How To Search
 How To Search

Assume that you are a baseball fan and you want to search for a St Louis Cardinals baseball cap. (The "St Louis Cardinals" are an American baseball team.) Your first try at a query might be:

    St Louis Cardinals Baseball Cap

This instructs eBay to return all items with all five of the keywords St, Louis, Cardinals, Baseball, Cap in the title. This returned 231 results.

Notice that because you have St Louis Cardinals in the query, you will only receive results that have all three of those keywords in the title. We would not receive any results for titles like Cardinals Baseball Cap or St Louis Baseball Cap. To correct this problem, you can tell eBay to find items with either or both St Louis or Cardinals in the title. Your new query will be:

    ("St Louis", Cardinals) Baseball Cap

By putting St Louis and Cardinals inside parenthesis and separated by a comma, we are telling eBay to look for titles that contain either or both keywords. Because St and Louis are contained within quotes, they are treated as a single keyword instead of as two separate keywords. This search returned 276 results, 45 more than the first search string returned.

In order to fashion an ideal search string, it is important to consider whether there are any common synonymns (words with identical or similar meanings) for each keyword in the search string. In our search string, Ball is commonly used in place of Baseball, and Hat is commonly used in place of Cap. So we should modify our search string to be:

    ("St Louis", Cardinals) (Baseball, Ball) (Cap, Hat)

This new search string returns 460 results, which is much better than the previous search string!

Finally, examine the actual search results returned by eBay. Quickly browsing through the 460 items, we find that there are caps from a Cardinals sports team in Arizona (a state in the United States) which we are not interested in. There are also some winter beanies (Beanie) which we do not want. In order to eliminate these results, we can use a minus sign:

    ("St Louis", Cardinals) (Baseball, Ball) (Cap, Hat) -Arizona -Beanie
    ("St Louis", Cardinals) (Baseball, Ball) (Cap, Hat) -(Arizona, Beanie)

The minus sign tells eBay that what follows (either a single word or a parenthetical group of words) is to be excluded from the results if it appears in the title. The new search string returned 32 fewer results than our previous search because all the Arizona Cardinals caps and all the winter beanies were excluded.

The number of results returned for each search are only examples. You will most likely get a different number of results if you run the same searches.

Other Basic Search Rules:

DO Use categories to limit your search to specific types of items. This will often make your search string simpler.

DO NOT Use non-descriptive words like "A" "The" "And" "Where" "With" "For" and so on. If these words do not appear in the title of an item, the item may not be returned in your search results.

DO Use the Test Query button to test several different strings for each query and examine the actual results that eBay returns. Then use the eBay results to help fine-tune your query.

Left-Handed Smoke Shifter Operator wearing Cardinals Cap circa 1908

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