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How to Win at eBay:
How to Search and Find
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Use this link to get to eBay whenever you buy and it helps me write more like this, thanks! Ken.


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Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

I buy only from these approved sources. I can't vouch for ads below.

eBay has a search box. Type stuff in, and go.

If you put more than one thing in the search box, you'll only see items which have both of those words in their titles.

Type "Nikon" and hit Search, and you'll get a list of 45,000 items. Type "Nikon 50mm" and you'll only see 600 items. Type "Nikon 50mm AF" and you'll only see 160 items.

If you type words in (parenthesis,separated,by,commas), you'll see everything that has any of those words in its description. For instance, if you also want to see listings with misspellings, I use "(Nikon,Nikkon)" in my searches instead of simply "Nikon."

Use a dash before a -word -(or,group,separated,by,commas) to eliminate items with that word in their titles.

For instance, if you search for "Nikon 50mm," you get Nikon 50mm lenses, but also a lot of junk like hoods, grips and crap made by third parties. If you search for "Nikon 50mm -for," you eliminate 25% of the junk, but now you still have rifle scopes coming up, so you'll save more time sorting through listings by searching instead for "Nikon 50mm -(scope,for)." Now you don't get any results with either "scope" or "for" in their titles.

Notice that I combined tricks: I put the "-" in front of (a,list,of,words,in,parenthesis) of which I didn't want any included in the titles.

Over time, I collect strings I often use, and I copy and past these to refine my searches to return as broad a range of what I want, and as little of the unrelated junk.

Every seller wants to make his listing appear everywhere, so the guy selling a lens that might fit the indomitable Nikon F4, he often puts "F4" in the listing title. That helps him publicize his listing, but is just junk getting in your way if you want to by an F4. I find adding the words (body,camera) helps cut out a lot of junk, while still returning most of the camera body listings. "(body,camera)" returns listings whose titles include either "body" or "camera," while typing "camera body" would only return listings. that used both words.

Let's suppose we want to find a Nikon 28mm f/1.4 lens.

Our first guess might be to search for "Nikon 28mm f/1.4." It returns only three lenses.

But what if everyone doesn't spell f/1.4 as f/1.4? What if some people simply list it as a 28mm 1.4? Let's expand the search to include these alternate spellings, and if we search for "(nikon,nikkor) 28mm (f/1.4,1.4,f1.4,f-1.4,1:1.4)" we get 11 items, many of which are also the lenses we want.

When 11 items come back, you're done. If you got too many items, like 254 unwanted accessories, third-party junk and kits, then you would add a section like "-(sigma,tamron,vivitar,tokina,promaster)" to cut them out of the search results.

If you're looking for a manual focus lens, like a 50mm f/1.4, you can add -(af,afd,af-d,d,autofocus) to remove some of the AF lenses from the results. It's best not to add "AI AI-s AIS" to the search, because you won't see those lenses for which the seller neglected to add those letters to the title.

It's best to look as broadly as possible at first, and hone down the results only if you get too much junk through which to sort.

Every time you modify the search, you have to hit the Search button to see the results.


Saving Searches

Once I find a search that works, I save it so I don't have to recreate it each day as I'm looking for something.

Hit "Save This Search," and you'll find your saved searches under My eBay.


Well-Honed Searches

When I have a link to eBay in my reviews of used gear, I've made that link go to the search with the best possible search terms I can write to get us exactly to the items, and not the junk.


Avoid Featured Items

When you're looking through search results, ignore any highlighted featured items at the top of the search results.

These aren't really featured; eBay simply charges the seller more for being listed at the top. These same items will appear in the rest of your search results where they belong.

All being featured means is that the seller paid extra for the extra publicity.

More publicity means a higher selling price for the seller (and eBay's percentages), but also means a higher price for you. You'll pay less for items that aren't as prominently displayed.

I prefer to by items that are mis-listed so poorly that I'm the only bidder who finds them.


Next: How to Find Anything

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Thanks for reading!



Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.


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