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Getting Your Items found on TIAS

Most TIAS purchasers are looking for something very specific. We did a detailed analysis of a random statistical sample of buyers to see how they came to us, what they visited on the site, what they entered as search terms, etc.  In short, all activity up to the point where they bought their item. We found that a very large proportion of people were looking for something as specific as '1932 Packard Ad' or 'Cairn Gnomes'. And most of them had visited the location where they bough at least once before and most of them had bookmarked it. So it seems to be important to get people to your site so they can decide if it has the kind of merchandise they are looking for. And to make them want to come back, too.

So, we know from our demographics that many of our purchasers are looking for a particular type of thing .  We also know from our Neilsen data that, on the average, most of our visitors are returnees who visit twice per week. The showcase was designed with these folks in mind -- it shows inventory by category with the newest items first. And that is where many of them go first.  Showcase is linked to a bunch of places on the TIAS main page -- "Browse by Category", "Showcase" and the prompt for "Over 420,000 Items" (the exact title of the latter changes depending on the site inventory".

This is COMPLETELY different from the search engine. 

Our search engine is accessed from the "Search" box at the top of many of our pages. Read below for a few lsting tips.

We index several fields and these are all considered in your item rating: your category name, the title of your item and the description. Using titles is not mandatory on TIAS, but if you are not using them, you are quite severly impacting the likelihood of your item being found by people using the search engine. Given two items, both with identical descriptions, and only one with the title where the title and the descriptions match the search criteria, the search engine will display the item with the title with a much higher rating that the one without. So point 1: Be sure to use titles for your items.

Secondly, the category description is used as part of the search criteria. So if you are using something that really does not describe your category, your item will be rated lower than ones where the category matches the search term. For instance, we had one site that had nice silver flatware, but titled their section 'For the dining room'. Other sites titled the category for similar items 'Sterling Silver'. When customers searched for 'Silver', the second dealer's products were more likely to be found. So point 2 is: Make your category titles explicit

The search engine also matches on words in your descriptions. It uses spaces and standard punctuation to determine where the end of a word is. If you use dashes to separate words thusly "cool jewelry----gold, emeralds, rubies" because the dash is not a word separator, neither the term 'jewelry' nor 'gold' will be found because the search engine is seeing the word 'jewelry----gold'. So point 3 Use standard spelling and punctuation.

The search engine matches partially on the ratio of the searched words to the number of words in your entry. So if you have an extremely verbose entry where the word 'diamond' appears once or twice, and the customer searches the word 'diamond', your entry will score worse than someone who has a 30-word description in which the word 'diamond' appears twice. So point 4 is Describe your items exactly and with only those superlatives that you think are really necessary to close a deal

Given the choice of two items with identical rankings, the search engine is set up to show the higher-priced on first. This is because we have found that most people like a bargain and will keep looking if they find lower prices, whereas if we list in the reverse order, they soon stop. Showing the more expensive items first increases the chances of all items being seen!

5. Although the preceding is important in getting your items presented in the search engine, in the final analysis, the choice to view or not view is made by a person who is looking at what you have in your title and description. If your product does not sound interesting and you don't have an attractive image, the customers are not going to click on your item.  So an ultimate point is one of those basics of retailing:  Point 5:  If your product is not attractive, and its not what they want  people won't buy it.  So spend some time on your images and make sure they are clean and attractive.   For more help with this, read the tutorial on taking good pictures and on editing images to make them look good.  Major catalogs spend a lot of  their investment in image preparation and do so because it pays them back.

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