5 eBay Title Fails

Emma Totman

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The title of your eBay listings is the first thing potential buyers see, if they find you that is. This is because listing titles is one of the main ways eBay matches items to user searches. So, not only does your title need to entice people to click on your listings, it also needs to be constructed to fit the way eBay filters search results so your items get seen by as many people as possible.

You may think putting good titles together should be pretty simple – after all, how hard can writing eighty characters be? In fact, there is a fair degree of skill required to create informative, engaging and search-friendly titles. Getting it right can lead to a big increase in visibility and sales for your listings, while getting it wrong can seriously harm your business.

Previously, we have looked at how to construct an effective title in 80 characters or less. This time, we’re focusing on some of the most serious pitfalls we come across time and time again on eBay. Falling into any of these traps can mean most users never see your listings, or if they do, it could mean giving off a bad impression, with few people will click through to view your items. Remember, trust is a massive issue for eBay users and a badly written title can seriously undermine your credentials.

Navigate these 5 common problem areas successfully, however, and you’ll end up with the perfect eBay title that not only brings you impressions but will help convert them into actual sales.


Keywords really are key. Using keywords in your titles that reflect search terms buyers commonly use means eBay will be much more likely to match your items to those buyers. So, if someone is searching for “Energy Saving 20W Light Bulbs” and your title contains those words, your listing will be returned in eBay’s Best Match search results.

However, trying to game eBay by adding lots of popular keywords just to ensure you are top of the search results will not sell your products. A long list of keywords that does not make sense as a concise, straightforward title can potentially confuse buyers and result in mistrust about your item. It is also unnecessary because eBay recognises synonymous keywords, so you don’t need to try to fit in every possible thing someone might search for.

Keywords in Titles - ListSmart

The trick is to avoid using titles written purely for the computer and not for the person at the keyboard. Even if that leads to many impressions, few sales will lead eBay to deem you an undesirable item and push you down in their best match results. So pick only those keywords that are most relevant to your product and place them within the title in a way that feels natural and makes sense to the buyer.

Grammar and Spelling

How important is spelling and grammar for your eBay titles? Well, ask yourself this: would you want to buy from a person that cannot spell the name of their own products?

Spelling in Titles - ListSmart

Our analysis of millions of eBay listings shows that those with titles that are using incorrectly spelled words or ‘text language’ sell for significantly less than those with correct spelling and grammar. EBay will not return your incorrectly spelled keywords in Best Match search results and penalise you in filtered searches too, lowering your item’s impressions and sales. More than just spelling, and as touched upon in the previous point, failing to place those keywords within your titles in a way that makes grammatical sense can also undermine trust with the buyer and therefore eBay.

Make sure you check and double check your titles for spelling and grammar before you upload them and you should get more people viewing your listings and buying your items.

Adjectives and Acronyms

Nothing undercuts the title of an eBay item more than the word “nice”. The language you choose to use in your eBay title has been proven to dramatically alter sales, with items that include terms like “authentic” fetching almost 50% more than those described as “genuine”. Similarly, “gents" items were found to sell for nearly double as those listed as “mens”.

Adjectives in Titles - ListSmart

Carefully consider your demographic and the kind of language they are likely to use when writing your titles. Words which might work well for one group or type of item can be really off-putting if used in the wrong context. Avoid using adjectives such as “cute” or “cool” to describe your items, as it makes your titles sound less professional and doesn’t add any useful objective information.

eBay acronyms for describing the quality and packaging condition of an item isn’t popular with eBay. For example, BNWT (Brand New Without Tags) or MIT (Mint in Box), is open for interpretation and hence eBay does not like sellers using these acronyms in their titles. The open ended interpretation makes the buyer vulnerable to the ambiguity of meaning and interpretation.


If you are struggling to come up with effective titles, borrowing them off a successful competitor might seem like a quick fix. However, copying your rivals’ titles is unlikely to result in a good best match position as eBay penalises listing titles that match pre-existing ones in the marketplace. Hence, why having duplicate listings is so counterproductive. It could also get you reported to eBay and end up with your listings being removed.

Similarly, if you are selling a non-branded item but use a brand name in your title to endorse the sale, this can also be counted as plagiarism and potentially cause you to be suspended as a seller. It’s also worth noting that if you are selling a branded product, while you can refer to the company by name, you cannot do so in a way that would suggest that you are approved, sponsored or endorsed by the manufacturer...unless this is true of course.

Coming up with your own original, well-thought-out titles can be time-consuming, but it is absolutely essential and worth your while for eBay success.

Capitalisation and special characters

It’s important to capitalise your titles where necessary, but only if necessary. Excessive use of capitals SCREAMS DESPERATION and is more likely to scare off customers than encourage them to click on your listings. Keep in mind that this is a title, not a sentence, so use capital letters at the beginning of important words, but not minor ones like “and”. Do not capitalise whole words as this can come across as shouting, which eBay does not like people seeing in their marketplace.

Similarly, using special characters such as !, $, @ and £ is likely to place you lower in search results while also making your titles look messy and unprofessional so avoid using them unless absolutely necessary.

Special Characters in Titles - ListSmart

Get a helping hand crafting perfect eBay titles

Hopefully, by following the not-to-dos of this five step guide will make your eBay title a more powerful one, one that boosts visibility and sales. The ListSmart app, bringing you custom optimisation recommendations to help you avoid all the points raised above, will be launching very soon, so keep your eyes and ears peeled on our website.

In the meantime, you can sign up to our newsletter to stay up-to-date with the latest news from ListSmart.

Updated: 20th October 2016

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