How to Innovate New SEO Strategies Using eBay

This entry is a guest post by Chris Warren from Batteries In A Flash. The views and opinions expressed on this post don’t necessarily reflect my views as an Online Marketer.

eBay logoWhy is SEO innovation crucial? Finding strategies and techniques that are not standardized pieces of SEO knowledge gives you a major tactical advantage. These are the kind of advantages you can build a business on because it creates a barrier to entry between you and your competitors.

This is going to help you compete in both super competitive industries and create huge barriers for your opposition in less optimized arenas because of how difficult your results will be to replicate. Testing a few ideas during a run of the mill project is a great way to add some “home run” potential to your every day work.

For example, we were having a debate in our office about what to change our home page title tag to; this led to hunting around our favorite sites to find examples. I ended up doing a Google search for “eBay” and I noticed something I was not expecting:


A lot of eBay’s most important pages have title tags that are being truncated. Title tag best practices recommend keeping titles to fewer than 70 characters and the “eBay” search was cutting off the titles at 65 characters but several of eBay’s titles are significantly higher than 70.

Now eBay is not the kind of place that is doing something like this by accident and I am even more certain they are not making a mistake on three very important pages. Their eBay motors page is a great example coming in with a 102 character title:

“eBay Motors – Autos, Used Cars, Motorcycles, Boats, Trucks, Parts, Accessories, RVs and Other Vehicles”

Since we are dealing with eBay I decided to assume that there was a very good reason for writing the title like this and reverse engineer the rationale behind it. One of the things on my mind at the time was the Panda updates and how much Google has been pushing branded authority sites to the top of results. I put together a few searches pulling from that eBay motors page title and I ended up with:

“used truck accessories”

It turned out the motors page was ranking the #1 spot on Google which is a 1300 search per month phrase (broad match) according to Google keyword tool. eBay was able to rank simply based on their site and page authority by including the individual words SOMEWHERE in the title tag.

“eBay Motors – Autos, Used Cars, Motorcycles, Boats, Trucks, Parts, Accessories, RVs and Other Vehicles”

Digging deeper revealed that mixing and matching words from the title tag revealed a lot of phrases the eBay motors page was ranking for:

  • Rank 4: used autos
  • Rank 4: used vehicle parts
  • Rank 5: used truck parts
  • Rank 9: new boat parts
  • Rank 11: new auto accessories
  • Rank 11: boat accessories
  • Rank 15: new car accessories

Google Keyword Tool Searches Per Month (Broad Match)

Google Keyword Tool

Talk about a productive web page! The point is that by following the pack you can end up leaving a lot on the table. Having lots of experiments running and constantly testing even well established “best practices” is going to give you an edge, not to mention how smart you get to look when find something and show it off.

This eBay technique is a great example of a strategy I use where you find something outside of the norm from a source that has demonstrated a high level of SEO savvy, for example SEO book and Mashable are sites I have used like this in the past. Either you find something useful or you can now write a blog post called, “Why I Am Better Than Aaron Wall At SEO.”

About the AuthorChris Warren is an in-house web strategist for Batteries In A Flash give him a shout out @BIAFgreen on Twitter.

If you liked this post, you can subscribe to my feed and/or follow me on Twitter @jasonacidre

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is the Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive - a digital marketing agency based in the Philippines. He's also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre.

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41 replies
    • Patricia
      Patricia says:

      Hello Ferdous. Tell me, I have heard that better keywords are those that have the least competition. I would really LOVE software that can do THAT. I have some keyword search software that goes as far as four different search engine, but not one show the competition results.

  1. Stephen Jack @ Compare Prices UK
    Stephen Jack @ Compare Prices UK says:

    So basically in one line you are trying to say that make your title little bit longer to cover 5 to 7 keywords easily. In my opinion this practice is beneficial if you have succeeded to make a brand name of your site but I will not recommend for the new sites as this practice can become a reason of putting your site in sand box

  2. Priya
    Priya says:

    I know I’ve seen few more sites which are using same strategy but I didn’t remember their names. By this technique you can easily target many keywords together rather than focusing on 1, 2 or 3 keywords.

      • Chris Warren
        Chris Warren says:

        Thus far we have seen a 12% increase in unique pageviews on entrance keywords for our homepage over about a 40 day period and we are not the best linked site in our industry but I do agree that would be the most common application.

          • Chris Warren
            Chris Warren says:

            Hi Daniel, I do think this technique works on other sites. There are two instances where it seems to work the best. One is where there is not a highly targeted relevant keyword for you homepage to target you can simply pick up the longer tail traffic as homepages tend to be the best linked page on the site. The second is when you are a stronger brand within your niche because Google is promoting branded sites so strongly you can often outrank your competitors simply based on your domain’s authority.

  3. Chris Warren
    Chris Warren says:

    You are 100% correct Stephen it is somewhat of a unique position that ebay is in with their authority but the are other situations this may apply. If there is not a targeted keyword that fits from a usability perspective to your index it is often a good option if you are a relatively strong authority in your industry.

  4. Kristina L.
    Kristina L. says:

    Hi, Chris!
    Great tips, indeed! I appreciate you shared the information. Many useful things can be learned from your post. If we are to learn from something, then why not from the best one? You picked ebay, although there are more sites doing the same kind of strategy. However, the explanation on ebay example is the easiest to be shown, as we all know and all use it.
    And now we will also know how to make productive web pages!

  5. noemi
    noemi says:

    I’m a newbie when it comes to SEO so I’m still learning step by step. And trying to discover new strategies by reading posts from experts. thanks for the info!

    • Kaiserthesage
      Kaiserthesage says:

      Agree. Google’s algorithm has been highly dependent to social data recently, given that it’s one of the most accurate metrics in measuring trustworthy/quality content (as voted/recommended by real users).

