18 Online Listings Tips for eBay’s Algorithm|Cassini Search Engine
Are you having trouble with eBay’s Cassini Search Engine?
Are you one of those eBay sellers who use to sell a ton on eBay and when they released the Cassini search engine your sales dropped out of nowhere?! Well you aren’t the only one! In this post I’ll be giving you 18 tips to help YOU dominate your competition and eBay’s search engine so you can get your sales back on track!
What exactly is Cassini?
Cassini is eBay’s new search engine that was rolled out in 2013. If you have been an old school eBay seller and your sales have never been the same since then, you probably have not changed your listing style to accommodate the needs of Cassini.
Remember the days when you could flood eBay’s search with multiple listings with different keywords in the title? Or how sellers would make 10 different listings of the same product with different titles and you would dominate the search results? Well with Cassini and eBay’s duplicate listing policies, those days are long gone and I’m sure you’ve noticed that already. I mention this, because I have regular chats with old school eBay sellers about the old tactics that people use to do, but no longer work due to Cassini and eBay’s new listing policies.
How the Cassini Search Engine works
Before I give you any tips you need to know how Cassini operates. I’ll be sharing a video that will help you understand how the Cassini search engine works. Please watch this video by Todd Alexander before reading my tips, as the video will help you understand my tips better so you can execute your new listing strategy! Please don’t forget to write your own notes down. I’m a big believer of the best way of learning is doing, so there’s a reason I didn’t summarize the video in writing for you.
This video was recorded from the PeSA Internet conference in Australia, May 2013. The event is hosted by Phil Leahy and held once a year in May at the Gold Coast in Australia. The event consists of 3 days of workshops and seminars from some of the top people in the eCommerce industry. It’s definitely a conference you do not want to miss out on. I attended last year and I highly recommend you do as well. If you’re not able to make it out to Australia, they have one every year in August at Las Vegas Nevada. The US event is called Think Global Retail for more information go to thinkglobalretail.com
eBay’s search algorithm has come along way in the past few years. Not long ago it was much easier for eBay sellers to ‘game’ the system as the eBay search wasn’t all that intelligent.PeSA has plenty of discussions with eBay about search and it’s impact on sellers, and we are pleased to hear that there is ongoing activity to refine, fix and improve results for buyers.
From a personal perspective we have begun to see the benefits of having good stock levels at a good price and offering. It now seems to take some time to establish good best match in competitive categories, but also seems to give enough visibility to newer and/or smaller sellers to get a foot in the door and move some product too. But conversely it seems to work well for larger sellers who can build a more solid base of ongoing sales if they manage their accounts well.
Only 3 or 4 years ago it was all too easy for a new inexperienced seller to come in a dominate rankings and sales just by leveraging price a little bit. Many more factors come into play these days and I believe the marriage between seller performance and best match results is getting closer which is a great thing to see.
My top tips would be:
– Work hard on using your listing titles effectively
– Price competitively, but allow your self room to make margin (if you can’t sell and make a net profit, you need to re-assess)
– Customer Service
– Customer Service
– Customer Service!
Cassini is all about the buyer and how much value you can offer the buyer as a seller. Previously, it was very easy to manipulate eBay’s search engine by flooding listings, but this is no longer the case. You need to give the buyer what Cassini thinks they want. If you want to know more, watch the video above and write your own notes down. This will give you a better understanding of the search engine so it sticks to that entrepreneurial brain of yours
Okay, so have you watched the video and taken your own notes down? I trust you have, so now for the…*Drum roll please*
Cassini Search Engine TIPS!
Okay, so now that you have a background on Cassini lets get on with the tips!
