EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2918 - October 22, 2012     2 of 5

eBay Removes Wildcard Advanced-Search Capability

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eBay confirmed it is rolling out changes to its advanced search feature that will result in the end of wildcard searching. While most visitors may never use advanced search, some ardent eBay buyers (and sellers) have set up numerous "saved searches" to help them find items as soon as they are listed, and this change will have a big impact on those users.

Wildcard searches enable shoppers to broaden their search for an item by finding plural forms of nouns and alternative endings - a search for "base*" would find all listings whose titles contain the words "base," "bases" or "baseball," for example.

eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore explained the decision to EcommerceBytes. "Our research showed that using specific terms to expand one's search was a more effective method than wildcard searches, which oftentimes included unexpected variations that cluttered search results. By removing the wildcard (*) advanced search functionality, we're able to deliver search results more efficiently and faster."

One eBay shopper on the discussion boards searches regularly for "trifari necklace." They search eBay with using the term "trifari neck*" to make sure they find all listings for Trifari necklaces. "Are they really eliminating this," the user asked. "A major change with no notice. A horrible change, in my opinion. I use it all the time."

Another eBay user said, "I have some whopping saved searches I've had for years, looking for those rarities, no good now."

Moore confirmed that the change would be applied to live listings as well as completed searches. "We are currently in the process of rolling out this change across eBay and it will include live listings." eBay has already removed instructions on wildcard searching from its help pages.

An eBay affiliate was concerned about the removal of wildcard search capability, saying they used it extensively with the Finding API. "I must have thousands of website page out there that display eBay listings using wildcard searches - and this is of great concern to me," he wrote.

AuctionBytes Blog editor Julia Wilkinson weighs in on the issue.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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