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.
What is Etsy 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 logic favor your listings above other sellers that make similar products.
SEO has traditionally been about pages ranking in search engines such as Google or Bing, however as marketplace sites like Etsy have grown in size and complexity, they have also developed their own set of rules that they apply to decide who ranks first and why in their internal search results. These rules are known as “algorithms”.
As an example, if you sell handmade soap there is already clearly a lot of competition for similar products in your space. How, on Etsy, do you rise above all the other listings and start capturing those sales? The answer is by improving your Etsy SEO.
As it turns out, Etsy’s exact search algorithm is a closely guarded secret. But we do know that a number of factors are taken into account, including the title and tags of a listing, the number of times an item has been favorited, and how often it’s been purchased. Let’s go through some of these now so you can see how you can improve your SEO.
How does Etsy rank your listings?
Let start by delving into what Etsy has told us so far about their ranking system via their Ultimate Guide to Etsy Search in the Etsy Seller Handbook.
Etsy says that they use a two phase system to decide on what results should appear: Query matching and Query 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, descriptions 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.
From May 2022 Etsy will now also search your description for keywords and phrases. This is great news as it means you don’t need to create a listing title that is a big jumble of keywords just to ensure you rank for those words. You can now focus on your title including the keywords most important to your product, and include any secondary words (or experimental words) to your tags and description instead.
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.
Read more: How to deal with difficult Etsy customers »
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.
How to create listings that rank well on Etsy
Now that you know the technicalities of how Etsy ranks listings, let’s go through some ways you can quickly and easily improve your Etsy SEO:
1. 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.
2. Write great descriptions
The ability for descriptions to be searched and used in results is new for 2022, so the sooner you can improve your descriptions the more chance you have to rank above others that have yet to harness the power of this change.
In general, you’ll want to give a general overview of what your product is and why someone would want to buy it. Use the rest of the space to provide more detailed information about the product, including its unique features, any special care instructions, etc.
Communicate the passion: potential buyers will be able to tell if you’re passionate about your product, and that can make all the difference to a buyer that values buying handmade.
Tip: Be sure to proofread your listing before hitting publish, as typos can also hurt your ranking in search results.
In the Etsy Forums, Etsy recently shared a couple of other quick ways you can improve your descriptions:
- Try to incorporate relevant keywords in the first couple of sentences of your description
- Avoid repeating your title in the description, or repeating your tags verbatim.
- Craft a couple of sentences that casually injects your keywords in a way that sounds human and real (you can do this yourself, via a writer that specializes in product listings, or using an AI tool - check out our article on how to use AI copywriting tools to improve your Etsy listings)
- Try to include as much information about your product as possible, including physical characteristics such as color, shape and fabric.
3. 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.
Tips for using Etsy tags effectively:
- Use all 13 tags as it gives you more chance to be matched with a customer search
- Use multi word phrases, so that you can better target exact matches for searches. “charm bracelet” is better than “charm” + “bracelet”. This allows you to better utilise your tag limit.
- Try to think of “long tail” phrases. These are combinations of words that describe your product so accurately that the customer is highly likely to convert and purchase your product.
- Use your Shop Stats to discover which tags are driving traffic and which are not
- Think about regional spellings. Some common differences (such as “Jewelry” is spelled as “jewellery” in the UK and Australia) are already accounted for by Etsy, however you’ll want to think about differences that may appeal between countries and even states that other sellers are not accounting for.
4. Take advantage of special shopping occasions
Optimizing your listings for popular shopping occasions is an excellent way to drive extra traffic to your listings.
Consider regularly updating your listings with keywords 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 for this day - you’ll want to aim to update your listings and descriptions in late Jan indicating how much of a perfect gift it is so that it starts ranking for these terms.
Setting up a calendar with the dates relevant to your product range, with the dates you need to get your listings updated by, is a great way to be on top of this SEO strategy.
See our guide to selling holiday and handmade seasonal handmade products for ideas »
5. Be solution orientated
You know what they say about the best gifts being ones that make life easier and less stressful? It’s important to keep in mind that your products will solve a need for someone. So how can you be more solution oriented when writing your descriptions?
The first step is to really think about what problem your product is solving for the customer and then craft a description that provides the solution they are after.
To do this, focus on the benefits of your product rather than just listing the features. For example, if you’re selling a mug, don’t just say it’s made of ceramic and holds 12 ounces of liquid. Instead, talk about how it’s dishwasher and microwave safe, or how it has a unique design that will make the recipient smile every time they use it. By highlighting the benefits of your product, you’ll be able to write descriptions that are truly solution oriented.
As a broader example, organizational solutions are a huge market spanning many different products - any products you have that may solve a storage or organizational need should be marked out as such.
Identifying these needs and creating keywords and description text around this can lead to increased visibility in Etsy SEO results.