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eBay Listing Titles: Less is Still More

Additional character space is not all it's cracked up to be.

If you ever felt cramped by the 55-character limit on eBay listing titles, you may feel the urge to rejoice now that the limit has been increased to 80 characters. With 25 extra characters available, you’ll be free to say everything you want to say about your great items within the item title. But will more characters spell more sales, or might they have that “law of diminishing returns” effect on your profit-gathering efforts?

On the surface, it might seem that additional characters would be a boon to sellers, enabling them to create longer and, presumably, more compelling eBay listing titles, right? Well, maybe not. When it comes to advertising items for sale, it’s still a matter of what you say, not how much you say.

Here’s a refresher on creating truly compelling listing titles, and how you still stand a better chance to gain greater sales with a shorter item title.

First and foremost, focus on keywords

Put yourself in the shopper’s shoes, and you’ll likely find yourself saying, ‘Let’s get to the point’

No matter if you have 80 or 800 characters at your disposal, your first order of business when constructing winning eBay listing titles is using the best and most relevant keywords. Which are the best, and how will you know them when you see them? For starters, let your eyes do some legwork for you when you review completed listings for items similar to yours. While it’s not an infallible approach, you can see how other sellers have used certain keywords, and what impact those might have had on successful sales and best final prices as compared to their competitors.

To get down to the real nuts and bolts, take the experimental BayEstimator for a spin; it’s an item title research tool provided by eBay Research Labs, strictly in development as of this writing. Nevertheless, this tool lets you enter your proposed listing title and then review and deeply analyze parsing of actual eBay user search keywords, helping you identify the most popular—and, thereby, most desirable—keywords to use within your title. One thing you’ll likely discover is that the best keywords to use in your eBay listing titles can easily be contained within the original 55 character limit—or less!

Brevity, well presented, is your best friend

When seeking the attention of shoppers, put yourself in their shoes, and you’ll likely find yourself saying, “Let’s get to the point.” Exactly. Your listing titles should communicate quickly and clearly what your item is, and if it’s what a buyer is truly seeking.

Picturing yourself as the shopper, you’ll want to write the sorts of listing titles that you’ll want to read. To that point:

  • Include the best keywords, arranged in logical order, such as New Xbox 360 320GB Star Wars Limited Edition Bundle (which comes in at just 54 characters).
  • Use first-letter capitalization of all words except articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (and, for, or) and prepositions less than five characters (in, at, with, etc.). The previous example demonstrates this capitalization technique, which improves the readability of the title.
  • Use numerals (4 rather than four) to conserve space and, again, improve visual and contextual readability.
  • Include appropriate brand and style names if they’re among users’ most-used keywords, and if they also help to clearly indicate the content or context of the item.
  • Whenever possible, keep your eBay listing titles to 55 characters or less. Most marketing research will reveal that anything longer tends to compromise a title’s impact. In addition, longer titles will often be condensed in search engine results, rendering the additional characters useless in some off-eBay search situations.

It’s easy to create great listing titles without the need for 20 or 30 additional characters. Keep your titles lean, focused and easy to read. Your buyers will be grateful, and will likely look deeper into what it is you’re offering.

The hallmarks of good eBay listing titles

Every word should serve as a useful keyword while also being an accurate and compelling descriptor of what you’re offering

As a bit of a refresher for what’s good to include in your eBay listing titles, consider what to include within your listing titles, no matter if they’re 55 or 80 characters in length. First, remember that every word needs to carry a load. That is, it should serve as a useful keyword while also being an accurate and compelling descriptor of what you’re offering. While you’re working to keep your listing titles brief, make sure they have the types of information buyers are looking for, and which best represent what you’re selling:

  • Brand name
  • Item origin
  • Year or period of production
  • Manufacturer
  • Item color, size and other such descriptive attributes
  • Item condition

Of course, the exact elements you’ll need to include in your listing titles will depend upon what you’re offering, but you get the idea. As you read in the Xbox example, 55 characters can communicate quite a bit, and quickly.

Be concise and consistent in everything you do

Finally, after you’ve developed a style for lean listing titles, stick to it. When you establish a consistency in your trim-yet-telling titles, you’ll also establish yourself as a seller who understands today’s buyers. With so many products, services and offerings being thrust at shoppers these days, it’s important to help them cut through the din and distractions, positioning yourself as the seller who cuts to the chase. Show that you value their time with concise listing titles for starters, and you’ll help make their shopping experience a little easier.

In this age where rapid scanning seems to be all that shoppers might have to offer, it’s clear that sellers need to communicate quickly and concisely to gain buyers’ attention and their patronage, too. So as you write your eBay listing titles, think about making your item titles—your marketing message—smarter, not harder; stronger, not longer. Get to the point quickly but clearly, and you’ll stand your best chance to complete a sale, too.

About the author

Dennis L. Prince
Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay...and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

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