eBay has become a complicated creature. Its sheer size and volume of listings means that it has global reach and enormous power in terms of Google search results and its search engine rankings. Put simply, eBay is a necessary evil whether you like the money-making machine that it is or not! If you are going to sell online, chances are you will require an eBay store at the very least to complement your own retail website, as well as eBay alternatives.
Once again you will be presented with the challenges of trying to 'scream' over the voices of the millions of others who also sell on eBay. This is where you need to consider keyword strategy in your eBay listing titles and also in the main body of your store and product listings. You also need to consider being careful with regard to keyword spamming, as eBay will penalize you in your page rank within its global store settings.
We have established that to work from home using the internet, having an eBay store is a useful online asset. This is because it allows you to work actively it alongside other stores such as your own independent retail website plus stores on eBid, Bonanza and Quicksales. Then you can use social media to promote your various stores, offering online customers the option to buy from which ever website they feel more comfortable using. Having this choice is also helpful for your own search engine page ranking - just make sure you can secure the same online store name for each of the major websites. That way you can build a reputable online brand over time.
The problem with eBay is two-fold. Firstly, you really do need to utilize its power because it has enormous pull with Google in terms of Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERP). Most 'things' of any description more often than not can be found for sale on eBay. Therefore a Google search often results in eBay listings coming up, because there are hundreds of millions of them - eBay operates in so many countries!
The above gives rise to a big problem. With so many sellers and stores on eBay, how can you get business or sell items when there are so many others trying to do the same thing? Using keywords in your listing titles and product descriptions is one thing; but everyone is trying to do the same! Sure, professional-looking photos go a long way. My eBay store had several product lines and the best-selling items were those where the supplier had awesome product photos. Pictures do tell a thousand words and they'll sell you a thousand items on eBay! You might be lucky enough to operate in a niche market or be the first to offer a new product. But most of us are selling in existing markets with intensive competition; especially from overseas sellers!
There are certainly some good tips on how to succeed on eBay:
- Definitely use professional product photographs where possible. Your supplier hopefully has them, but if not you need to get great photos yourself or have someone do these for you. Photos sell product, descriptions and words just back up the photos!
- Use keywords in your listing titles. AND make sure you use as much of the character spacing as you can in your titles. For example the current limit on eBay is 80 characters. So be sure to input as many keywords as you think someone looking for your items will type in.
- Use product photos in the main body of the item description; not lots of them but two or three is useful just to complement the text and description.
- Offer free postage if you can. Lots of eBayers hate this, but eBay rewards you with higher listing rank if you provide free postage and post items same or next business day! Depending on the size and weight of your items, this is not always feasible.
- Incorporate YouTube videos where ever possible. If you can make a 20 or 30-second YouTube clip of each product and then build this into your listings, it will certainly go a long way. It also goes back to what I mention about using social media to help promote your brand, products and services.
- Use a blog and social media to link back to your eBay store, especially when having sales and introducing new stock lines or new products to the store. If you contribute to other blog, online forums and feedback/review websites, then also put your link in there if possible.
- Continually add new products; the more you have the more likely you are to be found in eBay and on Google. The more you grow the store inventory, the more hits you are likely to receive. Make sure your listing titles are different and make good use of keywords so you do not end up with one hundred listings that have almost identical titles!
- Use traditional marketing to tell everyone about your eBay store; local business groups, flyer drops, do weekend markets and make sure your eBay store is marketed on business cards and brochures! Tell people - word of mouth is still unbeatable!
- Try to keep your eBay inventory to a minimum!!! This can be a balancing act if you must have it, but learn what sells fast and make sure you have reliable suppliers and wholesalers. If possible, use dropshipping or resell items without having to handle the product at all!!! More on that later.
- Focus on building a brand and find new ways to reinforce that brand. That way, all your listings should include things like a business name and logo and use consistent colors and themes. If you decide from the start your intention is to build a business with the intention to resell it, you will start to pay attention to the things you can control and ways to make it an appealing buying proposition!
Over time however, eBay has upset many store operators with continual changes to policies and guidelines. Most of these changes have frustrated sellers, as they rarely fall in their favor! This includes myself. I started and ran a successful eBay business for the best part of 3 years before selling it, primarily due to the ever-deteriorating relationship I had with the company. Despite this, eBay remains the number one website and the alternatives are playing catch-up.
So in summary, try to focus on products that are small/light and easy and cheap to post. Fast-moving and popular items are often best, which is why fashion features so prominently on eBay. A lower-priced but higher profit margin item will more than likely by more successful long-term than trying to sell high priced items. This is because eBay has always been a place to buy items cheaply.