the speed, hardware, software and the size of the screen rather than the colour of the monitor.
  2. Next, consider how the buyer will search for the item. What search terms would they use? What phrase are they likely to try and use? Put yourself in the mind of the customer. eBay’s search function uses predictive results, meaning that as a word or phrase is typed in, popular search terms appear. Use this to your advantage.
  3. Check the competition. Finally, it is crucial to see how other sellers are already advertising the item or similar products. Look closely at which listings look more appealing at first glance. This way, you can work out how to stand out from the crowd. Remember that pricing isn’t everything. While it may be true that many buyers primarily choose listings based on price, the influence of good marketing can be hugely significant.

eBay title do’s and don’ts

  • DO use one to three important keywords or key phrases in the listing title
  • DON’T hide the most important keywords at the end of the title where some eBay buyers may miss them
  • DO use the brand name, artist or designer of the item
  • DON’T describe an item as ‘being like’ or ‘similar to’ another brand name – this is a violation of eBay’s VeRO program
  • DO take advantage of the 80 characters available for the title
  • DON’T waste characters with words like “wow!” or “L@@K!”
  • DO use factual keywords to describe the item rather than adjectives – buyers are unlikely to search for a “wonderful watch”
  • DON’T use acronyms (e.g. NIB = New in Box) where possible – the title character limit was increased from 55 to 80 in 2011 and has decreased the need to use them
  • DO double check spelling. Listings with spelling errors are more difficult for buyers to find
  • DON’T worry too much about grammar. Titles act as a short-cut or ‘headline’ to a listing and are not required to be a grammatically correct sentence.

How do you choose your keywords for your listing titles?

Gemma is our all things eBay expert. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Canada and travels extensively. You can read about her travels at her blog Off Track Travel.

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