SEO strategies for Etsy sellers

Here's how you can improve your SEO on Etsy and drive more traffic to your handmade products!

To be successful on Etsy, you’ll need to use every available strategy to make your listing stand out. One of the best ways you can do this is by understanding and working on your SEO.

So what is “SEO”? SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimisation” and is a technical way of referring to the approaches and techniques you use to try and make Etsy’s search engine place your listings towards the top of their search results.

For example, if you sell soap there is clearly a lot of competition for similar products in your space. Using SEO techniques will give you a better chance of appearing when potential customers are searching for soap bars that you offer.

Etsy uses a two phase system to decide on what results should appear: Query matching and ranking. During the query matching phase, Etsy takes the customer’s search query (i.e. “lavender soap”) and finds all listings that have included this word.

In the second phase, Etsy then ranks all of the found listings using a variety of different rules and then pushes the ones that they deem to have a “high relevance” to the top of the search results list. The rules that they apply are not all known outside of Etsy, however there are a couple of factors that they have confirmed have a direct impact on your listing’s rankings including conversion to sale and your customer review history.

Phase 1: Query Matching

This phase finds all listings that match the customer’s query - if you aren’t in this initial list then there is no chance of ranking so it’s best to start at optimising for this phase.

Query matching looks specifically at your categories, attributes, titles and tags that you have added to your listings, so you’ll want to ensure that you are including anything that is relevant to your item.

Think like a buyer: To do this, it’s best to think like the customer: what phrases would you use to search for this listing? What other words could you use to describe the product? How is your product used and when? What words are other sellers with similar products using?

For your title, you’ll also want to be concise: Etsy advises no more than 2-4 phrases, separated by commas.

Tag it up: Any phrases you still want to include can then be added to your tags - you can add up to 13 tags per listing so its a great option for adding synonyms or less commonly used terms to describe your product. Your tags can be up to 20 characters long. It’s recommended to use phrases rather than single words as they tend to rank better: using “lavender scented soap” is better than “lavender” and “scented soap”. Remember also not to use your tags for different languages as Etsy will apply translations as part of the search process. Etsy also applies pluralisation, so don’t waste your tags on adding these variations in.

The most important tag should be first and should say exactly what you are selling. The first 3-4 words appear on the thumbnail pages, and Etsy will also give them slightly more weight than phrases near the end of your title.

You want to include keyword phrases and explain the physical characteristics of the product. Size, color, scent are all great ideas for tags that also provide more context to the customer.

Special occasions: Also consider regularly updating your listings for special dates through the year so that you get an extra ranking boost on these days. A great example is Valentines Day if you have products that make great presents.

Phase 2: Query Ranking

This second phase is where Etsy applies rules to push the listings that they think will most likely result in a sale to the top of the list. It’s thus important in your query matching work to only include terms that represent your product - if you add the keyword “lemon soap” to your “lavender soap” listing, then you will be successful at query matching for both search terms, however you will be unlikely to rank for anyone searching for “lemon soap”. This is because:

a) There will be listings that are actually for “lemon soap” that will appear before yours as they will contain more references to this term and;

b) your customer conversion to sale will be low or non existent as from the search term they are using it is clear that they are not searching for the product you are offering.

These additional factors are called Relevance and Quality.

Relevance: You’ll want to ensure that your tags, titles and descriptions match with the shopper’s query to rank high on this factor. Exact matches rank highest, followed by partial phrase matches and then singular words. Working on Phase 1 and ensuring that your terms describe your product accurately will increase your relevance score.

Quality: This score (referred to by Etsy as the “Customer and Marketplace Score”) uses a number of factors to determine the product that is most likely to result in a paid conversion (aka a sale). It is basically a way of ranking products that are the most appealing, sold by sellers with good reputations. This factors in things like having complete shop policies, high reviews from past customers, shipping charges and also how fast you deliver your items once the order is placed.

Recency: New listings often get a small bump in the search results, purely because Etsy wants to test the listing to see how appealing it is with customers. Ensuring that your listings are great from Day 1 can help keep this placement.

Ensuring that you have good quality photos and descriptions, keywords that represent your product, alongside fantastic customer ratings will help you increase your ranking.

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