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eBay Introduces Longer Item Titles…With a Catch

September 18, 2011

Back in July, I posted a review of eBay’s Fall Seller Update here on the bbbros.ca blog.  One of the major changes noted in my review was the fact that eBay was increasing the maximum character count of item titles from 55 to 80, a near 50% increase in the number of characters sellers had at their disposal.  That change began coming in to effect this past Tuesday.

From a selling perspective this change was music to my ears.  As I mentioned back in July, at a very minimum this change will allow me to severely limit or even eliminate the use of short forms in my item titles.  It will also allow more key words to be added to the title itself, increasing the chances of my listings being found in searches, while removing/limiting my reliance on the subtitle option that eBay charges a fee for.

Having run into situations such as those listed above on numerous occasions I am actually excited about getting to work on fixing any issues that currently exist with my listings.  This change will remedy problem listings and enhance all of the others with just a few hours of working my way through my listings in Turbo Lister.

As is often the case with eBay however, there is a catch.

While reading a recent post on the EcommerceBytes Blog, a blog that I read regularly for the opinions and advice of fellow eBay users, some early reaction to the change indicated some pretty serious dissatisfaction.

I was surprised to see this being the case given what I thought the change could mean for my “business”.

As it turns out, the dissatisfaction is pretty understandable.

A line in the blog article reads “…eBay advises sellers to place important keywords at the beginning of their titles. ‘While all 80 characters are used to determine search relevancy, there may be some instances where all 80 characters are not displayed due to the size limitations of some pages.’”

I took a look on eBay, and sure enough there were plenty of examples of titles ending midway through a word, followed by “…”.  In fact, it wasn’t really in “some cases” as eBay stated might occur, it looks to be more like ‘most cases’, perhaps even ‘all cases’.

Of course this did not sit particularly well with some sellers quoted in the blog article and I cannot say that I blame them.

I do not recall eBay ever mentioning this situation in their rosy update synopses that they send out to sellers.  I’ve said it before and will say it again; there almost always seems to be more to the changes than eBay leads you to believe and only after some digging do you actually find out what the changes really mean and/or include.

This is certainly frustrating as a seller, given that the additional work to extend listing titles isn’t even visible.  Worse still, one of the blog commentators indicated that those words that are not visible in the title link do not even show up in search results.

If this is actually the case, then what was the point in making the change?

As a buyer, this situation also gives me cause for concern.

If you are like and like to skim through an individual seller’s listings without entering any search criteria, the missing words give an incomplete picture of what the item actually is, causing me to have to do more work as I try to figure out if the listing is even of an item I want/need.

Not exactly a customer-friendly move.

I guess time will tell if the change actually has any net benefit to the eBay experience, but at first glance this is a disappointing turn of events for a change that had such great potential.  Hopefully eBay responds with some modifications to the “size limitations of some pages” excuse and makes this a change that both buyers and sellers can be happy with in the long run.

What do you think about the increase in the number of characters in eBay item titles?  Do you think it will improve your eBay experience?  Will the concerns I outlined above ultimately make the change a negative one?  Or do you think it will have any real impact at all?

Let me know what you think by posting a comment, emailing me at bb_bros@hotmail.com, or connecting on Twitter and Facebook.

Until Wednesday, all the best in your collecting pursuits!

Ryan

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