Etsy SEO – Tags and More – Getting Found on Etsy
Welcome to Episode 31 of the Craft Seller Success podcast. (Nearly) everything you wanted to know about Etsy SEO but were afraid to ask!
So many new sellers on Etsy misunderstand how the Etsy search engine works and this leads to dissappointment as their products struggle to get found. In this episode of the podcast I will explain how Etsy search and SEO works, what you can do to make the most of it and some little tricks to give you a boost over your competition too.
Listen to the Etsy SEO – Tags and More – Getting Found on Etsy podcast here, download it for later or read the transcript below.
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This is the Craft Seller Success podcast from Tin Teddy. Episode number 31 – Etsy SEO – Tags and More – Getting Found on Etsy
Welcome to the Craft Seller Success Podcast – helping craft sellers sell their crafts
Hi, I’m Deborah Richardson from Tin Teddy.
Every day there are posts in the Etsy forums from new sellers who are asking why they are not yet getting any sales. In nearly every case a quick look at their shop will show that they are not using Etsy SEO in the correct way – which means their items are going to be hard to find.
In this episode of the Craft Seller Success Podcast, I am going to be talking about Etsy SEO. What it is, how it works and what you need to do to benefit from it.
What is Etsy SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation which is just a fancy way of saying “doing what you need to do for search engines to find your stuff”.
Every day there are millions of searches in Etsy’s own on-site search system. Potential customers looking for products to buy.
If you want your products to come up in the results of these searches (and why wouldn’t you?) It is essential that you follow the guidelines Etsy provides to use their search system the correct way.
Too many new sellers, and not so new sellers, just guess what they need to do and get it wrong. The Etsy search engine is not like that on many other sites that sellers may be familiar with.
Taking a little time to understand how Etsy Search and SEO work, and making a few tweaks to your shop, can greatly increase your traffic, which, with any luck, will lead to more sales.
Etsy SEO can be a big Subject
I am going to divide this topic into two sections, and two podcasts. In this episode, I will be talking about how Etsy search works and the basic things you need to do to get the most from it. Hopefully, I can dispel, or confirm, some of the many rumours that circulate.
Etsy SEO has gained the reputation of being something of a complex black art. It is really, at the core, very simple. By the end of this podcast, I hope you will be comfortable with optimizing your listings.
In the second part, I will talk more about how to know what to actually optimize your shop for, how to find powerful keywords that get your products found and lots of extra little tricks to make the most of Etsy SEO.
The most important areas of your item listings for Etsy SEO are the tags and the title, both of which I will be talking about in a minute. There are other areas of your shop that are involved in SEO too though, including some that not everyone realises – once you know about this you can get a bit of an edge over some of your competition!
So, let’s start with an important definition…
You will hear this term a lot.
Keywords are the little “soundbites” that we use to tell the Etsy search engine what our products actually are. Google and other search engines also use keywords.
The first thing to know about keywords is they are very rarely single words. It would probably be better to call them keyphrases. The best keywords for use on Etsy are short, two or three-word phrases. I will explain why this is in a minute.
In Part Two I will be talking a lot more about how to find really good keywords for your products, but for now.. let’s look at how people search so we can understand what sort of keywords we need.
How Do People Use Search?
It is Great Aunt Louisa’s birthday soon and you want to buy her a present that she will really like because that is just the sort of person you are.
You know Auntie Louisa likes handmade items, especially things that her friends will not have. So Etsy is a great place to shop. She loves silver jewellery, especially earrings, and she is really into foxes.
So, you decide that a pair of handmade silver fox earrings would be perfect.
Now, what will you type into the Etsy search bar to find Aunt Louisa’s earrings?
Well, if you type just “earrings” you will get literally millions of results back. Millions of earrings, of all sorts. You can’t look through all those to find some she will like!
Similarly, you can’t search for just the word “fox” as you will end up with pages and pages of fox paintings, fox toys, fox stickers, fox costumes.. well a lot of different foxy things. Aunt Louisa isn’t going to want a fox costume.
I suspect you would actually search for something more specific, so as to get fewer results back, but the results will be far more likely to be what you actually want.
You want “silver fox earrings”. So that is probably the best thing to try in search, isn’t it?
I just tried it. Guess what I got? Search results that are… silver fox earrings. Perfect.
So now you see why people use more than one word when searching. It means they get targeted results without drowning in irrelevant items.
And this is why the keywords you use on Etsy should usually be more than one word. They should be exactly what people actually search for.
