8 min article

Search and browse manipulation policy

We understand that sellers want their listings to appear as high as possible in our search results. However, manipulating eBay's search and browse experience by adding popular keywords in your listings that don’t have any relation to your items, or using other tactics that could mislead buyers is not allowed.

To make sure our search results give buyers the best experience possible, it's also important to accurately describe your items, use a clear title, and list them in the appropriate categories. To find out more about good listing practices, and also those practices that are considered search manipulation, and therefore prohibited, please see of our full policy guidelines below.

Frequently Asked Questions

I want to sell a t-shirt that looks like an Adidas shirt. Can I put "Adidas" in the listing?

No, because you're not selling an Adidas t-shirt. Including it would be both misleading to buyers and a breach of that brand's trademark. This is a search manipulation tactic called keyword spamming, where brand names or other inappropriate keywords are added to a listing's title or description to attract buyers.

I think buyers searching for shorts will be interested in my shirt. Can I list it in the Shorts category?

No, because putting items in the wrong categories is misleading and makes it harder for buyers to find the things they need.

Read our full policy

Search and browse manipulation policy overview

To create effective listings and products that attract buyers and comply with our policies, be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Select a category that matches the item you're selling
  • Provide a clear, honest and accurate description of your item
  • Don't engage in tactics like keyword spamming, because this makes it hard for people to find what they're looking for
  • When you list an item in fixed price format, don't create separate listings to sell multiple identical items at the same time. This violates our duplicate listings policy. Be sure to follow the policy guidelines when you list items in fixed price format
  • You can have more than one auction-style listing for identical items. However, only one duplicate auction-style listing without bids will appear on eBay at a time. Learn more about listing duplicate auction-style listings

In addition to our tips on creating effective listings, use the guidelines and examples below to learn how to create listings and products that comply with our policies.

It's against our policies to do anything that manipulates the search or browse experience. This applies to all parts of a listing or product (see our JavaScript policy for more information). For example, the use of superscript, subscript or other special characters (e.g. ™, ♥, ½) in the title, subtitle, item specifics, or other fields is not allowed. If a seller uses tactics that can inappropriately divert bidders and buyers to a listing or product, we'll take action.

If you list several related items as a bundle, please make sure you select the appropriate category for the main product included in the bundle. You should also include the word "bundle" in the title and provide item specifics for the additional items. This will help ensure that buyers can find your bundle listing when they search and browse on eBay. Get more guidelines and learn how to improve your performance by bundling items - opens in new window or tab.

Only use item specifics to describe the item you are selling. Item specifics and other fields should only contain the information that the field was intended for. Don't use item specifics to include other information such as your terms of sale or shipping details. For more information on using item specifics, please see our providing item description page.

Make sure your listings and products follow these guidelines. If they don't, some or all of your listings may be ended or not displayed in the eBay search results. You may also be subject to a range of actions, including limits of your buying and selling privileges and suspension of your account. If a listing or product is in the wrong category, we may move it to a more appropriate one (the listing fee may be different) or the listing may be ended.

What are the guidelines?

Brand names

You can describe an item by its brand, designer, model, product, style name, or its celebrity endorsement in a listing or product, as long as the information accurately describes what you're selling. Don't make a comparison or reference to a brand that isn't the same brand you're selling. This can confuse buyers and make it hard for them to find what they're looking for. See keyword spamming for more information.

Allowed Allowed
  • A brand name can be mentioned in a listing or product, as long as the item is authentically branded with that brand name
  • A celebrity name can be included in a listing or product, as long as the celebrity created, officially endorsed, owned, or signed the item. You can also mention celebrities if they're depicted in the item for sale, such as on posters or photos
  • For homemade items, be sure to:
    • Use the words "made with" to describe a brand-name product that you used in creating your item. For example, if you're offering curtains made from Pottery Barn fabric, you can describe them as "homemade curtains made with Pottery Barn fabric"
    • Use the words "made for" or "fits" to describe how your item is used for a brand-name product. For example, if you're selling homemade clothes for Barbie dolls, you can describe them as "clothes made for Barbie dolls"
  • Multiple brand names can be used, as long as there are items by each of those brands in the listing or product. If you're selling multiple items in a single listing or product (known as a "lot"), you can specify various brand names as long as the lot includes items made by those brands.
 
