Do Etsy Photos Matter For SEO? The Real Story.

Etsy has some clear guidelines about what they want photo sizes to be for different purposes, but they don’t say a lot more about your pictures other than that. Sellers often wonder about whether photos directly affect Etsy search or not, and the answer is a little complicated.

Listing photos on Etsy don’t have a direct impact on search placement, but because they can influence customer behavior, they can indirectly affect placement. If photos are interesting enough for customers to click on them, that can increase the listing quality. In addition, if customers favorite the listing or purchase because of the photo, it can improve the listing’s position in search results.

Good photos will make people more likely to look at the listing, so it’s important to think about lighting and composition.

It’s also important to use enough photos so that customers get a good idea about what they’re buying.

Beyond those obvious reasons, though, does Etsy look at the specifics of photos to determine search placement?

Do Etsy Photos Matter For SEO_ The Real Story. _ Artisan Shopping Directory

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Table of Contents

Does naming the photo file help in search placement on Etsy?

When a photo is uploaded to Etsy the file name is changed to a random string of letters and numbers, and the original file name isn’t entered in the system. Although it’s preferable to have file names for other websites and for Google SEO, Etsy Search doesn’t use the name of the photo file for search placement purposes.

Some people say that you should change the file name of the Etsy photo so that Google will be able to find your listings better, but the reality is that any name you give the photo will be changed.

It’s basically a waste of time to change the file names for uploading to Etsy.

Also, individual Etsy listings are rarely ever found in Google organic search anyway. Here’s a video about that:

Click to see the video.

If you’re not sure about what I mean when I say “change the file name,” it just refers to giving the picture a name instead of leaving the “img_1234” type file name that is automatically assigned to it when you take the picture in your digital camera or phone.

Naming your photos is a good idea if you’re uploading them to a website or to other sites that don’t change the file name, because search engines do read the photo file names.

But the truth is that Etsy’s going to change it, so you might as well not bother unless you’re also going to upload it to a website as well.

How big should listing photos be for Etsy?

Etsy suggests that listing photos be 2000px on the shortest side of the photo and at least 72ppi. They should also be under 1MB in total file size or they might not upload completely. Etsy also suggests that the first listing photo should be landscape or square, and that thumbnails should be horizontal at a 4:3 aspect ratio to allow for accurate centering of the thumbnail images.

As a general guideline, if the top edge of a listing photo is 2000 pixels wide, that’s large enough. Etsy wants to have larger photos so that customers can enlarge them to see details of the listing.

However, the size of the photo doesn’t directly affect search placement. So if your photos are larger or smaller they won’t be penalized in search just because of that.

A lot of digital image sellers don’t want to make their files very big because they don’t want people to be able to copy and download them from their Etsy listing.

It’s fine to make the pictures smaller as far as preventing photo thieves go, and it won’t hurt your ranking in Etsy search.

Does the shape of the photo affect Etsy search placement?

As a general rule, Etsy suggests that all listing photos be landscape orientation or square, but the shape of the photo doesn’t matter as far as search ranking goes. Vertically-oriented photos can be uploaded to listings and then adjusted to display correctly in the thumbnail without any penalty in search.

I have listing photos that are vertical and that have been designed to pin on Pinterest in the 2:3 aspect ratio.

Because you can adjust the way that the first listing photo displays when you create the listing, you’ll be able to have the thumbnail show correctly and still Pin the images and display a full version in the actual listing.

Watch this video to see how to adjust how the thumbnail of a listing photo is done, and how the listing photo looks on the listing itself and in search results.

By adjusting the photo in the listing manager it will display correctly in search even if it’s not a horizontal orientation.

Video showing how to size photos vertically and arrange them to display correctly on Etsy.

Should I add Alt Text to my listing photos to help in search placement?

Etsy recently included an option to add alt text to listing photos, but this does not impact the listing’s rank in Etsy search results. The article in the Etsy help section mentions alt text as a way to help the listings “SEO,” but when Etsy mentions SEO they’re referring to outside search engines, not Etsy search. Google and other search engines do see the alt text on photos, but the main reason to add alt text is to assist visually impaired customers.

Even though alt text doesn’t help your ranking in Etsy search, it can be useful for customers who use screen readers because they’re blind or visually impaired.

My best friend’s husband is legally blind, and his screen reader picks up the alt text on photos to let him know what the photos on a web page are.

If you have potential customers who have screen readers it could help to turn them into buyers if they’re able to get more details about a listing through the alt text.

It’s also getting to be more important for accessibility laws in general, so it’s not surprising that Etsy has added the option of adding alt text to listings.

Adding alt text won’t help your listings in search placement, but it’s a good practice for other reasons. If you have time to do it, I would recommend adding it to your listing photos.

It doesn’t have to be a long-winded description, just tell what the listing is and avoid a lot of unnecessary details.

One thing my friend said is that when they run into super long descriptions that don’t get to the point, they just quit and move along.

If you keep your alt text targeted at what the actual listing was, you’ll be fine, and you won’t overwhelm the customer with unnecessary details.

To add alt text to your listing photos, click on the pencil icon on the photo in the listing editor. (This is a new feature so it may or may not be in your shop yet.) Here’s a video showing how I do the alt text on my listings:

Video showing how to add alt text to Etsy listing photos.

As you can see, I keep the alt text short and sweet so that the customer can hear the description of the listing without a lot of unnecessary details.

If you have fewer listings than I do you might have time to do a better explanation of the item, but I like to keep the descriptions concise!

Does it matter for Etsy search if I don’t have all ten photos?

Etsy search doesn’t take the number of photos in the listing into account for search ranking. However, the more photos there are, the more information the customer will be able to get about the listing, and the more likely they may be to buy it. This will increase the listing quality score, which does affect the listing’s rank.

You don’t have to have all ten photo slots filled out on Etsy, but it could be good to put as many in as you can. Take photos from different angles, show any details that you want the customers to know about, and display any special features.

For vintage sellers, add photos of flaws so that customers are aware of imperfections.

The more photos, the more likely the customer will be to feel comfortable buying the listing. If you want to use some photo slots for graphics with more information about it, that’s fine too.

Etsy doesn’t penalize you for putting text in the photo slots, so put information about the listing that customers need to know in the listing photos.

Does Etsy use photo recognition?

In recent investor presentations, the Etsy CEO and CFO have referred to photo recognition as a factor in the ranking process in Etsy search. Although it’s at the beginning stages, it’s clear that Etsy is using photo recognition in some form based on search results. The XWalk search algorithm makes connections between listings and customers using many different pieces of information, and photos seem to be part of that.

I started seeing some obvious attempts at photo recognition a few years ago, and I’ve noticed things in search results that were also clearly related.

As the search algorithm gets more sophisticated I’m sure that photo recognition will be a part of the process. Making sure that your photos clearly show what you’re selling is the main way that you can take advantage of this.

To sum it up, photos on Etsy don’t directly affect search ranking, but if they increase clicks, favorites, add-to-carts, and purchases, they can affect it indirectly. Better photos can make customers feel better about buying from you, so it’s important to use them to their best advantage.

Kara Buntin

Kara Buntin has run a profitable home-based business since 1999, and has a background in art, theater design, and cake decorating. She's a top Etsy seller with over 51,000 sales on Etsy and her own website, and helps other home-based business owners with their business goals and SEO. She founded the Artisan Shopping Directory website to promote the artisans who are members of her EShop Success marketing program.

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