1. Optimize your titles with “relevant” keywords – The maximum character count for eBay titles is 80 characters, be sure to pack the title with relevant keywords for your listing and to maximize the character count. By relevant, I mean use specific keywords and not broad keywords. To make it easy, I will use the same example that was used in the video above (fast fwd to 11:42 in video)
If you’re listing a packet of seeds for sale on eBay, you wouldn’t want to use broad keywords like “Garden, planting, outdoor”. This may get you more views, but it will hurt your buyer engagement because people are looking for seeds not “garden, planting or outdoor”. Lower buyer engagement means your eBay listing will get pushed down the search results. Targeted keywords = higher buyer engagement which will result in higher rankings in search
A software I can highly recommend for building eBay titles is Terapeak. Not only does it build titles, but it also helps you find who the top sellers are in your category, a sellers sell through rate, and you can even find out your competitions top selling products! Stop selling blind on eBay, do yourself a favor and try Terapeak out today for free!
2. List using GTC (Guaranteed till canceled) with a twist – You should list using GTC to retain sales history. The more sales and watchers a listing has, the higher it will go up in search. This means that your listing has good buyer engagement. The twist is, what about listings with no sales after 30 days? You need to END these listings and re-list them! Why? Because it will re-index the listing and wipe the previous history of bad buyer engagement. Once re-listed, your listing will show up as a “new listing” and be on top of search. If the listing gets good buyer engagement, it will stay up at the top. If it gets bad buyer engagement, it will be pushed down in search. So make it a habit to always end and re-list items with no sales after 30 days.
3. OUT OF STOCK Inventory Control and Scarcity – eBay has a featured called “Out of Stock Inventory Control”. Basically, this feature enables your listing from ending even though there’s no stock available. So if you have a sales history for example of 100 items sold and you run out of stock, previously your listing will just end automatically and you will lose all of your sales history. Now, with out of stock inventory control the listing will say “out of stock” instead of automatically ending thus retaining your sales history. This feature is available in most 3rd party listing software. You can find more information about the feature here and eBay’s official announcement here.
Scarcity Tip – Scarcity gets customers to buy your product. A good strategy that can be combined with out of stock inventory control is what I like to call the “Scarcity trick” Basically, you will use your 3rd party listing software or an app like “Quantity manager”to control the stock that’s shown on eBay. We can use this app to make your listings always display “1″ and make customers think you only have 1 in stock left, but in reality you could have hundreds.
How to do this?
Step 1: Setup your 3rd party listing software or application to always display “1″ in stock and turn on “out of stock inventory control” Please note that this method will vary depending on your listing software. You can also turn on out of stock inventory control directly in eBay if you aren’t using a 3rd party listing software. See this article for reference.
After you have all your settings in place your listings should look similar to image below. It might look different depending on which eBay country site you’re listing on. This example is from eBay.com.au
4. Offer the most value for your listing to stay competitive
- Free Shipping – Offer free shipping on all your domestic listings, eBay will give you a boost in search
- Offer additional shipping methods – like express, local pickup and international shipping. Use global shipping if applicable to your category
- 30 Day return policy – Offer a 30 day return policy to earn your buyers trust and to help increase conversions
- Best Price – Buyers are always looking for the best price, if you have the highest price and you have other competitors with similar seller ratings and polices, the most likely you will lose the sale. You need to stay competitive by offering the same or better pricing.
Pro tip: You can use a software called Price Spectre to auto re-price your products to help you beat your competition. This is very useful if you have hundreds of products. It also enables you to re-price against Amazon products.
5. Create a sale – using Markdown Manager you can create sales on a store category or per product level. Buyers love sales and will entice them to buy something if they see its on sale. This will also help increase buyer engagement.
NOTE: Sellers who have been approved in the strike through program will have the option to use “strike through pricing”. I suggest you use strike through all the time if you’re able. Strike through pricing is only available to larger sellers and you must seek approval for it.
6. Maintain YOUR DSR’S and Feedback – Cassini rewards sellers with great DSR’s and Feedback. You need to maintain great Detailed Seller Ratings to be on top of search (Top rated Seller status preferred). You also need to respond to open cases in the resolution center asap and you must close all of them to maintain your rankings in search. Cassini will penalize you if you have a bad seller reputation and that includes having too many open cases.
7. Auctions – If you have some popular items and you’re able to confidently auction them off without losing money, you should create auctions to help increase the traffic to your eBay store. In the auction listing you can cross promote your other items for sale. Auctions tend to show up on top of search if it gets good buyer engagement.
