In this tutorial I will share my process on how to get more traffic to your Etsy store with search engine optimization. You will learn how to get your items to the top of Etsy search which should result in more sales!
Over the years I have made many mistakes with my shop - Zebrano Wood Craft, but after months of research and testing I finally found a great 3 stage plan to get my items onto the first pages of Etsy search.
SEO doesn't need to be complicated, confusing or time consuming and all you need to do is follow guidelines that Etsy has set out, use a little common sense and RESEARCH!
Why Is SEO Important For My Etsy Store?
Over the years SEO has become somewhat of a corporate buzz word and to the uninitiated the whole subject can seem overwhelming. However optimising your listings and shop for the Etsy search engine is the easiest way to attract traffic to your store.
Selling on Etsy is a numbers game and (simply put) the more people find your work, the more chances you have to sell it! You can drive traffic through social media posts or advertising, but by optimising your shop for search you will attract customers while you sleep for free.
It is also more likely that the visitors will be looking to buy stuff (they wouldn't be searching for it otherwise!) so you will convert more of them into paying customers - WIN!!
Grab a cup of tea and let's begin!
Step 1: Craft Hard or Go Home
Before we delve into the nitty gritty of brainstorming keywords and tracking results there are two factors that are extremely important to your search optimisation on Etsy.
These are not clever ways to communicate with the search engine or magic tricks to hack the algorithm, in fact they have nothing to do with computers. They are based on the HUMAN BEINGS searching for your items and browsing the website!
Craft Hard Or Go Home
If you want to stand out from the crowd and make regular sales there are no short cuts or magic “SEO tricks” that will make the stars align for you. You must garner a strong work ethic and produce work to an extremely high standard.
Remember you can't you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear. You should strive to produce premium products that will inspire awe in your customers.
Unlike selling at craft fairs or events your customers can’t touch or feel your products, so how do you sell tactile, well-crafted items online? Many sources say that your shop photography is the most important part of successfully selling on Etsy.
A great photograph is the first thing to entice a buyer and gives them an idea of how the finished product will look. A full photography tutorial is far beyond the scope of this article but there are two things that have worked wonders for my shop that I need to share.
Firstly if you want to take clean photos then you absolutely need a tripod! It will help you to take shots from consistent angles, hold the camera steady to avoid blur and allows you to set up scenes for your items.
Secondly mastering lighting will produce dramatic results! It is generally advised to take crisp, clean photos using natural lighting to show the details and texture of your work. However if you're like me and you live in the UK (where you can bet that it's gloomy and raining) then investing in a light box and daylight bulbs is a life saver!
Get creative, learn, practice and don't be afraid to invest some money in equipment – it will pay for itself ten fold with enticing photos!
Step 2: How Search Engines Work (Simplified)
What Is A Search Engine Anyway?
The common definition of Search Engine is “A program that searches for and identifies items in a database that correspond to keywords or characters specified by the user”.
Examples of search engines would be Google, Bing and Yahoo but other websites like Youtube, Ebay and Etsy also run search engines to help their users find what they're looking for.
How Search Engines Work (Simplified!)
Basically search engines use automated software (known as robots or spiders) to follow links on websites, harvesting information and saving it into databases. When someone types a search phrase or query the search engine uses algorithms to display the results in order of relevancy to the users query.
Different engines use different algorithms to determine the best result for the user. Google's algorithm for example is very complex and favours informative content like blog posts or videos over product listings. The internal Etsy search engine on the other hand is focused on finding products that match the users search.
Unfortunately for us Etsy does not tell us every aspect of how it's algorithms work but they give us a fairly good idea of how we can optimise our shop for their search!
Step 3: What Factors Are Used by Etsy Search
What Factors Are Used By Etsy Search
When Etsy was first starting out the search algorithm was pretty simple and geared highly towards recency (i.e how recently an item was listed), however they quickly realised that this provided a pretty bad experience for their users so they got a bit more technical!
Etsy now uses multiple algorithms to determine relevancy and they recently wrote about this on the Etsy Help page, here's what they had to say were the most important factors in search:
1. Tag and Title Relevancy - First, every item in the results must match the buyer’s search word or phrase. Items that do not match a buyer’s search won’t be included in results.
