Buyers Guide to using Ebay Search

A step-by-step guide to using Ebay search, to find the results relevant for you.

  • Basic search
  • Filter the results
  • Refine the list
  • The results we missed
  • Save your search
  • Making a shortlist
  • Saving items
  • Last minute checks before buying or bidding

Start with the Basic Search

To find an item, type in only the most basic search terms to start with.

Lets say you are looking for
a blue digital camera to buy as a present for a child who loves all things blue. Start with
digital camera

This brings up over 82,000 results, a big number that it is safe to whittle down further.

So narrow this down. You can amend this to
blue digital camera
which gives around 1300 results.

Filter the Results

On the left there is a column of filters that you can use on the results you have.
Specifying a maximum price of £40 for example (see pricing limits on the left, fill in the right box) gives just over 700 results
If you want to Buy Now, and buy New, this goes down only a little to around 600 results.
This still seems a lot to sift through.

BUT – a few problems are coming up now.
Looking more closely, you can see many items which are NOT cameras in the list. Many of these are digital camera accessories, which isn’t what you are looking for.
In fact, looking on the left at the categories, only about 25 of them are in the Digital Cameras category, out of almost 600 results !

Refine the List

So, to refine the list, select only the Digital Cameras category, to cut right down to the results you want.
Looking through this short list there are still some items that shouldn’t be there! There are some microphones which are not cameras, you can get rid of them by adding
(that is a space, a hyphen, and the word you don’t want)
to the search. (Be careful, later this may exclude cameras WITH microphones, so you may want to not exclude microphone)
So the total search term is
blue digital camera -microphone

The Results we Missed

WE HAVE MISSED SOME RESULTS – for example those we cut out by selecting New, Buy Now, and all those blue digital cameras where blue is not in the listing title.
By clearing the requirements for New and Buy Now, in the list on the left, we have got FOUR TIMES as many results – around 100 !
Now of course those items which are not new may have old and much poorer specifications, so think about that one.

The list may include faulty cameras, you can actively cut those out.
On the left list, look under Condition.
You can see the split of New, through the Refurbished listings, Used, and Faulty (For parts or not working)
To select ALL the conditions you are happy with, click on “Choose more” under the list of Conditions.
Tick the ones you would consider and click Go.
However don’t get too picky about the other parts of this choices box yet.

Now there are about 90 results, without the faulty ones.

Save your Search

It might be worth saving the search at this point. Where the number of results are shown, you can click on Save search.
You can name the search, and opt to be notified of new items matching the search if you wish.

Now you can start to look at the list.

Making a Shortlist

If you have a favourite manufacturer, select it from the left. Beware, you may be cutting out results where a manufacturer has not been specified.
There are other ways to narrow down the search on the left.
If you have other requirements, such as number of megapixels, you can select the range you want.
Try selecting Fujifilm, and the 10-19 megapixel range.
There is now a nice succinct list of pretty blue cameras with good specifications to choose from, for under £40 !

If you have too few results, you can tick the box under the Search button which says “Include description”, then Search again.
This doubles the results but MAY include some items that are not relevant.
May be useful if you are getting too narrow results though.
You can try other manufacturers too.

Saving Items

You can add items that look promising to your watch list, or you could create a separate named list for that child.

Last Minute Checks before Buying

Make sure to read each listing carefully, particularly when you are ready to buy.
Find out about the return policy for example, and make sure there are not any defects which would make the item unsuitable as a present.
If you are concerned about the packaging or anything else, ask the seller a question, the link is shown at the bottom of the listing.
If the item is not in your country, make sure you allow enough time to receive it, and find out whether tracked postage is available.

If you do not have enough information about a particular model of camera, do a separate search in a new tab or window on Google, or the manufacturer’s website, to obtain the full specifications for the model you are interested in.
This is often necessary where you find scant details in the listing, or even erroneous details.
As long as the seller has put in the model number or name of the item, you can look up the details you need, and you might get a bargain!

Thank you for reading. I hope this guide provides a useful example and introduction to using Search, and filtering the results to get a good list of possibilities to buy.


Leave a Reply