eBay advanced search updates

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If you’re used to searching eBay using an asterisk as a wildcard character then you need to know it’ll stop working around the 29th of October.

The way a wildcard search on eBay has worked, is if for instance you searched for Brit* on eBay, it would return search results for everything from Britain, British and Britania to Britney Spears and Brita water filters.

eBay say that they will no longer support wildcard searches because recent changes to how search works already takes into account many spelling variations, and it enables eBay to more efficiently deliver search results faster. Reading between the lines (and knowing a little about eBay’s search engine) I’m guessing a wild card search puts a heck of a strain on eBay’s servers compared to a specific search term.

However that’s not the end of the story – there are still some search tricks which you can still use on eBay and combine the methods to return very specific products, if that’s what you want.

eBay Exact Search

Using quotation marks instructs eBay search to return the exact search term. For instance search for Ming Vase will return items will return all items that have Ming and Vase in the title in any order. Change the search to “Ming Vase” and the words have to be in that exact order, for instance you’ll no longer see Ming Dynasty Vase as there’s a word in the middle.

eBay Either Or Search

Put two or more items in brackets separated by commas and eBay will search for any of your chosen words. An example could be to search for (trousers,slacks,pants).

Excluding items from eBay search

Let’s say you want to search for Michael Jackson memorabilia, but you’re not interest in the Jackson Five, if you search for Michael Jackson -five you’ll exclude the listings you don’t want to see.

Combining eBay search tricks

You can combine the above search tricks as much as you like. Let’s say you’re looking for a bag for an evening out, (purse,handbag,clutch) -(purple,green,pink) would return you listings for purses, handbags and clutches but not any that are purple green or pink in colour.

10 Responses

  1. just simply wonderful advice

    ebay should include the above advice in every email, to every buyer every time they can .
    then forget about the time consuming, confusing , clunky item specifics

  2. Except, “heuristic” search is a BIG FAIL when trying to search for part or model numbers.

    The loss of the wildcard ability literally guts finding parts on ebay.

    For instance, I used to look for IBM hard drives for xSeries servers. IBM helpfully tends to assign sequential part numbers for similar hard drives; for instance, if I want to find the IBM 73GB SAS drives that would fit in my late-model xSeries server, I want parts 40F30[12][0-9], to use a regular expression.

    In eBay’s old scheme, I’d merely have to type in: (40F301*, 40F302*) and get exactly what I wanted.

    In their new scheme, I’m going to have to type in: (40F3011, 40F3012, 40F3013 ..etc.. 40F3029)

    Because heuristics don’t work (and CAN’T work) with random number strings.


  3. My sales have plummeted, and I notice my competitors too. Hope that’s not due to the impressive new search engine!!!

  4. Best Match is broken.
    Search function was and is now even more broken.
    Can someone tell me why I or anyone else is paying listing fees which have increased markedly over the last few years for a poorer service to these clowns?
    And don’t tell me that 10% is a bargain if the sales volumes have fallen away when Amazon roars ahead even at 15% plus fees.
    The only thing that is keeping eBay going is the large retailer segment and even they are unhappy about nonsense like this believe me.

  5. ebays performance is so abysmally poor that if I was to mark them on a similar basis to DSR’s 1 – 5 I could not justify a score above a 10 as their performance is so bad under every possible category.

  6. Have a thought for the poor buyers too. They are also up in arms about this change. Presumably it means that sellers will have to avoid all abbreviations, spelling mistakes, and inflected foreign words?
    It’s a farce.
    They need to be hones and admit that their reason is NOT because the search engine has been improved and can find “similar” words without using wildcards, but because it soooooo much easier (and less computing-intensive) for them to implement searches without wild cards. I speak as a stamp collector, keen ebayer, and former computer programmer.

  7. I agree with Mr. Gledhill. I’m fairly certain that the reason for doing so was to save money. A wildcard search is extremely computer-intensive and I have no doubt this is going to save them money.


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