For example, the search “banana backpack” will only return items that match both “banana” and “backpack” in either the listing tags or titles.
Once the search algorithm finds all of the items that match the search, they also use keywords to determine the order of those results.
Exact phrase matches are stronger than matches on individual words. For example, a search for “banana backpack” would return all items with the words “banana” and “backpack” in the tags or title, but items with “banana backpack” in the title would be considered a closer match.
If a word or phrase in a buyer’s search appears in both the title and tags of a listing, the search algorithm considers that listing more relevant than a listing with that word or phrase in the tags or title alone.
Words at the beginning of titles are considered more important than words at the end.
2. Listing Quality - In an effort to show items that buyers are likely to purchase, Etsy’s search algorithm also considers how well individual items tend to do in search. We call this “listing quality”.
If a buyer clicks, favorites, or purchases an item after they’ve seen it in search results, that action contributes to the listing’s quality score.
Since listings at the top of results tend to receive more buyer attention than those at the bottom, Etsy’s search algorithm adjusts for the expected buyer behavior for these different locations.
Note: New shops and listings have a neutral quality score, which has no impact on placement.
3. Customer & Marketplace Experience - Etsy wants buyers to have a great experience when they purchase from a seller. Because of this, they consider a shop’s record of customer service and whether it’s in good standing according to Etsy’s policies.
Great reviews, completed About pages, and completed shop policies can all help your placement in search. However, recent cases and past intellectual property infringement issues can have a negative effect. New shops have a neutral score, which has no impact on placement.
4. Recency - To keep search results fresh for frequent shoppers, Etsy’s search algorithm reviews how recently an item was listed or relisted.
5. Shop Location - Many buyers in certain countries, like the UK and Australia, have told us that they like purchasing from sellers based in their own countries because they find it to be more convenient and less expensive.
In order to make local items slightly more prominent in search results in these specific countries, we take the location of the shop and the shopper into account. Searches made within other countries do not take shop location into account for search results.
6. Shop Diversity - Buyers on Etsy are looking to explore a marketplace of unique items. In order to meet this expectation, Etsy’s search algorithm works to show results from a variety of shops, when available.
So now we know a little of what Etsy is looking for, let's examine how we can use this information!
Step 4: The 3 Stage Plan to Optimise Your Listings for Etsy Search
Now we know what elements we need to have in place in order to rank well in Etsy searches and bring more traffic to our shops, but how specifically are we meant to use this information?
I will assume that at this stage you have created a highly useful, well crafted product line and you have some idea of what it is that you're selling and who will be buying it. If this is the case then I have a simple 3 step process to go through.
Stage 1: Generate a huge list of keyword ideas.
Stage 2: RESEARCH to determine the best keywords to use in order to get your products into the relevant searches.
Stage 3: Use the keywords in the right places and provide a great experience for your shoppers.
Simple enough right? Let's get started with Stage 1 of the plan.
Step 5: Understanding Keywords
In order to optimise your listings, you'll need to target keywords that are relevant to your items. There are a number of different types of keywords you could use to describe what you're selling so I've split them down into categories to make brainstorming easier.
You don't need to use every type, just think like a buyer and ask yourself or friends "what would you search for to find this item?".
Long Tail Keywords
In brief the most effective type of keyword to use would be “Long Tail Keywords”. All this means is that rather than using a single word like “Ring” or “Silver” you use a phrase or chain of words like “Silver wedding ring”.
The reasons for this are simple:
1. Firstly people tend to use phrases when they search for stuff online and by matching these phrases in your listings the search engine will think you are relevant.
2. Single word search results can be very generalised where as long tail phrases are more specific – people with the intent to buy, tend to search specifically for the thing that they're looking for with LONG TAIL KEYWORDS.
3. It is difficult to rank highly for single word search terms as there are so many results to compete with! Niche search terms or phrases get searched less but it's easier to stand out from the crowd and rank on the first page.
You're better off on the first page for a niche keyword that is searched 1000 times a month, than on page 500 of a broad phrase that has 100,000 searches a month.
