5 Things I Discovered Scanning 1,252,135 eBay Listing Titles

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  • Kyle Anderson
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I downloaded 2000+ random eBay listing titles from all of the top level one and level two eBay categories.

This ended up being about 1 million listing titles in total spread across 490 categories.

Here is what I discovered…

1. The Ultimate eBay Title Goes A Little Something Like This…

I’ll explain what each word in this “title template” means but this is the most popular way people name their eBay items. And it is for a good reason… search results.

The ultimate eBay title template looks like…

[POWER WORD or Quantity]  [YEAR]  [Brand Name]  [Product Title]  [Generic Keywords & Attributes] [Filler Keywords] [Model#]  [POWER WORD]

eBay Listing Title Example: BRAND NEW 2015 Nike Air Jordan Retro Basketball Shoes Size 10 Blue FREE SHIPPING

That example is exactly 80 characters. That fills the 80 character limit and maximizes your search results. The example above is pretty much the ideal title. It has everything in it except the [Model#] since shoes do not typically have that.

Here is an example with a [Model #]…

eBay Listing Title Example: FACTORY SEALED Lego Star Wars Death Star 24 Minifigures 10188 FREE SHIPPING

That example is 75 characters. That is 5 shy of the 80 character limit. Perfect example.

And finally some examples using (quantity) as the POWER WORD.

eBay Listing Title Example: (5) Advil Ibuprofen Liquigel 200mg Pain Reliever / Fever Reducer (80 per bottle)

eBay Listing Title Example: 200 AJVM Padded Bubble Mailers 7.25×12 Poly #1 Envelopes and Bags RECYCLABLE

Here is an explanation of the elements of the ultimate eBay listing title…

  • [POWER WORD or Quantity] = The power word is a word meant to answer a secondary concern in the buyers mind like “is it new or used” or “does it have free shipping”. The first power word is optional and should NOT be used all the time. What you want to do is check your competition if adding a power word in the beginning helps you stand out then add it otherwise leave it out. A 2nd power word should only be used if your product name is short and you have tons of excess space left. Whether you put it in the front or at the end depends on how your competition looks. If you are selling more than one then put the quantity here instead like 5 or 10. Many listings put the quantity in parentheses like (10) but that is a waste of two characters you could be using for keywords. Depending on the category some people do search for “Lot of” or “Set of” so consider putting that in front of your quantity if you see your competition doing that in your category.
  • [YEAR] = If your product has a new release every year, add the year but only add it if people actually search for the year. Know your customer.
  • [Brand Name] = Brand name first.
  • [Product Title] = Product title second.
  • [Generic Keywords & Attributes] = This is the place to put keywords that describe the product like color or size or version. Use words that people would search for.
  • [Filler Keywords] = If you have tons of room left, add more keywords that people would search for but make sure your title does not turn into gibberish or it will get skipped by potential buyers. I’ll show examples of gibberish from my scans later in this post.
  • [Model#] = Some products have model numbers that people search for. The best example of this is Lego. All their sets have a 4-5 digit number to id them. Other categories with model numbers include anything that has replaceable parts like auto parts, electronic parts, cameras, power tools, etc..

2. People Use The Silliest Words & Characters In Their Titles

The title is the most important item on the page and some people fill their product titles with absolute garbage. The title is an H1 heading HTML tag. It also is what shows up as the listing title in search engines. This means the title element has more weight on it in terms of how Google views the listing than any other element on the page. We want to optimize this title the best we can. But, it is also has to be readable by humans. We can’t just optimize the title for search engine robots. We have to optimize for both. We need to make sure it stands out from the crowd. What we want from a perfect eBay listing title is two things.

  1. Stuff the title with the most relevant and highest traffic keywords we can find so search engines will pick it up and rank it high.
  2. Make the title readable by a human and add a POWER WORD (or two) to entice the user to buy.

Write the title for the humans first and the robots second. We are selling to people not robots. It is ultimately a person that will click that buy button and open their wallet to your business.

Lets look at some poor titles people have written…

TITLE: ANTIQUE BOOK LITTLE LEATHER LIBRARY A CHRISTMAS CAROL CHARLES DICKENS POCKETSIZE
eBay Title Analysis: ALL CAPS = bad.

