Why is Etsy SEO so Complicated?

Why is Etsy SEO so Complicated?

Etsy SEO is hard. But why does it have to be? Read to learn the reasons that it's complicated as well the factors that impact Etsy SEO.

I get this question a lot from Etsy sellers.  Why does Etsy SEO which stands for search engine optimization have to be so complicated? (If you’re not sure what SEO is, click here to learn the basics.)  I also see a lot of veteran Etsy sellers talk about the good ol’ days when it didn’t take so much effort to generate sales.  I want to try to explain why it needs to be so complicated.  This is a lot of info but hang with me and at the bottom you’ll be able to grab a free Etsy SEO Checklist. First, some stats on Etsy as of the end of 2016:

Number of Active Etsy Sellers – 1,748,000

Number of active Etsy buyers – 28,566,000

Those numbers are super high.  Etsy is growing at lightning speed.  Almost 200,000 active sellers joined Etsy in 2016.  That’s over 500 new Etsy sellers signing up every day.  Buyers are becoming more aware every day of how corporations are taking over and they’re making a bigger effort to spend their money supporting small businesses.  Also, when people are buying gifts, it’s harder than ever to find something unique that the recipient doesn’t already have.  What better way to solve that problem than with a unique handmade gift?

What does this have to do with Etsy SEO?

All this means that Etsy needs to help buyers zero in on what they’re looking for.  The number of products currently appearing on Etsy is staggeringly large.  I couldn’t find an up to date statistic but in May of 2016, there were over 35 million active product listings.

Etsy is working to make a sale, otherwise, the buyer will leave unhappy and shop somewhere else.  This means they need to present Etsy shoppers with products that are most likely to result in a sale.  How do they do this?  With a complex set of rules called an algorithm.  These rules help determine where Etsy products will appear in the Etsy search results.

Which factors make up the Etsy SEO algorithm?

Tag and Title Relevancy

  • The words that a buyer uses to search on Etsy must be in the title and/or the tags or a listing won’t appear.  If you have the phrase ‘blue necklace’ in your title or tags and a buyer searches for the phrase ‘blue star necklace’ your listing won’t appear if you don’t have the word star within your title or tags.  This helps the buyer view only items that contain exactly what they’re looking for.
  • Exact phrase matches are stronger.  For example, if you have the words ‘blue necklace’ side by side in your title or tags your listing will be a stronger match than if you had the word ‘blue’ and the word ‘necklace’ separately in your title or tags.
  • If a search phrase appears in both the title and the tags Etsy considers this a stronger match than if the keyword phrase was only in the title or in the tags.  You should try as hard as possible to make sure the words in your title also appear in your tags.
  • Keyword phrases near the beginning of the title will be considered more important and will be a stronger match.  This is why you should put your best keyword phrases near the front of your title.
  • This post about SEO explains more about setting up amazing Etsy titles.

Item Attribute Relevancy

  • Keywords entered in the attribute section of a listing are considered in the Etsy search results in a similar way to the keyword phrases in the titles and tags.  These attributes are just another way to describe your items and will help buyers search in a different way in the future when Etsy adds search filters based on these attributes.  Try to fill in as many attributes that are relevant as possible per listing.

Listing Quality Score

  • Views, favorites, and sales that a listing receives help determine how well that listing is doing on Etsy.  All of these things will give a listing a boost in the search results.  This is a way to put products that are doing well closer to the top of the search results.
  • The listing’s conversion rate (views to sales ratio) also makes a difference.  If you get a lot of views but not a lot of sales Etsy will see that people aren’t interested in your product.  For this reason, I don’t recommend playing favorite games that are popular on Facebook or sharing your product with groups that likely aren’t your target market because they result in empty views.

Customer & Marketplace Experience

  • Reviews, a completed about section and a completed shop policies section have an impact on the search results.  Great reviews will give you a boost in the search.  Using the provided Etsy template for shop policies will also give you a slight boost.  This helps reward shops that are delighting their customers and are taking the time to properly set up their shop.
  • Recent cases opened against your shop or any past reported intellectual property infringement listings will have a negative impact on your search engine ranking.  This discourages poor customer service and the trademark or copyright infringement.  (Things like using words or phrases from a movie, tv show, sports team, song lyric or directly copying another seller’s work).

Recency

  • To help keep the search results fresh, recently listed or renewed products will be given a boost in the search results.  One way to boost your sales related to this factor is to create a renewing strategy.

Shop Location

  • Etsy has found that shoppers often like to purchase products from their own countries because it’s convenient and the shipping is less expensive.  Products from a buyer’s country will be given a boost in the search results unless they specifically search for products from a different country.

Shop Diversity

  • Etsy works to show a wide variety of shops in the search results.  If you have several listings with the same keyword phrase Etsy will usually space your listings out so that you won’t find more than one of your listings per page.  This helps avoid monopolies in the search results.

But why does ETSY SEO need to be so complicated?

Etsy truly is doing their best to help buyers find products they are looking for and to capture a sale.  I think all handmade sellers would agree that it’s important that buyers are presented with items that they are most likely to purchase.  This means that a fellow Etsy seller has a better chance of receiving a sale.

The alternative is that the buyer getting frustrated and leaving Etsy to shop on a site where a corporation will receive all the profits.  The Etsy SEO search algorithm helps ensure the future of all of our handmade businesses by giving the Etsy buyer a great experience that ends in a sale.

So how can I get my products to appear in the search results?

I know all the factors above can be extremely overwhelming and seem unnecessarily complicated. It would be so amazing if we could join Etsy, quickly add a few listings and make some sales.  But rarely in life is something worth doing so easy.  It requires research and effort to succeed in an ever expanding online retail space.

The competition is intense!  Hundreds of new Etsy sellers are signing up every day.  It’s possible to stand out among the competition but you have to put some work in.  Fortunately, this blog, as well as the Handmade Journey Academy will save you time and effort by giving you my tested Etsy SEO tips and tricks.

The first place I recommend that you start working on SEO is in your titles.  It’s the most efficient and effective way to start seeing results in your Etsy shop.  Check out this blog article that has all the tips you need to construct Etsy product titles that will help you get found in the Etsy results.

Once you’ve worked on your titles and your tags, the next area to focus on is your photos.  Having great photos is the key to getting views and sales.

A third thing you can do to give you a boost in the search results is to implement a renewing strategy.

Want even more help optimizing your listings for Etsy SEO?

Disclaimer:  The above info is what has worked really well for me in my experience of running a successful Etsy shop.  While it has worked for me, you may experience a different result.  Make changes slowly and be sure to save any previous information you are replacing in case you find that your previous choices worked better for you.

3 thoughts on “Why is Etsy SEO so Complicated?

  1. As always Jamie i find you to be forthright and right on the money. What I find frustrating is there are only so many variations of the same keywords we use and in that instance they favor the companies that put up huge numbers of sales!

    1. I can definitely relate to that frustration. It can be slow to build momentum but once you do you’ll be one of those sellers who has the huge number of sales. I teach a few different strategies to help build that momentum. Renewing listings is a big one which you can read more about at http://handmadejourney.com/renew . Another one is promoted listings. There are some other things I’ve tried with good success like offering an introductory price on a new listing or duplicating listings. I’ll be covering these topics in some upcoming blog posts. Let me know if any questions!

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