Q: "Will eBay help me optimize my eBay Store for search engines, such as suggested appropriate keywords?"

A: In order to optimize their website for search engine spiders, eBay will do a lot behind the scenes, but they will not help you find appropriate keywords for your eBay Store. "If you've ever searched for something on Google and an eBay Store pops up on page 1 of the search engine results, you can thank eBay for that," says eBay expert Janelle Elms (janelleelms.com). "All we have to do as eBay sellers is come up with the keywords, which shouldn't be that hard as after all we know our merchandise better than eBay ever will."

According to Catherine Seda, Internet marketing expert and author of How to Win Sales & Influence Spiders (CatherineSeda.com), a top tool for finding appropriate keywords for your eBay Store is the Google AdWords Keyword Tool (adwords.google.com), which is absolutely free. "Type in a relevant keyword, and Google will suggest additional keywords for you," says Seda. "Spend some time with this tool. You'll find a lot of keywords that will work for your eBay Store." Seda also notes that Google shows you the search volume for each keyword. Consider a mix of high- and low-volume keywords. That's because even though high-volume keywords get more traffic, there's more competition over them these days. So optimize your eBay Store for both kinds of keywords.

What is Seda's number one tip for finding profitable keywords? Go after tail terms. A tail term is a low-volume, highly targeted keyword for your business. Generally, it's a phrase containing three or more words. Back to the mechanical bank example: Don't just focus on "banks," because you'll be competing with a lot of eBay and non-eBay businesses trying to get search engine rankings for that keyword. "Mechanical banks" would be better. But a great tail term would be "antique mechanical banks" or "cast iron mechanical banks." Yup, according to the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, people are searching for these tail terms. Shoppers searching for tail terms are more qualified prospects. Seda says these shoppers are much more likely to become your customers.

Q: "What are some tips for optimizing an eBay Store for search engines?"

A: Here are six from Catherine Seda, Internet marketing expert and author of How to Win Sales & Influence Spiders (CatherineSeda.com).

First, choose a good store name because it'll turn into your store URL. Make sure to include keywords here—if you have a choice between "Cliff's Attic" and "Cliff's Antique Mechanical Banks," go with the latter because the search engine spiders can look at your URL.

Second, choose some appropriate keywords for the stuff you sell and make sure to include them in the meta-tag fields in your eBay Store account.

Third, create an eBay Store description and include relevant keywords in it— eBay gives you up to two hundred words for this.

Fourth, create keyword-based category names when setting up your eBay Store. Don't use something generic like "Category 1" or "Category 2." Using keywords in your category names helps your shoppers quickly and easily find what they're looking for, too.

Fifth, create an About the Seller page (similar to the About Me page for an eBay seller or buyer who doesn't have an eBay Store), and sprinkle relevant keywords throughout this page. But Seda warns, "Don't do keyword spamming. You don't want to repeat your keywords over and over again. Search engines hate that and eBay doesn't allow it."

Sixth, create custom pages in your eBay Store that answer questions about the items you are selling. For example, if you are selling antique mechanical banks in your eBay Store, create a page about the history of mechanical banks manufactured in the United States during the late 1800s. This information-rich page will be filled with delicious keywords spiders like.

Should you optimize your actual item listings when you have an eBay Store (eBay optimizes everything for the search engines, whether you spend time optimizing different areas of your eBay Store or not)? "I pick only the products I know I'm going to have listed for the long term," says eBay University instructor Steve Lindhorst. "Once a search engine sees these, I want to be sure the product is there when people come to my store; I don't spend a whole lot of time optimizing listings for items with very low inventory levels."

eBay marketing expert Janelle Elms (janelleelms.com) points out, however, that optimizing each listing has its benefits: "Even if you're not optimizing each listing for the search engine 'spiders,' you want to make sure that buyers searching for your listings on eBay find them." She adds that even if the item sells quickly, a closed listing that is properly optimized will still contain information that will direct someone to your eBay Store if they find it on Google and click on it.

Q: "What areas of eBay have an effect on search engine optimization (SEO)?"

A: Basically, any page on eBay that is rich in content and is designed to stay in one place for a while will affect SEO. So your eBay auction listings probably don't have much effect on SEO because they are posted for such a short period of time.

Your blogs, your Reviews and Guides, your About Me (or About the Seller) page, your MyWorld page (if you have one), and the long-term listings in your eBay Store are the pages most likely to attract search engine spiders.

Q: "What areas of an eBay Store have an effect on search engine optimization (SEO)?"

A: "A ton of them," according to Elms, including:

• The store title.

• The store description.

• The product categories listed down the left-hand side of your eBay Store page.

• Your custom pages for the store.

• Your About the Seller page.

• Your shopping feeds.—When you have an eBay Store, eBay aggregates all listings and sends them out to online retail portals such as shopping .com and froogle.com. "You do have to turn this feature on when you set up your eBay Store, but after that it just happens automatically, and you don't have to think about it," says Elms.

Q: "Can people get into legal trouble if they choose the wrong keywords when optimizing their eBay Stores or auction listings?"

A: Oh, yeah; eBay has a fairly detailed policy that prohibits keyword spamming— the use of keywords that don't have anything to do with the stuff you're selling on eBay that are intended to distract buyers looking for other things. So, for example, if you list a handbag for sale on eBay with the description "1970s no-brand handbag, kinda looks like a Gucci," you are keyword spamming because people looking for genuine Gucci merchandise will see your listing when they search the keyword "Gucci."

Keyword spamming is one of the surest ways to get kicked off eBay, because other eBay sellers selling merchandise using the correct keywords get so furious you're doing it that they'll turn you in to eBay. The Keyword Spam policy for eBay appears at pages.ebay.com/help/policies/keyword-spam.html— be sure to read this before you set up an eBay Store.

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