Restricted Allowed in some situations

For accessories that are functionally compatible with certain brand-name products, make sure you:

  • Verify that compatibility is for function rather than appearance. If you're not sure of this, fully explain the functionality. The Not allowed section below provides more detail
  • Use the words "compatible with," "fits," or "for" before the brand name of the compatible product
  • Spell out the word "for." Using the number "4" isn't allowed. Here's an example: This charger is for Nintendo 3DS"
  • Follow our intellectual property policies, including our policy on trademark and legally compliant listings, when listing accessories that are made to fit a specific brand-name product
 
Not allowed Not allowed
  • Brand names, celebrities, or other product details can't be specified in a listing or product if you're not selling an item by those brands. For example, if you're selling a Coach handbag, you can't mention Gucci or other brand-name handbags
  • Using "compatible with," "fits," or "for" before a brand name in the title of your listing or product to describe items that are universally compatible or that are compatible with an entire product class
  • Using parts compatibility with universally compatible items
  • Including multiple brand names in a title when they describe a subsidiary of a parent company. For example, you can't say "Old Navy by Gap" in your title
  • Using "fits," "for," or "compatible with," before the brand name of jewelry and clothing items or accessories
  • Comparing the item you're selling to a popular product. For example, you can't say "this MP3 player is just like the iPod"
  • Hiding unrelated brand names in a listing by using white-on-white text, tiny fonts, or special HTML or JavaScript code
  • Misspelling brand names to try to circumvent the rules. For example, using a dollar sign "$" instead of the letter "S"
  • Promoting your other listings or products and naming brands in those listings. For example, you can't say things like "Check out my other listings for Adidas, New Balance, Nike, and Puma shoes"
  • Using a question mark "?" when you're not sure about the brand. For example, you can't describe an item as "McCoy? cookie jar"
 

Categories

Be sure to select a category that matches the item for sale so buyers can find your listing. If it's in the wrong or inappropriate category, we may move the listing or product to another category (which may have a different listing fee), or it may be removed from our website to avoid confusion.

Allowed Allowed
  • Select a category that matches the item for sale. For example, an iPod Nano should be listed in the iPod & MP3 Players category
  • Select an applicable secondary category. For example, you can list a real diamond ring in the Fine Jewelry category and the Engagement Rings category
  • Select the Other category when there isn't one that exactly matches your item
 
Not allowed Not allowed
  • Brand new items can't be listed in categories for antique or vintage items
  • Informational products (or other digitally delivered goods) can't be listed in a category for physical goods. For example, a user guide for Wii games can't be listed in the Systems category
  • Selecting a category that doesn't match the item in order to include details for a different product isn't allowed. For example, if you're selling a generic MP3 player, you can't list it in the Cell Phones & Accessories category just to add info about an iPhone
  • Selecting a secondary category that doesn't match the item isn't allowed. For example, if you're selling a case for the iPod Nano, you can't select the iPod & MP3 Players category
  • Selecting a similar category that doesn't match the item – for example, listing a superhero comic book in a toy category – isn't allowed. (It should be listed in the Collectibles > Comic category.)
  • You can't list an item outside of a fixed fee category when it actually belongs there. (for example, listing a car outside of the appropriate car category on eBay Motors).
  • If the item you're listing matches an item in our product catalog, then be sure to list it in the main category for the item, and not in an 'Other' or less specific category.
 

Item condition, specifics, and details

Providing clear and accurate details about your item helps people make informed buying decisions – and they'll know what to expect when they receive your item. So be truthful and provide complete details.

Allowed Allowed
  • Describe only the item you're actually selling
 
Not allowed Not allowed
  • Selecting product details from our catalog that aren't an exact match for what you're listing isn't allowed. Here are a couple of examples:
    • If you're selling a paperback book, don't provide information for the hardcover version
    • If you're selling a video game controller, don't provide product details for a video game console
  • Selecting product details that are similar to – but don't exactly match – the item for sale isn't allowed. For example, if you list an Android phone, don't include info about the iPhone
  • Choosing an item condition that does not match your item, such as a "New" item condition for an item that has been used
  • Providing details such as MPN or UPC that don't match the item you're listing
  • Contradicting your item condition in item specifics with photos or your item description
  • Including terms in the wrong field of your listing or product, such as including shipping terms in the Condition description field of the item
  • Including extra or unrelated keywords or brands in your item specifics
  • Including information that is not specific to that field, such as a color in the manufacturer part number or the brand of your item in the item specific for size
  • Using inaccurate or misleading information for required product details (such as "Does not apply" or "N/A") when describing required product identifiers (such as brand, UPC, or MPN), or information other than what the manufacturer provided, if the manufacturer has provided that information for your product
 

Keyword spamming

Keyword spamming is when people use words or details (such as brands, item condition, model names, pop culture terms, product names, style, and type) that have nothing to do with their items so that their listings or products will show up in search results. Since this clutters eBay and makes buying and selling more difficult, we don't allow keyword spamming (see also brand names).

