Best Match is the process by which eBay sort search results, and the higher your listings appear in Best Match the more likely it is that a buyer will make a purchase from you.
It’s important to realise that auctions and fixed price listings are sorted differently. In general auctions are still sorted by time ending soonest, but are then combined with fixed price listings to produce the final sort order (often alternately auction, fixed price, auction, fixed price, but if there are more of one type of listing than the other the frequency may vary).
eBay’s initial sort order for fixed price items is according to “Best Value” or “Popularity”. eBay consider the measure of Best Value to be based upon how often a buyer purchases an item in comparison to how often it appears in search results. If an item title contains irrelevant keywords it may initially appear high in search results, but as it gains search impressions (as buyers view the item title in search results) if it doesn’t attract purchases it’ll quickly drop down the search results sort order.
An interesting by product of listing popularity is that some sellers have reported ending a listing with no sales and re-launching a brand new listing for an identical product often gives it higher placement in search results. This is because a listing with 100 views in search and no sales is viewed by eBay as less popular and thus less likely to sell than a listing with no, or few, search impressions and no sales. If the previously unsold item appears higher in search results it naturally stands more chance of being purchased, and the more purchases a listing attracts the higher in search results that it appears leading to ever more sales.
“eBay perceive items offering free postage to be attractive to buyers and listings that don’t charge additional postage costs get a small boost in search results.”
Once search results are ordered according to popularity there are two other main factors which can bump a listing even higher on the search results page. The first is if the seller is a Top Rated Seller. Top Rated Seller status is based on customer service, as measured by the four Detailed Seller Ratings for Item Description, Communication, Dispatch Time and Postage & Packing Charges. To qualify sellers need to ensure they don’t receive more than the maximum allowable low (one or two star) scores for any particular Detailed Seller Rating.
The second boost in search results is smaller, but is for offering free postage. eBay perceive items offering free postage to be attractive to buyers and listings that don’t charge additional postage costs get a small boost in search results.
There is one other important criteria which can affect your placement in Best Match search results and that is if your Seller Performance drops below standard as measured by Detailed Seller Ratings. Sellers who receive too many one or two star ratings will have their listings lowered right to the bottom of search results. This includes both fixed price, and auction listings. Even if you have an auction which is about to end it will appear on the last page of search results below a newly listed auction which still has ten days left to run if you’re listings are being demoted in search.
Although Top Rated Seller status is desirable to get a boost in search position, in comparison the demotion in search from being a below standard seller is devastating. In effect your items will be hidden from buyers and it’s likely your items will only be found if they’re particularly rare and there aren’t many alternatives on the site, or by savvy buyers specifically looking for a bargain.
Ultimately doing a good job as an eBay seller will get your listings to the top of Best Match. Avoid underhand tactics such as keyword spamming in product titles and keep customer service standards high to avoid demotion in search. You’ll still need to source products which buyers want to buy and offer them at a competitive price, but a good listing title and clear pictures and great descriptions to make sure buyers purchase when then view you listing will go a long way to ensure your items are placed well in search.
Finally many sellers are concerned that they’ve not qualified as Top Rated Sellers. If you’re not a Top Rated Seller don’t worry as although their listings are boosted in search recent sales and eBay’s measure of popularity are more important. So long as you’re not a below standard seller whose listings are being demoted it doesn’t matter if a competitor is a Top Rated Seller and you’re not – if you’re offering a great product at a good price and attracting more sales than your competitors then it will be your listing that is appearing at the top of Best Match search results.