Do you feel like a tiny grain of sand in the big sea of Etsy? Do you struggle to get eyeballs on your product? Do you feel invisible? If so, it’s time to learn about Etsy Search Engine Optimization (Etsy SEO) and how to make the simple changes that will help boost you to the top of Etsy search!This Etsy SEO guide will help you understand what exactly is SEO, why it matters, things you can do to improve your listing and Etsy shop to rank higher on search. Let’s dive right in.
What Exactly is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are the words, phrases and actions to apply to your content to get it “seen” by a search engine. A search engine is a computer that uses artificial intelligence to understand what you are trying to communicate. It must look for clues to what your content is about to understand.
Rather than just writing thoroughly about your topic, it better serves you to understand a search engines particular algorithm the best you can, so you are able to “teach” the search engine that your content is the best solution to a search query.
SEO is most often associated with big search engines like Google. However, other platforms, such as Etsy and Pinterest are search engines too, each with its own search algorithm. And like the Etsy algorithm, each platform’s algorithm drives search results.
Why Is SEO Important For Your Etsy Store?
Mastering Etsy SEO for your store helps your listing get found on the first page of Etsy search. The higher you can rank your search term, the better chance you have for a click to the listing itself. And a click can lead to a purchase which puts money in your pocket.
The truth is that Etsy is one of the easiest platforms for mastering SEO because they are more forthcoming about their algorithm than other platforms. This Etsy SEO guide will summarize the factors that make up the Etsy SEO algorithm. It will give you action steps to improving your ranking on Etsy. And it will give you a few sneaky steps to spying on your competition to improve your own ranking.
Etsy SEO Ranking Factors
First an overview and then we will deep dive into the specific tasks you can do to improve your Etsy SEO. Etsy has two main categories that factor into ranking high on their platform which they call Query Matching and Ranking.
Query Matching On Etsy
Query Matching are listing specific factors that boost your rank for a search term. These include:
- Relevancy: Exact match relevant keywords to reach your target market get the highest rankings, then secondary keywords. Keywords are the specific, related keywords and keyword phrases that appear in tags, the item title, categories and attributes
- Listing Conversion: When Etsy customers buy an item found on Etsy search, this tells Etsy this is a high quality result for the keyword term. A listing quality score is given when a customer buys an item. A higher score means a higher spot in the search.
- Recency: A newly listed item is boosted for a short time. Renewed items are boosted for a similar, but smaller time frame. A boost can last for a few hours or a few days.
- Shipping Price: Etsy prioritizes shops that offer free shipping. You can argue that this is unfair (and you might be right), but Etsy has repeatedly stated that free shipping gets a boost. So it’s helpful to think about how you can retain profitability by offering a free shipping option.
- Description: Etsy has stated that while the product description does NOT factor into ranking, it IS something search engines like Google pay attention to. I recommend making sure that the first 150-500 characters of your description contains your most important keywords and phrasing. This way you appease Google but also prepare your listing in case Etsy decides to place more weight on descriptions in the future.
Ranking is the shop specific criteria that influences Etsy ranking. Etsy calls this a customer score and a market experience score. Don’t overlook these shop specific strategies as part of your overall Etsy SEO plan.
The Etsy shop score is based on customer feedback, negative feedback, Intellectual Property infringement Complaints. Shops receive a more positive ranking for completion of the About Page, Privacy, Return & Exchanges policies. It’s also helpful to have titles, tags and keywords in the verbiage of your store itself. Shops are downgraded in search when they are in vacation mode and for a short time after returning.
External Factors that Affect Ranking on Etsy
You have no control over external factors, but it’s important to understand that they DO factor into how high your listing ranks on Etsy:
Context-Specific Ranking (CSR): This means that Etsy uses artificial intelligence to understand the searcher’s interests and needs and then returns results based on these needs.
Shopper’s Habit Score: Similarly, Etsy targets Etsy Shoppers based on his/her past behaviors on their platform to determine the likelihood of a new purchase.
How Do You Master SEO On Etsy?
