Introduction to eBay SEO in 2019

EBay SEO is something that every eBay seller is going to have to come to grips with in 2019. It directly impacts sales and revenue by determining where your products are listed for relevant search terms. Without paying attention to it now, 2019 will be the year when your products fall down the rankings, sliding from page #1 to the hinterlands of page #3 and beyond.

To avoid this, let’s first get familiar with Cassini. Not the spacecraft that first photographed lightning on Saturn, but instead eBay's proprietary search engine. Cassini was rolled out in 2013, and is the algorithm which decides where products and shops rank for search queries on the results page.

The higher up the page your products rank for relevant search queries, the more visits you receive from potential customers. This negatively impacts sales.

In short, understanding Cassini is vital to the success of your SEO strategy and your eBay stores performance. Here, we will have an in-depth look at eBay SEO, and discuss how to rank on page #1.

The Brain of eBay SEO | Understanding Cassini

For brevity's sake, I try to keep things short on the blog, but I highly recommend watching Todd Alexander’s presentation at the PeSA Internet Conference in 2013. Todd not only unveils Cassini to a fascinated crowd in Las Vegas, but also explains the key features in detail.


Now, let's break Cassini down into two important segments:

1) Product-specific and

2) Seller-specific.

The product-specific segment refers to all the measures you can take directly on the product page to improve your eBay rankings. These measures primarily focus on optimizing titles, descriptions, prices and photographs.

Seller-specific factors are more general and include reputation, recent sales, and responsiveness to questions from potential customers.

Product-specific factors & eBay SEO

"All eBay does, is look at every listing on the site that includes [the keyword] in the title, and then shows every single one of those results. You will appear on those search results, somewhere in those hundreds of pages."

Let's figure out how we can get our products out of the wilderness, and onto pages 1-3.

Your listing title

In terms of eBay SEO, your product title is the single most important factor in determining where you rank for any given search term. Determining your most valuable search term is of vital importance here, so let's figure out how to do that.

First, we need to find out how many times a product is searched for on eBay. Getting this data requires third party tools like Terapeak which cost money. To get a free approximation however, we can look at data provided by Google and draw conclusions from that. Search terms which appear frequently in Google, are likely also popular on eBay and other marketplaces.

In order to get access to Google's search traffic data, you can either sign up for a free Google Adwords account to get access to their Keyword Planner, or sign up for a free KWfinder account. Both options are fine and will provide you with useful insights into the search behaviour of potential customers.

KW Finder for eBay SEO

Above you can see a screenshot of data regarding the search term "blue nike shoes". As you can see from the results, a subtle change in wording of your title can result in thousands of potential customers finding your product. To illustrate this point, let's assume you sell blue running shoes made by Nike for women.

In Google, the search term "nike women shoes" receives around 16,000 searches less a month than "nike shoes for women". With this information on hand, we can now assume that search trends will be similar on eBay. Thus, we should list our product with the title "nike shoes for women".

We've only looked at one example here, but hopefully it is clear that you need to optimise your title for eBay SEO, in accordance with what your customers are searching for.

Here is exactly how you write a killer title for your eBay products:

  • 80 characters or less
  • Include the search term that has the highest number searches
  • Use the search term at the beginning of your title (frontloading)
  • Use special qualities (such as colour, age etc) at the end

How Categories impact rankings

Categories are the second most important ranking factor in eBay SEO. Changes to the category system happen frequently, which is why you should stay up-to-date here.

In a nutshell, categories are eBay's way of grouping items that belong to the same niche. Below I have provided a break-down of the “Books” category as an example:

eBay categories in SEO

The screenshot should shed a little light on the complexity that comes with large marketplaces, and the importance of attributing products to the correct category. Old Magazines, would not do well in the Audiobooks section for example.

For you, the most important thing is to be as precise as possible, picking the most relevant category for your product. In some cases, eBay may even change your category for you, but best to get it right first time.

What's important here, is to understand the way people normally search on eBay. Millions of data points show that people like to start broad and then focus in on their desired product. Therefore, most people will search for: "nike shoes", then "men's nike shoes" and finally "men's nike shoes blue"; and this is where the importance of categories comes in.

In order to get listed for the search "men's nike shoes", you need to categorize your listing correctly. If you omit to include them in the "men's" category for example, then your product will not show for the search term "men's nike shoes".

Nailing your pricing

Cassini has become quite smart and sophisticated in recent years. Cassini knows for example, what a reasonable price for an iPad is, or any other given product. More specifically, Cassini looks at historical data to understand the price at which iPad's are most commonly bought.

As Todd Alexander puts it:

"We know that if someone types in iPad for example, the average prices range between $300 and $800. So we know that is the price that most people searching for iPad are looking to pay. If you have a $2 iPad case, we know that that is outside of what most buyers are willing to pay and will not rank you."

As a result, pricing your items accurately is absolutely crucial. Aim to be attractive enough for visitors to purchase, but not too cheap that it falls foul of Cassini's value perception of the product.

Be as specific as possible

Try to fill in as many item specifications as you can. EBay has said that the quality of the specifications stands in direct positive correlation with user behaviour, which in turn helps your rankings. So the more details you provide about your products, the higher they will likely rank on eBay.

Seller-specific factors

With product-specific ranking factors behind us, it’s time to turn our attention to how you're profile as an eBay seller influences your eBay SEO.

Positively impacting buyer behaviour

Buyer behaviour plays a huge role in eBay SEO. The main reason for this, is that it is such a hard thing to fake. It's incredibly tough to "game the system" and impersonate good buyer behaviour. But what is "good buyer behaviour", what do I mean when I say that?

Well, I’m talking about the response your listings elicit from searching eBay users. There are four important questions that need to be answered:

  • What percentage of visitors make a purchase?
  • What percentage of visitors click on your listing?
  • What percentage of people watch your listing?
  • What percentage of visitors make a bid on your auction?

The answers to these four questions tell Cassini whether visitors are interested in your listing or not. The more people are interested in your product, the better it is deemed to be, and the bigger the boost it will experience in the rankings.

This also means that people who watch your products are providing value to your eBay SEO. Ebay interprets "watching" as a sign of popularity. Thus, even if these people do not buy your product, they are inadvertently helping your SEO and improving your rankings.

"The more people who watch your product. The better your result will be in search."

Nail your eBay SEO in 2019

In the article above I’ve covered the key points to consider when crafting your SEO strategy for 2019. The success of your strategy will play a huge part in determining the revenue of your business and success of your eBay store. That is why you need to make sure that you:

  • Target the right keyword
  • Include the keyword in your title and copy
  • Use specific categories which best describe your product
  • Price reasonably
  • Encourage beneficial buyer behaviour on your listing

That's all for today! Thanks for reading :)