Increase eBay Sales by Writing Better Item Descriptions

eBay item description
••• Always write a thorough item description in addition to including great photos. Getty Images

eBay is a very visual platform. Many buyers only look at the photos and neglect reading the text. But that doesn't mean that sellers should slack off on writing good descriptions. In fact, good item descriptions are important for a few reasons:

  1. The text in an item description is talking to the buyer as well as eBay's search engine and Google. If the description is lacking, the listing won't place well in searches and buyers won't find the listing, and therefore can't buy it.
  1. Some buyers actually do look at the description for more information including measurements, fabric content, washing instructions, year made, and other details. If the information is not there, the buyer may simply click away and move on to another listing rather than take the time to message the seller for more information. It is important to spoon feed buyers all the relevant information about the item to keep them from buying from competitors.
  2. In the event of an eBay claim or dispute, a complete written description can provide important information to eBay or PayPal to help the seller win the case. Always write a description as if there are no photos. If the buyer doesn't read it, that can come back to haunt them.


Write Descriptions for a Human Being not a Search Engine

Words used in the description area also factor in to the search engine optimization (SEO) process. Write your description as if you are speaking to a person, not simply for SEO.

It is a delicate balance to write for both humans and a search engine, but really not that difficult. Include relevant details and anticipate what a buyer might ask. As you have more experience on eBay and get more proficient with writing descriptions, this gets easier. A great way to figure out what to put in descriptions is to look at major retailers' websites and pay attention to what they put in the description.

Multi-million dollar companies like Nordstrom, Macy's, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Best Buy invest a lot of money into their online presence and know what details to include. Follow their example.

Complete all the Boxes in the Item Specifics Section

Those boxes with details like color, size, style, country of manufacture, brand, pattern, era, and genre are important. Fill them out. If you don't know, spend a few minutes doing some research on eBay completed listings or Google. The more information you can provide, the higher your listing will place in search. eBay returns search results by default in the order of Best Match. A large percentage of buyers don't change the sort order to sort by price, location, or listing ending soonest. It is important to work within the parameters of eBay and understand the default sort order because many buyers won't sort the results by other criteria. A seller's objective should be to place as high in search as possible.

Always Proofread Listings

A sloppy listing with typos, grammatical errors, and misspellings can not only cost you placement in search, but it can turn off buyers. Granted, most buyers aren't English professors, but if a buyer perceives a seller's listing as sloppy and lacking attention to detail, he many wonder if this sloppiness carries over to the product quality, shipping, and customer service.

eBay is a competitive place and buyers don't make decisions solely on price. Remember you are asking a stranger to give you money without meeting you or seeing the item in person. Details matter in getting the sale. 

Use one color font, preferable black, left-align text (best for mobile shoppers), and use a font that is big enough to read on a mobile device. Short, sweet, and to the point works best, and if your buyer has questions, answer them promptly.

Keep Seller Policies Short and Concise

Most sellers are buyers, too. Have you ever read item descriptions with long rambling seller policies about what days they ship, returns, payment terms, and other details? Newsflash: nobody reads that and most of it is not valid anyway. eBay offers a Money Back Guarantee, so their guarantee will override any policies you create.

A long section with your personal policies looks overwhelming on both the full site and eBay mobile, and is a huge turn off to buyers. They may think,

"Good grief, this is way too complicated. I'm not reading all of this. I'm not buying from somebody who sounds like a drill sergeant. Next!"

With Cassini, eBay's search engine, it is worse to place high in search, have a buyer click on the listing and register views, then lose a sale, than to have not appeared in search at all.

Updated on August 6, 2016 by Suzanne A. Wells.