Your goal where possible is to always rank on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th page for the niche searches that are relevant to your product.
Brainstorming Different Kinds Of Keywords
Every one of the search phrases you target should contain 2 or more words.
The keywords you use should also be the kind of things people search for when they intend to buy something - for example "DIY silver ring" is not something you'd search for if you were looking to buy a ring, however "Mens Silver Wedding Ring" would be.
Below are a few different types of words you could string together to form "buying keywords":
Synonyms: Is there another word to describe what your item is? For example some people say “Wedding Rings” others might say “Wedding Bands”. Other examples might be pillow/cushion, hat/beanie … you get the picture!
Materials: These are words that describe the material of which the item is made such as “Silver rings”, “oak table” or “wool blanket”.
Style: Words used to describe the design or style of the item. For example “Silver stacking rings” or “ Rustic oak table”.
Creation Method: These describe how the item was made, such as “Hammered silver rings”, or “Chunky crochet blanket”.
General Descriptive Words: This is fairly self explanatory – words that describe the general look or feel of the item - “Textured silver rings”, “Soft yellow blanket” etc.
How is the item used: Words to describe the items use such as “Silver engagement rings”, “Oak dining table” or “Cozy blanket”.
Step 6: How Etsy Search Results Are Displayed
Now that you have a better understanding of keywords it is time to look at how Etsy search results are displayed. Here are the basics:
42 listings per page
Each page of search results contains 42 listings. Due to the algorithm you generally can't have more than one listing ranked on each page (until you get to pages 7+), so realistically you should aim to get 1 item on every page from 1-12.
6 Promoted Listings
Each page of search results will contain six promoted listings where the seller has paid for the spot. We will not be focusing on targeting these spots in this tutorial and instead we'll look at how to get on the first pages "organically" (without paying!).
The category page is the grid of categories that shows up when shoppers search for something too broad (like “gift”). The category page encourages shoppers to narrow their search before looking at specific listings. You usually want to avoid targeting keywords that result in a category page.
Step 7: Brain Storming the Best Keywords for Your Niche
Describe the item in one sentence:
The process of finding the most effective keywords for your shop will start with a humble pen and paper! Before I begin brain storming I like to describe the item in one sentence to get the ball rolling.
My example: A mach 3 razor with a wooden handle made out of walnut.
Make a list:
Make an initial list of 5-6 phrases that describe your item. This is just a basic starting point so think of synonyms, descriptive words and ways in which your item is used.
Ask yourself "What would I search for to find this sort of item?".
My example: Custom wooden razor, Mens wood razor, Wood mach 3 razor, Gift for him, Groomsmen gift
Etsy & Google suggestions:
After you have a rough starting list go to the Etsy search bar. Start typing in your keyword phrases and you'll notice that Etsy starts making suggestions in the drop down menu. These are common search terms that have been used before by buyers so it's good to add a few relevant search terms to your list.
You can do to the same as above but with the Google search bar.
Spy on the competition:
Search Etsy for one or two items similar to yours and make a note of their tags and titles for a few keywords you can add to your list.
Step 8: Researching Keywords and Crunching Numbers
After compiling an initial list of keywords based on the brainstorm it's time to crunch some data. Many shops make the mistake of guessing what keywords to use, but there are tools available that can literally take away the guess work.
The best SEO tool you can get for your Etsy store isMarmaleadand it could do all of the SEO work described in half the time. I used this for my shop to get listings ranking on the top pages for my main keyword phrases and have never looked back since.
What is Marmalead?
Marmalead is a website for Etsy sellers looking to take their shops to the next level. The site provides tools that can help you to determine the best pricing structure for your items and keyword research to help optimise your shop.
How Much Does It cost?
This amazing site has two levels of membership -
“Dabbler” membership is totally FREE!
“Entrepreneur” package is $19 per month.
How Can I use It?
Both the free and paid for memberships offer tremendous value to your shop and the site makes it extremely easy for you to do keyword research.
Simply start by punching in one of your keywords into the Keyword Search.
