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Make Best Match Work for You

How eBay’s search works and how to climb to the top of its rankings

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Make Best Match Work for You

Put all the pieces in place and best match can actually carry you to the top

Photo: Pakhnyushchyy / Dreamstime.com
Depending whether you’re talking to an eBay buyer or to a longtime eBay seller, eBay’s best match search system is either eBay’s savior or the thing that will destroy eBay once and for all. Such a difference of opinion is hardly surprising. After all, one of the reasons for the new search was to push many listings into the background so that buyers didn't have to see them any longer—a move that killed visibility for many eBay sellers using once effective techniques.

With the days of eBay’s classic search winding down and scheduled once and for all to end in June 2009, there’s nothing for eBay sellers to do but make peace with the new ranking system that pushes some sellers’ items to the top of buyers’ searches while pushing other sellers deep into obscurity.

As a seller, the keys to survival are understanding how the new ranking system works and adjusting your item listing and customer service practices to match.

How Best Match Works

The idea behind best match is to have the search system reward seller behavior that eBay (and, in theory, the average eBay shopper) likes and to penalize behavior that eBay and its shoppers don't like. The best way to think about best match, therefore, is as a system that ranks the “good behavior” or “best practices” of all eBay sellers and their listings. Sellers and listings with high rankings are shown to buyers on the first page of shopping search results. Sellers and listings with low rankings appear much later or even not at all.

eBay has been frustratingly obtuse in the eyes of many about the details of the best match system, but based on the anecdotes of many sellers around the web and on eBay’s forums, as well as on eBay’s patent application for the best match search process, a number of things are clearly critical for search rankings:

  • The amount of time remaining before a listing ends

  • Feedback and detailed seller rating scores

  • Shipping costs and methods

  • Status (or not) as a power seller

  • Use of quality listing pictures

  • Use of appropriate listing titles and keywords

  • Encouragement of high bidding and viewing activity

Some of these items may be somewhat beyond a given seller’s control (status as a power seller, for example, or time remaining before the listing closes), but most of them are actually easily “realigned” to work well with the best match system and provide better search rankings. Continue reading on the next page to find out how.

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