EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 118 - May 09, 2004 - ISSN 1528-6703     4 of 8

Targeting Customers Using eBay Keywords

By Lou DiDona

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One of the most powerful and widely used sales tools on the Internet is advertising using targeted keyword search terms. Many Web site entrepreneurs have found that placing keywords in prominent positions throughout their site can target potential customers who search regularly on engines such as Google and Yahoo. Within the last few years, keyword bidding and placement in major search engines has become somewhat of a chess match, with competitors bidding on keywords for higher placement.

eBay has joined the ranks of the major search-engine companies by adding a program to bring targeted customers to eBay listings and Store items (it works exclusively on eBay). It's called eBay Keywords, and it wasn't until recently when I received an eBay Powersellers Newsflash that I looked at this form of marketing a bit closer. eBay was now going to give me free money to try out the eBay Keyword program, managed by adMarketplace. Free money? Yes. And it's available to all levels of Powersellers.

Many of us already know something about how keywords work. We use them every day in our listing titles and descriptions to draw attention to our ads. Basically, whenever a user enters a search term in eBay's search, you will now notice a banner advertisement, as well as text links, placed directly above the search results in the header of the page. These ads can be linked directly to auctions, store listings, or About Me pages.

These banner ads are ranked according to the Seller's bid for that particular keyword. The higher the bid for that keyword, the more times that ad will be displayed, in rotation with other ads. More importantly, you only pay for these ads when the user clicks on them, which guarantees that you are getting the best "bang for your buck," so to speak.

Interestingly enough, when I decided to try this out, I found many keywords that no-one had selected yet, meaning the maximum I had to pay was $.10 per click-through. You may find that your keywords have already been selected, and the maximum bid on them is quite high. Some I wanted to use, like beer signs or beer cans, were up to $2 per click-through, which is a fairly high price to pay per impression.

The key to success is selecting the right keywords. Over the years I have learned to use keyword phrases that are unique to what I sell, or what I want to target, not just one word. Finding your target customer is key, and using a more descriptive keyword phrase will bring the customer who is ready to buy from you. A great resource for choosing the right keywords can be found at

I generally limit my eBay Keyword spending to $50 a month. If you look at the cost of store listings vs. auctions, there is a tremendous savings advantage, but there's no way to bring customers to the store through search. Running auctions of similar items to draw attention to store items does work, but doing a little advertising helps as well.

Using the eBay Keyword program, I am able to draw additional customers to my eBay Store and generate enough sales to save money after listing fees and eBay Keyword fees combined. It allowed me to get my name in front of customers, every time they used matching keywords in their search. Bottom line, if you use strategic keywords, it can lead to additional sales.

Also see, "Doing the Math: Keywords by eBay versus Google AdWords," by Susan F. Heywood (, August 29, 2003)

About the author:

Lou DiDona was founder of and is a full-time Internet Sales and Marketing professional. He has been selling online since 1997 and has 26 years of experience in Americana collectibles, specializing in Breweriana advertising and Beer Cans. Lou is also involved in auction site design and consultation. He resides in Pennsylvannia, loves music, fishing and winter sports, and is a part time Disc Jockey on the weekends. eBay ID beer_auctions; email: info @; eBay Store:

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