There’s no doubt that titles are the most vital part of listing data. While item specifics increase search reach, images improve conversion and price puts you ahead of the competition, buyers first find you through your title.
In this article, you’ll learn how to get the most out of eBay’s 80 character limit by balancing the need to have a title that’s easy to read and scans well against the need to load this limited space with relevant keywords for search visibility.
Relevance and Immediate Clarity - The Balancing Act
Studies show that if your title can be immediately understood and scanned, it converts better than one which does not.
Here, the title is easy to read and clearly describes the item. However, you need to also consider the relevant search terms. If shoppers are searching for X and Y, both X and Y should be in your title.
Don’t forget to consider potential synonyms for your product. A sweater might also be called a jumper, a pullover, a top, et cetera. The temptation is to stuff the title with all of these, plus perhaps “cardigan” and “t-shirt”, which don’t relate to your item but will expose it to these high-traffic searches.
This is a mistake. Be selective when you’re plugging search terms into the title. Balance the relevant search terms with the clarity and readability that helps buyers see that your product is right for them. This listing doesn't go overboard, but includes both jumper and sweater to cover both searches.
Negative conversions (where shoppers click your listing without purchasing) damage your search ranking. Keyword overload, particularly irrelevant keywords, means more and more shoppers will see and click your listing – but these won’t be your buyers. That means they’ll leave the listing when they realise it’s not relevant to their search.
(e.g. Nike Men’s Shoes in UK 6 Red with leather insole)
While this is a solid general rule to follow for titles, it’s sometimes better to move pieces around.
Nike Men’s Trainers Red Shoes with leather insole in UK 7
Here, we’ve weighted the stronger search terms towards the front of the title, which gives them more emphasis in the search algorithm.
Long brand names can take up more vital front characters than they’re worth. This is especially true if you feel that the brand isn’t a big selling point itself. In this case, you can push brand down the list behind Gender and Type.
In some categories, other terms such as part number might be very valuable. Parts, electronics and generally any item with specific models often have compatibility requirements. This means buyers want to be certain that they have precisely the correct item, and the model or part number offers that reassurance.
Say What It Is
This listing is an great example of the eBay convention not being perfect. The core definition of the item is towards the end – tracksuit top & bottoms. It makes sense, it’s accurate, and it’s readable. But logically, the buyer scanning a results page wants to know straight away what the product is.
As mentioned, the eBay search algorithm is also going to weight the terms at the front of the title more heavily. Here, a search for “Nike Men’s ______” is going to do well – but if a buyer is searching for “tracksuit top & bottoms” it will rank lower.
The important thing to work out is which search is more likely to be entered by someone who wants what you’re selling. Luckily, you can test where you’ll rank for different searches and rearrange key words in the title to instantly alter that rank.
Let’s take a couple of titles, simplified for the sake of comparison. Title A: “Black Superdry Jacket” and Title B: “Superdry Hooded Jacket (Black)”. Title A is going to rank better for the search “superdry jacket” because the search term matches what’s in the title.
Hooded is a natural adjective to put before jacket, and it’s more descriptive this way. However, if the core market is searching “superdry jacket”, inserting anything between those two words or failing to have them towards the start of the title is going to hinder more than help.
Readability and search term relevance are hard to balance, and finding the sweet spot is the secret of successful eBay listing titles. It’s important to know your product, but the most important thing is matching up the product your buyer wants and what they’re searching for.
Target Buyers Who Are Ready to Buy
Don’t solely look for high-traffic search terms however, as these might indicate a desire to research rather than a shopper who is ready to buy.
A search for “men’s size 9 shoes” is not the search of someone who is ready to buy – they probably want to see the options, find inspiration, et cetera. If the search is for “adidas gazelle size 9 green”, they’ve found exactly the shoe they want.
Your title needs to bear all this in mind, and offer the right values for searches made by read-to-buy shoppers.
In a variation listing, only the parent title will be featured in search. But it's best practice to have unique child titles which include the variation (e.g. size or colour).
Never add the variation data into the parent title, as it’s already picked up in search due to the listing data – it just takes up space without adding anything.
It can also cause negative conversions. For example, if you added all sizes to a Parent title, you risk a negative conversion when a single size runs out of stock. Let's say you list shirts in 4 sizes, and place the size into the title:
‘Men’s Shirts in Sizes XS, S, M and L’
When you make the listing, you’ll have all the sizes in stock. But if you later run out of a size S, you’ll still show up in a search for size S, because it’s in the title. This guarantees a negative conversion.
If it’s not in the title and out of stock, you won’t be appearing in searches for a small.
Also, when entering values for variations, use standard value names to match those provided by eBay for that category. For example, let's say you're selling a pair of size 9 shoes. The buyer searches "black men's shoes", and on the left hand side, they see a picklist with the heading "Size" and values (6, 7, 8, 9 etc) underneath.
This buyer wears a size 9, so they check the box next to 9. If you've set the variation specific to "size 9" or "men's size 9", your listing will vanish from results! Always match your variations to the options in eBay's search picklists.
Avoid the temptation to use block capitals in your title, it doesn't improve conversion and may appear unprofessional. Best practice is to use title case (Where the First Letter of Each Word is Capitalised - With Some Exceptions) and capitalisation on proper nouns such as the brand.
The key things to remember:
In search rank, conversion matters much more than lots of views
Therefore, target buyers who want to buy what you’re selling
Research top keywords and search terms, and order your title accordingly
Experiment and iterate to test and evolve your titles
Avoid use of block capitals, title case is preferable
Maximise those 80 characters
If you manage to do these things, you’ll be well on your way to boosting your eBay sales.