Creating Optimised eBay listings

eBay Listing Types

Auction Style

eBay became successful on the strength of its online auction business. eBay auctions work like traditional ‘English’ offline auctions with bidders competing to win an item with the highest bidder at the end of the auction the winner. Whereas English auctions do not end until the highest bid is placed, eBay auctions have defined ending time, with the winner being the highest bidder when the clock stops. eBay auction listings can have a duration of 1, 3, 5, 7 or 10 days.

Auction listings can have the following additional options:

  • Buy it now. The auction has a Buy It Now price (BIN), which disappears as soon as the first bid is placed.
  • Best offer. Let buyers make offers. Allowing offers increases the chance of selling by 3-7% (Source: eBay).

Auction listings are most useful for selling second hand, collectable or distressed stock where a quick sale is required.

Fixed Price Listings

With Fixed Price listings, buyers can purchase an item immediately at an advertised price, in a method like standard eCommerce sites. A seller can offer several items in one listing with the buyer specifying the quantity they wish to purchase. Fixed price listings are aimed at businesses selling new products.

Fixed Price items have a duration of 30 days, and sellers can specify the listing is ‘Good ’til Cancelled’, meaning that the listing renews automatically every 30 days.

Creating a Listing

To complete a listing on eBay, a seller must complete several attributes which define the nature of the item for sale and the details of the offer. These include:

  • Item category, e.g., Baby > Baby Safety > Stair gates
  • Listing format, e.g., Fixed price listing
  • Item title, e.g., Clippasafe Auto Close Stair Gate Baby Safety BNIB
  • Item description.
  • Postage options, e.g., Royal Mail 1st Class

Item Category

Each item must be placed in one of eBay 13,000 categories which range from antiques to video games. There are 31 top-level categories, each of which is divided into multiple sub-categories. If an item does not fit neatly into one category, it can be listed in two categories, although this doubles the listing fee.

As many buyers look for items by browsing a category, choosing the right category helps an item find potential buyers. The category also determines the item specifics available for a product.

Choosing a Listing Format

As mentioned above, eBay offers two main listing formats, fixed price and auction. Auctions are best for unique items such as antique, whereas fixed price works best for selling new items.

Item Title

The most critical part of an eBay listing is the title. Every eBay item has a title which is a maximum of 80 characters. This title is queried when users are searching for, and it also forms the name for the item in the eBay search results and the item profile page.

For items to get found, they must appear in searches relevant to your products. Despite eBay’s introduction of the best match search algorithm, finding items on eBay is still primarily driven by a keyword search of the title and description. It is therefore vitally important to write a compelling title for each product. By placing important keywords in an item’s title, sellers can help potential buyers to find their items and improve sales. Keywords can include:

  • Manufacturer
  • Brand
  • Model number
  • Features

Here is an example of good and bad eBay title for an iPhone X:

Good title:  Apple iPhone X Space Grey 32GB Unlocked Original Box A1901 + Silicone Case

Bad title: Apple iPhone X + Case

The first title makes appropriate use of space, utilising 74 out of the available 80 characters for the item title. The second title wastes valuable space and does not correctly describe the item. If the keywords on which people search in an item’s title and description, an item will appear in fewer relevant searches and will underperform.

When looking for keywords to include the titles, consult the following sources:

  • eBay autocomplete. The eBay search bar autocompletes searches with high volume phrases.
  • External keyword tools. Keyword tools such as Google Keyword planner can suggest keywords for eBay titles.
  • Top eBay listings by category. eBay Terapeak research tool gives top listing by category.

Item specifics

For many categories, eBay has defined a list of item specifics. These are attributes that can be attached to an item to help people with their searching. For example, item specifics might include make, model number, and hard drive size for a laptop. When browsing categories, buyers can use the item specifics to narrow their searches.


While a good title and correct use of item specifics help drive buyers to a listing, it is a good description and photos which will encourage a bid or a sale.

An item’s description is a free text field where the seller has total freedom to describe the item in their own words. A good description should include all the information required to decide about purchasing that item. Remember that it is also an advert for the item, so it should sell the item giving compelling reasons for making a purchase. A good description should include:

  • List of the item’s features. Do not assume that the buyer will be motivated enough to go and research the item for themselves.
  • Any faults. It is easier to be upfront about an item at the start as it will reduce customer service issues and the number of questions received. Misrepresenting an item is also against eBay rules and will lead to negative feedback.
  • Other information. It is worth adding information about payment and delivery options and any terms and conditions of sale.
  • Links. Link to your shop to encourage people to buy complementary items.

The descriptions field of an eBay item supports HTML, so it is possible to design an attractive listing that promotes your business. Below is an example of a well-designed eBay listing.


As buyers of eBay items cannot see and touch an item, it is vital to provide them with quality pictures of your item to see what they are buying. Images should be high resolution, and the product should take up most of the picture. The main image should be on a white background. eBay allows buyers to submit up to 12 images for free, and you should use as many as are available.



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