Is HTML bad for your eBay listings?

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This question has come up a fair bit lately with the release of eBay’s new search engine and it is a very good question.  The short answer is “yes”, HTML at first glance is bad compared to plain text listings however here are some tips to make your HTML listing outperform non HTML eBay listings.

Here is the problem.  eBay’s new search engine “Cassini” looks at not just the title like eBay’s old “Voyager” search engine, but now looks at the title, item specifics, short description (where your HTML is) and the long description (all of your HTML).

Cassini works like Google, it measures the ratio of how many times the keywords in your title are used in the rest of the listing compared to the length of your listing. (Keyword / Length Ratio) also called keyword density.

Here is an example.

eBay Title:
Long Red Women’s Evening Dress Cotton Size 10 and Belt ***

Item Specifics

Colour: Red

Size: 10

Style: Dress

Material: Cotton

Description: To keep this short I won’t put a description but let’s say the word dress was used 4 times and red was used twice.

Like Google, Cassini’s job is to sort your listing.  It does this by removing all the useless words like “and” “,” “****” etc and then counting how many times your keywords were used compared to the length of your listing.

i.e Dress was used 6 times. Once in the title, once in the item specifics, and 4 more times in the long description.

Now, I mention the short description, this is the 1st part of the HTML and although we do not know exactly how many characters Cassini takes into account, we believe it is approx. 150.

Here is an example of the 1st 150 characters of a normal eBay HTML listing.

<table height=”40″>
<td><p><font size=”1″> <br></font></p><p align=”center”>
<font size=”6″> </font> </p>

Spot the problem, there are absolutely no keywords.

Sure, Cassini is intelligent enough to strip SOME of the HTML out, however often there is a ton of other irrelevant HTML code like Auctiva code etc which can negatively impact your keyword ratios.

Here is a simple fix to your short description to increase your keyword to length ratio.

Simply review your listing by clicking the “Review Listing” link, and then add your keywords to the very top of your description while viewing in NON HTML mode.

Bingo, now you have keywords in your “Short Description”.

Click the HTML tab to see where your keywords where added to your HTML. Yep, at the very top.

This is simple but very effective.

Please let me know your feedback.

Best regards

Neil Waterhouse

Author – Million Dollar eBay Business from Home – A Step by Step guide –
Which Items make eBay Sellers the most money on eBay?

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5 Responses to Is HTML bad for your eBay listings?

  1. I am reading your book for the second time, and still learning from it. The emails and tips are worth their weight in gold. I see a much higher rate of sales per listing by applying what I’m learning. I still have a long way to go, but I am moving in the right direction now.
    I felt it was important to take a moment and acknowledge the value of your assistance. Keep the information coming, it is great! Thanks for your help!!

  2. Chaminda says:

    Dear Neil,
    Thanks heaps for this.
    I had no idea about the effect of Cassini.
    Just instructed my lister to change the ad copies.

    Best regards,

  3. DJ says:

    Question…. Are the keywords to be the VERY first thing before ANY HTML?

    As a TR+ Powerseller we are experimenting with our 500 plus listings to determine what adjustments to make, we cut out excessive HTML but still like to keep our Font Arial…and bold the header (Title) so would (font face=”Arial”) followed by a bold (b) be a bad thing to have before our title? Or should we just keep it 100% plain, NO Html, No Font or Bold adjustments? Just curious because it wouldn’t look right if we had keywords or keyword rich sentence atop our listings in the default, regular font then begin the description in arial and bold…..

    Would these two short character HTML tags affect our overall results?

    Thanks for any input or opinions!

    DJ Partin
    eBay User ID: PH-Liquidators
    eBay Store: PowerHouse Liquidators

    • From our testing, bold on headers can improve conversions and not change how Cassini sees a listing.

      Make sure you check how your listings look on smart devices as up to 50% of sales are now coming through smart devices.

      When checking the look of your listings on a smart device, check the listing with and without the eBay app as the listing can look radically different.

  4. simon says:

    Simply review your listing by clicking the “Review Listing” link, and then add your keywords to the very top of your description while viewing in NON HTML mode.

    Just a question.

    Where can you find the review listing link so keywords can be entered viewing in non html mode! as I can not see it, very interested in your post.


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