Using This to Get Found
It is important to remember that the Etsy search engine is ridiculously literal. It simply compares what people search for with the data in a seller’s listings.
So someone has just searched for “silver fox earrings”.
Etsy looks for listings that have that phrase in their tags.
An item that has that exact phrase in one tag will be considered a better match than one where all the words are present but spread over multiple tags. Which is, if you think about it, rather logical.
So an item with the tag “silver fox earrings” will come up higher in the search results than one with three separate tags of “silver”, “fox” and “earrings” – one word per tag.
This is why Etsy says we should use multiple words in our tags. People are searching for short phrases, therefore short phrase tags are more likely to exactly match.
Items that also have that exact same phrase in the listing’s title will come up even higher in the results. Etsy will assume, logically, that an item with “silver fox earrings” in a tag AND “silver fox earrings” in the title will probably be exactly what someone looking for silver fox earrings will want to find.
See how literal this all it?
Exact matches are the most relevant, very similar matches are just behind, loose matches trail along at the end.
So now you know what keywords are and why they should be short phrases, but how do you actually pick which keywords you should be using for your products?
Choosing Potent Keywords
As a seller, all you really need to do to get found in Etsy search results is have the exact phrase that a potential customer will search for in your tags, and in your title.
Think about your product. Think about, or write down, the short phrases that most accurately describe your product.
Always start with “What is it?” That simple question will often generate the most useful and powerful keyword for you. Remember, a keyword is actually a keyphrase, more than one word.
So what is it… “a red wool hat”, “an elephant print”, “a silver fairy box”, “a felt Christmas stocking”, “some green glass beads”.
I will talk more about picking good keywords in the second episode on Etsy SEO, but for now, if you try to think of these core “What is it?” phrases you will be well on the right track.
Use These Potent Phrases as Tags
Once you have a few strong keywords that really describe your item, use these as tags. You can then fill in the rest of your tags with more keywords. Continue to try to use phrases that accurately describe the item for sale.
You will see lots of people using tags like “gift for her” or “stocking stuffer” or “low priced gift”. These generic phrases have many, many millions of people using them in their tags, so it is very hard, well, practically impossible, to come up at the top of a search made for them. Rather than trying to compete with millions of items, it is easier to concentrate on tags that describe YOUR specific item so that it can be found by people who actually want that very thing.
Only use generic phrases as tags if you really can’t think of any more keywords that accurately describe your item.
Add Your Best Keywords to Your Title Too
You can’t put all your tags in your listing title, because they won’t fit. Plus it will look like a hot mess to your customers. Instead, concentrate on the 2 or 3 most potent looking tags and include those.
In the next episode, I will discuss more on how to work out which of your tags are likely to be the most potent, by the way.
There is something of a debate on whether it is better to fill your title with as many words as you can for maximum chance of getting found… or using a shorter, more readable title as this is friendlier for customers.
Definitely put the most potent “What is it” keywords at the front of your title. This is not really anything to do with SEO, it is better for customers. When a customer views a page of search results they can only see the first part of titles under the pictures of items. Therefore it makes sense to have that first part of your title clearly describing what the item is, as this will encourage a customer who wants what you are selling to click your item.
Don’t start all your listing titles with the same word or words. It will make it harder to pick one item from another within your shop.
More About Etsy Tags
Let’s look at some more aspects of Etsy tags, so you can get the most out of them.
1 – Always Use all of your Tags
You have 13 tags (plus a few bonus ones I will talk about in a minute). There is no logical reason to not always use all 13. Every empty tag is a missed opportunity at getting found. If you really can’t think of enough keywords to fill all your tags, pop in some generic “great gift” type ones if you must. But leaving a tag empty is a waste.
2 – The Order of Your Tags Does not Matter.
Don’t worry about the order of your tags, it makes no difference to search results at all. Etsy has confirmed this many times but I still see people saying the most potent ones should be at the start. In practice, many people do have their best keywords in the first tags, but that is only because they thought of them first!
3 – Plurals Don’t Usually Matter
The Etsy search engine, just like Google and many other search engines, can understand that some words can be treated as if they were the same.
So for most words, you can use either the singular or plural. I tend to use the singular most of the time because it is often shorter.
So a search for “fox earrings” will find items with “fox earring” and “foxes earrings” too.
So don’t duplicate a tag to include both the singular and plural.
If you are not sure if a plural is going to really work the same as a singular, there is an easy way to check.
