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).


  • 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.

5 Reasons to Start an Etsy Shop Today

If you love to craft or create handmade products I’m sure someone has suggested that you should start an Etsy shop.  I thought about opening one for years before I finally decided to go for it.  Less than 8 months after I started I was able to leave my corporate career behind and run my Etsy shop full time.  It’s one of the best decisions ever made so I want to share the top 5 reasons that I think you should open an Etsy shop today.

Starting an Etsy shop is a great way to sell your handmade products. I'm sharing my top reasons that you should start an Etsy shop today!

#1: When starting an Etsy shop you really have nothing to lose

To start an Etsy shop all you need are a few handmade products (or vintage), a camera to take photos (many sellers use the camera on their phone), and a little bit of time to learn the ins and outs of Etsy.  If you use the link at the bottom of this post to sign up you’ll get $8 worth of free listing credits so you’ll be able to list 40 products for free.

#2: Etsy allows you to sell your products worldwide

I’ve done the craft show circuit before with some success but my target market was harder to find in my local community.  Because of Etsy, I’m able to sell my products to customers around the world.  This allows me to create products for a specific target market without having to worry about whether my target market aligns with my local community.

#3: Etsy allows you to create your own schedule

One of the biggest benefits to running my Etsy shop full time is that I’m 100% in charge of my schedule.  I set up my shop so that orders go out within 7 days of the order date.  This gives me a ton of flexibility.

Some shops even set up a 2-3 week processing time with great success.  This means that if an emergency comes up or you just don’t feel like working you have the freedom to take time off.  This also lets me work during my toddler’s nap time or at night after the kids have gone to bed.

#4: Etsy is very user-friendly

If you’ve ever tried to create your own website you know how challenging it can be.   There are so many parts and pieces that you have to put together and it can often be really expensive especially if you encounter tech issues.

Etsy does all the heavy listing for you.  They’ll walk you through setting up your shop step by step and have a lot of resources available if you have trouble along the way.  Etsy also has an app for sellers that allows you to monitor your shop from your phone or tablet.

#5: Etsy makes it easy to earn extra income

Whether your goal is to cover the electric bill, have some extra spending money or replace your current income it’s all possible through Etsy.  You can choose your income goal and how much time you want to put into your shop.  Start out with a few listings and work to perfect those and grow your Etsy shop over time.

Ready to start an Etsy shop?

Click here for $8 worth of free listings to get you started.

Renewing to Boost Your Etsy Sales

All Etsy sellers are focused on boosting sales.  One of the best ways that you can do this is to manually renew your listings.  When you manually renew your products your listings will appear higher in the search results for your chosen keyword phrases which is the goal of a good SEO strategy.  This will help you achieve more views and more sales.  Read below to learn more about renewing.

Etsy renewing can be the key to boosting your sales. Click to learn more about why you should start renewing today!What is renewing?

Renewing a listing within Etsy gives the product a new listing date and a new expiration date which is four months from the date you renew the listing. Etsy charges 20 cents each time you renew a product. Most Etsy sellers only renew products when they sell or when they expire.  It’s not well known, but you can manually renew your listings at any time.

Why should I renew my listing before it expires?

Renewing is important because of a factor that determines your products appear in the Etsy search results called recency. Recency refers to how recently each product was added to Etsy either through a new listing or through a renewal. Etsy gives recently renewed products a boost in the search engine rankings.
Products are renewed when they are initially added to Etsy, when they are manually renewed or when they are sold and auto-renewed. This is why the Etsy search results adjust many times throughout the day as products are sold and renewed.  One of the best ways to give yourself a boost in the search ranking is to manually renew your listings. When you appear higher in the search results you have a much better chance of getting views which equal sales.

How do I manually renew my listings?

There are two ways to renew an active listing within Etsy.

  1. You can renew a listing from your Listings Manager by checking the box of the item you want to renew. Then scroll to the top of the page and clicking Renew.  You can also select Renew from the gear menu of the item you’d like to renew.
  2. The second way to renew within Etsy is from any listing page.  As long as you are signed in, a set of listing tools will be at the top of each listing page.  Click Renew.

What is the goal of renewing my listings?

The ultimate goal of renewing is to give your product a big boost in the Etsy search results for your chosen keyword phrases.  Ideally, you want to appear in the first 192 listings for the keyword phrase that you’ve added to the front of your title which means you’ll appear on one of the first 4 pages of search results.  Buyers often only look through the first few pages of results for a keyword phrase before they move onto a new keyword phrase.  This means you’ll be a lot more likely to receive views if your product appears on the first 4 pages.