On the free Dabbler version, the software will perform a search on Etsy and bring back a list of the 100 top ranking results, a “Word Cloud” which shows you the top tags used (the larger the word the more popular) and pricing data.
From all of this you can get a good idea of what you're up against and what tags, titles and styles of listings are doing the best for your niche.
Free vs Entrepreneur Plan
The full arsenal of Marmalead tools is included in The Entrepreneur plan ($19 per month). With the paid plan you get a lot more features at your disposal, some of which include:
1. The ability to see where your listings are ranked for particular searches – this way you can experiment and change your keywords to see what's working.
2. Analyse up to 500 listings so you can assess the competition and generate keywords quickly.
3. Compare 4 keywords side by side to see how many views/favourites they receive as well as average pricing info.
4. Quickly see what sort of competition you face to help you choose keywords you can rank highly for.
Later in this tutorial I will reference features that are only available to Marmalead "Entrepreneurs". I'd recommend signing up for free, dipping your toes in and upgrading to the more advanced features if you feel they will benefit you.
*I am an affiliate of Marmalead so if you use my link to sign up for the Entrepreneur package I earn a small commission. I am not a sleazy affiliate marketer and I'd never recommend something I don't use myself. My advice is genuine and if you use my link I can keep creating great content for you and others!
Step 9: Narrow Down the List
MAKE A SPREADSHEET
Generate as many keyword ideas as you can using a combination of your brainstorm, Etsy suggestions, and spying on the competition with Marmalead.
Marmalead Spreadsheet: Choose 20-30 of the most relevant keywords and then head over to Marmalead to compile a spreadsheet with the amount of Views, Favs per week and Competing listings.
Narrow It Down
Now that all of the research has been done, you've spied on the competitions listings and crunched all the data for relevant keywords it's time to narrow down the results and choose the best 13 phrases.
It's difficult for me to tell you what the best keywords will be, but ideally you want a combination of:
High monthly views and interaction: You should target keywords that have a decent number of views and favourites per week to show that people are searching for and interacting with the listings.
Low competition: It will be super difficult to rank in searches with 25,000+ competing listings so try and target super niche phrases with under 10,000 listings if possible.
Relevant to your listing: The keywords must make sense and be relevant to your item.
Not too broad: Again it is very difficult to rank highly for broad searches (i.e silver jewelry) so they should be avoided.
Choose 13 keywords that are long tail, descriptive and not too broad so you stand a chance of ranking on the first page. Remember you are better off ranking on the first page for a keyword with low searches than page 900 for a popular search!
Step 10: Where to Use Keywords in Your Listings
The hard part is done at this stage now we just need to place those keywords in the right places! We'll start with where to include them in your listings:
1. Descriptive titles
Your titles should be LOADED with keywords so be sure to include as many as you can here*.
The beginnings of titles have an especially strong pull. Keep words that buyers are most likely to search for close to the front. Niche keywords like "Mens Silver Ring", or "Funny greeting card" are perfect.
Save your title for words buyers are likely to search for. If you're listing art then put the title of the piece towards the end of the title or in the description alone (to allow for more keywords in the title).
Gift for him, Boyfriend gift, Husband gift, Groomsmen Gift, Personalized razor, Razor for men, Mach 3 razor, Walnut & Malachite, Mens Razor
Use 13 tags for every listing: While listing an item, you can add up to 13 tags. Use them all! That way you cover more words buyers might use to find you.
Use the tags in exactly the same order as you did in your item title.
If you have a series of similar items it's best to use slightly different titles and tags in each listing. This will optimise the number of search phrases you can rank for giving people more opportunity to find you!
[Boyfriend gift] [Gift for him] [Husband gift] [groomsmen gift ideas] [Personalized razor] [Razor for men] [mens wood razor] [gifts for dad] [5th anniversary gift] [groomsmen razors] [Mach 3 razor] [Wet Shaving] [engraved razor]
3. The first paragraph of the description
The first paragraph of the item's description forms the "Meta Description" on Google. Meta descriptions are commonly used on search engine result pages to display preview snippets for a given page. On Google this will form the 160 characters of black text below the blue page title and green website address.
