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Building the Perfect Listing Title

How to discover and use the words buyers use in product searches

Online sellers realize that product titles are one of the most important factors in making a sale. It’s all about the S-E-O, or search engine optimization.

However, sometimes knowing how to create a winning title can seem daunting.

“Titles are the prime real estate in the eBay world,” says eBay veteran Rebecca Miller. “Buyers use eBay search to find items, so creating a great title will help you get more clicks and make that ultimate sale.”

Even if you don’t sell on eBay, it pays to give your listing a title that will draw buyers to your product. Here are a few tips from e-commerce experts for creating the perfect listing title.

Key in on keywords

“It doesn’t matter what you want to call it. It only matters what the buyer with money wants to call it”

Keywords are the most important element in a title. Why? Because, whether you expect buyers to find your products through Google Product Search or eBay’s Best Match, you need to fill your listing title with the terms buyers are using when they search for that particular product. This is what’s known as search engine optimization.

The first thing you’ll want to do is brainstorm what those SEO terms might be. There are several ways to compile a list of potential keywords.

You can do an eBay search for your item and click on “Completed listings” in the filters sidebar to find which titles turned into a sale.

You can also use Terapeak’s free title builder or eBay’s BayEstimate to see what keywords other sellers are using for similar products on eBay. Simply type in a few words about your item and the search tool will reveal which of those terms are most often used in listings.

To find out what search terms people are using outside of eBay, there are a number of tools that are available for free. These include Wordstream, Google Adwords Keyword Tool and Wordtracker.

While these sites offer access to more in-depth information for a fee, their free tools are perfectly adequate for discovering the most popular search terms and phrases for your item.

Another helpful way to come up with keywords is to brainstorm by drawing up a list or a bubble chart. You can even be more creative by free writing or drawing pictures. Use whatever brainstorming technique works best for you. The idea is that you start generating more ways to describe your product. This also includes factual information you might need, such as brand and style.

“Not all of this information will fit in the title, but it’s good to brainstorm so you’ll have plenty of keywords to choose from,” Miller says.

Finally, it helps if you know your target market’s vocabulary. In an Auctiva EDU series called Back to Basics, online selling consultant Janelle Elms notes that a Michael Kors evening bag can be called a purse, satchel, handbag or tote. Which term is most likely to garner attention? Elms used eBay Pulse to determine that, on eBay, “handbag” is the preferred term for this item.

“It doesn’t matter what you want to call it. It only matters what the buyer with money wants to call it,” Elms says.

“Your item titles should communicate quickly and clearly what your item is”

The great debate, more or less

Often, less is more but, sometimes, more helps. eBay fueled the debate over which approach is best when it expanded its listing title length limit from 55 characters to 80.

Many sellers are happy with the freedom to create titles with up to 80 characters, but others maintain that a longer title can be your downfall. No matter what venue you use to sell your products, it’s important to give consideration to how long your title should be.

Some sellers have praised longer titles, saying their sales have increased since they lengthened their listing titles to include more keywords. Others point out that a longer title removes the need to pay for a subtitle and that the more words you use, the more chance a search engine will pull your listing to the top.

Others say their sales have decreased, or not changed at all, when they added more words to their titles. What’s more, when eBay pulls up the results of a buyer’s search, longer titles are truncated with an ellipses. This is also true of Internet search engines. So, if you choose to use longer titles, be sure to put the most important keywords at the beginning, while also maintaining a logical order.

In Listing Titles: Less is Still More, The Online Seller contributor and e-commerce author Dennis Prince reminds us that “it’s still a matter of what you say, not how much you say it.” Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. They’re looking for a particular item, and they don’t want to be bogged down by too much information.

“Your item titles should communicate quickly and clearly what your item is,” Prince says.

Whatever you do, don’t do that

“Information needs to be organized and easy to read. It does not need to be designed”

It’s important to remember that part of what makes a listing eye-catching is a good thumbnail image. Don’t just grab your camera phone and take a photo. Instead, give a little more attention to what you’re showing in the shot. Consider lighting, different angles, have an uncluttered background and think about using something that shows the dimensions of your item.

On eBay, adding title enhancements, such as bold, can act as a speed bump for the eyes, causing the buyer to slow down at your title while scanning a page full of titles. However, it’s a common listing mistake to overdo the flourishes. Too many designer perks can be annoying or appear unprofessional. Don’t spend too much time decorating your title.

“Information needs to be organized and easy to read. It does not need to be designed,” says Debbie Levitt, CEO of eBay consulting firm As Was.

Also, don’t skip over item specifics when creating your listing. Not only does this section give buyers a sense of meat on the plate, it also boosts search results.

“When someone comes to eBay and does a search for ‘title only,’ eBay is now looking in the title and the item specifics,” Levitt notes. “So item specifics are a great place to pack in extra, relevant keywords.”

Google also encourages merchants who submit products to its shopping engine to include attributes, or specific identifiers, to help buyers find exactly the item they’re looking for.

Finally, if you have a short title, don’t overlook the opportunity to create word pictures. This may not always be the best fit for your listing, but it’s something worth considering. Words like “wow” and “awesome” are easily ignored, but you can evoke a response from your audience by saying something like “Wake up refreshed” or “Impress your neighbors.”

Consumers today have the ability to quickly absorb information. That means they want sellers to use keywords that give them the information they’re seeking. Buyers will tune out unnecessary words and fancy decorations that don’t add to the demand, but thoughtful consideration on length and word pictures might give you that extra edge.

Watch this Auctiva video for more about how to write an enticing title.

About the author

Sarah Brown
Sarah Brown is a freelance writer who writes about e-commerce and small businesses. She recently graduated from Chico State with a journalism degree and is also a budding online entrepreneur, having launched two Web businesses and her own line of handmade products. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • oklahomasong

    “Watch this Auctiva video for more about how to write an enticing title.” This needs to be updated as it still talks of eBay only allowing 55 characters in a title.

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