How to Select a Category for Your eBay Listing

Many eBay sellers will tell you that selecting the exact category isn’t crucial to achieving the highest price for your item — and they’re right. The bulk of buyers just input search keywords into eBay’s search box and look for their items. Potential buyers also may select a category and — just as if they were window-shopping in the mall — peruse the items and see whether one strikes their fancy.

For best positioning in search results, be sure to select the appropriate category for your item. If you pick an unrelated category, you run the risk of your listing being removed from the site as a listing violation.

On the first page of the Sell an Item form, you will select the main category for your item. After you select your main category, you land on the official working portion of the Sell an Item page.

With tens of thousands of categories, finding the right place for your item can be daunting. You need to apply some marketing techniques when deciding where to place your auctions. You can list an item in two categories, but you have to pay double for that. Does your budget allow for it?

Consider these ideas and techniques for finding the right category for your item:

  • Check out other sellers' successes: To find where other sellers have successfully sold items that are similar to yours and see the prices the items sold for, you can search Sold items. You may find that your item is listed successfully in more than one category.

  • Find out who's currently selling your item (and where): Check the active listings; are lots of people selling your item? If you see that you’re one of 40 or 50 people selling the item, you need to get exacting about where to list yours. Evaluate the item and its potential buyers. In what categories would someone shopping for your item search?

  • Use appropriate subcategories to catch in-the-know buyers: Most bidders scan for specific items in subcategories. For example, if you’re selling a Bakelite fruit pin, don’t just list it under Jewelry; keep narrowing your choices. In this case, you can put it in a costume jewelry category that’s especially for Bakelite.

As you start the listing process, eBay gives you a tool to find where the bulk of sellers are selling your item. Simply type three or four keywords in the first step’s search box and click Search to answer the question: “What do you want to sell today?” If eBay has your item in its catalog, the item’s category will be automatically selected.

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The next page, Find a Matching Category, shows you a list of scrollable categories that may match the item you searched for. This list is based on existing listings of items that match your keywords.

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You can select your item’s category from this Search Categories tab, or click the Browse Categories tab for a deeper look. eBay offers you a wealth of choices in a handy point-and-click way. If you’re unfamiliar with the types of items you can actually find in those categories, you may want to check out a category before you choose it to describe your item.

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To select a category, here’s the drill:

  1. Click one of the main categories in the pane on the left.

    On the next pane to the right, you see a list of subcategories.

  2. Select the most appropriate subcategory in the pane to the right.

    eBay makes it easy to narrow the category of your item: Just keep clicking until you hit the end of the line.

  3. Move to the next pane and continue selecting subcategories until you’ve narrowed your listing category as much as possible.

    You know you’ve come to the last subcategory when eBay announces, You’ve selected a category. Click Continue.

If you’ve chosen to list an item, bid on an item, or even just browse in the Everything Else: Adult Only category, you need to follow separate, specific guidelines because that category contains graphic nudity or sexual content that may offend some community members. You must

  • Be at least 18 years of age (but you already know that all eBay customers must be 18 or older)

  • Have a valid credit card

  • Complete a waiver stating that you’re voluntarily choosing to access adults-only materials

If you have erotic items that are not quite that racy, you might like to sell them in a private auction.

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