Note: The term ‘Etsy’ and other Etsy graphics are trademarks of Etsy, Inc. This article is not endorsed by Etsy.
Do you feel invisible on Etsy? Are you having trouble getting your products in front of the right buyers? If so, it’s time to beef up your Etsy search engine optimization strategy and boost the presence of your listings.
This Etsy SEO guide will help you do just that. We’ll explore the inner workings of Etsy search; you’ll learn how the site’s algorithm works, the factors that come into play when it ranks listings, and the steps you should take to improve your position in search results.
Let’s get cracking!
Etsy search engine optimization: What it is and why it matters
Why should you invest in Etsy SEO? Simple: there are a lot of shoppers on the site. According to Marketplace Pulse, in the first quarter of 2019, Etsy had 41.03 million active buyers—people who bought at least one item in the last 12 months. That’s a growth of 18% from the previous year.
This tells us that consumers are increasingly shopping on the site. More buyers equals more chances to sell, which can lead to higher revenues. But in order to sell, you need to be visible. This is where Etsy search engine optimization comes in.
How does SEO for Etsy sellers work?
According to Etsy, when a buyer runs a search, its algorithm does two things to determine the results that shoppers see. They are:
1. Query matching
Etsy kicks things off with a process called query matching in which it runs through listings and gathers up the ones that match the customer’s search query. Etsy does this by examining the following:
After query matching, Etsy ranks all the matched listings based on each buyer’s likelihood to purchase the items. In this phase, Etsy takes the following ranking factors into consideration:
- Relevance of the listing. Etsy looks at a listing’s title, tags, categories, and attributes and tries to figure out how aligned they are with the buyer’s search. The closer the match, the higher you rank.
- Quality of the listing. Etsy looks at a listing’s conversions to determine a metric called the “listing quality score.” The higher the conversion rate, the higher the listing score—and ranking.
- Age of the listing. Newer listings get a slight temporary boost in their rankings. This boost can last a few hours or days, depending on the product’s search volume. This enables Etsy to understand how shoppers interact with each listing, which then influences its listing quality score.
- Customer and market experience. Etsy wants to give buyers a smooth browsing and purchasing experience. To do that, its search engine factors in a seller’s customer service history as well as the content of the shop, including its About page, store policies, ratings, and reviews. Etsy then scores shops based on the experience they offer and rewards high-scoring sellers by ranking their listings favorably in search results.
- Shipping costs. The shipping price is important to buyers, so it’s important to Etsy. According to a study conducted by the company, shoppers are 50% less likely to buy an item if they perceived the shipping price to be higher than what they’re used to.For this reason, the cost of shipping is now an Etsy ranking factor. Sellers with lower shipping costs—or, even better, those that offer free shipping—will likely see their listings rank higher in search results.
- Language and translations. If you sell to international buyers, it will help to add custom translations to your listings. While Etsy automatically translates listings to match each buyer’s query and language settings, manually translating your content will help it outperform listings that have been automatically translated. This is because manual translations often sound more natural and are more in line with how buyers would typically type in their queries.
- Context Specific Rankings (CSR). A buyer’s browsing behavior—including what products they clicked on and items they bought previously—are also factored in Etsy rankings. Etsy uses a technology called Context Specific Ranking to serve up personalized search results and strives to give each buyer the most relevant listings depending on their past behavior.
SEO for Etsy: 5 tips to consider
Now that you know how Etsy’ search algorithm works, let’s talk about the practical steps you should take to get your listings to rank higher.
1. Find the best keywords for Etsy
Keywords are the building blocks of your Etsy SEO strategy. The first thing Etsy does when processing a buyer’s search query is comb through its inventory of listings to find the ones that best match the user’s search terms.
That’s why it’s essential that you figure out the best keywords for your Etsy listings. Here’s how.
1.1. Think like a buyer
There are some useful Etsy apps that can surface the right keywords, we’ll get to them in a bit. But before that, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. When you understand your shoppers and know why they’re searching for your products, you’ll be able to easily determine the right words and phrases to use in your listings.
This will also help when you’re dealing with the technical side of keyword research. Etsy SEO tools can generate long lists of keywords and tons of choices, which can take time to sift through and organize. Knowing your buyers and their search intentions makes the keyword research process easier because you already have an idea of what buyers are looking for.