If you’re already appearing in the first 192 search results for the keyword phrase you’ve added to the front of your title you may not need to manually renew your product or you may want to choose a more competitive keyword phrase.

How often should I renew my listings?

There are a few different factors that determine how frequently you should renew your listings.

  1. Keyword phrase competitiveness:  If you are using keyword phrases that have a lot of competing products appearing for the phrase within Etsy you will need to renew your product more frequently.
  2. Momentum of the listing:  A product that has been on Etsy for a while and has achieved good sales in the past will rank higher than a new product.  You may have to renew a new product or one that has less momentum more frequently.

What time of day should I renew my listings?

You should renew your listings at a time when your target market is most likely to be online shopping.  This can vary depending upon the target market and their location.  For me, early evening around 7 PM has given the best results with mid-morning around 10 AM following closely behind.

One way to research this is to take a look at the times that you’ve received sales in the past.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to look through your Etsy sale email notifications to see if you can spot any trends based on the times.  You can also view the order times from the Detailed Stats within Etsy but you can only see the times when viewing each day individually so this can take more time.

Want even more help optimizing your listings for Etsy SEO?

5 Essential Tips for Etsy Product Photography

Bright and clean product photography can be the key to convincing Etsy buyers to click on your products. Learn my tips and tricks for great product photos.

Product photography goes hand in hand with a good SEO strategy.  SEO is how you get found in the search results and good photos are what determine if a buyer will click on your listing.  It doesn’t matter if you show up on page one of the search results unless you have good photos that entice Etsy shoppers to click.

Here are some basic tips that I’ve learned from my experience to help create product photos for Etsy that buyers will want to click.

#1: Use a simple background to let your product shine

The first photo you add to your product listing is crucial to getting views and sales.  You want to make sure that your product is the star of the show.  The easiest way to do this is to choose a simple background that doesn’t compete with your product.  A lot of Etsy sellers choose white or wood backgrounds which are great options.  They work for a lot of products but don’t feel like you have to go that route.  You can think outside the box with your product photography by trying out scrapbook papers, fabrics, placemats, distressed wood, metal, wallpaper, etc.  Currently, I use a dark blue piece of beadboard for all of my first photos.

Last Name Sign - Wedding Gift - Liberty Island Farm

I recommend experimenting with different backgrounds until you find one that lets your product shine and is a good fit for your brand.  Some sellers add decorative items into their main photo as well to help draw attention and emphasize what the product is.  You can do this but make sure they don’t overshadow the product.  Adding additional items to the first photo is a more advanced technique because it can easily make a photo look cluttered when viewed in the search results.  To start, I recommend keeping just your product and a background in your first photo.

One thing I never recommend is placing your products on the floor for your photos.  Even if you have gorgeous hardwood floors, buyers are going to wonder why you’re selling them something you’ve had on the floor.

#2: Create a cohesive look for your shop

I recommend using a similar first photo for each product within your shop to create a cohesive look for your shop.  This helps define your style and your brand. Think of how Target does this by using a red and white color scheme through the whole store.  No matter where you are in Target you can see their branding on display.  Your Etsy shop should feel the same way.  Whether you use the same background for each photo or you create a theme for your photos, make sure that each first photo has a similar look and feel that represents your brand.

#3: Use natural light

Great lighting is the key to amazing product photos.  To help achieve natural looking photos that are clear and bright, I always recommend using natural light and avoiding harsh flashes or artificial light.  My favorite places to take photos are beside a window or door or outside under a covering such as a porch or in the shade of a building.

When using natural light make sure to avoid direct sunlight which can be too harsh.  You can use a sheer curtain to help diffuse light if your photography spot only has direct sunlight.  Another tip is to use a homemade reflector such as a piece of white foam board, poster board or cardboard covered in aluminum foil to bounce light on the side of the product that isn’t receiving as much natural light.  Too much shadow can be as bad as too much light.

I like this blog post from White on Rice Couple that shows a creative background choice and it shows how to use a piece of white foam core to help bounce light onto the side that is opposite from the natural light source.

#4: Take shots that show scale, detail & function

You can upload 5 photos per product.  Take advantage of those spots to show buyers that your product is perfect for them with these suggestions:

  • A photo that shows scale can be achieved by placing your product beside a common object or use a model for apparel and accessories.  This helps buyers feel confident that your product is the size they are looking for.  I currently use a ruler with a text overlay that includes the size to help buyers get an idea of the size of my signs.  I added the text using Canva.

