The trick to getting the most traffic to your Etsy shop is to think like a shopper. Try to anticipate what someone might enter into Google, Bing, Yahoo or some other search engine when looking for the kind of items you are selling. The words and phrases that come to mind when you look at your business that way should give you the basis for selecting keywords that will bring potential customers to your Etsy shop. (Etsy provides tips for developing a brainstorming list to come up with appropriate keywords.) How well you know your customers and use that knowledge and how well you understand the basic principles of search engine optimization can make or break your Etsy shop.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Basics
Search engines perform what is essentially a matching process, looking at every element of every website to find keywords that match what a user has typed into the search box. Those keywords may be found in:
- The words used in written page content
- Page titles
- Links to other sites
- The words used in those links
For an Etsy shop, keywords should be used in the:
- Shop title
- Shop section titles
- Item titles
- Item descriptions
Etsy Shop Title
Your shop title of 55 characters or less will appear beneath the name of your shop on your Etsy Home page. Etsy will turn your shop title into the page title that displays as a link a potential customer can click on in the list of results from a search. Ideally, the shop title you create will include keywords that describe your shop and what you sell, and perhaps the name of your business if you think that will help people who know it find you.
Etsy Section Titles
Similarly, Etsy will create a 66-character page title for the landing page for each section of your shop, based on the 24-character section names you assign when you set it up. The extra characters accommodate your shop’s name, which Etsy automatically adds when creating your page titles. For navigational as well as SEO purposes, it’s best to give each section a name that includes your keywords for that product category.
Each listing page gets its own title, which Etsy generates from the 140-character item title you create. Your username will be included automatically in each page title. If you give an item a title that is longer than 66 characters, Etsy will truncate it, so make sure to front-end load each item title you create with the descriptive keywords you think shoppers might enter into a search engine when looking for something like that item.
When one of your page titles appears in search engine results, a meta description displays just below it. This meta description is generated from the first 160 characters of the item description you write when listing an item for sale in your Etsy shop. Although search engines look at all of the content on a listing page, try to place your keywords and descriptive details near the beginning of each item description.
Links to Your Etsy Pages
The exact details as to what search engine algorithms look for and how they assign rankings to websites are a bit of a mystery, at least in terms of the weightings given to different factors. It’s well known that recent, relevant information earns you some “bonus points,” though we may not know precisely how currency and relevance or any of the other factors are measured. One effective way to earn those bonus points is to include inbound links to your Etsy pages from other websites, but they need to be quality links that provide information of interest to potential customers.
Establishing a social media presence for your Etsy shop on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or Google+ will help increase your shop’s search engine visibility. If you publish a blog or have a Facebook page for your Etsy business, be sure to link them to your Etsy pages. Also, talk to people you know who have compatible or related businesses about creating links from and to their websites that will help increase traffic to both their site and yours.
SEO for Etsy Searches
Your SEO skills come into play not only to attract search engine traffic but also to help ensure that people using Etsy’s own search function are attracted to your shop. You can increase the visibility of your items to Etsy’s search engine by specifying relevant attributes such as size, color, or dimensions.
When you list an item on Etsy, you identify it as handmade, vintage, or craft supply and select the appropriate category and subcategories from the list provided for that type of item. You then have the option of adding relevant attributes from the ones available for the item’s category and subcategories. Certain attributes are available for most listings: primary color, additional color, occasion, and holiday.
Tags function like keywords for Etsy searches, improving your chances of a shopper’s search leading to an item you’re selling. Each tag is a word or short phrase descriptive of the item. You can specify up to 13 tags for each item you list, and you should use all of them. Item tags and attributes are two different things, but they work together to help make an item visible to shoppers. The attributes you include in an item listing don’t need to be repeated in your tags, because Etsy’s search engine already takes them into account. However, you may want to come up with synonyms or alternative adjectives for your tags, such as “plus size” instead of “XXL,” or “baby blue” instead of “light blue.” To get the most leverage out of your 13 tags, combine multiple words into a single tag, like “etched glass jewelry box” instead of using a separate tag for each word, as in “etched” “glass” “jewelry box.” That’s like getting three tags for the price of one!
The more clicks an item receives, the higher the Etsy search algorithm will rank it in terms of “listing quality.” Other listing quality criteria include the number of purchases and how many people make the item a favorite. So anything you do that gets people to click, buy, or “favorite” an item will give it a boost in the Etsy search results. Clicking on an image to display another view, for example, is an interaction that contributes to the item’s listing quality.
Your Shop’s Etsy Track Record
Your shop’s placement in Etsy search results is also influenced by your compliance with Etsy’s policies and customer service history. Completing the About section and Shop Policies will help your placement, especially if you used Etsy’s shop policies template. And favorable reviews contribute to a higher placement because they are the best evidence of customer satisfaction. Conversely, customer complaints and violations of Etsy policies can adversely affect your placement in Etsy search results. If yours is a new shop, the absence of a track record won’t have any impact, positive or negative, on your placement.
Other Etsy Placement Factors
Other key factors that Etsy’s search algorithm takes into account include:
- How new an item is to your shop—More recently listed or relisted items score higher.
- What country you do business from—Some Etsy shoppers are known to prefer buying from sellers in the same country, so shop location is a factor in searches by shoppers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
- Diversity—Because Etsy shoppers value uniqueness, the Etsy search algorithm is designed to include items from a variety of different shops in the results of any search, to the extent possible.
Good SEO Takes Time
It takes time, patience, and continuous refinement to see your items prominently placed in search results. Don’t expect to get it exactly right the first time. You may notice that an item is not being viewed by Etsy shoppers, or perhaps it is being viewed but not purchased. Either situation suggests that you may need to refine your list of keywords and revise your titles and tags accordingly. It’s easy enough to make these edits to your listings. If you’re seeing some sales, but you think you can do better, try making small, incremental changes to tweak your listings rather than drastic ones. Your aim should be to build on what is working, and change only what is not working well for you.
Etsy’s Shop Stats tool provides valuable information that will help you increase the effectiveness of your SEO efforts, such as visits to your shop and to each of your listing pages, a breakdown of traffic from different sources, sales history, items that have been favorited, which of your current keywords are most effective in driving traffic to your listings, and much more. You can specify a time period for reviewing stats, enabling you to see patterns and trends suggesting a need for improvement or telling you that what you’re doing is having the desired effect.
For further SEO guidance and advice, take a look at this article in Etsy’s Seller Handbook: 4 Ways to Improve Your SEO and Increase Your Traffic.