The eBay Search Engine—a Guide to Optimizing on the Internet’s Auction House

Updated · Jun 14, 2022

eBay is a competitive scene, with everyone jostling to get sales, but with some intelligent planning and a little effort, you can harness the power of the eBay search engine and make it work for you.

Join us as we give you a rundown on eBay SEO and some helpful tips. 

A Brief Recap on SEO

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a process of improving the visibility and ranking of a website, web page, or in this case, product listing in search engine results pages (SERPs). 

In order to perform SEO well, it’s important to know what a particular search engine does and what it looks for when displaying search results. We’ll be taking a look at eBay’s search engine below, but before we do, it’s important to remember something:

Any search engine's primary job is to give users the best content possible.

In eBay’s case, the most worthwhile listings…

Cassini eBay Search Engine

eBay uses a search engine called Cassini to rank product listings.

If you’ve created an eBay storefront, getting a grip on this search engine is vital. 

The four categories Cassini considers when ranking product listings are:

  • Relevance 
  • Value
  • Convenience
  • Trust

In other words, Cassini ranks listings that are relevant to the user's search, offer good value, are convenient to purchase, and come from a trustworthy seller. 

Listings that do not meet these criteria are ranked lower in the search results.

Let’s examine in detail the weight Cassini puts on various factors when determining how to rank listings.

Relevance

To determine relevance, the Cassini search engine looks at how many times a product has been viewed and clicked on.

The more the listing has been interacted with, the higher it is placed because there’s a lot of interest in it.

Past that, Cassini also looks at how much an item has been bid on. This is an even stronger indication of interest

Finally, Cassini looks at the product information and the item description of your listing.

The more in-depth and relevant the information, the better. 

Value

Cassini looks at how much a particular product has been purchased when considering value.

It may not be the exact unit you’re offering, but if that item is popular, the Cassini search algorithm will consider it more valuable. 

Of course, the engine will also consider the price of your listing compared to other listings of the same item.

A competitive price means a better chance of ranking.  

Convenience

When evaluating convenience, Cassini focuses on buyer protection. It looks at:

  • Shipping policies
  • Returns
  • Average delivery times

It also considers how fast you as a seller respond to user queries.

The faster your average response time, the more convenient Cassini will deem your service.

Trust

The final important category Cassini evaluates is trust. 

The eBay algorithm first uses click-through, bounce, and sell-through rates to gauge trustworthiness. 

If many people click on a listing, but there’s very little follow-through, something may be wrong. Perhaps there’s something about the listing that puts people off. 

Remember, Cassini is a machine, and so it can’t have intuition, but monitoring metrics like this is a good substitute. 

Lastly, the engine looks at seller ratings and feedback.

If ratings are primarily positive, the seller is trustworthy. If not, then the seller will be deemed untrustworthy.

Bad ratings can sink eBay stores.

Optimizing Listings

Now that you know what the eBay search engine considers, let’s look at what you need to do to achieve better rankings. 

Listing Titles

Your titles need to be descriptive, accurate, and to the point.

Include as much information as possible, but aim for what people would search for.

Some examples of good titles would be:

“Sony Wireless Bluetooth On-Ear Headphones Blue” or “Red Stainless Steel Water Bottle.”

Examples of bad titles would be:

“Cool Wireless Headphones” or “Epic ‘Racecar Red’ Sports Water Bottle.”

Useful tip: The search bar can be used as an eBay keyword tool for free. Begin typing in what you want to sell, and the autocomplete will show you how to format it. 

Descriptions

Your descriptions should list all relevant information about the item you’re selling.

Information like its specifications, the shipping options, and anything else that’s important, such as any defects or issues, must be included.

It may seem repetitive to list shipping info when the listing automatically displays that, but that information changes depending on the buyer’s region (sometimes it appears pretty vague), while the product description remains the same. 

Some AI writing tools focus on product descriptions and can be used for eBay listing optimization.

Keep it to the point, and focus on the product.

It's okay to encourage feedback, but don’t beg for good ratings. eBay will automatically remind users to rate your service, and if they have a good experience, they’ll say so.

If they have a bad one, asking them to give you a good rating will probably just annoy them. 

Listing Images 

Your images should be top quality. You should use original product images rather than take some off other sites or sellers’ pages. 

This will ensure your images are accurate and eliminate the danger of them being accidentally misleading.

Small details you may miss could be different, and it may be these small details a buyer is interested in. 

eBay Store SEO

Besides optimizing each listing, you also need to optimize your store at large. 

Appearance

In terms of looks, eBay doesn’t allow for much customization, so you should choose an appropriate banner image—something that’s a clear resolution, contemporary, and relevant to what you sell. 

You’ll also need a great profile picture. An original logo would be best. 

Next, you need to set a store description. Here it’s fine to mention what you specialize in and how long your store has been running. 

Customer Service 

Most important of all is providing excellent customer service.

Customer interaction will greatly impact your store ratings and your place in eBay results. You need to respond to customer queries as soon as possible and do everything possible to resolve any issues. 

When a buyer opens a dispute, you, as the seller, will have to respond to it. If you fail to, the dispute can be escalated, and eBay will step in.

You should resolve the issue before it escalates, or it’ll reflect poorly on you. 

It’s always possible you could encounter someone trying to pull a fast one, but if you have a good track record, eBay is more likely to stand by you.

Wrap Up 

With all of these tips in hand, you’re ready to take on the eBay search engine and make it work for you. 

Remember, eBay SEO will take some experimentation and is only one part of a set of practices that can help you sell on eBay. 

Good luck and happy selling.

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Garan VR
Garan VR

Garan is a writer interested in how tech reshapes the environment, and how the environment reshapes tech. You'll usually find him inoculating against future shock and arguing with bots.