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Writing an eBay Listing Title That Sells

Your title is (next to your Gallery image) the most important way to draw people to your listing. eBay buyers are search-engine-driven — they find most of their items by typing selected keywords into the search box and clicking the Search button. Those keywords should be all your title consists of. No fancy prose. No silly words that people won't search for. Here are a few examples of eBay's worst title words:

  • L@@K
  • Nice
  • WOW
  • RARE

Do yourself a favor — never include these words in your title. No one ever searches for these words — ever! (For that matter, nobody's looking for "!!!!!!" in the title, either. Can't think why . . . )

If you've finished writing your item title and you have spaces left over, please fight the urge to dress it up with lots of exclamation points and asterisks. No matter how gung-ho you are about your item, the eBay search engine may overlook your item if the title is encrusted with meaningless ****, $$$$, and !!!! symbols. If bidders do see your title, they may become annoyed by their virtual shrillness and ignore them!!!!!!!!

Another distracting habit is overdoing capital letters. To buyers, seeing everything in caps is LIKE SEEING A CRAZED SALESMAN SCREAMING AT THEM TO BUY NOW! Using all caps online is considered shouting — it's annoying and tough on the eyes. Use capitalization SPARINGLY, and only to finesse a particular point or name.

Look for keywords that pay off

Hands down, the most valuable real estate on eBay is the 55-character title of your item. The majority of buyers do title searches, and that's where your item must come up to if it's going to be sold!

Here are some ideas to help you fill in the keywords in your item title:

  • Use the most common name for the item, and only if there's room, list the alternate name. For example, say salt shaker, and if there's room, add saltcellar.
  • If the item is actually rare or hard to find, okay, mention that. But instead of the word RARE (so overused it's practically invisible), include the acronyms (OOAK, OOP, or HTF) that eBay users have come to rely on. (No, they aren't cartoon noises; the table in the next section lists what they mean.)
  • Mention the item's condition and whether it's new or old. When applicable (as with gently used items), include the item's age or date of manufacture.
  • Mention the item's special qualities, such as its style (for a handbag), model (for a camera), or edition (for a book).
  • Include brand names, if those names are significant. If you're selling a for-real Tiffany lamp, you want people to know it!
  • State the size of the item or other descriptive information, such as color or material content.

eBay lingo at a glance

Here's a crash course in eBay lingo that can help bring you up to speed on attracting buyers to your auction. Table 1 summarizes some abbreviations used frequently in eBay auctions; they can do wonders to jump-start your title.

Also, a whole smattering of acronyms that abbreviate item characteristics are part of the eBay business experience. As eBay has grown, so has this specialized lingo. Members use these acronyms as shortcuts to describe their merchandise.

So here, as promised, is Table 1: a handy list of common acronyms and related phrases used to describe items on eBay. (Hint: Mint means "may as well be brand new," not "cool chocolate treat attached.")

Table 1: A Quick List of eBay Acronyms

eBay Code

What It Abbreviates

What It Means

MIB

Mint in Box

The item is in the original box, in great shape, and just the way you'd expect to find it in a store.

MIMB

Mint in Mint Box

The box has never been opened and looks like it just left the factory.

MOC

Mint on Card

The item is mounted on its original display card, attached with the original fastenings, in store-new condition.

NRFB

Never Removed from Box

Just what it says, as in "bought but never opened."

COA

Certificate of Authenticity

Documentation that vouches for the genuineness of an item, such as an autograph or painting.

OEM

Original Equipment Manufacture

You're selling the item and all the equipment that originally came with it, but you don't have the original box, owner's manual, or instructions.

OOAK

One of a kind

You are selling the only one in existence!

NR

No Reserve Price

You can set a reserve price when you begin your auction. If bids don't meet the reserve, you don't have to sell. Many buyers are leery of reserve prices because they're after a more obvious bargain. If you're not listing a reserve price for your item, let bidders know.

NWT

New with Tags

An item, possibly apparel, is in new condition with the tags from the manufacturer still affixed.

HTF, OOP

Hard to Find, Out of Print

Out of print, only a few ever made, or people grabbed up all there were. (HTF doesn't mean you spent a week looking for it in the attic.)

Normally, you can rely on eBay slang to get your point across, but make sure that you mean it and that you're using it accurately. Don't label something MIB (Mint in Box) when it looks like it's been Mashed in Box by a meat-grinder.

Use the spell checker to verify your titling! It bears repeating: Check and recheck your spelling. Savvy buyers use the eBay search engine to find merchandise; if the name of your item is spelled wrong, the search engine can't find it. In addition, poor spelling and incomprehensible grammar reflect badly on you. If you're in competition with another seller, the buyer is likelier to trust the seller hoo nose gud speling.

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