Tips for Effective Search Strategies with RSS Generator

Since ePN first rolled out RSS 2.0 in May 2011, we have been reviewing the characteristics of your RSS requests and the returned results.  Our analysis suggests a few areas where small adjustments to your queries may result in better result sets.

Limit keyword phrases to less than 100 characters

In cases of extremely long keyword phrase(s), although the query will run, the result set will sometimes be a bit odd. Limiting the number of characters to about 100 in the keywords/keyword phrases will produce better results. The suggested 100 characters limit includes both keyword inclusion and exclusion.

Combine keywords into phrases and avoid articles, pronouns, conjunctions, and prepositions

As you select your keywords, where possible combine the keywords into phrases by enclosing the phrase with double quotes.  In addition, make sure to check your spelling and, where possible, use nouns and adjectives.  Where possible,  avoid using articles (a, the,…), pronouns (he, it,…), conjunctions (and, or,…), or prepositions (to,from,…) in your queries.

Consider the example below, with the keyword phrase:

(sports and handheld GPS, vehicle GPS, GPS and Navigation, Auto GPS, GPS with Traffic and Map)-Tomtom GPS%2CGPS+with+Traffic+and+Map%29+Tomtom&categoryId1=3270&sortOrder= BestMatch&programid=1&campaignid=5336539146&toolid=10039& listingType1=All&lgeo=1&feedType=rss

This query is intended to yield a result set of GPS systems, excluding items that have the keyword "TomTom" in the title.  In this example, the result set could potentially be improved by enclosing any multi-token keywords—like "Handheld GPS"—in double quotes:

(GPS Traffic Maps,”Auto+GPS”,”Vehicle+GPS”,”Handheld GPS”)-Tomtom Handheld+GPS%22%29+Tomtom&categoryId1=3270&sortOrder=BestMatch&amp ;programid=1&campaignid=5336539146&toolid=10039&listingType1= All&lgeo=1&feedType=rss

Consider keyword variants such as singulars and plurals

Unlike when an eBay user types a query like "red dresses" into the search box on the eBay Search results page, and "dresses" is automatically expanded to also include the keyword "dress", there is no such automatic expansion treatment given for keywords in your RSS queries. This is an important point when considering your keywords. Make sure to consider possible variants, such as singular vs plurals (e.g., train and trains), spaced and unspaced variants (e.g., spiderman and spider man), and other possible variants or common typos.

Note: You do not need to worry about capitalization with your keywords.  Queries are not case-sensitive and any capitalization (or lack of capitalization) is ignored.

Use categories to increase accuracy, especially where keywords may appear in multiple categories

Use category limitations is a very good way to increase the precision and accuracy of query results, especially where keywords may be used in multiple categories. If you have not visited your keywords by category in a while, it is a good idea to align them with the most current eBay categories.

Note: Category hierarchies are different on different eBay country sites.  Please see this recent blog entry for the most recent category updates by country.

Customize sorting criteria for your site’s business model

Consider the best criteria for sorting your search results based on what works best for driving conversions using your site’s business model.  Sorting options are available under 'Advanced Search' on the 'RSS Feed Generator' create flow.

In many cases, the default setting of “best match” will work well.  In some cases, however, sorting by price or end time will lead to more relevant results and higher conversion rates.  You may also consider adding price range and distance filters as well based on your business model.

Working with Third-Party Providers

As a final note, we have received a number of questions from publishers who are using third-party tools with RSS 2.0.  We have spoken with some of these third-party providers and they confirm that there are updated versions available that work with RSS 2.0:

WordBay: Mark Daniels at WordBay [] informs us that the most recent version (1.7) of the WordBay wordpress plugin tool is compatible with RSS 2.0.  We understand that this is a free update for purchasers of previous versions.

phpBay: Wade Wells at phpBay informs us that phpBay Pro version 4.x (released in late 2011) is compatible with RSS 2.0. To upgrade, customers can log in to their store account and download the latest version, which includes a user manual with info and instructions.  News and support is available in the phpBay forums and customers needing help with their store or forum logins can use the contact page on the main site.

BANS: We understand that the standard version of Build A Niche Store (BANS) [] is compatible only with RSS 1.0, but Tao Schencks, a member of that development community, informs us that he is selling a separate RSS 2.0 compatibility update on this site. []

Disclaimer: Please note that by passing this information along, ePN does not endorse and cannot provide support for any of these or any other third-party products, tools, or updates.  ePN has not tested any of these tools and does not provide any warranties, including compatibility with ePN’s own products, now or in the future.  Any questions about compatibility, updating, implementing, optimizing, or troubleshooting RSS 2.0 using these tools should be referred directly to the providers.  ePN is not responsible for and does not endorse the contents of any of these external sites.