eBay Search Algorithm Cassini – Best Practices

“It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do and then do your best”
– W.Edwards Deming – Statistician

Anyone using Ebay as a selling platform, whether as a standalone activity or as an integrated part of a multi-channel campaign, will have felt the ups and downs of the past years changes. Big updates to the eBay search algorithm (Cassini) were followed by Google algorithm updates that have been a double whammy for some merchants.
So, what should you be doing to ensure your eBay listings perform as well as they possibly could do? The answer to that is not particularly ground breaking – it’s effectively doing what all search engines (yes, eBay is a search engine) like you to do. Provide clear useful and original content and worry about users above all else. Yes, there are a few technical considerations and marketing basics to bear in mind, but as long as you consider your target personas, the rest boils down to good customer support.


What Are Personas?
Marketing personas are the types of people that will be viewing your content. You may have several personas all at the same time that you need to cater for – in multichannel marketing, there are even different personas applicable to different channels.
A persona is effectively a typical customer – by understanding what they are, you are more likely to get the outcomes you want. You need to consider that a young male professional who is tech savvy and short on time, is likely to require a different level of detail, pitch and tone of content compared to a married fifty something lady who is price conscious but appreciates quality.


Cassini In A Nutshell

Cassini is the name of the search algorithm that now powers eBay. It rewards quality information and restricts merchants listing irrelevant products that do not sell. Just like Google, (and partly because of them) they have tackled the issue of thin content and the need to improve their service in the mobile era with sweeping algorithm changes.


Listings Basics

Getting your listings right are a must, you need to take time over it and fill out as much information as possible – don’t skip any of those fields even if they’re not required. And don’t get too smart with keyword tactics or alternative categories – A spade is a spade, not a “digging tool” and when it comes to colours think like your typical male. Red is red: It is not Rose, Scarlett, Rouge, Strawberry or any other exotic colour – people search for base things and they will not cry foul if your Sky Blue dresses are categorised as simply blue.  Use popular, and accurate keywords in Titles and stop keyword stuffing.
Check your listings against these points and uncover opportunities to improve your performance.
•    Use accurate, useful & popular titles
– Check the most important part (keywords) of the product title at the start
– Popular searches can be found by using eBays autocomplete tool for inspiration

•    Ensure you have the best product images possible
– Don’t watermark images if possible.

•    Complete all information possible for listings
– Do not leave any blanks

•    Use Accurate Standard Categories as much as possible (no category stuffing!)

•    List Items using Standard Filters (ie Red not Rose) whenever possible
– Avoid “Not Specified” at all costs.

•    Provide Free Shipping

•    Reduce shipping times to their minimum

•    Feedback suggests (but it is not conclusive) that 30 day listings rank higher at the outset however also consider the following tactics
– Test/Experiment with different listing types
– Use 30 Day Listings for new or averagely selling products
– Use Good Till Cancelled on quick/high selling products


Cassini Listing Principles

Like all search engines, eBay wants its search results to be good. They want to give their users products that they’re likely to want to buy – this isn’t altruistic behaviour. eBay only gets paid, when items are sold – it is common sense then, to display the bestselling products more prominently.  If products keep on appearing but rarely sell, it’s bad for eBay, bad for users and ultimately, bad for those merchants responsible for them.
Counterintuitively for merchants that have been selling on eBay for a long time, having your products show up a lot is not necessarily a good thing. Cassini rewards merchants that sell often – so only list items that sell. Of course, having good listings, in the right categories increases the likelihood of selling – as do free shipping etc.
•    Products with a low click through rate will appear less often
•    Popular products appear higher
•    Feedback makes a large impact on rankings.
•    Products should be organised in to the correct category


Get Your Listings Pages & Stores Right

All websites should work well on mobile, and eBay is no exception. Stores and listings pages with a lot of HTML in them, load slower and generally can provide a poor user experience. It is suggested that when crawling a page listing, Cassini will stop if it comes across a lot of HTML. It means less of your information is indexed and therefore it becomes less relevant for many keywords.
Therefore, strip out as much unnecessary HTML as possible – still provide plenty of information but keep the fancy stuff out.


The Big No-No

Keyword stuffing

Stuffing keywords into titles and product descriptions is lame, out of date and has no place in any search engine marketing strategy. Don’t do it – eBay doesn’t like it & users don’t benefit from it.


Things To Think About

Market Your Products With Purpose

Free shipping, 25% off, free extras – all of these things are traditional marketing tactics that aim to increase conversion rates. With Cassini rewarding merchants that have popular selling products, maximising your conversation rates has a compounding effect on transactions.


Mix it Up With Auctions

If you have all fixed price listings, add a few auctions of items to generate additional traffic. The ratios can be very long – as much as 2000:1 on fixed price to auction. Start at a penny with no reserve and take the hit on profits if needs be. Of course, don’t sell particularly valuable items that way, but it is a way of generating additional traffic (of high commercial intent) to all of your products which will be given a boost by Cassini.
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