Learn to buy and sell antiques and collectibles

eBay Doesn't Like Like

Using The Word Like In eBay Titles

This article is only about using the word like in eBay titles. Here's general information about eBay Auction Titles

What Were They Thinking?

About a month ago I listed an item made by Richart on eBay. I used a title like this one:

"Richart Tank like McCoy."

EBay cancelled the auction for keyword spamming. (McCoy is another manufacturer that made similar trains.)

The truth is I was wrong. I didn't follow the rules even though I know better. I was just in a hurry.

A little background. . .

EBay rules say you cannot make comparisons in your titles to use additional brand names. However, you can mention a single additional brand name by referring to a brand the item can be USED WITH. More on this can be found at - eBay Keyword Rules

So, after eBay cancelled the auction, I relisted the item with this title:

"Richart Tank use with McCoy."

The term "use with" is acceptable, and eBay let the auction run.

Here's where it gets weird.

Last week I listed a signal on eBay. Here's the title I used:

"Like NEW BOXED Lionel 154 Hiway Crossing Signal"

Guess what?

EBay cancelled the auction for keyword spamming.

Now look at the title again. There are two keywords in the title. Lionel which is the manufacturer, and the model number 154.

Can you see what is wrong with that title?

Confused? You aren't alone. I couldn't understand it either.

Here's the explanation eBay sent me by email:

"The listing was removed because it violated the eBay Keyword Spamming policy. The violation occurred when you included the following information in your listing:

"In Title....Like NEW

"All fees related to this listing have been credited to your account. We also notified members who placed bids on the item that the listing has been canceled.

"Keyword spamming is the practice of placing inappropriate words in searchable text to draw attention to Web content. To ensure that members' searches produce relevant results, sellers are not permitted to put brand names or other inappropriate keywords in a listing title or description for the purpose of attracting members to a listing. Sellers can only include a brand name under certain limited conditions.

"Sellers can use brand names or keywords only if they relate directly to the item that is being offered in the listing. eBay doesn't permit sellers to use unrelated keywords because they may confuse and mislead buyers."

I was still confused.

You see, in this case the words LIKE NEW refer to the CONDITION of the item. We have commonly used grading standards in the toy train community and Like New is the second highest behind MINT.

It's not an attempt to slip a keyword into the title by doing a comparison.

At first I thought maybe eBay was making a judgment call. Grading is not an exact art, and maybe eBay figured the item wasn't "like new." But, I try to grade my items conservatively so my buyers are happy. I might stretch the line a bit, but I never exaggerate. It's the nature of grading. Sellers tend to grade things high by ignoring tiny faults, while buyers tend to emphasize faults to lower the grade.

After I thought about it for a while, I decided it had to be something else.

Maybe there is a brand called "New?"

So, I contacted eBay about this and explained that like new is a commonly used grading term.

Here's eBay's response:

"Dear Terry,

"Thank you for writing eBay in regard to your auction which was removed due to our Keyword Spamming policy.

"Terry the term "like new" is a form of Keyword Spamming as a Buyer who is solely looking to purchase a brand new item will have your item come up in their search results. The search engine cannot determine a new item from a like new item, all that it can recognize is that new was typed into the search field so it will bring up any auction with the word new in the title. As the Buyer was not looking for a used item it could be a frustrating experience for the buyer.

"Sellers are not permitted to use comparison terms in the titles of their listings to compare the condition of their item.

"For example, stating that the item is "like new," "not new," or any use of the words "new" if the item is used, is a violation of this policy.

"If the item is a new item, it may be described as such. However, if the item is used, regardless of how little it may have been used, it may not be described as "new" in any way.

"There are other terms that you may use to state the condition of your item, such as "gently used" or "lightly used."

First time I've heard about this.

I've been listing items with the words like new in the title for almost 10 years, and never had a single problem.

I could understand if someone described a piece of clothing as like new causing problems with searchers being disappointed, but in the antiques and collectibles categories, this is just being stupid on eBay's part.

I guess they need to protect people who buy underwear on eBay.

Actually the root problem here is eBay no longer wants to be thought of as a place to sell antiques and collectibles. They want to be the online marketplace. This means they are gearing their site to compete with Wal-Mart.

It's their site and they can take it in any direction they like. We can get around their stupid rules by using abbreviations.

For example:

  • LN for Like new
  • LNOB for like new original box

I put a whole list of common eBay Abbreviations online. Take a look at my list and if you find ones I've missed, drop me a note.

Common eBay Abbreviations

Terry

PS Here's some comments sent in by readers like you.


Terry -

I don't use any references to condition in my titles unless it is indeed New. I keep the title more plain so as to draw them into the auction where I will state the condition right under the top center photo. I also keep the Condition box on the listing entry page blank, unless again, new.

I guess with vintage collectibles, the condition in the title is more standard than with the latest appliances!

Don Hoppe


My pattern for a sock doll monkey was removed because I listed it under patterns and ebay said, in letters very similar to yours, that I cannot list socks in the pattern category. There was no getting them to understand that I wasn't listing socks. After 3 canned letters where it was apparent that eBay just didn't get it, I finally convinced myself that there was no way that I could possibly be dealing with a human being and that the computer's gramma had never made it a sock monkey.

Thanks for making me laugh.
Karen


Just wanted to let you know, I had an auction get canceled for using the "word" LNEW because they said that was keyword spamming of the word new. I still don't understand how that can be considered keyword spamming since LNEW is not a word that will come up when they search the word NEW. Had a long conversation with them, going back and forth about how it doesn't make any sense, but of course the bottom line is that Ebay will do what it wants to do.

So Ebay is not only canceling auctions with the words LIKE NEW in the title, but they are canceling the auctions with the abbreviation as well.

Go figure
Wendy


Hello Terry Gibbs,

Just finished reading your The Auction Revolution for the second time. Much useful information, much more than I have found in any other e-book or auction course I have bought.

After reading your book, I now feel I have been cheated by those courses, which cost me hundreds of dollars. None supplied me with the hands on information needed to run a successful auction business.

Thanks for writing the book. I also find great value in you newsletter. Just what I need to get me started at e-Bay.

Loretta Woehst



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