  6. Mark
    Mark says:

    It is really convenient to have shorter titles. Creating a keyword by combining the matching words is a great advice especially that you have explained clearly why they produce better results. Thank you for providing an advice that can be a great addition to the SEO skills.

  7. Lionel@Bachmann Model Trains
    Lionel@Bachmann Model Trains says:

    So are you saying that it’s better for all sites to have a longer page title, because you can fit more keywords in the title tag? Or is this something that will work once you build your brand and authority? Also, I read that having a truncated listing on Google’s page brought down the CTR, but this report was about a year old. Do you find that this is still true, or has it changed? Thanks.

    • Chris Warren
      Chris Warren says:

      Definitely not saying one way is better or not, it is simply an option in fact you can choose to do both. In terms of the CTR I think it is a bit more dynamic than simply CTR going up or down particularly in the case of eBay being a nationally recognized brand simply have “eBay |” to start the SERP title is the most critical part for their CTR ratio and anything after that is of significantly less importance in my opinion. I don’t have any evidence either way on SERP CTR ratios but I would love if you could share the article you mentioned.

  8. Brandon
    Brandon says:

    Not a surprise, another good article on eBay Marketing Strategy, it’s about time that we should implement the strategy of eBay to optimize our website. Since eBay is the auction giant on the internet, they sure know how to play with Google.

    • Chris Warren
      Chris Warren says:

      So true Brandon I actually have had the pleasure with speaking with some of the eBay marketing team they really think quite deeply about the structure of their site and how it interacts with Google.

  9. Pete
    Pete says:

    This is a great look at how to better target long tailed keywords in a title tag. I’m the in-house blogger for my company, and we actually were able to drive a couple of conversions to the site through the Ebay forum! We started a discussion about a Patron package on auction, and it lead to 2 conversions. Ebay is a great resource for SEO and reaching clients.

  10. Urban
    Urban says:

    I have been doing SEO for over 4 years and I have seen lots of creative ways to practice SEO. But this one really got my attention. I would have never considered ebay in a conversation about SEO! Thanks, this was an interesting read!

  11. Richard
    Richard says:

    Very nice catch on how ebay was doing SEO in their titles. I find that I can get a lot of optimization tips by seeing what these high ranking sites are doing. Another good place to look for SEO in action is on amazon. They have a lot of high ranking product pages as well.

    • Chris Warren
      Chris Warren says:

      Reading your post I couldn’t help but remember one of the most frustrating experience I have had with Amazon. I had listed a product that just started multiples every single day because of a great ranking. We decided we wanted to have Amazon’s warehouse fulfill the orders to save on warehouse costs. Long story short they ended up not letting us put the fulfilled items under the current highly ranked listing but make a new page (that had to compete with the old better ranked listing). We went from selling ~100 units per month to selling 5-10 and no matter what we did our rep said it could not be changed!

  12. Monika
    Monika says:

    Doing SEO for over 3 years, I have seen lots of creative ways to practice SEO. But this one really got my attention.Very nice catch on how ebay was doing SEO in their titles. I find that I can get a lot of optimization tips by seeing what these high ranking sites are doing. Another good place to look for SEO in action is on amazon. They have a lot of high ranking product pages as well.

  13. Darren
    Darren says:

    I heard that the keyword density in the title played a part in your ranking. Wouldn’t this make the density low. It’s hard to figure out what is right and wrong cause everyone seems to say something different.

  14. Mark
    Mark says:

    Nice article.Thanx for provideing an example of how one SEO strategy can work. Keeping an eye on what high ranked web sites are doing we can improve our own rankings

  15. Christian@Making Money Online
    Christian@Making Money Online says:

    Such a beautiful post. A great call to action! Reminds me how much we miss, by following the pack, and not being something key: genuine!

    I think Google is getting really, really good at smelling genuine content and faulty content a mile away. We’re humans…so why “wouldn’t” we post a title longer than 65 characters? If Google understands it’s good content, then I’m pretty sure they’re going to understand a longer title. Just love this thought!

    Now you’re making me want to go through and check all my titles, see what I might be missing, and tweak even more!

  16. Kevin@Business Cash Advance
    Kevin@Business Cash Advance says:

    I think this is a really interesting point. The only thing I wonder is about the practicality of application of optimized titles at over 70 characters and how much a site like Ebay’s considerable size and authority weigh in. I mean even if they had presented non optimized or even non existent titles if they would still rank highly for a variety of terms based purely on their in page content.

  17. Thomas Jackson
    Thomas Jackson says:

    I find the points raised here really interesting. I’m glad that there are people who share their SEO discoveries. One definitely needs to be creative with SEO and realize the fact that there are indeed several ways you can do to achieve high rankings.

    • Chris Warren
      Chris Warren says:

      I would recommend thinking about what kind of value long titles may have vs shorter titles. A lot of us (myself included) get stuck thinking about targeting one phrase with a page and don’t even consider the other possibilities.

  18. Yoj
    Yoj says:

    Hey Kaiser,
    As expected from a professional coach, but I did not know that eBay could be used in SEO strategies. That is why I am so eager to use it on my SEO strategies and on my marketing moves. Thanks for this superb and informative article. Gonna sneak for more. 😀

  19. Duy
    Duy says:

    Interesting topic Chris!

    To be honest, I’ve seen many webpage from authority sites with this sign. Their title tags are truncated as well. Many pages from Wikipedia that are ranking #1 have this sign. However, I think they do have some benefits with this kind of titling as they can have many combinations of keywords to rank well for.

  20. Spook SEO
    Spook SEO says:

    I think the botomline here is for new sites where there is no highly relevant keywords applicable, this strategy works. But if lesser keywords can cover the entire content of the site, then it is better.


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