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Mastering eBay Search Part 2

In my last blog post, I discussed four of the five main aspects of eBay's search system, as well as how best to list your items to gain maximum exposure on eBay according to each major search factor -- Keywords, Categories and Item Specifics, Product Information, and Sorting. 

For this second part of the post, I've saved the most complex search factor for last -- Best Match.  Although Best Match has been the default sorting method on eBay for a few years already, most sellers continue to be confused and mystified by how Best Match works and how best to optimize their listings to gain prominence in Best Match search results.

And eBay certainly doesn't make things any easier.   When I worked at eBay, we were told to respond to sellers' Best Match questions with the following statement (or something similar to it): "Best Match results are determined according to a complicated search algorithm that is constantly changing.  The best thing you can do is list your item for a competitive price, with reasonable shipping, and do your best to perform exceptionally as a seller in providing the best possible experience for your buyers, and you should be fine."  Yeah, right.....

It really wasn't our fault -- we couldn't give sellers more information than that because that's all the information we were given as well.  So we became as frustrated as the sellers we were trying to help, which was not a pretty picture.  As time went on, fortunately, eBay became a bit more forthcoming about Best Match, but by and large,  most of it is still a mystery. 

Before we get into some of the lesser-known tips regarding Best Match, though, it's worth mentioning that what eBay employees tell sellers really is true, and should be taken seriously.  

Here are some examples:

●   The market research data indicates that the average selling price of your product is $68, and you list yours for $89 -- you're going to suffer in Best Match results.

●   The average shipping cost for the other listings in your category is $6.95, and your shipping cost is $9.95 -- you're going to have less prominence in Best Match results.

●   Your positive feedback percentage is 97% or lower -- your listings will be demoted in Best Match search results. 

●   One or more of your DSRs is 4.5 or lower -- yep, your listings will receive less exposure in Best Match search results.

●   You decide you don't want to accept returns, and indicate as such in your listings -- your listings will most definitely be demoted in Best Match search results. 

eBay has created an excellent help page to sum up the main points regarding Best Match -- I suggest reading it more than once:


The most major development concerning Best Match that has arisen recently is eBay's fairly new practice of assigning Best Match prominence to a listing according to how many sales it generates in comparison to how many impressions it receives. 

This concept is enough to confuse even the most experienced, seasoned eBay sellers, and although sellers can improve their search standing in this regard by creating persuasive, compelling listings with attractive, professional descriptions, there isn't much guidance provided as far as how to receive a lot of impressions in the first place!

Nonetheless, eBay has created a fairly decent tool known as a "Search Visibility Report", which all sellers can access anytime from the "Account" tab of their My eBay page. 

When you first access the page, it gives you one of the most helpful pieces of information, which is whether your current seller performance raises or decreases the visibility of your fixed price listings when sorted by Best Match. 

Next, the main feature on the page allows you to either put in an item number or select an entire category from your product list and have it analyzed for you.   

If you selected the option to analyze an entire product category, a table containing information from all of your listings in that category will appear on the page, along with a short summary of how each of them is performing in the search results, including the number of impressions, unique click-through rate, and sales per impressions of each listing.   You can even download the information to a CSV file, if you're a spreadsheet person.

Next, you can click "Run Report" next to any of the listings you want to review, and it will take you to a more detailed report of that particular listing.

The top half of the report displays your listing information -- price, shipping cost, seller performance rating, sales and impressions, and what your sales-per-impressions ratio is. 

In the bottom half of the report, you can type in a few keywords from your item title to determine your listing's search rank according to its keywords.  It will display the page on which your listing appears for a particular keyword search, as well as its position on the page. 

It also provides you with a breakdown of all of the listings on the page -- price range, shipping cost range, and listing formats used, as well as the percentage of sellers on the page who are Top-Rated sellers, the percentage of listings offering free shipping, and the percentage of listings on the page that are using catalog product details. 

It's actually a really helpful tool, as long as you actually implement the suggestions that are given.  There's even a button right on the page you can use to immediately revise your listing. 

Sounds great, right? Sure, it's a nice tool, and it can give you some helpful suggestions. 

But here's the problem....in the case of every underperforming listing I reviewed, I realized that I'm already doing everything that is being suggested to me, and the products still aren't selling as successfully as they should be.   And although some of my listings have apparently only been receiving 1,001 - 2,500 impressions, other listings that are almost identical are receiving 25,001 - 50,000 impressions.  How does that happen, exactly?

So the conclusion I've reached is that I'll gladly accept all of the help and insight that the search visibility tool can give me, but at the same time, I'll recognize that it has limitations, like most things, and I won't treat it as gospel truth.  I'll acknowledge that it's only a piece of the puzzle, and that there is always more to discover, more to learn about how to obtain more prominence for my listings and thereby generate more sales on eBay.

Erika Garnica

eBay User ID: the auctionguru


eBay PowerSeller and Top-Rated Seller

Former eBay Top Seller Account Manager


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Comments (8)

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Alice Delore on 0:09 14 Sep
Great article Erika!

I was really interested to read more about what Best Match doesn't like.

Thanks for the search standing article you recommend too, I've added it to my bookmarks :)
david on 23:22 15 Sep
Very interesting and well written article. I now need to find and read Pt 1. How refreshing not to have a "make millions today" email. Well done. I want to take the plunge with drop shipping and this encourages me. I am also thinking of taking a trip to China to gain product inspiration/best prices. Not being a techi some of the complexities need mastering beforehand. Many thanks
Richelle Monfort on 23:37 15 Sep
Hi David, Here's the link to part 1, http://www.salehoo.com/blog/mastering-ebay-search-part We're happy to learn you find the article well written and that it has inspired you too! :) Have a safe trip to China. Cheers!
klmsportinggoods.com on 0:34 16 Sep
Great piece of information. I will have to check that out for my ebay store and see how my listings rank. Salehoo keep up the great blog posts. Kevin
Alice Delore on 5:18 16 Sep
I would love to hear how you go Kevin :)
Colette - TopCat2x2 Wood on 14:20 16 Sep
Great article, Erika. I hope you'll post many more. Being familar with the inner workings of eBay you provide a very interesting insight, one I've come to anticipate with each new article offered. Today you've confirmed something that's taken a long time to learn. That eBay provides tools for us to use but that they can be fallible or incomplete, even too much to absorb sometimes. As sellers, our best recourse is to understand what is required, take advantage of tools of relevance, but most important use our own common sense and professionalism to continue learning and improving. Thanks! Colette-TopCat2x2
Simon Slade on 3:58 17 Sep
Great post as always Erika!
Erika Garnica on 21:30 27 Sep
Hi Imran, I would be happy to help you, but I don't understand what you're asking, nor how it relates to this blog post. Are you referring to an order you placed with a supplier (i.e. dropshipper, wholesaler, etc.), or an item you purchased as a buyer? If you'd like to provide more information on what your concern is, I would be happy to help.


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