Just search for the singular version of the word and make a note of how many results you get. Then do a search for the plural version. If you get the same number you can assume they are treated as the same word by Etsy.
4 – British and American Words
A similar thing happens with the spelling of many words that differ in British English or American English. For example, the Etsy search engine will find tags containing color even if you searched with the British spelling, colour.
Again you can easily check by searching for both words to see if Etsy treats them the same.
Handy hint – you may find that you can squeeze an extra word into a tag if you swap a British spelling to an American one or vice versa. Go for the shortest spelling!
5 – Don’t Duplicate Tags
There is no need to have a tag with a single word or short phrases in it if that exact same thing is already in another tag.
So you don’t need tags for “silver fox” and “fox earrings” if you already have one that is “silver fox earrings”.
Knowing this can really help you get more from your tags.
6 – Longer tags are better than shorter ones
I hope I have already demonstrated why single word tags are kind of useless on Etsy. People search for multiple word phrases, the Etsy search engine is looking for exact matches to what people search for, so tags should also be multiple word phrases.
But there is another benefit of longer tags.
If your tag is just “fox” it is only of use if someone searches for “fox”. It is doing nothing else at all.
But make it “silver fox earrings” and now it will come up in searches for “silver fox earrings” of course, plus “silver fox” and “fox earrings”. And also for the three single words, “silver”, “fox” and earrings” as a bonus.
That is 6 different potential matches for just one tag. Longer tags are working harder for you.
7 – I can’t Fit It In One Tag!
Maybe you sell something that needs long words to describe it. And tags are only 20 characters long. How on earth do you fit “blue dichromatic glass bowl” in then?
Well, you don’t. Remember, search is all about having the SEO that most closely matches what the potential customer searched for.
You split your keyphrase up over two tags… “blue dichromatic” and “glass bowl” perhaps. Or, you could be crafty and change that second one, “glass bowl”, to “blue glass bowl” for even more power. Remember, longer tags are relevant for more potential searches.
And if someone searches for “blue dichromatic glass bowl” you will come up in the results. And because your competition has exactly the same length tags as you, and therefore the same problem, they can’t create a more exact tag than yours for this particular search.
So if your product needs long words, fit them in as best you can and don’t worry if only one word will fit in some tags, it’s ok.
You may have noticed that you actually have more than 13 tags on your products. But when you list an item you can only fill in 13 maximum. So what’s going on here?
The extra tags, which are always at the front of the tag list in your product listings, are generated by Etsy from the categories that you have placed your product in.
These work just like other tags, so you don’t need to duplicate any of them.
Be sure you put your items in the best possible categories to make the most of these bonus tags.
Let’s say you wanted to sell friendship bracelets. When you make a listing for each bracelet, you choose which category to put it in to.
If you put it in the category that is called “friendship bracelets”, which is, of course, the most logical one, you will see that Etsy says that shoppers will find this item in four different categories – Jewelry, Bracelets, Woven & Braided Bracelets and, of course, Friendship Bracelets. Those four category titles will also become tags for you. So you don’t need to use one of your 13 tags for “friendship bracelet”, you got that one for free.
So always choose the lowest level category, which is usually the one that most accurately describes the actual item for sale anyway. And this will give you the most options for being found, both by people searching by category and by getting these bonus tags.
Getting More From Attributes
When listing your item you will see that Etsy asks you some questions about the item and who it is intended for. These are called attributes. They are yet another way to get a few extra “freebie” SEO benefits for your listing.
The attribute choices on offer will depend on the type of item being listed. A few are universal such as primary colour and occasion.
Here is what Etsy themselves say about attributes and Etsy SEO…
“Item features like colour, size, and even celebration will be easily found and will appear in additional, relevant, and specific searches on Etsy. Like keywords in item titles and tags, attributes do factor into where items are placed in search results on Etsy.”
So use those attributes where you can.
The Second Level of Etsy SEO
But what if someone searches for something and there is more than one item on Etsy with that exact search phrase in a tag and in the product title – how does Etsy know which items to put first in the search results?
Ah, this is what I think of as the second level of Etsy SEO. This is the bit that is a bit harder to understand, though not really bad, don’t worry. It is also harder to control this part of the search system yourself.
Etsy gives your listings a weighting which it then uses to decide which of two identically matching items will go before the other in the search results.
They work out this weighting using a top-secret algorithm.
Well, it is a bit top-secret. They will never tell us exactly how it works. Google has one too, by the way, for its search results.