Sign with Ruler and Text Overlay - Liberty Island Farm

  • Take a close up photo that shows the detail, texture and quality of your work.  Some cameras have a macro setting that is perfect for close up photos.  Show a different angle or detail than you used in your other photos if possible.
  • Stage a photo of your product in use to show it’s function.  Help your customer imagine your product in their lives.  If you sell cutting boards, put a knife and block of cheese in the photos.  For jewelry such as rings or bracelets, recruit a friend to be a hand model.  Home decor can be staged in your own home.

#5: Make a few simple edits

Editing photos can be tricky for Etsy sellers. It’s hard to know where to start and it’s really easy to over-edit a photo.  I recommend keeping it simple by editing the exposure (how much light the photo has) and by sharpening the photo.  Doing these two things helps create a bright and in focus photo that will have a classic look.

For editing photos on your phone or tablet, I recommend using a free app called Snapseed available for Android or iOS.  If you are on your computer I recommend using the free version of PicMonkey or for best results I recommend Photoshop.  All of these programs allow you to adjust the exposure (brightness, highlights, shadows, contrast) and sharpen the image.  Edit slowly to make sure you’re not overdoing it.  Less is often better when it comes to editing.

Takeaways for Great Product Photography

  • Use a simple & neutral background for your first photo to let your product take the spotlight
  • Show off your style and brand by choosing a similar look or theme for each product’s first photo
  • Natural light is the key to achieving bright and clear product photos
  • Include photos that show detail, scale and function to help your buyers imagine your product in their life
  • Fine tune your photos by making a few simple edits in an image editing program

3 Etsy Shop Must-Haves for a Professional Storefront

The Top 3 Etsy Shop Must-Haves to achieve a professional appearance for your Etsy storefront. Get these in place ASAP so that your shop can thrive!

When working with new Etsy sellers, I’ve noticed that there are a few key areas that Etsy shop owners are missing that are must-haves for a professional looking shop.  This missing information is like a missing store name on the front of brick and mortar stores or a missing sales associate behind the counter.  Check out the must-haves that you should add to your shop today!

#1: The Etsy Shop Owner Photo

The shop owner photo is your chance to put a face behind your shop name.  Etsy buyers are looking for the human experience that they can’t get from a corporate website.  They want to know you and be a part of your story.  Have someone take your photo with a non-distracting background and make sure you’re smiling.

The best part is, all that needs to appear in this picture is your head and shoulders.  No need to change out of your yoga pants!  Make sure the photo is bright and welcoming because this photo represents you and is your opportunity to greet customers that enter your shop.  Click here for photo tips that will also help with your shop owner photo.

#2: The Etsy Shop Title

The Etsy shop title is the line of text that appears underneath your shop name.  The shop title where you will tell your customers what you are selling and what it can do for them.  I often refer to this as the tagline because a lot of shops use their tagline as their shop title.  You have up to 55 characters to use here so make sure to take advantage of the space.

Another vital reason to fill this info in is that Google uses this as your shop title in their search results.  This means that you want to use keywords that a buyer might use to find your products when searching Google.  The shop title is an excellent opportunity to use as many descriptive words as you can to help market your products to shoppers searching on Google and other search engines.  Try to use long-tail keywords to really get specific.

If you don’t know what to write here, you can combine what you sell and what your products can do for your customer.  Here are a few examples:

  • Natural Bath Products to Make You Feel Radiant
  • Personalized Christmas Ornaments to Beautify Your Tree
  • Printable Planner Stickers to Decorate Your Schedule

#3: The Etsy Shop Icon

The Etsy shop icon is the square photo you will see at the top of Etsy shops which appears to the left of the shop name.  If you don’t have one, a blank square will appear which makes it look like something is missing from your shop.  To create a shop icon I recommend using Canva which is a free online design program.  They have templates for Etsy shop icons and make creating a shop icon that aligns with your branding super easy.

The shop icon is fairly small, so I recommend that you include your business name or logo only.  I wouldn’t recommend using a photo of yourself or a photo of your products as a shop icon.  Trying to add too much will make it appear busy and hard to read.

Takeaways for Etsy Shop Must-Haves:

  • Make sure you have a bright and smiling photo of yourself uploaded in the shop owner section
  • Fill in your Etsy shop title with info about what you sell and how it benefits your customers
  • Add a shop icon that aligns with your branding and includes your shop name or logo



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Struggling with Etsy SEO?  My SEO Checklist can help!