1.2. Use Etsy SEO tools to find keyword search volume and ideas
You can use Etsy keyword tools to get even more search term ideas and determine which queries to prioritize. Check out the following Etsy solutions and software to find the best keywords.
Marmalead is the most recommended Etsy keyword tool and for good reason. Made specifically for the marketplace, the software offers brainstorming and reporting tools to surface top Etsy searches, keyword search volume, engagement, and competition. It also looks at keyword performance over the last 12 months to predict how they’re going to perform in the future.
Marmalead comes with other nice-to-have features including shop and listing grades as well as price breakpoints, which tell you how your prices compare against other sellers.
Pricing: $19 USD a month / $15.83 per month if paid annually.
Formerly known at Etsy rank, eRank has a suite of tools to cover your Etsy keyword research needs and more.
Keyword research can take time. Fortunately, eRank has a couple of features for quickly getting data for multiple search terms. There’s the Bulk Keyword Tool which looks up search volumes for Etsy and Google, 20 words at a time. This is handy if you want your listings to rank on Google. There’s also the Bulk Rank Checker which lets you check the performance of 20 keywords at a time.
And if you’re looking for more general Etsy trends, you can use Trending on Etsy, a feature that surfaces the most searched keywords on Etsy and seasonal trends based on last year’s data.
Pricing: The standard plan is free, but you can upgrade to the Pro tier for $9.99 a month.
This tool is ideal if you’re looking for long-tail search terms and more specific buyer queries. KTD’s Etsy keyword tool is a free website that generates long-tail search terms (i.e., highly specific search phrases that contain three words or more). This tool doesn’t provide insights into search volume or Etsy rankings, but it’s great for finding long-tail keyword ideas that you can enter into other SEO programs.
All you need to do is type in a keyword, and KTD will generate a list of long-tail query suggestions which you can then export into a CSV.
Pricing: The free version is limited to 3 searches a day. For unlimited keyword suggestions, daily searches, and keyword downloads, you can purchase the full version for $69.99. Currently on sale for $48.29!
Google Keyword Planner is a handy tool if you want to substantiate your existing keyword research and if one of your objectives is to get your listings to show up on Google. This tool generates search volume and competition info for specific keywords entered into Google, allowing you to gain insights into what people are typing into the search engine.
1.3. Look at your Etsy analytics
Another way to find keywords? Check out your Etsy reports. Etsy’s native reporting tool offers valuable insights into how people find your listings. Aside from displaying pageviews and traffic sources, Etsy also shows the search terms that have led to your listings.
Finding your search terms report is easy. Just go to the Shop Manager on your Etsy dashboard and click Stats.
1.4. Use Etsy’s search box (but don’t rely on it completely!)
Etsy’s native search suggestions can be helpful with your research, but don’t rely on them alone when looking for keywords. This is because Etsy makes these recommendations based on recent searches, and they don’t necessarily reflect the overall popularity of a keyword.
2. Optimize the key components of your listing
Once you know which keywords to use, incorporate them into your listing. When matching queries, Etsy looks at the listing components below to see if they are aligned with a buyer’s search. Go through them and make sure they’re optimized for search.
Etsy lets you use up to 140 characters in your title, but puts more weight on the first few words. So, make sure you enter the most important keywords first.
If you’re selling original paintings, you should use terms such “wall art,” “office painting” or “abstract painting” instead of the title of the piece—you can save that for the product description.
Take a look at this example, where the seller uses search-friendly terms like “original wall art” and “bird painting” in the listing title, but saves the title of the artwork—“Never Alone”—for the description.
Etsy doesn’t allow titles to contain more than 3 words in all caps. Some special characters like the percentage symbol (%) and ampersand (&) can only be used once, and the dollar sign ($) and caret (^) aren’t allowed at all.
Now let’s talk about Etsy tags, attributes, and categories. These three components all function as tags and Etsy uses them in its query-matching process. But they also have some distinctions, which we’ll get to below.
2.2. Etsy tags
Etsy tags have two functions: help buyers discover similar or related and products and help Etsy in its query matching process.