Definite Weighting Factors
Etsy has told us some things that definitely affect where you are placed in search results.
There is a very tiny boost for listings when they are first created, or when they are renewed. In the past, this boost was much higher, and regularly renewing listings was considered a good way to get your products found in search.
Now, however, the boost is very tiny and should be viewed as a nice extra only. Renewing items unnecessarily is a very expensive way to try to get found and will not be very effective or a good use of your time.
Listing Quality Score
Etsy gives each listing a “Listing Quality Score” based on various aspects of the listing. This includes how many people view the listing, how many go on to buy it (and possibly the ratio of these) and a few other factors.
There is a theory that if you have an older listing that has received many views but has never actually sold, it may have a bad Listing Quality Score from this. So it may be worth creating a brand new listing for the same item and scrapping the old one. Of course, such a listing may benefit from a revamp anyway.
Customer and Market Experience Score
This score is based on a number of important aspects of your shop.
1 Incomplete Shop
This seems to mainly refer to not having policies. There are so many other good reasons why a shop should have policies in place that it is always surprising to see how many sellers leave them out. Many people will simply not buy from a seller without them, plus it is a legal requirement if you live in or sell to the EU. So add your policies!
2 No About Page
Whilst an About Page may not seem like a must-have, Etsy evidently feels it is important enough to penalize shops that don’t have them. There are numerous other benefits to the About Page. I will talk more about About Pages in a later podcast. They are free and quick to add, so this is something that it is easy to avoid being penalized in search over.
If Etsy receives complaints that you are infringing on other’s copyright, trademarks or patents, you will be penalized in search results. The items will be removed from your shop and multiple complaints will result in your shop being closed down. Of course, there is also the risk of legal action being taken against you too.
I know that sometimes a seller may infringe on a trademark completely by accident – there are so many phrases, for example, that one may genuinely assume are just part of the language but turn out to be trademarked for certain uses. Sellers in some niches are always at risk of accidentally using something like this. We can only do our best to avoid such slip-ups.
But there is no excuse for knowingly selling items that feature trademarked characters, tv or movie titles, images that belong to others and so on. Yes, there are loads of sellers on Etsy who are selling this stuff. There are also loads that get caught, get items removed and get shut down.
I will talk more about copyright, trademark and patents in a later episode of the podcast.
4 Open Cases
Customers open cases against sellers if they do not receive the items they have paid for. In many such instances, the seller can provide a tracking number or other proof of postage and Etsy will close the case. Other times the seller will be able to replace or refund the lost item and again the case will be satisfactorily closed.
If you regularly have open cases, Etsy will assume that you are not operating your shop properly and penalize you in search results. Too many open cases and they will close the shop down.
Ensure your shipping times accurately reflect how long it takes you to make and or prepare products for shipping. Keep your customers informed of any delays and react to any open cases promptly to prevent any issues occurring in this area.
5 – Great Reviews
Etsy hasn’t said exactly how this one works, it may be the total number of reviews, the ratio of reviews to sales or reviews in a certain period, but basically good reviews help a little with search results.
Some product niche’s get very few reviews, others get many. Just remember that your immediate competitors are in the same niche as you and so this will affect them in the same way.
I will talk more about encouraging great reviews in a later podcast. Basically, concentrate on offering great products and great customer service and hopefully, great reviews will be a natural consequence.
If you get a bad review, reach out to the customer to try to solve the problem and, hopefully, they will change their review – but it is considered very bad form to ask a customer to change a review. For more on this subject, check out episode 19, Argh, My Craft Shop Got a Bad Review!
6 – Translations and Languages
Etsy doesn’t explain exactly how this affects the Customer and Market Experience Score but logically I guess it means being sure to use the same language for your title, listing and tags throughout your store so that Etsy can translate them accurately for your customers.
This is a controversial new addition. Etsy says that:
“listings with lower shipping prices rank higher in search”
This is part of their drive to encourage sellers to offer free shipping. This nearly always means the cost of postage is actually added to the item price.
There are some types of Etsy shop where it is practically impossible to have the coveted “free shipping”.
If you often sell multiples of products or sell to different countries, doing this may not be an option. You need different shipping rates, and the ability to combine shipping for multiple items.
But don’t worry. Your competitors have the same restrictions. Just price your shipping honestly. The boost to search from this is going to be tiny.
Having really relevant tags and titles and many other factors will have a far bigger effect on whether people buy from you.
