Part IV of our eBay Listing Secrets article series helps you get your listings seen by rising to the top in the eBay search engine rankings.

Develop listings that attract rank in searches

The eBay search algorithm relies heavily on the first words in a listing, so you need to make those count. There are two ways to do that.

  1. If it’s appropriate, use the word “new” in the beginning of your product description. Your product can be described as:

    • a. “new in box” or NIB

    • b. New American Girl video

    • c. New scrapbook brads for Halloween

  2. The word “sale” attracts search attention as well, as in “ink cartridge sale” or “sale dresses”

Beyond these strategies, be very certain that you are using the keywords that your customers are likely to use when searching for your item.

eBay search ranking

In the past, the eBay search algorithm was primarily based on keywords and end time. Now the search is more focused on best match using this logic string:

Title + detailed seller ratings + customer service + shipping cost (free = high ranking) + conversion rate


Clearly, eBay is focused on supporting its best sellers, not necessarily finding the product that the customer wants to buy. This means that elements such as your eBay seller rating are critical to your ability to be found. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. The eBay rating system is stacked against the seller since the seller cannot leave negative feedback for the buyer, no matter what the circumstances. Consequently, you might as well use the system to encourage buyers to leave you the best feedback possible, since it’s so important to your rankings. We suggest that as soon as the buyer pays, you leave positive feedback. This gesture creates a positive experience right out of the gate for the customer. You may even get customers who will immediately leave you positive feedback in response, even before they receive the purchased item.

Free shipping

Not every seller can afford to provide free shipping but, if you believe that you have enough profit margin built in, you might give it a try and see if the increase in volume offsets the loss. You can also raise prices a bit to cover the shipping. Most people realize that there’s nothing really “free” and may tolerate a slightly higher price if they think it’s still a better deal that they would have gotten otherwise. Besides, there seems to be a psychological barrier for people buying online – they just don’t want to have to pay for shipping. If you can afford it, it’s worth a try.

Conversion rate

Conversion rate feeds on issues like free shipping, listing quality, unique selling proposition. Be sure that you have read and are following all of the tips in our first three eBay Selling Secrets articles to maximise your conversion rate.

Type of sale

Although eBay began as an auction site, it has really become a straight selling site at this point, partially based on the way eBay’s rules have evolved. At this point, more than 50% of all sales come from BIN (Buy It Now) sales rather than auctions. BINs have always had appeal for buyers who need something in a hurry, want to be assured that they will actually get an item and not be beat out at the last minute, and those who feel that the BIN price is still a bargain. BIN is a great technique for most of your products. Auctions are better for overstocks where anything you get is better than sitting on inventory, or for loss leaders to bring buyers into your eBay store. “Best offer” is unusual and not that effective, but can be used for market research purposes.

Your listing needs to be seen to sell, so focus special attention on playing to eBay's search algorithm.