Search fundamentals and Best match

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eBay held a webinar yesterday in conjunction with ChannelAdvisor covering the fundamentals of appearing in search along with hints and tips for Best Match.

eBay emphasized the difference between Search and Best Match – Search determines which products are selected based on the keywords a buyer searches for. Sellers need to understand what terms buyers use and include popular alternatives in 55 character title. (eg motorcycle/motorbike). Good keywords, along with selecting the best category and item specifics, will avoid your item being filtered out of search results before they’re sorted by Best Match.

Once a set of search results is found they are then sorted with Best Match. For auctions the only criteria for Best Match are DSRs (4.4 or above to avoid demotion) and Ending Soonest.

Fixed price items are sorted in Best Match on a combination of factors which vary by category. Best Match responds to recent buying patterns so it evolves according to which combination of sorting criteria is working best for that particular category, including Recent Sales, title relevance, 30 day DSRs and price.

Recent Sales is the most important factor but does vary by category. Where few multi-quantity items are listed then the title and price become more important. Time ending soonest is not a factor for sorting fixed price items in Best match. If Recent Sales, DSRs and the title can’t distinguish between listings then price becomes the deciding factor in determining the sort order.

The price used in Best Match does not include P&P but reasonable charges will help keep DSRs high and avoid demotion. If any of your DSRs fall below 4.4 then both auctions and BINs are demoted.

Don’t split sales across multiple listings – from January you’ll only be allowed one fixed price listing for each product line you sell. Gaining sales on a single listing over the Christmas period will put you ahead of any competitors still running multiple listings for each product and in a months time they’ll have no listings with large numbers of recent sales.

Recent Sales boosts will be lost when you relist if you: Increase the start price; change the category; change the title; change the item condition. You can add to the item description, but not change existing description.

Ideas for driving sales include using Best Offer or MarkDown Manager for pricing promotions and using Featured First and Featured Plus to increase visibility.

One final tip which is a new one to me, Item Specifics are used to determine which products are returned in search results. If you’re selling a shirt and you specify “Denim” as the fabric but don’t have it in the item title it will be included in searches for “Denim Shirt”. However when Best Match sorts the search results it does not use Item Specifics. This means a shirt with Denim in item specifics may not be considered as relevant as one that has Denim in the actual title. Although Item Specifics are useful for appearing in search it’s still the keywords in the title that are the most important.

eBay Search and Finding has changed beyond all recognition over the last year but the fundamentals remain the same: Use good keywords, fill out all available fields including item specifics, select the most appropriate category and price competitively, provide top quality service to your buyers and pretty much everything else will take care of itself.

32 Responses

  1. Is it just me, or when it needs webinars/seminars to teach people how to search, does it not mean that the system has been fiddled beyond all usability?

    Consider the difference now between eBay Search and Google Search – they both used to be similar – input the keywords for what you’re looking for and it returns a list of items containing those keywords.

    It no longer does that.

    If I’m looking for a dressing table, I’d expect some results to be returned for dressing gowns because both names include “dressing”, but I’d not be chuffed if I started to get high ranking results for equestrian dressage items, or for “sing-a-long” children’s play toys etc. Similarly, if I’m looking for a denim shirt, I’d expect to see some results for “Denim” aftershave” but not for a play den.

    Thus far in human history, the only people who have successfully reinvented the wheel, were the original inventors of solid rubber tyres, and then those who invented pneumatic tyres. It’s likely the next reinvention will be the hovering anti-gravity format from science fiction. How many of the other wheel re-inventors does history remember, or their inventions?

    Until mind-to-computer connections are invented, my personal take is that eBay should stop trying to reinvent search and let the marketplace get on with what it did best for a decade.


    p.s. – Chris, what you also forgot to mention, and maybe it wasn’t in the seminar, is that distance, and particularly country locations of buyer and seller, have an ENORMOUS effect on search relevance and Best Match ranking nowadays – it’s why Far East sellers GMV’s have been decimated in the last 3 months, and why many of them are increasing their multiple identical listings uploads.

    ….. now let me see – non-identical titles?
    iPhone #0001 colour Gray
    iPhone #0002 colour Slate
    iPhone #0003 colour Grey
    iPhone #0004 colour Silver
    IPhone …..


  2. However when Best Match sorts the search results it does not use Item Specifics

    WTF and WTF again!

