This is a guest post by Matthew Ferguson of Emanaged, a company offering consultancy and support for online merchants.
As the New Year has just started it’s a great time to review how we sell online and look for ways to improve our listings. Today, Matthew takes a look at eBay Item Specifics and shares his thoughts on how best to optimise and use them:
eBay Item Specifics
You have not done your eBay item specifics correctly. Look at this.
What do you see? All item specifics done and ready? You wouldn’t be alone and I wouldn’t blame you. This looks like a lot of work done to populate all the item specifics. But it’s somewhat wrong.
eBay does not care about your custom item specifics. They really don’t. Last I was told by eBay, they don’t even crawl them in search indexing. These custom ones have zero value for being found. They can help with conversions of course, as they offer some extra details that could sway the buyer. But our primary desire is to be found by the right buyers first, and then convert them second.
So what’s the problem with the rest? Two words, which I want you to repeat and remember; valid values. eBay has two types of item specifics: valid values and free text. Free text of course means you add any value you want here. However most are valid values item specifics. You can still add any text you want into them, so they aren’t fixed’, but you shouldn’t.
Valid values are eBays own internal taxonomy. eBay uses these to better ‘know’ your product specifications. The better it knows the details, the better it can present your listing to buyers most interested. The closer the match between the buyers inputs and your listings criteria, the better the ranking.
Of course, I’m oversimplifying Best match. There are a host of other factors which add up and weight into the final result. But we’re forgetting all those for now.
Basically, if you send ‘Cotton blend’ in ‘Material’, you’re making a critical mistake. If you are sending “Sky Blue” to Main Colour, you’re making a mistake. If you’re sending “Short” for sleeve type, you’re making a mistake. If you’re sending anything except the values eBay is looking for in that item specific for that category in that region… you’re making a mistake.
eBay is trying their best to index and map internally. The likely will associate ‘Sky Blue’ to ‘Blue’ for fashion items. But don’t ever count on it or expect it.
Remember the buyer: he has millions of listings. He needs to use the left hand navigation filters to narrow his search.
If you plug a value eBay doesn’t recognise into an item specific, eBay has no choice but to remove your listing when the buyer uses the filter. You might have a short sleeve shirt to offer this buyer, but if you don’t tell eBay its ‘Short Sleeve’, eBay wont guess and risk poor buyer experience. Many of your competitors are sending the right value. eBay will have no choice but to favour other listings.
I’m not going to pretend its easy. Believe me. I’ve personally mapped thousands of these over the years, and supported teams who begrudgingly had to do it daily. It’s not fun. Put on music, watch reruns of a tv show in the background or ask someone to do it for you, but do not neglect it.
Item specifics are not just filter agents. They are picked up in search too. They are title extensions in many regards. They help you get favour from Cassini. They are surfaced before descriptions on mobile devices, now roughly 50% of all your traffic. They help qualify a buyer and avoid negative conversion metrics. They help convert the right buyers. Use tools, use service providers, batch them, maintain them but it truly is in your best interest to do them correctly.