Updated May 31, 2021: I’ve created an updated version of this article since some of this information is now out of date.
Have you ever listed something on Etsy with high hopes of making lots of sales and then…crickets?
The reality is that Etsy is a really crowded marketplace. There are currently 2 million active sellers on Etsy. What can you do to make your shop, and your listing, stand out and get seen?
One of the most important factors that leads to increased sales on Etsy is for your products to get found in search. When a visitor comes to Etsy looking for products like the ones you sell, they may not actually ever find your listings. You’ve got to understand how Etsy search works so that you can optimize your listings. Otherwise they’re likely to simply get buried, never to be found by potential customers.
Before we dig into Etsy search, it’s important to mention that there are other factors that need to be in place to build a successful online business on Etsy, or elsewhere. Offering well-made products that fulfill a customer need, showing them off with beautifully shot and well-styled photos, and offering a competitive price are all aspects of successful ecommerce businesses. But, there’s no denying that if you want to sell on a marketplace such as Etsy it’s worthwhile to optimize your listings for search.
1. Shipping prices are a factor in Etsy search ranking. Etsy has run extensive testing showing that customers frequently back out of purchases when they see a shipping charge that they perceive as too high. To increase the number of purchases that are completed on the platform, listings with lower shipping prices will rank higher in Etsy search. I know this feel frustrating for sellers with products that are especially expensive to ship. If it’s at all possible, work some of those charges into your product pricing.
2. Etsy search doesn’t scan descriptions. When a visitor enters a query into the Etsy search bar, the search algorithm scans the titles, tags, and attributes on the marketplace’s listings to find a match, but it doesn’t scan the descriptions of each item. Does that mean descriptions are unimportant? Of course not. A strong description that answers the key questions about a product while also engaging them with some storytelling will definitely help convert a visitor into a buyer. And, while Etsy’s search function doesn’t take descriptions into account, Google’s may.
3. Etsy assigns every shop a “customer and marketplace experience score” and each listing is evaluated for listing quality. Etsy wants customers to have a good experience on the site. To help ensure this, each shop is evaluated based on its customer service record and assigned a customer and marketplace experience score. (This score isn’t something you can get access to as a buyer or a seller. It’s just part of Etsy’s search algorithm.) Shops that have had cases opened against them for poor customer service, or shops that have previously been shut down due to intellectual property infringement have lower scores and will be depressed in search. Shops with great reviews, a fully filled out About page and a complete set of shop policies will do better in search. However, if you need public records search software that offers information of an individual, then you may want to use this Been Verified Free Trial here to know how!
Once an item comes up in search if the customer then clicks on it, favorites it, or buys it, that listing’s quality score goes up. Etsy favors listings that convert visitors into buyers.
4. Don’t add tags with common misspellings and only use tags in your own language. If you signed up to sell on Etsy in Spanish and your tags are in English they will not bring up your listings in search. Etsy will automatically translate your listings for customers so write in the language signed up with.
5. Use short phrases in tags. You get 13 tags and should use every single one of them. Rather than repeating yourself in your tags (i.e. “fox pin” and “fox jewelry”) vary them (ie. “fox pin” and “animal jewelry”). It’s hard to compete on broad keywords (i.e. “tote bag” and “scarf”) so see if you can hone in a little further by using what’s called a longtail keyword. This is a series of a few words that get more specific (i.e. “canvas tote bag” or “cable knit scarf”).
6. Repeat the most relevant keywords in the title and tags. A listing in which the same keywords are repeated in the title and the tags is more likely to come up in search for that keyword. Once you’ve decided on the strongest keywords for your product, repeat them in both places. A London SEO company can help you with keyword research.
In order to ensure you obtain the best out of your SEO campaign, it is imperative that you tailor the work in line with your business goals. You can have a look at these examples of SEO objectives to implement ‘SMART’ goals into your strategy both for internal and external purposes.
7. Words at the beginning of the title are weighted more than words at the end. Lead with the most important words. This makes sense because on mobile only the first few words of a listing are visible so you want those words to really do a good job describing the item.
8. Attributes and shop sections factor in search, along with titles and tags. Choose them carefully. The names you give to your shop’s sections can help you get found in search. Using descriptive keywords that accurately describe what each section contains helps shoppers find what they’re looking for in your shop and Etsy favors shops that help customers have a good experience.
9. Recency plays a small role, but constantly relisting products isn’t a good strategy. Etsy wants to please frequent shoppers so newer listings will rank higher. That being said, constantly relisting products just to get a bump in search isn’t a good strategy because it only addresses a single part of optimization which is much more nuanced.
10. Add your location so that your listings come up in local searches. Etsy visitors have the option of entering a location to help narrow down their search. Some customers value shopping locally and want to view shops near them. Here’s how to add your location.
Implementing all of these optimization tactics can feel overwhelming, but I’m betting that there are one or two things you could tweak right now to make your Etsy listings more searchable. Over time update other aspects of your listings until everything is optimized for Etsy’s search engine. Each small changes will add up to better discoverability for your products in the marketplace. Selling on Etsy is like a game. You do better when you understand the rules.
Great advice! These are all the same methodologies that work with SEO for web sites, fb commercial pages, indeed anywhere you want to sell something online. The better you understand the algorithms (which are continuously changing – sometimes dramatically so) the better you can stay in the searches but keeping up with all this is tough. I would also say that if someone is really serious about making a LIVING (not hobby craft) off their online sales they would be well served to hire a professional to set up your shop for you and explain a few things as well. It doesn’t have to cost the moon and it’s an investment well placed especially if you’re starting out.
Thanks for your etsy search update. It’s always great to read a well researched and concise article that gives you all the info you want straight up.
What would a professional person do that I have not done or could do.
Great info for eBay listings too, I imagine the similarities.
I couldn’t click for the location how to’s on my phone.
Thank you so much Abby , for this. I am in the process of going through your ebook “The Insider’s Guide to Starting an Online Sewing Pattern Business “ , which is amazing, with the hopes of selling patterns of my Art Quilts. Frequently, I find myself thinking that I need to learn more about SEO with my Etsy shop, and this was exactly what I needed! I really appreciate all the valuable information that you share.
Eileen McKenna says
This post is very timely for me as Valentine’s Day is practically here and I’m still waiting for the influx of orders (ha ha) in my fairly new Etsy shop. A few other tips I’ve heard recently:
Use keywords that not only describe the product, but are what the item could be used for, i.e. I’ve tagged my personalized family trees as “grandparent gift” and “anniversary gift.”
Stock your shop with 50+ products – easier for me as I sell digital downloads. For handmade items – you could bundle together a few items, which creates a new product listing.
Take advantage of automatic replies (and snippets in Etsy conversations) to ask customers for reviews.
Use shop announcements to highlight new products.
Thanks so much Abby!
Eileen, very helpful this one with the bundles to increase number of listings. Thanks!
Great article, thanks for sharing your knowledge. I think you’re missing the link to how to add your location.
Thanks, Kathy. I’ve updated it now.
Lisa Winer says
thanks for this Abby — very helpful the way you’ve presented the information. I’ve adjusted My Etsy shop accordingly.
Glad to hear it, Lisa.
I have read this article 100 times and each time I find another way to improve my listings and it has helped tremendously, thank you so much for this post.
However, please fix “very them” to “vary them”. I know what it means but someone else may not and “vary” is a strong tip on this section. The typo jumps out at me every time I read this.
Fixed! Thank you for catching that 🙂