Whether you’re looking to increase your visibility on Etsy, you’re not sure how to optimize your own shop for Etsy SEO or you just want to know if your Etsy SEO is working, the good news is that there are very specific things you can do now to improve your ranking on Etsy. Let’s look at them one by one.
Photography: It should come as no surprise that Etsy is a visual search engine.
If you are thinking that you can make something you think looks good, take a mediocre photo of it on your worn out couch and have it sell like crazy on Etsy, you are mistaken. You may think your item looks amazing. And maybe it does. But you must be able to “sell” your product.. to show everyone how amazing it is.. through a computer screen.
A great photo gets the click and Etsy’s own research indicates that product photos outweigh price, shipping cost and customer reviews. Read that sentence again, because it’s important: Your photos are what draws your customer in over every other factor. Here’s how to improve your photography on Etsy and thus improve your Etsy SEO:
- Images should be good quality. If you’re telling yourself they are “good enough” they probably are not and you might want to circle back and take better images.
- Show your product from multiple angles, using the 10 photo spots if you can.
- Put your best photo first because that is what will show up in search. Take a critical look to decide if that image will look best when viewed with all the other photos in the search
- Consider using a DSLR camera, taking a class, or reading a good photography book or ebook to improve your photography.
- If using a phone or point and shoot camera, use one with at least 10 megapixels and a “macro” or “portrait” mode.
- Mind your backgrounds. Looking your best is important. It matters. And if you want to sell on Etsy this needs to matter to you too. In How to Make a Photo backdrop, I show you how to make an inexpensive backdrop for your photography. When you take your photo, look at everything around it and see how you can make your product the hero of the image.
- Crop and edit your photos. Almost no one takes a perfect image straight out of the camera. Use photo editing software (Canva offers an easy, free solution).
Keywords: Keywords are the words and phrases that are most important to finding your product. The Etsy search bar is a search engine. Just like Google. Just like Pinterest. What all these have in common is that they have the same, main goal: to delight their reader. They want to make sure that every time someone searches, they find results that exceed their expectations. If readers do not..they leave. So it’s important to Etsy to get it right.Here are some tips for finding a great keyword to rock your Etsy SEO:
- Select keywords carefully. Start a list and then pick the very best keyword and some related keywords.
- Think like your customer or ask friends what they would type into Etsy’s search bar to find your product. You can (and should) periodically go through your listings and tweak them. I step away from my product. And I think like my customer. I ask myself this question: If someone wanted to buy my product and they had to search for it, what words would they use to search? You want to think of the basic concept of what your product is. For instance, if you have a crochet bear that you call Ralph, you wouldn’t make your keywords “Ralph the bear”. Yes, someone could probably search Etsy for that and find you. But, is that what your customer is searching for? No. Your customer is probably searching for “crochet bear”.
- Another way to find keyword ideas is to use Etsy search to decide on a keyword. Start typing in your main keyword and see what Etsy suggests. Select one, then go back to the search bar and add a space and Etsy will generate even more keywords. You can also add words, such as “for”, “with” and “that”, to your main keyword to come up with keywords.
- Use a SEO Tool. If you already use a SEO keyword tool for blog, such as Mangools, you can use it to find the best keyword for Etsy SEO.
Where and How to Use Keywords On Etsy Listings
Once you have your best keyword and related keywords, it’s time to deep dive into how to actually use those keywords to rank on Etsy. Etsy states that the most important metric is to use your superstar keyword, your BEST keywords, in BOTH your titles and tags. Let’s dive into the specific areas to include keywords:
Keywords in Etsy Tags:
When you list an item on Etsy, there is a spot towards the bottom for you to list tags. Tags are keywords and phrases that tell Etsy what your listing is about. Etsy used to display the tags on every listing and I previously advised checking out your competition for tags. You can still do this, but it requires an additional step. Be sure to keep reading for tips on stalking your competition, but for now, let’s cover tagging basics:
- Use all 13 tags. You have them. They are super important. Use them all.
- Tags have a maximum of 20 characters. A really long phrase won’t fit, so you may need to break a long phrase into 2 shorter phrases and use 2 tags instead.