TITLE:[email protected]@K” RARE VINTAGE ATLAS CAR BATTERY TIN COIN BANK FROM 1960′
eBay Title Analysis: This is difficult to read for a human. Remove the tacky [email protected]@k

TITLE: !!!SEVEN BRAND NEW KNIFE SET!!!! FREE SHIPPING
eBay Title Analysis: ALL CAPS = bad. What kind of knife set? What is it made of? I DON’T KNOW!!!!!

TITLE: $395 BC® VICTORIAN 14K GOLD AQUAMARINE DIAMOND ART DECO VTG CHAIN ETERNITY RING
eBay Title Analysis: ALL CAPS = bad. Don’t put the price in your title. It’s redundant.

TITLE: ***** AUDIO BOOK ****** THE HARBINGER by Jonathan Cahn / Brand New
eBay Title Analysis: This title is in the audiobook category already. eBay already knows it is an audio book.  Thats 11 characters he wasted with those asterisks*

TITLE: [email protected]@K! TWO old “B” Glass Insulators 4 ONE Price!!!
eBay Title Analysis: Too short. Don’t use [email protected]@K. It doesn’t help.

TITLE: Latex/rubber/catsuit unique/Unisex/Sexy/Golf uniforms/fascinating/
eBay Title Analysis: No/idea/What/this/is/selling. Separate your words with spaces.

TITLE: New Sealed VHS LEONARD BERNSTEIN PARIS RAVEL CONCERTS MARILYN HORNE BORIS BELKIN
eBay Title Analysis: Difficult to read for a human. Not sure what it is selling.

TITLE: New 52 – Batman – 1 2 3 8 9 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19-27 29-33 VARIANTS -37 LOT
eBay Title Analysis: you would think this is a horrible description but its located in the comics category so its not bad but it could be better. They should have put “NEW DC Batman Comics LOT Of 37 – 1 2 3 …”

As you can see, there are exceptions to the rule. Use good judgement and you’ll be fine.

3. Too Many People Use ALL CAPS In Their Entire Title

There are a couple problems with doing this.

  1. This is against eBay’s recommendation. Don’t believe me? Read it here.
  2. ALL CAPS SENTENCES, or in the case of eBay titles, sentence fragments are difficult for the brain to recognize. We need to solve this problem.

The Federal Highway Administration in the United States has stated that, “Studies have shown that it is harder to read all-caps signs, and those extra milliseconds spent staring away from the road have been shown to increase the likelihood of accidents, particularly among older drivers.”.

What this should tell you is that when a user searches for an item and yours comes up in the results, the difference between yours getting read and someone else’s title getting read happens in a matter of milliseconds. You should pray that your competition puts all their titles in all caps so that everyone sees and coherently reads your title first and makes the conscious decision to click your listing.

Here are some horrible examples of titles in ALL CAPS.

  • TFT EAS 911 ENCODER DECODER RADIO STATION BH EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM
  • HACIENDA DEL MAR CABO MEXICO TIMESHARE ANNUAL PRESIDENTIAL SUITE FLOATING WEEK
  • WEBBING REPAIR KIT CLIPS FAGAS STRAP PIRELLI KOFOD LARSEN FURNITURE SELIG CHAIR
  • DJ PRO KARAOKE EVENT SPEACHES DUAL 2 TWO WIRELESS CORDLESS MIC MICROPHONE SYSTEM
  • NM VINTAGE FROST JAPAN HORNET BONE BULL ELK FIGHT ETCH FOLDING KNIFE KNIVES OLD

Can you recognize what that says or does your brain hurt trying to read it? My brain hurts trying to figure it out. Now let’s take those same titles (even with the poor word choices) and remove the CAPS.

  • Tft Ead 911 Encoder Decoder Radio Station Bh Emergency Alert System
  • Hacienda Del Mar Cabo Mexico Timeshare Annual Presidential Suite Floating Week
  • Webbing Repair Kit Clips Fagas Strap Pirelli Kofod Larsen Furniture Selig Chair
  • Dj Pro Karaoke Event Speaches Dual 2 Two Wireless Cordless Mic Microphone System
  • Nm Vintage Frost Japan Hornet Bone Bull Elk Fight Etch Folding Knife Knives Old

Wow! Isn’t that easier to read? Well, I still don’t know what the hell they are selling but at least I can read the words now.