Etsy lets you add up to 13 tags for each listing, so make them count! Vary your tags so they cover a wide range of search terms. For instance, if you’re selling earrings, then in addition to typical tags like “diamond earrings” or “gold earrings,” add tags like “custom jewelry” or “women’s gifts”.
Etsy tags can be up to 20 characters long and can contain multiple words. In fact, Etsy recommends using multi-word tags (e.g., “handmade earrings” vs. “handmade”) because they let you be more precise.
You should also prioritize long-tail keywords over generic terms. Why? Because shoppers who know what they want typically enter specific search terms when looking for products. Using those long-tail keywords helps you get in front of these customers.
For instance, someone on the hunt for a men’s wallet is likely to be clear and specific with their search terms and enter “men’s leather wallet” or “minimalist wallet” instead of just “wallet.”
Attributes are the additional details you might use to describe your products. They are displayed on the left-hand side of the search results page and customers can use them to narrow down the search results.
Attributes serve two purposes: they make buyers’ lives easier by allowing them to filter search results and they let Etsy match queries more effectively.
You can optimize this component of your listing by including as many relevant attributes as possible when you’re submitting your listing. For example, if you’re selling a pair of black leather ballet flats, then you’d select attributes such as “flats,” “black,” and “leather.”
You can also use them to broaden the match potential of your listing. The more relevant attributes you have, the higher the chances that your product will show up on search results. Let’s say you’re using “violet” to describe a shirt that you’re selling. To improve your chances of ranking, you could add “purple” as a color attribute, because it still accurately describes the item.
While Etsy categories are primarily used to help shoppers browse the site and narrow down their search, they still play an important role in SEO. Categories and sub-categories function as Etsy tags, and the site uses them when matching listings to search queries.
Optimize your categories by being as specific as possible. Go for the sub-categories first when classifying your items, because Etsy automatically adds your products to the broader categories that the sub-category is nested in.
For example, if you’re selling a ring with multiple stones, then use the sub-category “Multistone Rings.” When you do this, that product will automatically be listed under “Rings” and “Jewelry & Accessories,” so shoppers will still discover your products when they search those categories.
3. Beef up the content of your listing
Having a listing that aligns with a buyer’s search is a good start, but it’s not the only determining factor for ranking high in search results.
While a keyword-optimized listing is a must, having strong visuals and copy is just as important because these are the things that lead to conversions. As mentioned earlier, Etsy’s algorithm factors in a listing’s conversion rate when determining its place in search results. The more people click a listing and subsequently buy the item, the higher the listing’s quality score will be. That, in turn, increases your rankings.
Here are some of the ways to beef up the content of your listing.
3.1. Use high-quality photos
Etsy lets you add up to 10 photos per listing, so grab the opportunity to showcase your products in the best possible light. In addition to taking photos from multiple angles, add images of your products being used. If relevant, include images that give people a better idea of the item’s size, texture, etc.
Here’s an example of this tip in action. The shop owner who sells citrine necklaces, used all 10 photo slots to showcase the product from multiple angles. They included lifestyle shots and added a diagram to show the various lengths of the necklace.
3.2. Write clear and informative descriptions
While Etsy’s search algorithm doesn’t scan product descriptions, they play a significant role in increasing conversions — which then helps your Etsy rankings.
Etsy has no word count limit for your product description, so the length of the content will depend on how complex your product is or how much of a story you want to tell. But no matter how you decide to write your description, keep the following best practices in mind:
- Write the most important details first. Doing so captures the immediate attention of shoppers, encouraging them to keep reading. This information will vary depending on the product, but typically includes the item’s key features, as well as ordering instructions. Feel free to repeat some of the words that you’ve used in your title, attributes, tags, and categories.
- Make your descriptions scannable. Nothing scares online shoppers off more than a wall of text, so use short paragraphs (4-5 lines max). Use bold, italics, and underline formatting to highlight key information and headers to break up the text.
- Add a link. Etsy makes URLs clickable if they lead to pages within the marketplace, so consider adding Etsy URLs to your descriptions to direct people to other items or your shop’s main page. That way, if a customer isn’t ready to buy, you can still keep them within the bounds of your store, instead of having them go back to search results or check out other sellers.