- Do not repeat the same exact tag. Use variations of keywords, synonyms, and multi word phrases
- Make sure the tag accurately describes the item. Don’t use a popular, but unrelated “buzz” word to get attention. It won’t work for you and it’s a waste of a better tag opportunity.
- Etsy knows the “stem” word so it’s unnecessary to use the singular AND plural of the stem word. For instance, Etsy knows that “diary” is the stem word of “diaries”. It knows plural even when the spelling is unusual.
- Do not include misspelled keywords intentionally. Etsy will question and correct a searcher with the correct spelling.
- Do not use a foreign language or foreign spellings of your native language words. Etsy prefers to translate your listing themselves and has stated they do not want multiple languages in a listing.
Keywords in Etsy Categories:
Categories are the drill down category you select when listing your product. Etsy advises drilling down to get as accurate as possible. What’s important to understand is that Etsy uses every single category as an additional tag. So if you’re worried about getting TOO specific, don’t. Think of all those tiers as another opportunity for a free tag.
Keywords in Etsy Titles:
Your Etsy listing title is one of the most important places to put your keywords. As stated earlier, Etsy wants your most important, relevant keyword(s) in both your tags and your listing title. The keyword should be towards the beginning and the title itself should be short and easy to understand. Don’t fill with unnecessary keywords.
Other Ways to Boost Your Etsy SEO
You can also work on other aspects of selling to boost your listing on Etsy search. Here are my best tips:
- Update your listings regularly. When you renew, Etsy boosts the listing up in search.
- Optimize your Etsy shop settings. Structure shop sections into groups that can be explored. Each shop section represents its own landing page with an opportunity to use more keywords. Make sure your shop section titles use keywords that are good for the items within them.
- Complete all sections of your store including the About page and the pages with your policies for payment, shipping, privacy and for returns & exchanges.
- Respond promptly to customers
- Adhere to best business practices to avoid trademark infringement claims and cases against your Etsy shop.
- Do link to your Etsy products and Etsy shop from other sources. Pin to Pinterest, share on Facebook, if you have a blog, link to your Etsy shop from there.
How to Look at Your Etsy Analytics For More Etsy SEO Opportunities
Dive into your listing analytics by going into your dashboard and then clicking on the ‘view detailed stats’ for more information:
- Start with setting the time frame for the past 30 days. After gathering information, try different time frames to learn more about your shop’s performance.
- Look at your conversion rate. A good e-commerce conversion rate can vary between 1-5%. It’s important to note that conversion rate is best understood over a long period of time. A conversion rate on your very first item listed is not very helpful. But after many sales over a period of time, your conversion rate tells a story about how your listing meets the desires of buyers.
- Source of traffic (aka How Shoppers Found You): By Etsy refers to traffic that Etsy brings. Work with your keywords, categories, attributes, titles and descriptions to influence these figures. By You refers to any traffic independent of Etsy. This includes traffic from a blog (yours or others), social media and promoted listings (ads) that you place.
- Use your statistics to target areas of improvement for your Etsy shop and listings.
Be sure to read Etsy’s Seller’s Handbook for other great tips for your Etsy shop.
How to Stalk Your Competition for Tags, Titles, Categories and Attributes
Spying on your competition can help you get an edge on Etsy search. After all, if your competition is ranking with their keywords, you might be able to see the same Etsy search results with a similar seo strategy.
Start by searching in an incognito window. Searching incognito helps to get rid of some of the person-specific results Etsy delivers. I do this by going into the Google Chrome browser, then clicking “File” and selecting “New Incognito Window” from the drop down menu. Navigate to Etsy and search for the primary keyword you wish to target.
The first row of listings that come up are ads. Ignore those. Those sellers paid for those spots. The rest of the ads earned their place on the front page. Etsy determined that those ads are the absolute best of the best for the keyword phrase you just used.
