eBay search screen on smartphone

Last year, eBay announced more categories will require Item Specifics to be added to new and existing listings by February 22, 2021. Item Specifics are product keywords and descriptive details such as brand, size, length, width, height, type, color, style, and many others.

Over the last few years, the use of Item Specifics has become more important as they have a direct impact on a seller’s listing visibility within buyer search results on the platform. In addition, Item Specifics are used by Google and Google Shopping to show eBay listings of products that buyers are searching for on the search engine.

Item Specifics also help buyers drill down products in search results by keywords and product data, which is especially helpful on the eBay mobile app and eBay’s web-based mobile shopping experience.

Unfortunately, even as eBay has long advocated to sellers that they should add product data to recommended Item Specifics for the categories they list in, many sellers have avoided them or only added minimal data. With the launch of its structured data strategy in 2017, Item Specifics became even more important, if not necessary for visibility in search results.

However, adding Item Specifics can be time-consuming or confusing for smaller sellers with limited time or resources. Large sellers often use third-party listing software to help better manage this process. But there is hope as current eBay CEO Jamie Iannone said they are continuing to improve the technology on eBay to make adding Item Specifics easier.

eBay has also partnered with Optiseller to offer a simple and free tool until 30 June 2021 to identify listings that are missing Item Specifics data. This date has been extended from December 31, 2020, which is still shown on eBay’s website incorrectly.

Richard Falconer, COO at Optiseller echos the importance of adding items specifics to existing and new eBay listings to boost visibility.

“The increase in Item Specifics will benefit both sellers and buyers on the platform. For buyers, the ability to search for products in a more structured and specific way enhances the customer experience across the marketplace. For sellers, the changes are designed to increase the search visibility of their listings, so they are easier to find on site.”

What is Changing on February 22 With Item Specifics?

Effective February 22, 2021 Item Specifics will be required in the categories below. The links download a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for each category showing exactly which Item Specifics information will be required in each sub-category. Sellers, who do not have Excel, can upload the Excel file into Google Sheets or import it into Apple Numbers or Open Office (a free open-source Microsoft Office alternative).

The following categories already require Item Specifics in listings, dating back to updates in 2019 and 2020.



eBay offers a tool as well to download and upload listing with items specifics. More details on how to use this tool are available here. Sellers who use third-party listing tools or services should contact their vendor or tool documentation on how to bulk update the information in their listings.

Regardless of the tool or method to update existing listings, eBay says they encourage sellers to also add as many Recommended Item Specifics as they can.

For Recommended Item Specifics that aren’t relevant to a listing, sellers can select “Don’t remind me about these recommendations again” when creating or revising listings through eBay. This will remove that listing from the ‘Item Specifics—recommended’ quick filter as well as tasks and email reminders about missing recommended Item Specifics.

Improving Listings Equals Improved Listing Visibility

One of the more common complaints that still surface on eBay’s Community Discussion Forums or in our Facebook Group For Sellers are issues with listing visibility in eBay search results. Just like Google, eBay doesn’t disclose the secret sauce of how listings surface in buyer search results, but there are a few very basic strategies sellers can use to improve visibility.

  • Title: This is a no-brainer and most sellers already do well with titles. But this is also the area competing sellers can copy the easiest. Heavy on keywords and if the item being sold is a brand name, put it first.
  • Good Images: That is meant to be plural. Good high-quality images make buyers more comfortable that the item listed is right for them. Proper lighting is important and sellers may want to look at Table Top Light Boxes that can be used with smartphones to improve their listings.
  • Brief and Concise Descriptions: No War and Peace here. Keep it simple. The best strategy is to come up with additional keywords that easily describe the item. Then use the keywords from the title with the additional descriptive keywords in the product description of the listing. But keep it short, people’s attention spans are not that long today.
  • Item Specifics: Don’t just use the required Stem Specifics, use Recommended Item Specifics whenever possible to better describe the item.
  • Shipping Cost: Listings that offer free shipping are favored by eBay. So if it is at all possible, sellers should offer free domestic shipping.

Other key areas that are strongly believed to influence search visibility on eBay are seller performance metrics, handling time, shipping speed, and return policy. Distance between buyer and seller may also play a role, but that is not something a seller can control.

While every detail is important in a listing, Item Specifics are not just important to visibility but also to conversion. The Item Specifics section is a very valuable piece of real estate for buyers that gives them the key specs about a product that can drive the purchase decision. Why waste it?


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