eBay Searching Tips - find that perfect item!

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How do you search for "item 1" or "item 2", but not "item 3"?

This guide will show you how to improve your searching, and return the results you REALLY want.

The top 2 tips I use are:
  • If you are looking for "x" or "y", put them in brackets.  For example "Holden (wheels, rims mags)" will search for "Holden wheels", "Holden rims" or "Holden mags".

  • If you want to exclude something, use a minus. For example "XBox Game -Halo" will search for all "XBox Games", except for "Halo".
If you found those to tips useful - read the rest of the guide!

Why this guide?

Find exactly what you want on eBay without missing that bargain! This short guide will (hopefully!) provide you with a few tips to help you.

Scan the list of tips, and check out the ones of interest.  5 minutes now could save you hours (and money) later!

Isn't searching really simple?

Absolutely - searching on eBay is very simple. You simply type in your search keywords into the search box at the top of any page, and click the "Search" button. 

Sometimes, however, with a small amount of effort you can broaden the search results, or restrict the results to items which are exactly what you are looking for.

The tips....

  1. Simple Searching - Title and Description

    Searching is easy, but there's a big difference between searching the Titles and searching the Descriptions.  Searching a description will yield more results, but you may end up with some unwanted results.  For example, if you are looking for CDs by singer "Andy White" and you search descriptions, you might end up a whole host of items including an Andy Warhol T-Shirt, which is white (as happened to me recently!)

    Choose your search range carefully - and use some of the following tips to eliminate unwanted results.

  2. Do I look for "Elvis" or "elvis"?

    Short answer - it makes no difference! eBay search is not case sensitive.

  3. Choosing keywords

    A short time ago I was searching for a 4 Gigabyte iPod Nano.  Did I search for "4 Gb", "4Gb" or "4 Gigabyte"? The answer is "Yes!"  I searched for all of them, because I don't know how the seller may have described the item. 

    Using a tip below ('looking for "something" and "this" or "that") I could use one search to do the lot, and I knew I wouldn't miss anything.

  4. Using "Finders"

    Many categories have some very helpful "Finders".  If you go into the Music category, you'll see a "CDs Finder".  Finders may also appear after searching.  Finders allow you to restrict your browsing or searching to certain attributes.  With the CDs Finder for example, you can restrict the results to only "Rock Albums".

    Finders are extremely helpful, but you need to be aware when relying on them that the Finder information is based on the information provided by the seller.  Using CDs as an example again, you may categorise a particular CD as "Rock", but a seller may decide it's more "Metal".

  5. Searching worldwide

    If the item you are looking for is hard to obtain, or you are just interested in comparing prices, you can select the "Worldwide" box which appears in the "Search Options" box on the left side of your search results, and then click "Show Items". 

    Searching worldwide only shows items where the seller has indicated that they are prepared to ship internationally. 

  6. Restricting to Categories

    When searching for a particular item eBay will provide a list of matching categories along the left side of the screen.  Quite often you can use these categories to refine your search.  For example, if I search for an "iPod Nano", I can use the categories to restrict my results:

    => "Audio - Portable" =>
  7. Excluding items from your search

    Quite often when searching for a particular item, you'd like to have a broad search but you may want to exclude certain things.  For example, I might be after "iPod Nano Case", but I don't want to see any white cases.  I can exclude words using a "-" sign:

    This little tip can help you refine your search to exclude all of the items you are not interested in.

  8. Searching for a phrase

    Need to search for something which has to have two words in a certain order?  Easy - include the words in your search within quotes.  For example, typing in "5.7 litre" into a search with the quote will match anything that has that exact phrase.  Remember, you can do this when search titles, or titles and descriptions.

  9. Looking for "something" and "this" OR "that"

    Quite often I may be looking for an item which may be described in a number of different ways by different sellers.  In this case, I might want to search for and item which is "this" or "that".  An example would be show me a Holden Commodore which is a "V8", or "LS1", or "5.7 litre", or "5.7l".  If I include all of these search terms, I will probably miss out on many matches, as eBay will search for items which have all of these items:

    If I place all my search terms inside brackets and separated with commas, then I can ask eBay to search for items which have any of these words:

  10. Saving your searches

    Did you know that you can save your favourite searches? After performing a search, simply click on the link "Add to Favorite Searches" which appear next to the description of how many items were found.  You can then follow the prompts and save your search.  

    A really nice feature is that you can have saved searches run automatically on a daily basis, and have the results emailed to you. Woo Hoo!!!

    More info on Favorite Search

  11. Advanced Searching

    eBay allows some sophisticated Advanced Searching to assist you in find exactly what you want.  To access the Advanced Search, click on the words "Advanced Search" under the search button at the top of your eBay screen.

    Try It - Advanced Search

    Advance Search gives you access to the following features:
    • Search for Completed Items
    • Search in Categories
    • Changes the results display
    • Search by item number
    • Search by seller
    • Search by bidder
    • Find items in Stores
    • ... and much more

  12. eBay Stores and Searching

    eBay Stores will sometimes have "Inventory items" whcih don't show up as part of the normal search results, and can stay in the store for a number of months (depending on the seller's choice). 

    Remember to take a look at the bottom of your search results for Store items, or use the Advance Search to look through the Store items.

    More info on Inventory Items

  13. Finding "item" or "items"

    This is a BIG gotchya!  Remember when searching that "item" will produce different results that "items".  Sometimes it's a helpful feature when searching for multiple items, such as a set of "Chairs", or "Bookends".

  14. Using the * wildcard

    Wildcards? Wildcard is the name given to characters which can substitute for other characters in a search. Sounds complicated? May be an example will help:

    If you search titles for "cd" you will see only anything with "cd" in the title.  Searchiing for "cd*" will return anything beginning with "cd", such as "cd", "cds", "cdr", "CD-ROM" and so on.  Very useful!

  15. eBay will help

    Sometimes eBay will expand your search automatically to assist, and will let you know it has done so in the results summary.  As an example, try a search on "ipod nanos", and eBay will help by searching for "ipod nano". 

    You always have the option of proceeding with your originally intended search.

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