Let’s do some market research. Pick a listing from the 2nd row and click on it. You are going to be looking at keywords in 4 spots. It is helpful to put this “ideal” listing next to your listing and let’s do some comparing. It is important not to copy verbatim from the other listing-particularly the description. Your item is your item and is unique. What you are doing in this step is looking to see where and how the keywords are place.
Title: How are the keywords listed in the competitor’s title? Can you phrase your title in a similar way? You are going to find that you can often use the same words in a slightly different order. For keywords, it is important that your phrase words stay together. So if you keyword phrase is “crochet bear pattern”, make sure that those words stay together. In other words, don’t flip it around to say “bear crochet pattern”. That is a different keyword phrase.
Often your keyword phrase will be listed more than once in the title. Try to make sure that your title has the appropriate keywords but does not sound awkward. So you wouldn’t want to say “crochet bear, crochet bear, crochet bear”. You need to use a little judgment here. You can add similar keywords or variations but try not to “keyword stuff”. Remember.. that title is for your viewer, but it is ALSO for the Etsy search engine.
Description: Make sure that you have your keywords in your description a few times. I generally just try to be mindful of my keyword phrase and have it flow somewhat naturally. Take a look at the “ideal” listing. How does the listing start? Usually it is somewhat similar to the title. So looking at the starting words, use something similar. Read through the “ideal” listing and then your own listing. Do you feel like you both use the keywords the same number of times? Remember the first 150-500 words of the description are the most important part of the description.
Categories and Tags: Now take a look at the Category and the Tags section of your own listing. Here’s where things get interesting. Etsy used to make it easy to see what categories and tags your competition was using because Etsy actually showed you these at the bottom of the listing. They don’t do this anymore.
But here’s a little secret that most Etsy sellers don’t know…
You actually can still see this information; it’s just going to take you a bit more effort to get there. And here, friends, is where reading to the end of the post truly is going to pay off for you.. because NO ONE out there is showing you HOW to do this..
The secret is taking a look at the code on the competitor’s listing to see the tags, categories and attributes they are targeting. Here’s how:
First click the listing you wish to stalk. Then move your cursor to the white space around the title (do NOT click on the photo). Right click to bring up the options and then click “View Source”. Every computer browser works slightly differently. If you are using a Mac you may need to enable Developer Tools in your settings to be able to see the View Source Option.
Once the source code is enabled, you should see a bunch of code on your screen. If you’re NOT seeing this code, look to see if there is a box to click for “line wrap”. You may even have to do a little Google research for your computer and browser if you’re not seeing the code at this point. Once source code is displayed, you might feel like all the mumbo jumbo computer lingo looks confusing or even scary. Don’t panic. You are merely looking and can close out of this at any time. But it can give us some great information on our competitor’s Etsy listings!
Next, search the code for the categories and tags. Here is an example of a portion of a listing for a knit dog pattern. To search, on a PC computer click Control + F. On a Mac, click Command + F. For this example, I searched for “h4 class=” until I came to the section of the code that showed the Categories and Tags. Note the category hierarchy of “Craft Supplies & Tools” and “Patterns & Blueprints”. These become additional tags on Etsy. Below that starts the Tags section. If the seller used all 13 tags, they will display in this section.Remember the seller is most likely just like you. They could be guessing at keywords and tags. You might like your own tags better. What’s important is keeping in mind that Etsy is giving this listing top billing, so it’s good to “listen up”. I recommend using as many of the tags in the exact order as the top seller as possible.
Repeat the process with a few other top ranking listings and tweak your listing accordingly.
Now what? How Do You Know Your Esty SEO is Working?
Save your listing and give your new Etsy seo strategy some time. Up to a day or two for Etsy to reflect any changes. Then do another search for the keyword phrase you are targeting and see if you show up on the first page of the search. I am thrilled if I’m on the 1st page of Etsy. If not, check several pages to see where you fall. Not on the first page yet? Review the steps above on how to get found on the first page of Etsy search and make some more changes.
Whew.. that was a lot of information! But now you have all you need to launch your best Etsy SEO plan! Start with one Etsy SEO tip and get to work. The number one spot in the search results is within your reach!
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