How to optimize your keyword strategy on eBay this holiday season

In case you haven’t heard, the holiday season is officially underway. With all the excitement and shopping happening on eBay, it’s no surprise that certain categories surge in popularity during this time.

This year, eMarketer expects 2021 to be the first time US holiday eCommerce will surpass $200 billion in sales. It’s imperative sellers optimize their listings to include the correct categories and keywords to take advantage of this historic moment. So what will buyers be looking for?

We conducted an in-depth survey of 1,600 eBay buyers and 2,000 general online shoppers to help sellers anticipate consumer habits. We analyzed the data to understand what the most popular categories of the season will be.

Let’s dig into our findings.

The biggest categories of the season

This year, we expect categories like Video Games & Consoles, Dolls & Bears, and Toys & Hobbies to attract the most attention from eBay buyers, which have been popular items for gift givers over the last few years.

Chart showing the popular categories eBay consumers anticipate shopping in during 2021

However, more than half of our eBay buyers anticipate buying more Fashion, Home Improvement, Health & Beauty, and Sporting Good items, which might come as a surprise to some sellers. Similar to the demand we saw from eBay buyers earlier this year, fashion sales growth is expected to be huge. In fact, eMarketer expects apparel and accessories to rank as the largest and fastest growing eCommerce product category this holiday season. 

Categorizing your listings correctly and creating strategic ad campaigns are just a few ways to ensure that your listings get in front of the right eBay buyers. There’s another factor to consider as a seller to help your business grow further.

How to create a keyword strategy

In today’s competitive marketplace, it takes more than listing an item in a popular category to accelerate your sales. Listings that fall outside of this year’s hot holiday categories list can still find success with an optimized keyword strategy. 

Incorporating relevant keywords in your listing titles and descriptions elevates an average campaign into a strong campaign that’s more likely to connect with the right buyer. These search terms help over +154 million1 buyers browsing our marketplace to discover your listings in the categories they’re searching. 

How do you create a successful keyword strategy? Start with reviewing our best practices for creating new listings. Include any important keywords upfront in your listing titles to improve listing discoverability on eBay. Just make sure you don’t overdo it. Keyword spamming is both irritating to buyers and a violation of eBay policy. Using keywords as naturally as possible improves regular searches, as well as your Promoted Listings Standard campaigns.

For example, here is a list of the top keywords for all of the hot categories we’ve listed above. You can see that each category has its own unique set of keywords. However, it’s also important to include holiday specific keywords during this time to give your listing that extra boost.

Optimizing your keyword strategy

Getting your listings in the top slot in search will be key for standing out during the holiday rush. Promoted Listings AdvancedBETA gives sellers the ability to adjust their ad strategy based on the results they’re experiencing and in anticipation for key shopping dates. Sellers also get an extra layer of control by bidding on specific keywords that matter most for your listing.

Exact Match – allows your listing to appear for search terms that match your exact keywords character-for-character with slight variations like singulars or plurals, upper or lower case, common misspellings, capitalization, and some abbreviations.

Exact Match Example. Your ads will still be considered if a buyer searches for “electric shear” or “Electric Shears” but not for queries like “electric scissors” or “red electric shears.”

Phrase Match – allows your listings to appear for searches that include other words before and/or after your exact keyword. Your listing will only appear for search phrases where the keyword retains its original meaning, and will not appear for search.

Phrase Match Example. Your ad would be considered for the search query “large yellow socks” but not “yellow large socks” or "large socks yellow."

Negative Exact – terms which are excluded from your ad group. Meaning, when a buyer searches for a term that you’ve added as a negative keyword, your Promoted Listings AdvancedBETA ads will not be eligible for display. Negative keywords are Exact Match without variants. This means that for a keyword to be excluded, it needs to match the buyer’s search term character for character.

Negative Exact Example. Your ads will be considered if a buyer searches for "latest model galaxy phone" "red Samsung phone," but not for "samsung galaxy."

If you’re not sure about what keywords to choose, our algorithm will automatically suggest additional keywords to bid on. Suggested keywords are based on search terms that are determined as relevant and likely to perform well for your ad group. 

Continuously optimizing your Promoted Listings AdvancedBETA campaigns is the best way to achieve the most ROI. Keep an eye on your daily budget to make sure you’re getting the performance you want. Make sure you’re bidding competitively on relevant keywords, especially if you’re not spending your full daily budget each day. If you’re spending your daily budget before the day is over, confirm you’re getting the performance you want with that ad spend. If you’re happy with the ROI, consider increasing your daily budget to continue your sales velocity this holiday season.

Some early Promoted Listings AdvancedBETA optimization best practices include:

  • Optimize your listings for search using richer listing titles that incorporate high-value category keywords
  • Including eight or more high-quality images for your listing
  • Increase bids for keywords that have higher conversion rates during this competitive season
  • Add an extra layer of control by using Negative Exact Keywords. This will exclude your listings from buyer search terms you don’t want your listings to show up in

Remember, by leveraging popular categories, refining your listing’s keywords and using our Promoted Listings portfolio to help boost listing visibility, you will have a better chance to drive sales this holiday sales season. Start your Promoted Listings Advanced campaign today.

1. eBay First-Party Data, as of 9/30/2021

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