How to Search on eBay (part 1)

Perform exact searches using quotation marks.
Use quotation marks before and after a phrase to find item titles that contain a specific phrase. For example, if you create a search using the words, “Heavy-Duty Variable Speed,” surrounded by quotations, your result list will display only auction titles that contain that exact phrase title. Likewise, you can search for “Combo Kit” in quotes to see only auction titles that have both of those words, in that order, in the title. Compare this to a search for combo kit without the quotes, which would display any auction title that contains the words “combo” and “kit,” in any order, in the listing title.

Use multiple key words to refine your search.
Each additional search word you use in a search can help refine your results. Instead of using a single key word, try to use two or three appropriate key words. For the most accurate searches, specify a date, model number, color, or brand. For example, the search word “jig saw” may produce a list of more than 20,000 results, including a few listings for jig saw puzzles, as well. But a search for, “cordless jig saw” reduces the detail to several hundred lines and the search “cordless jig saw blades” displays a list of just a half dozen matching auctions. So, the more specific your search term, the narrower your results, and the less results you will have to scan through.
If you use a space between your search words, your search results will display only auction titles that contain ALL of your search words. However, if you construct your search between parenthesis and separate search words with commas instead of spaces, your search results will display auction titles that contain ANY of your search words. For example, your search for “(Makita, Metabo)” will display a list of auction titles that contain any of those words. Use a comma to delimit search syntax to look for several similar items or several different brands in a single search.

Use the asterisk as a wildcard search character
Another nifty search tool is the little star known as the asterisk, or *. Add an asterisk to a search word to match alternative endings, of any length, for that search word. For example, to display a result list of power tools from the 60’s you can type “196* power tools” in the search box. To display a list of hammers from the 1800’s you can search for “18* hammer.” If you search for “Saw*” the results will return “Saw” “Sawdust” “Saws” and any other item title that begins with the letters SAW. The wildcard character can be used with any search word whether it has numbers or letters. It can also be used more than once in a search phrase.

Search using both plural and non-plural search words
Some savvy retailers and auction sellers will include different variations of the same key words (if they have room) in their item title. For example, a smart seller offering a set of Craftsman screwdrivers in an auction might use the item title “Craftsman tools tool screwdriver screwdrivers set.” By using these different key words in his item title, his auction will appear in the search results of anyone searching for “Craftsman” “Screwdrivers,” “Tools,” “Tool Set,” “Craftsman set,” and various other combinations of these search words. What a smart mechanism!
Most sellers, however, don’t include these various terms and pluralities in their titles. They quickly write an item title that comes natural to them, and often don’t give much thought about constructing an auction title that will appear in the greatest variety of searches. While this works for the seller in most cases, it occasionally doesn’t – and you can swoop in for the deal!
When you search, try using various combinations of words in plural and non-plural forms for individual searches. If you find a small result list for one of the searches, assume that the seller didn’t agree with other sellers about the best form of the keywords.

Use and, the, and or, sparingly in searches
Imagine all the titles that have the word “the” in it! Some search programs treat conjunctive words like any other key word that you’re searching for. So, you should not use conjunctions unless you’re performing an exact search that contains one of those words. For example, the search phrase “Black and Decker” correctly contains a conjunctive word because it is part of the title phrase. Some smarter search web sites, like Google, automatically ignore conjunctions. For the best search results, you should learn to not use conjunctions in your search phrases.

Use a minus character (-) to exclude specific search words
Here is another great search tool that is not known to many. To exclude a key word from your search, you can place a minus sign immediately before it. For example, the search “tool set -toy” will show results containing ‘real’ tool sets and exclude any of the auction titles that also have the word “toy.” Otherwise, your search could be cluttered with “Toy” Tool Sets for the little ones! Searching with the “-toy” results in auctions containing only the tool sets you were looking for. You may exclude more than one key word as long as a minus character precedes each one.

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