So in summary, don’t put your title in all caps. There is a debate about whether using all capitalized words or not yields better results but we are talking about eBay titles not complete sentences. What we want is the user to be able to recognize the keyword on the page that he or she is thinking about as fast as possible. Placing all the non POWER WORDS in capitalized words is the best result in our data scans. The POWER WORDS should be all caps because the user is not initially thinking FREE SHIPPING or FACTORY SEALED. They are thinking “Lego Star Wars”. You want to make it as fast as possible for their brain to latch on to your primary keyword and click your title. The POWER WORDS are a secondary afterthought (slower to recognize) that seals the deal and gets you the sale.

4. Here is a Comprehensive List of POWER WORDS

I scanned over 1 million eBay listing titles and ran a keyword density scan on the entire list. The following is a list of the most common words used. I am not saying these are good or bad words to use. They are just the most common.

The number one word in an eBay title is “black”. It shows up in 0.5% of titles. That means 1 in 200 listings have the word black in it. Download this list and search for POWER WORDS to use. Also, remember that these are the most popular words which means if you use them in your titles you are competing with a gazzilion other people. To stand out you want to use unique words that people search for.

DOWNLOAD The TOP 2000 eBay Keyword List

5. A Large Percent of eBay Users Do Not Follow eBays Recommendations For Great Titles

I am not going to write all the eBay recommendations for great titles since I feel like I already did a good job above but you do want to make sure you are familiar with what eBay recommends. Ebay does their own studies as well so these recommendations do not come lightly. Read them and follow them. They are all good guidelines. You can read the entire list here: http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/title_desc_ov.html

Final Thoughts on eBay Titles

Every niche of products is different. Use this eBay title template as a base and do research in your niche to determine the best sequence of these elements. For example, if we know our customer is going to be searching for a product attribute as part of their keyword and we only sell that one kind of product, we may want to place that attribute word in the beginning of the product title so that the user recognizes it in the search results faster than than they would recognize our competition (remember it is a matter of milliseconds). An example if this is using a title like “Blue Nike Air Jordan Shoes” instead of “Nike Air Jordan Shoes Blue”. Good luck and happy research.

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  1. Gracie Wheeler left a comment on May 21, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    Using a few words in caps in the title makes sense for grabbing the shopper’s eye on Ebay, but I thought that Google penalized this type of “odd” capitalization in search–or do Google merchant policies not apply? What’s the balance here?

    • Kyle Anderson left a comment on May 21, 2015 at 9:34 pm

      It’s about relevancy of th page as a whole. Your title alone isn’t going to score you Google points. They look at the entire page as a whole. If you just keyword stuff your description and then put all CAPS in your title then yeah you will get penalized. If you put a single word here and there in caps and write a nice decription of the product, you’ll be fine. If you want to learn more you can always listen to the hours and hours of videos Google puts out about the topic. Matt Cutts tries to explain their “title snippet” algorithm here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=147&v=NlJiLDn9-38

  2. Lee left a comment on November 18, 2015 at 2:28 am

    Hi, great article, great site.
    Picked up some great tips as well as had a few things confirmed. One I have been thinking about and have not found an effective way to check is if alternative KW placement beyond the title will result in relevance dilution.
    Say I have identified 5 0r 6 KW that are often used in various searches for my product. I am of course interested in showing up for as many of these as possible. But following your guidance of inclusion of brand+benefit+power words, etc in the title, there is not enough room left to fit all 5-6 discovered KW without sacrificing some of brand/power words. Lets assume I can only squeeze in one long-tail KW in title. Do I lose any of the KW relevance of the remaining 4-5 KW by adding them in Item Specifics and/or Item description? Could I help ‘juice’ them using a little google seo tactics like repeating them a couple times, peppering in some other related (ie LSI) kw? I know ebay algo is not as sophisticated as Google’s which leaves me wondering if any milelage at all is gained from optimizing any other part of the listing beyond the title?
    Thanks again for such sharing such great content.

    • Kyle Anderson left a comment on June 28, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      Put the most popular keywords in the title and put as many related keywords as you can in the Item Specifics and Description. Do item specifics is good for eBay search as well as Google Shopping search and regular Google search. Most people do not do any of this. By doing this you are one step ahead.

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