    So, you need Item Specifics to appear in search, but they get ‘ignored’ by Best Match – surely a Best Match would be including Item Specifics ?

    If my item title is New Evening Dress, and I also use Red as the colour in Item Specifics, a search for Red Evening Dress will not show favourably in Best Match because it ignores Red !

  3. That’s what the guy said…. however don’t forget that if in a search for “Red Dress” yours is the one with by far and away the most Recent Sales then you’ll be at the top for that reason as it’s the criteria with the highest weighting.

  4. #4 but if it’s a new item with few or no sales and a buyer wants to buy a red dress it won’t show it to them? best match will not show a buyer what he is looking for unless it’s had sales?

    It’s early I must be missing something, how does a new product ever get found?

  5. Totally barmy

    if you go into tescos for a tin of peas they make dammed sure you see all the brands and types of peas plus lots of other vegetables, and even more non vegetable goods they have for sale
    not just the tin of peas,

  6. I want to sell !not solve the mystery of a black hole ,and become the next Professor Stephen Hawking

  7. #5 Quite frankly Whirly sometimes I dunno how anyone buys anything on eBay. Just went to look at your red dress example…. Did you know it’s possible using item specifics to select an Xtra Small dress in size 34″ ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    Why have two measurements for size? And I know know it’s bizaare for size 34 to be extra small, but what about size 12, is that small, medium or large? It’s too subjective and on eBay the spread for a red dress size 12 is: XS (1), S (102), M (130), L (137), XL (20), XXL (2).

    Item specifics are weird, you have to be mad to understand them as a seller and even madder to find what you want using them as a buyer!

  8. a best match search for Red dress gets me


    and thats no kidding ๐Ÿ˜€


  9. When I use the search term “Red Dress” apart from the Featured items (1 is from China, 2 is from Canada)

    The first natural search result is a WOMENS KENNETH COLE DRESS RED FUR LEATHER WATCH KC2219 from the united states.

    If that doesn’t ring a bell in someones head at eBay then it’s a bloody disgrace. I appriecate that the above example has DRESS RED in it the title but ffs if a buyer wants to buy a watch they don’t type in RED DRESS!

  10. “Big Red Dress” brings up Big Bad Wolf Red Riding Hood Mens Fancy Dress Costume ๐Ÿ˜†

    You can thank me later Norf, I knew you had been looking for one..

  11. Red Dress is a fairly un-specific search term though. In my opinion it is very very simple to get to somthing you may want to buy useing “refine search”.

  12. “Big Red Pants” brings up in no.1 spot a pair of *Used* xxl mens sweat pants from the united states with $28.00 shipping. Complete with stains.

  13. #17 If I was a woman looking for a “Red Dress” that’s just what I’d search for.

    However with Refine Search I then have options for:
    Size 6, 8, 10, 12…….30, 32, 34 or One Size
    General Size XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, 3X, 4X, 5X
    Petite, Tall, Plus Size

    How many times does a seller need to decide what size a dress is and how many times as a buyer do will I exclude your item because what you think is medium I think is large or vice versa? Or even worse I look for size 12 but you called your dress medium?

    It’s plain ridiculous ๐Ÿ™

  14. its is a few clicks away, and yes all us old ebay hacks or regular net users can pretty much get the hang of honing are searches, although it aint a logical or easy flow

    but i take my wife as an example, she finds it maddening and just goes to next etc.

  15. #1 Ed Distance WAS mentioned in the webinar.

    Basically as far as eBay UK goes distance is NOT a factor that’s used in Best Match sort order. The only time that it is used is for things like eBay Motors where distance makes sense, or when a buyer specifically specifies a sort with distance manually entered.

    The UK is too small for distance to be significant so they simply don’t include it. This was also confirmed by Jay Spanton, eBay UK’s Finding Manager.

    One other thing that I forgot to mention is that some keywords can have a NEGATIVE impact on Best Match sort order. Basically if you include a keyword and historically buyers tend not to click on titles containing that keyword then the search position is lowered. With the “Red Dress Watch” appearing in searches for a “Red Dress” over time that listing *should* be lowered in relevance which is why it’s surprising to see it so high up.

  16. If I wanted to buy a size 8 dress I would choose that option. I wouldn’t bother (or notice) with what is irrelevant. If I wanted to sell a size 8 dress I would put that in the item specifics and in the title (I don’t think the options s, m , l etc. are even available).

