Mining the Gold Standard:

An Analysis of Optimal eBay Listings

Diving Into the Data:
Effective Titles in 80 Characters or Less

Jenny Hock

This is the fourth (and final) article of a series we have produced and published in conjunction with Tamebay, revealing how sellers can maximise visibility and conversion on eBay - the result of a deep dive into eBay listing performance in relation to eBay's listing best practices.

In our previous posts, we have:

eBay Gold Standard Series

We would be remiss if we didn't address one other key aspect of eBay listings: the all important title, one that many sellers get wrong.

Titles are very important when selling on eBay because they influence two things: buyer choice and appearance in search results:

Here is how we recommend composing a title (this was part of the guidelines in our article explaining eBay's Gold Standard for listings):

Title = Brand + Name + Category Name
Image 1: Item Specific composition example of a good title

To dive deeper into the anatomy of top performing titles, we analysed the top 2% listings in each category based on sales performance. We extracted the common attributes of these top performing titles from which we obtained an interesting dataset from which we extracted valuable insights.

We looked at which type of information is present in the titles of top selling listings in each category by comparing title content to Item Specifics content. We have summarised the highlights of our analysis in the graphic below which shows the top 5 Item Specifics used in the titles of top selling eBay listings. Additionally, we have called out the three most common Item Specifics that show up in titles (coloured below in yellow, green and blue).

It may be no surprise that the actual number of Item Specifics found in top performing titles can vary wildly across categories. Naturally, limiting your titles to these three examples may not always be the best course of action but it makes interesting reading to summarise the data in this manner.

For instance, there are 1,033 different attribute names (i.e. Item Specific names) used in top performing "Vehicle Parts & Accessories" listings. Much of this is due to sellers creating their own Item Specific names for their listings (e.g. "Air Fresh Type" - which is not an eBay-defined Item Specific name). Yet, these may contain valuable information for inclusion in listing titles.

Conversely, the sellers of top performing listings in the "Stamps" category keep it nice and tidy with only 6 attributes that are used across the top performing listing titles. This raises the question: if a specific category has a narrow distribution of these attributes in the title, would it make sense to try some alternative attributes to differentiate a given listing from the crowd? Perhaps this might increase visibility, particularly if that search term is being used by eBay customers to discover products. It's an area requiring further research down the road but for now wanted to call it out as an interesting observation.

Click image for larger version

Item Specifics for Top Sellers by Category
Image 2: 5 popular Item Specifics used by top selling listings on eBay per category

You can see from the table above that the Item Specifics used in the titles of top selling listings often echo the particulars of that category (e.g. "Denomination" for the Coins category).

However, you will also notice that the attribute "Type" is common to 27 of the 30 categories measured in our sample dataset. This was a common theme in our Item Specifics analysis - and the pattern exists here again for titles. What can be gleaned from this is how crucial it is to include information that will enable buyers to select between items in a category to find the type of item they want to purchase.

Let's revisit the Hoover example from our title-generation formula above. Our data shows that 93.2% of top performing "Home, Furniture & DIY" listings use "Brand" in the title, 81.6% use "MPN", and almost half use "Type". Let's see how the formula measures up:


3 of the Top 5... not too shabby! Fortunately, the ListSmart engine is able to surface recommendations for title keywords to help streamline the optimisation process for your listings.

Let's look at this across a few more example titles and link them back to our formula for creating good eBay titles which we mentioned above.

Title 1:

Sandisk SDSDB-032G-B35 - SANDISK 32 GB SD

Our analysis:


Other comments on this title include that it's got an MPN identifier, which is great and ties in with the second most common Item Specific used in titles in our test dataset. Another thing to improve upon would be to remove the duplication of the "Brand" which seems like an inefficient use of the 80 character limit allowed by eBay for a title. When you have limited space, make every word count!

Title 2:

Beko TL546APW Free Standing 54cm 256 Litres A+ Fridge White New

Our analysis:


This title includes the MPN which is great for search rankings, but might make the title harder for buyers to read. Keywords for search visibility is important but conversion can be improved by making the Title, and the listing as a whole, as human friendly as possible.

Title 3:

Karrimor Womens Aspen Zip T Shirt Ladies Short Sleeves Tee Top

Our analysis:


Generally we feel this is a good title. Additionally, it would be interesting to include the fabric type and, as the listing is in activewear, calling out something to this effect.

We hope you found this series of articles useful, we certainly had fun pulling insights from the the data and summarizing it for you.

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