Allowed Allowed
  • All the words in your listing or product have to be completely true and refer only to the item for sale
  • For lot listings or products, you can specify all the different items in the lot. For example: "This lot includes 2 pairs of shoes, 2 shirts, 1 pair of pants, 3 pairs of shorts, and a jacket."
  • You can use synonyms to describe an item. For example, you can call a handbag a purse
 
Not allowed Not allowed
  • Calling out similarities – for example, when selling a DVD, don't talk about Blu-ray discs
  • Comparisons between products aren't allowed. For example, you can't say things like "shirt not pants" or "video not Nano"
  • Descriptions that promote items in other listings. For example, a listing for shoes can't say things like "Check out my other listings for hats, shirts, pants, coats, gloves, and underwear"
  • Hiding unrelated keywords in a listing or product by using white-on-white text, tiny fonts, or HTML or JavaScript code
  • Keywords in any part of a listing or product that aren't related to the item you're selling. Here are some examples:
    • If you're selling a shirt, the title can't say "Nike shirt size M – shoes, hat, shorts"
    • If you're selling an MP3 player, the listing or product description can't have keywords like "purse, shoes, baseball hat, DVD, toys, cell phone," etc.
  • Words with question marks (such as "carved wood dresser – antique?"). If you're not sure about a detail, don't call it out at all because doing so can be misleading.
 

Pictures

Including pictures in your listings helps buyers decide whether to purchase your item. Always provide clear and detailed pictures that truly represent your item so there's no confusion about what you're selling.

And remember: Never copy or use someone else's pictures or logos without their permission (see the images and text policy).

Allowed Allowed
  • Pictures clearly showing the item for sale
 
Not allowed Not allowed
  • Including unrelated pictures to try to get people to look at the listing
  • Picture of an item that isn't for sale. For example, selling a generic MP3 player but showing a picture of an iPod
  • Pictures that don't represent your item
 

Text and other information

When you create a listing or product, make sure all your text and other information are complete and consistent throughout. For example, you can't say one thing in the title and then describe it differently in the description.

Allowed Allowed
  • Be specific about your terms and conditions and make sure those details are consistent throughout your listing or product
  • Provide clear, accurate, and consistent information throughout a listing or product
 
Not allowed Not allowed
  • Conflicting information – for example, the title says the item is "new", but the description says it "was used"
  • Inconsistent details throughout your listing or product (titles, descriptions, product details, shipping, payment information, and so on)
  • Inconsistent or unclear terms and conditions. For example, you can't select free shipping when you list your item if the buyer has to meet conditions to make it free, such as "free shipping applies only if you choose the Buy It Now option"
  • Incorrect or incomplete information
  • Misrepresenting the item for sale
 

Titles

Keep listing or product titles and subtitles clear and 100% accurate. Being honest about what you're selling helps buyers find exactly what they're looking for. Avoid giving false details just to attract people to your listing. Remember that inaccurate or misleading titles aren't allowed on eBay.

Allowed Allowed
  • If you list multiple, different items in a listing (known as a "lot"), you can describe each item in the title or subtitle
  • To be clear to buyers, you may want to state:
    • the brand name associated with the item
    • the quantity of items for sale
    • the type of item for sale
    • whether the item is new or used
 
Not allowed Not allowed
  • Confusing or unclear titles or subtitles
  • Incorrect or inconsistent information, for example:
    • Saying "quantity 5" in the title, but saying 1 item is for sale in the description
    • Selling a book about yoga and dieting, but using the title "I lost 30 pounds in 3 months"
  • Misrepresenting an item in the title or subtitle
  • Using subscript, superscript, or other special characters (e.g., ™, ♥, ½) in the title, subtitle, item specifics, or other fields is not allowed
  • Symbols must be replaced by words that buyers can search for (e.g., Use "Copyright" instead of © and "degrees" instead of ° ). For example, the following titles are not allowed on eBay:
    • New ◆³™¹TOMS¹ ◆³™ Black Crochet Women's Classics 9
    • New ARMANI™ Men's Watch
    • COACH HANDBAG - L@@K HERE ♥ ♥
    • Levis ® Golf Shoes Size 8½
    • Cobra F-Speed DRIVER 12.5° R-FLEX
 

Why does eBay have this policy?

We want your buying and selling experience on eBay to be easy and fun. Our guidelines help you to create listings and products that won't break the rules or infringe upon other people's trademarks. When a listing or product has information that could mislead people or gives one seller an unfair advantage over another, we do take action. We also want to avoid having a seller dominate search results with duplicate listings or products if the seller doesn't have a solid history of selling these identical items. Misusing item specifics or the item description can make it more difficult for buyers to find information about items they are shopping for. Make sure you follow our guidelines when you create your listings and products.

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