Load the first paragraph of your item description with keywords so people browsing search engines can determine what your item is by reading the snippet.
4. Throughout the item description
Use 3-4 of your chosen keywords while describing your items. This isn't necessarily a factor in Etsy search but the keywords you've chosen will have been searched by buyers so it makes sense to include them in places.
Don't over do it and spam the living daylights out of your description, just drop them in naturally!
*Edit 06/12/216 - Loading your titles with keywords is a bit of a controversial subject and I suspect that it won't work forever due to the way that Google works (Etsy want items to show up in Google searches). It may be a good idea to limit the number of keywords in the title and make it naturally readable - maybe just use 3-4.
Step 11: Where to Use Keywords in Your Shop
Shop Announcement and Shop Title
The "Shop Announcement" forms the meta description for your shop in search engines so include some of your keywords in it.
It's good to include an "elevator pitch" for your shop (describing your business in 1 or 2 sentences) where you can use the keywords naturally. After this brief description you can include any updates on shipping times or special offers etc.
Your elevator pitch should also form your "Shop Title".
Name the individual sections of your shop using long tail keywords.
The "Shop Story" section is one of the most neglected pages and I see many novice sellers who completely over look it. It gives you a chance to connect with your customers, build trust and showcase your brand positively.
Crafting a great shop story page isn't easy but you should include keyword phrases, an elevator pitch, testimonials/reviews, any inspirational stories about how or why your business started and a slideshow of your best work.
Show the customer the lengths you have been to in order to master your craft and bring them products that will solve their problems!
Step 12: Tracking Progress & Renewing Regularly
After brainstorming, selecting 13 keywords and including them in your listings it is important to track them and see what is working.
In the words of Karl Pearson, "That which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.”
Taking a thorough approach to your shop SEO will give you a massive upper hand over your competitors, so you'll need to keep experimenting to see what's working.
How To See Where Your Items Rank
It is difficult to see where your own items rank for a given search term on Etsy. You could input a search like "vintage red dress" and manually click through each page to see where your items are ranking but unfortunately it's not that simple.
We know that Etsy uses multiple algorithms to determine the most relevant search results and these can effect what you see when you search for your own items. Your geographical location now plays a role and just like on Google, search results can be personalised to you based on your browsing history. So how can you accurately check to see where your items rank?
The Marmalead Entrepreneur package features an upgraded Keyword Search tool that allows you to see if your items rank in the top 500 listings for a search term! Here's how to use it:
1. Type in a search phrase and wait for Marmalead to analyse the listings.
2. Click the arrow next to "Include" to open the drop down menu. You'll see three boxes saying "Include Mine", "Omit Mine" and "Only Mine"
3. Check the box saying "Only Mine" if you have any listings in the top 100 or 500 results.
4. Scroll down the page and you will see which of your items are ranked and what page they're on.
Why Is This Useful
For me this is more than just useful, it is ESSENTIAL! Having the ability to see if your listings are ranking well means you can determine what's working and what's not. With this information you can change things and continually improve.
Renew Items Regularly
To keep search results fresh for frequent shoppers, Etsy’s search algorithm reviews how recently an item was listed or relisted. New listings also have a neutral quality score, which has no impact on placement.
Take advantage of these benefits by renewing your items regularly. For competitive niches you may benefit from doing this daily, but renewing every 2-7 days is what I recommend.
Just choose 1 or 2 items to renew each time and stagger it so your not doing 50 items at once!
Whenever you make changes to your item titles or tags you should renew the item. This shows Etsy that changes have been made and generally bumps the listing up to the top of the search results.
Step 13: Etsy SEO Case Study: Wooden Razor
Recently I listed a new item in my Etsy store (a wooden razor) and managed to get it ranking on the first page for multiple searches.
The finished razor was a beauty and I was super proud to have made it! I also got some nice photos which I think represented the item well. Below are the stages I went through to research keywords and make the listing.
I actually sold this razor the day after listing it so all of my hard work was totally worth it!
Here's my razor listing:
Step 1: Brainstorm
Describe the item in one sentence: A mach 3 razor with a wooden handle made out of walnut, inlayed with crushed malachite.