The following example shows all these Etsy SEO tips in action. The seller has relevant keywords at the beginning of the description (e.g., “crystals,” “healing crystals”, “citrine pendant gold,” etc.) then proceeds to talk about the story behind the gemstone as well as its key benefits. They’ve also added a link to similar products towards the end of the description.
3.3. Collect lots of reviews
97% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Online shoppers value other customers’ feedback, particularly if they’re buying something they can’t see and touch in person. That’s why important that your listings contain ratings and reviews.
The good news is Etsy already helps you out on this front—it automatically nudges customers to share feedback about their products. To take it a step further to encourage customers to rate and review your items, consider adding a note in your shipments thanking your customers and inviting them to review their purchase. Just be careful with your messaging. It’s against Etsy’s rules to offer additional goods, services, or compensation in exchange for reviews, so you want to ensure that your note doesn’t come off as pushy.
What if you get a negative review? Get in touch to see if you can resolve their issue. If you handle it the right way, you might just turn their negative experience into a positive one!
4. Keep your customer and market experience score high
Etsy’s search algorithm considers the customer and market experience score in rankings. This is a metric that gives Etsy an idea of how satisfied customers are with your shop. Here are some of the factors that can affect your score:
4.1. Product reviews
In addition to driving purchases, reviews also have a direct impact on your customer market experience score. Etsy favors products with positive reviews by giving them a better placement in its search.
4.2. About section
Part of providing a satisfying shopping experience is letting your customers get to know your store better. That’s why it’s important to craft a compelling About section and use the space to show off your personality and build trust with your customers.
Make the most of the About section by telling your shop’s story and adding photos and videos. The goal is to connect with buyers and make them feel confident about making a purchase.
TheBurlapCottage sells various keepsakes and does this exceptionally well. The store’s About section shares their story, a personal note from the owner, customer testimonials, photos, and videos.
4.3. Store policies
Having clear store policies helps put your customers at ease. Being transparent with how you operate — particularly when it comes to returns — gives shoppers confidence in their buying decisions. Plus, it helps you manage customer expectations. Etsy provides templates for shipping policies, payment options, returns and exchanges, and user privacy that you can use to craft your own store policies.
That’s exactly what TheBurlapCottage does. Its store policies detail how the shop handles shipping, payments, and returns.
The store also has a frequently asked questions section, which saves them and their customers from engaging in too much Q&A and back-and-forth. These FAQs also make TheBurlapCottage more transparent and open.
4.4. Buyer disputes and cases
According to Etsy, having cases opened against your store within the last 4 months can hurt your score. That’s why it’s critical that you avoid such cases and disputes by being honest in your listings and managing shopper expectations. And if someone does open a case against you, quickly communicate with both the shopper and Etsy to resolve it ASAP.
4.5. Intellectual property infringement
Write original content in your listings and only use photos you took yourself, unless you have permission to use someone else’s images. Etsy will lower your customer and market experience score if it receives notices of intellectual property infringements against your shop.
5. Offer competitive shipping prices
Etsy knows that its customers are more likely to buy from sellers that don’t charge much for shipping; and since the site wants customers to complete a purchase, it favors listings with lower shipping fees.
Lowering your shipping costs can be tricky, especially if you don’t have a wide profit margin, but there a couple of creative tactics to try.
- Incorporate shipping costs into your product pricing. Mix in a portion of your estimated shipping costs into your pricing, so you can lower the listing’s shipping fees. If you’re selling an item that costs $10 to make and $5 to ship, you could split the shipping price in two, and add one half ($2.50) to your item cost to bring the total listing price to $12.50.
- Offer free shipping. Doing so will make your listing a lot more attractive to both buyers and Etsy’s search engine. Plus, a free shipping badge will be displayed on your search results listing. You can incorporata in the entire shipping fee into your listing price or by implementing conditional free shipping, in which you waive the shipping fees if customers meet certain requirements. For example, you can have free shipping for orders above $50.
Winning the Etsy SEO game is completely doable
You’re going to need more than just the right keywords to rank in a search engine as sophisticated as Etsy’s.
Implementing a successful Etsy SEO strategy requires a combo of selling products that people are looking for, implementing technical search engine optimization tactics, and being a fair and communicative seller. Get all 3 components right, and you’ll win the Etsy SEO game.
In short? There’s no silver bullet. You have to do the work and be the best seller you can be.