I have spoken about shipping in the last episode number 30, Shipping, Postage and Delivery for Craft Sellers and discussed more about Free Shipping in episode 25 Promotions, Sales and Multibuys for Craft Sellers.
Etsy search utilizes various artificial intelligence techniques to try to give visitors results that are tailored just for them. This is based on their previous shopping habits, viewing habits and so on.
This factor is therefore outside your control.
It also explains why searching for your own items may not accurately reflect what other people will see from the exact same search.
When testing how your products are doing in search results, log out of Etsy first, or use a different computer or browser to get a more accurate view.
I will talk more about understanding your placing in search results in the next episode.
Other Factors that May affect A Listing’s Weighting in Etsy Search Results
Remember I said that the exact weighting algorithm was top secret? Well, there are other factors that may or may not affect your listing’s placing in search. Some of the suspected factors are ones that Google have said affect their search system – so it is quite probable that Etsy uses them too. Some sellers have done a lot of testing and suggested factors based on their observations.
Amongst factors I have seen suggested are – age of your shop, length of time between sales, number of organic favourites, number of sales, how often the shop is updated, number of visitors and so on.
Please note that I said “organic favourites”. Etsy has stated that favourites from team games, reciprocal favouriting and so on are definitely not factors in search. Organic favourites, ie ones that you get from real people who favourite your item in the natural way that shoppers usually do, may have a teeny little boost for you.
But remember that all these weighting factors have quite a small effect and many are out of your control. The most important factor for where your products come up in a search is having keywords that match what is being searched for.
Spending your time on team games and renewing items is not going to be productive in comparison to the many types of effective forms of marketing.
Include your most potent keyphrases in your descriptions too
Google and other external search engines use your listing’s title and description to find your products in search. So it is important that you put your most potent keywords in your description if you want to be found by internet searchers outside of Etsy.
The first 160 characters of your product’s listing description will form what is called the “meta description” for the item/s web page. This is that little chunk of writing that you see underneath the page title in online search results. Making sure there are one or two of your best keywords in this area will help SEO and make it easier for people to know what the item actually is.. and decide to click on it and find out more.
Handy Hint – don’t include a bunch of keywords, or repeat your title at the start, or end, of your listing. This was once common practice but is no longer useful, and indeed could harm your ranking for Google search results. I will talk more about Google and external search engine SEO in a later episode.
Some Extra Places in your Shop that affect Etsy SEO
Many sellers don’t realise that they can get an SEO boost by making the most of certain areas of their shops.
This is an ideal location for a few potent keyphrases relating to what your shop is all about. Many sellers don’t put anything at all in this section, but doing so is a free and easy way to give your shop another chance of being found by potential customers.
As soon as you get a few items in your shop consider using sections. You can currently have up to 15.
When naming the various sections of your shop, keep in mind that they should be SEO friendly. In other words, follow the same guidelines as for creating tags.
So, for example, if you sell greetings cards, you may have a bunch of different themes. You divide your cards up into sections for each theme. It is better to call a section “Animal Cards” rather than just “Animals” as “animal cards” more accurately describes what you are actually selling.
Write your section titles in the normal way. I often see sellers who put a space between every letter because they think it looks bolder, more interesting or funkier. Doing this actually makes the words unreadable by search engines, and so loses all SEO benefits.
Keep section titles simple and accurate for better Etsy SEO – and you will make it easier for your visitors to find what they want too.
Read the Seller Handbook
I strongly recommend that every Etsy seller should read the Seller Handbook, there is a link to it at the bottom of all Etsy web pages.
There is a LOT of information in there, including lots about Etsy SEO, tagging and getting found in search. Etsy aims to keep this up to date and so it is a great resource for facts “straight from the horse’s mouth”, so to speak.
Would you like your Etsy shop to be featured in its own article on the Tin Teddy Blog? Click the link to find out more – its free advertising!
I hope that this episode has helped you understand the basics of how Etsy SEO works and some of the things you can do to make the most of it.
The next episode of the Craft Seller Success podcast, episode 32, is called Product Listing Keywords for Craft Sellers. There are lots of techniques, tools and tricks for finding powerful keywords to use in your product listings. What do people actually search for, which keywords will lead to sales, how do you know what is working for you?
All this and more! It will be out on the 25th of June 2019.
Thanks for listening. Please subscribe to the Craft Seller Success podcast.
Until next time, bye
The Craft Seller Success Podcast from Tin Teddy.
Featuring Deborah Richardson
Original music by Matthew French
Helping craft sellers to sell their crafts.
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