Initial keyword ideas:
[Custom wooden razor] [Mens wood razor] [Wood mach 3 razor] [Gift for him] [Groomsmen gift]
Step 2: Compile a massive list of keywords
I fired up Marmalead and did a number of searches related to my seed keywords. Using the keyword suggestions and taking a few keyword ideas from competing listings similar to mine I compiled a list of about 30 ideas.
Step 3: Keyword research & spreadsheet
With my huge list created I moved on to the Marmalead Keyword Comparison tool. I typed each word individually and made a spreadsheet to document the number of competing listings, views and favourites per week for every keyword.
With the spreadsheet created I was able to sort the data to see which keywords received the most views per week.
Step 4: Narrow down
With my data sorted I was able to choose 13 keywords that were relevant to my razor, received a decent number of views per week and didn't have a huge amount of competition. Here are the ones I chose:
Gift for him, Boyfriend gift, Husband gift, groomsmen razors, groomsmen gift ideas, Razor for men, gifts for dad, 5th anniversary gift, Mach 3 razor, Wet Shaving, engraved razor, mens wood razor, Personalized razor
Title for Item (140 characters arranged so they make sense!):
Personalized razor, Boyfriend gift, Gift for him, Husband gift, Groomsmen gift, Razor for men, Men's grooming, Mens wood razor, Walnut Razor
Title Rewritten to make more sense to HUMANS:
Gift for him, Boyfriend gift, Husband gift, Groomsmen Gift, Personalized razor, Razor for men, Mach 3 razor, Walnut & Malachite, Mens Razor
Tags arranged in the same order as the title:
Gift for him, Boyfriend gift, Husband gift, groomsmen gift ideas, Personalized razor, Razor for men, mens wood razor, gifts for dad, 5th anniversary gift, groomsmen razors, Mach 3 razor, Wet Shaving, engraved razor
Step 5: Tracking
I renewed the listing and checked all of the keywords individually on Marmalead to see how the listing was ranking:
[Boyfriend gift] – Page 8, Rank 331
[Gift for him] – Not ranked :(
[Husband gift] – Page 12, no 490
[Engraved Razor] – Page 1, Rank 4
[Wet Shaving] – Page 1, Rank 24
[Groomsmen gift ideas] – Not ranked :(
[Gifts for dad] – Not ranked :(
[Mach 3 Razor] – Page 1, no 13
[5th Anniversary gift] – Not ranked :(
[Groomsmen razors] – Page 1, Rank 1
[Personalized razor] – Page 1, Rank 1
[Razor for men] – Page 1, Rank 1
[Mens wood razor] - Page 1, Rank 1
I ranked well on 9 out of 13 keyword tags and even got onto page 1 for 7 of them! This isn't bad but I'll be looking to improve this over time and rank on page 1 for all of the tags! I'll remove the tags that I don't rank for and change them up to keywords with less competition, hopefully this should get my razor in front of more eyeballs!
Step 14: Conclusion: Get Stuck In!
Thank you for reading this tutorial, I know it's kind of a heavy subject but I hope you have found some value here and my advice helps you to improve your Etsy shop's visibility!
What to do next?
Now that you're armed with the knowledge it's time to get stuck in and experiment with your own listings. I would highly recommend you sign up for Marmalead even if you just use the free dabbler account. If you are looking to go full time with your shop or even step it up a notch then you should upgrade to the Entrepreneur plan.
For $19 a month (that's around £13.33 for us Brits) you'll be able to dominate Etsy search and gain more customers. I am normally quite frugal with my business expenses but so far this service has paid for itself 20 times over! I'd never recommend something that I don't use personally and this service has helped me to turn over £3,000 ($4160 usd) this month!
Join My Community
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You can also hire me if you need help with your shop! I offer a Personalised Etsy Shop Critique service where I will help you with your shop set up, SEO, photography and copy writing. Get in touch through the listing below if you'd like my help!
Thank you again for reading, if this guide helped you then please like it and share it on social media! Feel free to ask me questions here and I'll do my best to provide prompt answers in between making sawdust!