This article recently appeared in auctionbytes newsletter.
Despite 50% of online purchases being researched via a search engine, most eBay sellers ignore the potential of search engines to drive traffic to their listings. By optimizing your eBay presence your products could improve their rankings in the search results on major search engines and boost your sales.
High rankings can drive huge amounts of traffic to your products. Some companies spend millions search engine optimizing their sites but even with limited resources it is still possible to apply techniques which will increase the rankings of your eBay shop and listings.
How to search engines work?
When looking for a product a customer visits a search engine and enters a search term or keyword, for which the search engine produces a list of results which it considers to be most relevant. It is by understanding how this list of results is produced that your eBay page can be optimized.
The ranking of a web page for a keyword depends on three things:
1. The links going to that web page
Search engines consider an inbound link as a vote of popularity. Google, for example, gives each web page a score of 1 to 10 (called a pagerank) depending on the number and origin of inbound links. For a given search the page with the higher pagerank will appear higher in the list of search results.
2. The position and frequency of the keyword on the web page.
When producing results for a search term, search engines will rank your pages based on the keywords they contain and their prominence on the page.
3. The content of the pageâ€™s HTML tags
The search engine also looks at the content of the title and Meta tags of the pageâ€™s HTML code.
When listing on eBay you have direct control over the content and hence the keywords you include. You can, however, only access the page tags indirectly, through configuring your shop and listings.
How to optimize your eBay Shop and listings
Step 1: Choose Your Keywords
The first stage of search engine optimization is to choose the keywords for which you would like to be found.
To select keywords put yourself in the shoes of your customers and consider what keywords you would enter if you were looking for your products. eBay shop traffic reports are useful as they contain the search terms that users are entering in order to find your listings. You can also use Yahooâ€™s keyword tool for popular web search keywords and eBay Pulse to find popular eBay searches. Choose more general keywords for your eBay shop and product specific keywords for your individual listings.
For example a PDA seller might choose Palm, Handheld and PDA as keywords for their shop. For the listings they also use the keywords referring to the item model number and features.
Step 2: Optimize your eBay presence
Repeating a keyword in a number of different places such as your shop URL, title and item description will increase the search engineâ€™s perception of how relevant your webpage is to a particular keyword. However, be careful not to go overboard this is know as â€˜keyword spammingâ€™ and is penalized by the search engines. As well as containing keywords, your description should be clear and readable.
Your shop name. Your shop name appears in your eBay shopâ€™s URL and ideally it should contain your most important keywords.
For example a bike shop seller might choose â€˜Mountain-Bikes-UKâ€™ which would give a shop URL of http://stores.ebay.co.uk/mountain-bikes-uk
Your item title, description, shop custom pages and about me page.
Your product description and custom pages copy should also include your keywords. Search engines attach the most importance to words in titles and bolded words, so ensure that you have placed you keywords prominently.
For example a good item title would be Palm T3 Handheld PDA New Boxed rather than Palm T3 New Boxed as the latter can not be found for searches for PDA or handheld.
Your eBay ID.
Try and choose a memorable and individual eBay ID, as this will help customers find your eBay presence by searching. For example an eBay name like â€œPDA-Wonderlandâ€ will be easier to find in Google than â€œOnline-Dealsâ€.
Your shop keywords.
Also make sure to include your keywords in your shopâ€™s description as this appears in the description Meta tag of your eBay shop pages.
Reviews and guides. eBay reviews and guides are a great way of driving traffic to your listings, from both inside and outside eBay. As eBay is a major website, content is well indexed by the search engines and articles containing your chosen keywords, linked to your eBay shop have the potential to drive traffic to your listings.
Step 3: Build links to your shops and listings
To improve the pagerank of your eBay shop, create as many links to your eBay shop as possible. Encourage your business partners to link to your eBay shop and you should enter your shop into online directories such as Listmystore.com. Do not ignore the potential of links within eBay to boost your pagerank. Always link to your eBay shop from your listings and also from all of your guides or reviews.
Step 4: Track your performance
Once your have optimized your eBay presence it is important to constantly track your performance and make improvements. All eBay shop sellers have access to traffic reports which allow you to see the keywords used to find your listings and the search engines that driving traffic to your shop. If you wish to see more in depth statistics, use Sellathon which can give you the traffic data for individual listings and pages.