When we last wrote about eBay's Cassini search system, it was a relatively new development in the eBay world. Now, it's the eBay status quo. Many sellers are still struggling, however, to come to terms with and master today's eBay search.
If your listings aren't generating the interest that you'd like them to, or that they used to prior to Cassini, you'll need to do some search engine optimization (SEO) for eBay's Cassini search.
What Matters to eBay Search
eBay's Cassini search algorithms are proprietary and evolving, so few know exactly how eBay search rankings occur. eBay has, however, given four major goals for Cassini. eBay wants search results to:
Be relevant to shoppers' intentions as they search
Represent good value for shoppers
Offer convenient transactions and purchases
Inspire trust in eBay's marketplace and sellers
Using these four goals and the collective wisdom of sellers around the world as guides, it's possible to piece together a checklist of eBay SEO best practices.
eBay SEO — Listing Elements Checklist
Here are the concrete things that you should consider in your listings as you optimize them for eBay search. Each of them can likely have either a positive or negative effect on your search rankings.
Listing title. Use clear, specific titles that describe your actual product. Don't include extra "just in case" terms or try to capture traffic by including popular terms that don't match your item. Use Terapeak SEO to help you to identify the keywords for your product that are currently performing well.
Category. Choose the right category for your item. Period. Avoid multiple categorization unless it is clearly and absolutely appropriate. Never miscategorize. Use Terapeak Category Research to identify the most selected category for your product.
Item specifics and eBay catalog. Fill in as many of these as you can, but avoid inaccuracy or guesswork. If necessary, add your own using the listing form. Item specifics filters are now front and center in many searches, so if you don't use them, you're encouraging shoppers to filter you right out of their results.Use Terapeak Product Reesarch to recent average prices and top performing listings and images for your product.
Product images. eBay privileges many images over few or no images, large images over small ones, and high-quality images over low-quality ones. Good images aren't grainy, are well-lit with no color cast, show the product clearly, and have a clean background. Use Terapeak Product Research to see the images used by top-performing listings for your product.
Item description. Item descriptions also likely matter, though there's less consensus on how. The best bet is to create detailed descriptions that aren't too short or too long, are nicely formatted (not all a single paragraph), and use relevant (but not unrelated) product keywords.
Price. Price your items in line with norms for your product. Prices that are too high don't represent good value, while prices that are significantly lower than normal are suspect. Use Terapeak Product Research to see the average prices for your product over the last several weeks.
Shipping cost and speed. Free shipping is good for a boost in rankings. Fast shopping is also good for a boost in rankings. Set your shipping costs as low as you can, free if possible, try to minimize your selected handling time, and offer the fastest standard shipping service you can on eBay's selling form.
Shipping destinations. If you don't include a region in your list of shipping destinations and don't use eBay's Global Shipping Program, most shoppers in those regions simply won't see your listings at all.
Returns. A generous return policy is also likely good for a boost in rankings. Inflexible returns policies likely count against you in rankings.
eBay SEO — Seller Performance Checklist
As it turns out, several things related to your general performance as a seller also affect your eBay search rankings over time. Keep an eye on these as well.
Click-through and sell-through rates. The more often your listings result in sales after appearing in search results, the higher your ranking climbs. Retire or pause flatlined listings and avoid multiples and active listings that come up in search but don't sell. Use your MySales Dashboard to see how your search impressions, page views (clicks), and sales relate for each listing.
Transaction troubles. Return rates, refund requests, and other problems that shoppers experience in doing business with you likely hurt you in eBay search rankings, as they don't serve to build trust in eBay's marketplace or sellers.
Promptness. Don't just promise fast shipping, fast problem resolution, and fast communication; deliver on all of these. Don't forget that eBay tracks your shipments (including how long it takes them to enter the system), your messages and replies, and the speed with which problems are resolved.
Feedback. Though it's easy to forget this most venerable of eBay features after seeing a long list like this one, eBay feedback also figures into to search rankings.
It Is Actually a Checklist
It's a long list, but that's by design. It's what Cassini is all about—eBay is looking at the big picture, then showing shoppers the sellers and products that are most likely to leave them with warm fuzzies after their purchase, whatever it happens to be. To rank highly, you'll need to be hitting well on each point above.
Cassini has been a "back to business basics" move by eBay. For a while, SEO was about technical tricks and gaming the system. Now it's back to giving the customer what they want, at a good value, conveniently, and with honest marketing and support that inspires trust.
If you're a seller that's still struggling to make the change, don't worry—keep at it, and use this checklist. Eventually you'll get there, and before you know it, it will all be habit.
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