Cashing in With Listing Title Mistakes

By Steve Nye, eBay Certified Consultant

Have you ever thought that sometimes the most effective eBay listing titles are "wrong"? What do I mean? Misspellings and other errors buyers make when searching for your product can be used to your advantage. You will connect best with your buyers when you help them find your product whether they enter their search correctly or not!

The key to helping buyers find your product is understanding how buyers search for products on eBay. You have to look at it from a buyer´s perspective. For example, we´re all in a hurry. I´ll bet when you search for a product on eBay, you don´t run your search through a spell check first. I know I don´t. As a result, people often misspell keywords to find the products they want to buy.

When you´re a seller, the trick to getting seen is figuring out how people are actually searching for your product. It doesn´t really matter whether a word is spelled right, or if there´s some other error. It only matters that you list your product the way your buyers are going to find it, right?

Today, I´m going to teach you how to fine-tune your listings with three simple research tips:

  1. Look Carefully at Misspellings
  2. Think About Symbols, Not Just Words
  3. Don´t Waste Your Title On Words that Don´t Help

1. Look Carefully at Misspellings

What if I told you that you could change a single letter in your eBay listing title and increase your chance of selling by 41.2%? Hard to believe? Let´s see.

The figure above shows that listings with "laptop computer" in the title closed successfully 54.2% of the time. On average, they closed for $214.53.

Here´s where changing just one letter in our title comes in. Transpose the letter "p" in laptop with a "b" (a common misspelling) and let´s see what we find.

Wow! What a difference one letter made. Our Listing Success Rate (how often listings closed successfully) shot up to a whopping 95.42%!

And that´s only half the story. Also notice how the average sales price jumped to $285.28. That´s $70.75 more profit than when we used "laptop" rather than "labtop" in the title!

Through eBay listing research, we´ve learned that changing one letter in a listing title dramatically increases the listing success rate and the selling price. You wouldn´t likely discover this any other way.

With HammerTap, you can use the Keywords window to cross-compare every word included in every title in your research set. If you begin with category-level research, you will get to look at all the misspelled search words for that category.


2. Think About Symbols, Not Just Words

For this example, let´s look at a never-ending (never-ending til now) controversy on eBay that I like to call "The `And´ vs. `&´ Controversy."

"And" is a simple word. But, for the dynamic duos in the example I´m about to show you, it´s monumental:

  • Brooks & Dunn
  • War and Peace
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Dolce & Gabbana

Notice that the correct way to type Brooks & Dunn and Dolce & Gabbana is with an "&" symbol. And, the correct way to type the book titles is with the word "and" spelled out.

But what difference does this little bit of trivia make when it comes to listing Brooks & Dunn tickets or a Dolce & Gabbana suit? Everything. Let me show you why.

In the chart above, we see that the word "and," spelled out, worked much better for making a sale than the & symbol. This was true for all four of our dynamic duos, whether it was the correct way to type it or not.

Why did more buyers search for Dolce & Gabbana or Brooks & Dunn with the word "and"? I think it might be because it takes a little more effort and coordination to type the & symbol. It´s a fast-paced world. It´s just more complicated to press that shift key with the pinky finger of one hand, while at the same time reaching for the & symbol with the index finger of the other hand. (Trust me, I´ve done it twenty or so times during this workshop alone—it´s a pain.) It could also be because buyers don´t know which way is correct.

We could speculate about this all day (no matter how sure I am about my first theory). The great thing about research is that it doesn´t matter! You don´t really have to know why your buyers search the way they do. You only have to know how they search and then create your listing to match. In this case, we only have to know that they are looking for all four of these dynamic duos with the word "and," not the & symbol!


3. Don´t Waste Your Title on Words that Don´t Help

My last research tip is to screen your title words for words that don´t help. You only get so many letters per listing title, making your title on eBay valuable real estate property. If you want to make the most money, every word has to count! And remember, it´s not what we think is right, but what the buyer is typing in when they are searching for your product.

The chart above shows my title word research results for the book War and Peace. I´ve taken a look at both the word "and" and the author name, Tolstoy. According to HammerTap research, here´s what I found, from most successful to least successful:

  1. Include the word "and" and the word "Tolstoy": 40.71%
  2. Include the word "and" and don´t include "Tolstoy": 39.53%
  3. Use the symbol "&" and include the word "Tolstoy": 30.65%
  4. Use the symbol "&" and exclude the word "Tolstoy": 22.86%

Technically speaking, including the author´s name gives us the best chances for selling (#1 above). But, when we´re talking about the very slight difference between #1 and #2 (40.71% and 39.53%), I have to wonder if the author´s name is really affecting the success of the listings at all.

This is a word that we can do without, and we´ll want to research other words to see which ones make for a more successful and profitable listing. Remember, what is more compelling to the buyer is more profitable for you as the seller.


Caution!! Watch Out for Pitfalls

I´ve just given you three fantastic examples of how to use a misspelled word, or using a symbol, or excluding a keyword in your title to get more bidders and higher paying buyers. But, just because these trends work well for these items, it doesn´t mean it will work well for other items.

For example, I´ve often seen that listings with misspelled title words have had a higher success rate, but a lower selling price. A common eBay buying trick is to purposefully look for misspellings of common items. Often, the misspelled item will be seen by fewer shoppers, and thus have less competition for the buyer. That´s great for the buyer, but bad for you.

Also, there are many, many other "and" vs. "&" dynamic duos out there. Buyers of those items might use the & symbol instead of the word "and" for other products. The only way you can know for sure is to do your own research.

Watch out for these pitfalls! Don´t just misspell words in your listing because they have a higher chance of selling. When you´re researching, remember to also check to see if the selling price is higher. That higher selling price often means that the buyer made an honest mistake in searching for your item, and your listing won´t be bait for extreme bargain shoppers.


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