<<< Continued from previous page

However, for years I'd been laboring heavily under the assumption that most of my buyers found my auctions either by searching my descriptions (not by keywords in my titles) or by browsing the specific categories I'd placed them in. This had several consequences. First, I wrote titles designed more to intrigue a browser's interest to click into them than to supply all-important keywords, and second, I took serious pains to include as many pertinent keywords as possible in my descriptions, sometimes going overboard.

In my opinion, the most important thing you need to know about your auctions is how buyers are finding them, and ViewTracker does this with illuminating precision, monitoring both arrival methods and search terms used. Here's the awful truth that was delivered to me shortly after I subscribed to ViewTracker: 75% of my buyers were finding me by searching titles only, not titles and descriptions, and most of these searches were done globally, via all of eBay, not by searching in more specific categories - not even in the general book category! And this number is low. Most sellers report even higher percentages. Mine is lower, I've discovered, because I so often sell uncommon items or items that for one reason or another are most effectively found by description searches - for example, local history books containing specific genealogical information.

Well, hmph. Who knows how many potential buyers I've lost over the years because I was focusing on the wrong things. It's scary. And all the money I've spent in fees listing in two categories. Again, ViewTracker stunned me with this: only about 25% of my auctions are found by category searches. This isn't to say that categories aren't important - sometimes they can be - but category selection has nowhere near the importance I thought it had, and double listing is only occasionally a good investment.

Titles, titles, titles - they're almost everything.

As for search terms used, my assumption had always been that many buyers were sophisticated at searching. I'd imagined them using complex search strings that would unerringly match them with my books. Yeah, right. Want to know what the most common word used to find my local history auctions was last month? "Book"! True, this word is often used in combination with other terms, but my gosh, for years, I never ever used this word in titles - and how many buyers did that cost me???

Want to know the second most common term? "History."

Want to know the third? A tie between "genealogy" and "photographs."

Sophisticated? Not.

What this means for me is this: if I'm selling a local history book with photographs, I make an attempt to get all four of the above terms in my title. Allowing for spacing, that's 35 characters right off the top, and that only leaves me 19 to nail a geographical pointer. More often than not, therefore, I have to leave something out or abbreviate. And it hurts to do this because I know it's costing me lookers.

Title writing reminds me of poetry. Every word has to count and count big, and if you do nothing else with ViewTracker, at least make repeated visits to these two areas in the Auction Tracking Center: Arrival Methods and Search Terms. Study the data especially as it impacts how you write titles, then make the necessary changes and watch how it improves your sales.

In Part II, there will be more ViewTracker surprises - and more opportunities to increase your eBay sales.

For more information on Sellathon, click here.

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Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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