    I think sometimes we are a bit guilty of trying to pick holes in everything eBay – Now if it was PayPal you were picking holes in I could understand ๐Ÿ˜€

  17. Hi All
    Glad its not just me as a clothing seller which finds it maddening,
    It really is hard at the moment, its an art form getting your items found.
    Clothing traditionally is sold in ratios to sellers, 8, 10, 10,12 12, 14 14, 16, 16, 18 20 and 22 in packs of 12,
    So its pretty impossible to get enough of an item to get to the top of best match, as its all different sizes, colours, styles and lengths.

    Now, with the choice policy, I would like to see one listing with all the sizes available on the drop down within that listing – one item, one listing with all sizes,

    To me that makes sense, but what do I know, I only sell clothing!


    Nice example of a red dress guys, I have every colour but red!!!!!

    Suz xxx

  18. I don’t see what the problem is.

    If your search term is red dress, then ebay should return ALL listings with the words red and dress in the title. Someone would complain if they didn’t.

    As Chris says, it’s only the order that is determined by best match. The fact that WOMENS KENNETH COLE DRESS RED FUR LEATHER WATCH KC2219 appears in the search result is irrelivent. It’s supposed to be there.

    It would appear on google too. It would just happen to be on page 1,076, so nobody would see it.

    Best match hasn’t been around very long yet, so it needs some time to gather enough data to optimise the order of the results.

  19. It’s not just item specifics for clothing that are barmy, jewellery is pretty weird as well. (Just ask North!) In earrings I can specify dangling/drop, chandelier or clip on but I don’t understand why clip-on excludes dangling/drop and chandelier. I can’t have beaded and gothic or beaded and wedding/bridal (or even wedding and gothic!)
    It’s just rubbish.

  20. Best match is a farce. Total price including postage should be a factor NOT just price.

    If free postage will boost search placement then its about time EBAY applied commonsense and changed to total price.

    James the Pink has promised to pass on the suggestion BUT as usual it will get lost on someones desk. I, for one, am totally fed up with my items being placed lower than ‘cheaper’ items with exhorbitant postage. 4.4 as a DSR is achieveable by even the rip off postage sellers…

    Its time for some fairness…..

  21. About matches… did you ever try ?
    It is a multiple searching engine who simultaneously search on many different ebay sites (.com, .au,, .it, .es, …) with different queries.
    It is in beta testing. Please have a look and let me know…

  22. The overall effect of Best Match is that it heavily favours large business eBay sellers, and/or those with plenty of capital who have a business model to sell large quantities of specific items at very low profit margins.

    I’m a relatively small seller, and prior to the Best Match search being made the default by eBay a few months ago, I made healthy sales on eBay by having well written item descriptions. After the introduction of Best Match, my sales , and those of plenty of others, fell almost to zero.

    On eBay, if you don’t have capital, it’s stupid to try to go head on with people who have, so I’ve stopped selling on eBay. I always did have my little website as a ‘homebase’, and right now I’m redesigning it into an information site which also sells the product that addresses a particular problem.

  23. @ # 29

    Have you considered turning that into an ePN site? You’d have to change the name but it seems like you might as well get paid for your work.

  24. #30 I don’t think that’s necessarily true (that you need to be a large business with plenty of capitol), I think it depends entirely on what you are selling and what your particular category is like. I must admit I was seriously worried, especially as one of the products I sell is second hand CDs, and I thought larger sellers with more stock would get the advantage, but I’m trying to specialise more in older rarer stuff and I’ve been doing OK. The other product I sell is hand made jewellery and in fact I’ve been doing so well with that for the last couple of months that I haven’t had time to list any CDs lately! Of course that will change after Christmas as my jewellery sales always do better at this time of year but for some reason this year I’ve done much better than previous years. I think that best match must be helping that. I don’t need to be at the top, (as what I sell isn’t the same as what everyone else is selling) but if selling a couple of items pushes me onto the first page then sales in that item do increase as more people see it in the first place. And that in turn helps sell other items as some people buy 2 or 3 different items from me.

    Of course if you have a bog standard product that everyone else is selling then I think that big companies with plenty of stock and lots of money will win out, so if you are a small seller like me then you need to offer something “different” to survive rather than trying to compete on price.


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