What is SEO on Etsy? [UPDATED for 2024]

Here's how you can improve your SEO on Etsy and drive more traffic to your handmade products! [UPDATED for 2024]

It can be quite difficult to get noticed on a large marketplace like Etsy - even if you have great products that people want to buy. To maximise your chances of your listings being seen on this hugely popular handmade platform, you’ll need to put some time into improving your Etsy SEO.

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What is SEO?

First, lets start with the basics. SEO is short for Search Engine Optimisation, which is an overly technical way of describing the process where you make sure that your webpages can be understood by search engines so that they display your page above others. This increases your chance of being found, and thus increases your chances of making a sale: this is why SEO should be a huge part of your marketing strategy.

What is Etsy SEO?

Just like Google and Bing, Etsy also has a it’s own internal search that it uses to ensure that the right products are being shown to customers likely to buy. Etsy SEO is thus the 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.

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”.

Etsy does a lot of the external SEO work for you as it is their site you are displaying your products on (and they have a vested interest in making sure that they appear in big search engines like Google), but there are quite a few small but powerful things you can do to move your products above your competitors on the Etsy search engine itself.

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.

A Word on Etsy’s Quality Ratings

It’s important to note that Etsy will also assess the quality of your listing and will use this “quality rating” to determine where you should appear in the search. This is somewhere were you can make some big wins with a small effort.

If a user clicks, favourites or purchases your item after viewing it in the search results you’ll improve your listing’s quality score. This means it’s vital to start selling your product at the search results page, and the best way you can do this is by having a great photograph that stands out from the rest. This will lead to more click-throughs and faves, which may not immediately lead to sales but will lead to traffic coming to your page.

The next step from here is to work on converting your visitor into a customer. This means having a great description, a series of additional photographs that highlight the features of your product alongside some of the “Customer experience” factors outlined in the next section.

“Customer Experience” and Etsy

This is an area that most Etsy sellers neglect when improving their Etsy SEO. Etsy indicated in late 2015 that this is a growing part of their search algorithm so it’s definitely worth factoring this in:

When determining customer experience on Etsy, we look at positive reviews, completed About sections, and completed Shop Policies (FAQs and seller details are not factored into search ranking).

As this information is not hugely widely known as yet, it can be a really good way of leapfrogging your product above your competitors that are not yet in the know.

Your About page can be a great way of adding some additional terms that can be useful in being found on Etsy and across the web, so make sure it is detailed. It’s an excellent way in helping to show the customer who you are too, which is great for building trust in the potential sale.

Ensure that you are asking your customers to leave a review after they receive your product as this is another big part of the new Etsy search logic. To increase your likelihood of receiving a good review, make sure that you communicate with your buyers quickly and honestly and manage their expectations throughout the entire purchase. Packaging your products with care and attention, and offering a small discount for future purchases can also encourage more reviews.

Shop Policies were introduced by Etsy in early 2016 and provide a way of detailing information about Shipping, Payment options and Returns & exchanges.

In addition to this you now have a Privacy policy and a new area called More information, where you can include Frequently asked questions and more information about your business. Think of these new areas as further ways you can add relevant words and language that can help with search and encourage purchases.

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.

6. Good Quality, Unique Content This phase should be your guiding light: assess each of your product pages independently and start tweaking your titles and descriptions with this in mind. This should be a constant process of improvement and can very much be a case of trial and error, so don’t give up if you don’t see any massive gains immediately - it can take time to see the results of this work!

Small changes can sometimes be best - by monitoring the tweaks as you make them you can then discover your best SEO strategy going forward. Everyone’s strategy will be slightly different depending on what they sell and where they are based: so what may work for some may not work for others. Be open to experimenting and improvement and you will start to see some positive results!

How to find good keywords for Etsy

For each of your products, think about how you would search for it on Etsy as a customer. You will want to be as obvious as possible and avoid using any technical jargon that an average person wouldn’t be aware of. One great way to find some titles would be to ask friends and family to describe some of your products in a short sentence: this will give you some great words you may not have even thought of using.

Another effective way of finding good titles is to use the Google’s Keyword Planner tool. You can type in words and get a list of suggested keyword ideas and even see how those keywords tend to perform across the web: this will give you an idea of how common they are. Remember, the more common the word the more people will be using these words within Etsy to search for your products.

Another interesting way of finding keywords and common phrases is to use the Etsy search itself. Find similar products to yours and see what sort of terms they are using in their titles and descriptions (without directly copying of course).

Don’t worry about capitalizing or adding an “s” at the end of each term. Etsy will automatically add both into the search for you.

Nicole Pascoe Nicole Pascoe - Profile

Written by Nicole Pascoe

Nicole is the co-founder of Craftybase, inventory and manufacturing software designed for small manufacturers. She has been working with, and writing articles for, small manufacturing businesses for the last 12 years. Her passion is to help makers to become more successful with their online endeavors by empowering them with the knowledge they need to take their business to the next level.