8. Drive Outside Traffic to your eBay listings – To help increase buyer engagement on your listings, a great strategy is to use social media platforms, your email list and PPC so you can drive targeted traffic to your new listings. This will give the listings more views and hopefully purchases which will help push your listing up in search. You will want to do this on newly listed items only. If you have items with no sales, end those items, re-list and then drive traffic to them.
9. Refresh RSS Feeds – Pick any day of the week and go into your marketing tools under manage my store settings and turn off your RSS feeds. Wait 10 hours or so and turn it back on. This process will re-index your first 100 listings and give it a temporary boost in search. If you have more than 100 listings, you can use an app called bayfeeds to process all of them.
10. Use the eBay catalog – When you’re able, use the eBay catalog. If your item is a well known brand, most likely it already exists in eBay’s catalog. All you have to do is enter the UPC or EAN of the product and the listing will automatically populate all of the product data.
11. List in the correct category – List in the right category, if you list in the wrong category your listing will be brought down in search. Choose the category based on product and buyer behavior. See 14:43 in video above for reference.
12. Fill in all of your item specifics – Filling in all of your item specifics will help increase your visibility. Make sure all of your item specifics are filled in and they are relevant to your product. Also add in your own custom item specifics to help educate your buyer even more about your product.
Cassini has totally changed the rules for eBay sellers. Back when eBay used their ‘Voyager’ engine it was all about the eBay title. It was easy for some sellers to appear high up the eBay search with poor listings.Now Cassini takes into account your description as well as item specifics and much more. The importance of good quality listings for eBay sellers has never been bigger.
13. Answer your eBay messages within 24 hours or less – From experience, the faster you respond to a customer on eBay the more likely they will buy from you. This will help increase your buyer engagement on the listing once they buy the product. This will result in a sale and will give you a boost in search.
14. Price your item to be the lowest for every new listing – Pricing your item low in the beginning will get you more sales since you’re the cheapest on eBay. Once you build up your sales history, you can increase your price as long as it’s within the market rate for your category.
15. Mobile Responsive and Branded eBay listing Template – Hire a professional to design you a mobile responsive eBay template to help build your brand. A good eBay template will help increase conversion rates and increase your brand awareness online.
Cassini is nothing like eBay’s old search engine. That only had a handful of options to return results to buyers with, whereas Cassini can do anything that eBay wants it to do.The good news for you is that it’s not going to be just one thing that impacts your eBay success, it’s a combination of lots of little things combined together which will give you results.
Its this combination of lots of things together, such as a great listing title, combined with excellent images, item specifics, pricing, shipping options, your description, previous sales history & account performance history that impacts where your listing appears in eBay’s Best Match.
And each of these are all attainable by you right now. Tweak a title, add an extra image, add extra item specifics, go the extra mile to keep your DSR’s high. You can do all of these everyday and while it might not feel like you’re making a massive change each day, the reality is you’re walking towards a better business with each tiny step.
16. List using the variations – If available in your category, list the product using variations. Variations will combine the number of views, watchers, clicks and sales into one listing which Cassini loves.
17. Create combo items for maximum search exposure – this strategy creates more listings for your store without violating duplicate listing policies. Creating combo items gives you more visibility in search with different types of products as you can put multiple keywords within the title. For example, if you’re selling jeans and shirts, you can create a package deal for the t-shirt and jeans. So instead of having 1 listing for a t-shirt , 1 x listing for jeans, you’ll have a total of 3 listings. I would combo every item that makes sense and a buyer would purchase. You can even further discount to the buyer your cost savings on shipping for combining items into one box. If you’re able to communicate this to your buyer effectively, your conversion rate for combo items should go up. I mean, who doesn’t like saving money?!
18. Use plenty of high-resolution photos – Create high-resolution photos that are a minimum of 1600 pixels on the longest side. This will give you the zoom effect that you see on some eBay listings. Great photo’s are known to increase conversion rates. You also want to add as many pictures as possible, the maximum amount of photos allowed per listing are 12 photos. Use all of them!
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