Last Updated On: August 9th, 2023
By the end of 2000, eBay recorded 22.5 million registered users on its platform, worldwide. Today, that number stands at 132 million active buyers. A six-fold increase in users translates to millions of more product listings to find almost anything you’re looking for listed on the platform — from rare coins, to car parts, antique signs, shoes, and basketball cards.
The irony is that more products also means it’s less likely to actually find what you’re looking for without combing through hundreds of listings when searching. Fortunately, there are advanced eBay search shortcuts you can use to ignore the junk you’re not interested in.
The goal of this guide is to give you real examples of how to use search to save time and narrow down your results. So let’s dive in!
Editor’s Note: while this guide refers to sports cards searches, the syntax applies to literally anything you’re searching for on eBay. Keep reading even if you’re looking for a vintage Coca-Cola fridge (link goes out to eBay)…
Table of Contents
Basic eBay Search Capabilities
Basic searches are great for loose (many) results. For example, if you perform a search for 2020 anthony edwards rookie, you may get 35,000 results for Anthony Edwards’ rookie-year cards (he debuted in 2020 for the Minnesota Timberwolves).
The great thing about performing a basic search is that it can give you wide-ranging results and inspire you to buy or bid on something you weren’t particularly looking for at the moment. Of course, eBay (and really any ecommerce platform) loves the sound of that as they can make more money selling products.
That said, a basic search has its purpose and is very useful when you’re looking to digitally window shop before narrowing in on a product. But once you’re ready to narrow results and hone in on a specific item, that’s when advanced search shortcuts are handy.
Advanced eBay Search Shortcuts
Search shortcuts can do anything from exclude words or phrases, use “or” conditions to find this or that, force a specific word (or words) to be in the search title, and so much more. Let’s go through some examples.
As a starting point, we’ll continue with our basic search from earlier for Anthony Edwards rookie cards just for uniformity and to show how narrowing results helps us find more specific cards using the same example.
There are over 35,000 results returned for the search: 2020 anthony edwards rookie.
Let’s say we’re only interested in PSA 10 Edwards rookies, as they’re graded Gem Mint and are therefore in perfect condition. The search 2020 anthony edwards rookie PSA 10 now yields just 2,200+ results.
How to Exclude Words From eBay Search
One of the more useful eBay search shortcuts is the minus (“-“) sign to exclude search listings containing a specific word (or words). For example, if we’re not interested in Anthony Edwards’ refractor parallels in the color pink, then we’ll perform our search as: 2020 anthony edwards rookie psa 10 -pink (note, there is no space between the minus sign and the word pink).
The search now yields 1,900 results, so over 10% of the results have been removed. That’s still a ton of cards to sift through, but if our goal is to discover new cards then we are well on our way. Otherwise, we can go a step further with additional keywords in our search, for example, by adding “prizm”, or “gold”, etc. to find particular cards. Another approach we can take is to use “or” conditions as follows.
How to use “or” Conditions in eBay Search
Continuing from our prior example, let’s say we wanted to only look for Anthony Edwards Prizm rookies, but particularly gold and red prizms only. We can use the following syntax in our eBay search: 2020 anthony edwards rookie prizm psa 10 (gold, red)
Now we only have 172 results! In plain english, our search is asking eBay to find listings that contain 2020 Anthony Edwards rookie prizms, that are in PSA 10 condition, and only ones with “gold” or “red” in the title.
After reviewing our results, we may find that there are brands included from products that perhaps we’re not fans of. Let’s say Donruss (peeking out in the 2nd listing in the image above) isn’t a favorite of ours, nor is Panini Mosaic. We’ll exclude those and go a step further and exclude additional words — what we learned in the section above — to ensure no results contain the word pink, or parallels that we don’t want to see, such as “pulsar”, “wave”, or any “choice” prizms.
This is our syntax now: 2020 anthony edwards rookie prizm psa 10 (gold, red) -mosaic -donruss -pink -pulsar -wave -choice
Only 127 results returned after we whittled down some brands and particular prizms. If we’re happy with the results, we can click “Save this search” as shown to easily refer back to the results (updated daily by eBay), and even configure notifications via email or mobile push notification when the search yields new results. You can read more about setting up saved searches on eBay.
Using Quotes (” “) to Force-Include Terms
At times, you will notice eBay can return erratic results for a given search. In some instances, even other players’ cards were returned with searches performed for Anthony Edwards — that left us scratching our heads.
The use of double quotes around a term, or terms, helps enforce more reliable results. For example, when searching 2020 anthony edwards panini prizm psa 10 (gold, red), we found that eBay would include results where the word “panini” or “prizm” was in the title, not requiring both words even though they were in our search.
By putting “panini prizm” in double quotes, we were able to eliminate some of the less useful results and force eBay to give us all search results with both words anywhere in the title (no particular order). The final search looked like this: 2020 anthony edwards “panini prizm” psa 10 (gold, red).
Advanced Search Page Options
In addition to the eBay search shortcuts we have covered thus far, the advanced filters page is a treasure trove of endless filter options to help us drill down even further.
By clicking “Advanced” to the right of the search box, we have carried over the search terms from earlier as shown in the first field below on the Advanced Search page.
From this page we have chosen to only include results with a minimum price of $1,000, too. The price filters are a great tool for ensuring the results returned are within your desired budget, or as in this case if we’re hunting for big baller cards priced at $1,000 or more.
There are many more options to be explored on the advanced search page, including the ability to retrieve listings that accept offers, are in an auction-style, or the popular buy it now format. We can also perform our search against the listing titles AND descriptions if preferred, and even choose options such as the item condition (new versus used), sellers that support free returns, items ending within 2 hours (great for catching auctions ending soon if you’re impatient!), items covered by eBay’s Authenticity Guarantee, and free shipping. And that’s not even covering 20% of the possibilities!
Today, there are just under two billion listings on the eBay platform. But with so many things listed, it can be like trying to find a tiny needle in a big haystack. Thankfully, with a few eBay search shortcuts we can make searching much more convenient. These tricks help you find what you want faster and make shopping easier.
eBay Search Shortcuts Table
|eBay Shortcut||Search Example||How it Works|
|Excluding listings using minus (-) sign||anthony edwards rookie prizm -pink||Return all anthony edwards rookie prizm results except those containing the word “pink” in the title since it is proceeded with “-“|
|Using “Or” conditions||anthony edwards rookie prizm (gold, red, blue)||Return all anthony edwards rookie prizm results that include either the word “gold”, “red”, or “blue” in the title|
|Using double quotes (” “) to force include terms||anthony edwards rookie “panini prizm”||Return all anthony edwards rookie results and make sure the listings have both words “panini” and “prizm” somewhere in the title|
|Using the advanced search page||Any of the above||Additional options to filter results based on price, location, listing category, free shipping, new vs. used condition, auctions ending soon, and more.|