Sunday, April 14, 2013

Searching better on eBay with switches

Searching on eBay seems simple, right? You just type some stuff in the search bar and find what you need…right? Eh…no. Well, in theory, that’s how the site works, but in reality, unless you’re looking for something very specific like “netgear n300 USB adapter”, you’ll typically get hundreds or thousands of results, which are impractical to go-through.

To our help comes the fact that the search engine supports several “switches” to make it easier. The most useful switch is the minus sign, which allows you to denominate items (words) to NOT appear in the search. For example, if you want to find an iPhone, you’ll typically get around 1.4 MILLION results, but if you add  -case, you eliminate around a million of those. 400,000 are still too much, of course, but add -skin, and 25,000 more will be gone. Naturally, the keywords you want to eliminate differ based on the actual product you need…perhaps it IS a case that you really want, which would prompt you to include it without a minus, but you get my drift. For most high-profile products like phones, computers accessories and photography stuff, a good and refined search will end up with 6-7 keywords excluded. For example: “nikon dslr -kit -flash -tripod -filter -bag -case –strap”. To find a suitable search string for what you need, you’ll have to have a good understanding of the product you’re looking for, and what kind of related items it might have (which lead to getting a high number of results). This takes time and experience.

Another type of switch is the parenthesis switch, which allow you to group items together. For example, if you want to look for something that you would typically buy more than one-of, like a snack, you would use a word like “pack” to describe it. Other words used on eBay for that kind of thing are “lot”, “group”, “set” and “kit”. By using a parenthesis, you can create a search that contains EITHER of these, like this:

Bamba (lot,group,set,kit)

Bamba is the name of an Israeli snack, which isn’t very common, but a typical search for it alone would fetch over 1000 results. With a modifier such as above, you’re cutting down the results to something much more useful.

Want to learn more? Read more articles on my blog, or better yet, attend my public class on eBay buying. Click here to find more details and about the next class dates.

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