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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Trick #65: Optimize Your Listings for Search

Here's the deal: Fewer than 10% of customers find your listings by browsing. Fully 90% of eBay buyers find items by using eBay's search function. That means you need to optimize your listings so that your items show up when customers are searching for similar items.

There's another reason why you want to optimize your listings for search. You see, your listings show up not only in eBay search results, but also when web users use Google, Yahoo!, and other sites to search the Web. If your listings are heavy with the right keywords, they'll show up in Google and Yahoo! search results—which is free publicity for your items.

For eBay's search results, it's the title you need to focus on. That's because eBay's search function, by default, searches only listing titles. (There's an advanced option to search the listing description, but not all buyers use it.) So, you'll need to cram as many relevant keywords into the listing title as you can.

Web search engines, on the other hand, search your entire listing—title and description. So, you have more to work with there. How do you optimize your listings for web search engines? Here are a few tricks:

  • Include appropriate keywords—What goes for the listing title is also important for the item description. You want to make sure that your item description contains the keywords that customers might use to search for your item. If you're selling a drum set, for example, make sure that your description includes words such as drums, drumset percussion, cymbals, snare, and the like. Try to think through how you would search for this item, and work those keywords into your content.
  • Create a clear organization and hierarchy—The crawler programs used by Google and Yahoo! can find more content on a web page if that content is in a clear hierarchical organization. You want to think of your item description as a mini-outline. The most important information should be in major headings, with lesser information in subheadings beneath the major headings. One way to do this is via standard HTML heading tags, or just normal first-, second-, and third-level headings within your listing.
  • Put the most important information first—Think about hierarchy and think about keywords, and then think about how these two concepts work together. That's right, you want to place the most important keywords higher up on your page. Search crawlers crawl only so far, and you don't want them to give up before key information is found. In addition, search engine page rank is partially determined by content; the more important the content looks to be on a page (as determined by placement on the page), the higher the page rank will be.
  • Make the most important information look important—Many search engines look to highlighted text to determine what's important on a page. It follows, then, that you should make an effort to format keywords in your description as bold or italic.
  • Use text instead of or in addition to images—Here's something you might not think about. At present, search engines parse only text content; they can't figure out what a picture or graphic is about unless you describe in the text. So, if you use graphic buttons or banners (instead of plain text) to convey important information, the search engine simply won't see it. You need to put every piece of important information somewhere in the text of the page—even if it's duplicated in a banner or graphic.
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