Hack 11 Jumping In and Out of Categories While Searching


Narrow your searches by confining them to certain categories, and filter categories while you browse.

eBay uses an extensive hierarchy of categories to group similar items together. This not only enables sellers to improve the exposure of their auctions, but it helps bidders find what they're looking for and even discover new items.

When you perform a standard search, no thought is given to the categories in which the items are sorted; toaster ovens are listed right alongside antique car parts. By the same token, when you browse a category, you're simply looking at a list of every item placed in that category by sellers, whether it's relevant or not.

Category listings and search results are essentially the same thing: subsets of the massive auction database that is eBay. This means that when you search or when you browse a category, you're really just changing your filtering criteria. Fortunately, you can combine the two quite easily. Think of it as either narrowing a search by confining it to a single category, or filtering a category listing with search terms.

See [Hack #12] for a more in-depth look at categories and how they relate to searches and auctions.

2.4.1 Search Within a Category

Click Browse at the top of any eBay page to view the top-level categories. Choose a category here, and then a subcategory from the assortment displayed on the next page. At three levels deep and beyond you'll see standard category views, including auction listings and a Basic Search field, as shown in Figure 2-1. (Note that you can also jump to a category listing from any auction by clicking the category link at the top of the page.)

Figure 2-1. Search results and category listings use the same interface, so it's easy to switch between them

Just type your query in the search box, leave the "only in . . . " option checked, and click Search. Any matching auctions found in the current category (or subcategories, if applicable) will then be shown.

You can jump out of the search and return to the unfiltered category view by clicking the View Category link in the upper right.

2.4.2 Categorize Your Search

Whether you started your search from a category listing or from the search box on another page, a selection of categories with matching auctions will be shown in the Matching Categories box on the left, and the current category (if applicable) will be shown at the top of the page.

You can navigate through the categories without disrupting the search filter. To go up a level, click the higher-level category names at the top of the page. To drill down to more specific categories and narrow your search, click the desired subcategory in the Matching Categories box.

The numbers shown in parentheses after the subcategory names represent the number of matching auctions in those categories. However, since different categories are indexed at different times, these numbers may not be entirely accurate. Don't be alarmed if you click "Home Decor (575)" only to find 573 matching auctions inside.