How To Do Etsy SEO (And Why It’s Not Just About Keywords)

If you’re a new Etsy seller, or someone who’s been on Etsy for a while but who doesn’t understand the search engine or what SEO is, you might find yourself believing really bad advice that can waste your time and hurt your shop if you’re not careful.

I asked the people in my Facebook group to tell me some of the bad SEO advice they’ve heard presented as fact by self-appointed Etsy “gurus,” which is a term that I really dislike.

In my EShop program, the first thing I do in the weekly live webinars is to go over bad SEO advice that people should forget, because there’s SO MUCH OF IT.

It’s hard to believe, but SEO is easy, and people try to make it hard so that you’ll think they have the “Secret Sauce” to hacking the Etsy algorithm.

Don’t fall for it, it’s much easier to help the algorithm than hack it, and if you help it, you won’t have to scramble every time it changes.

What Etsy search needs from us is accurate and thorough information about our listings, not a bunch of tricks.

How to do Etsy SEO and why it's not just about keywords

Table of Contents

click for the video

This video was a summary of the live response that I did in the Facebook group, and I’ve posted the things that people have been told they HAVE to do below.

If you don’t understand the thumbnail photo, you should join my Facebook group (where you’re not kicked out for asking questions) to learn about Walter the squirrel.

What is Etsy SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is basically just making sure that your listings are in the best shape they can be to make it easy for the search engine to find them. Making sure that you have good keywords, a good description, and good photos that people will favorite, is “optimizing” your listings for the search engine.

Etsy SEO isn’t just the keywords that you choose to put in your titles and tags, it’s a combination of a lot of things that can influence how customers click on the listings or favorite them.

All of the interaction that your listings have with people help Etsy to identify what the listing is, and who would want to buy it.

So SEO isn’t just keywords, it’s everything that goes into creating a good listing.

The following tips are the things that people have heard that are just wrong:

Should you rename photos with good keywords before uploading them to Etsy? No!

Etsy renames every photo that’s uploaded with a random string of characters, so anything that you named the photo will be changed.

Photos should be given search-friendly names for websites because Google reads them, but not for Etsy.

It’s a good idea to rename the photo files if you plan on uploading them anywhere else online, because that can help them be found in Google search, but if you only upload them to Etsy, it’s a waste of time.

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Is there a magic number of listings on Etsy that will guarantee that you’ll get sales when you reach that number? No!

There is no specific number of listings that will guarantee sales in an Etsy shop.

The more listings you have on Etsy, the more chances you have to be found, but you can sell a lot with one or two listings if it’s something that people want. Having more listings does not guarantee more sales.

The best practice when you open an Etsy shop is to start off with 20-30 listings if that’s at all possible, but not because that will get you higher sales.

It’s because that will fill up the first page of your shop so that it doesn’t look empty when customers come to it.

A shop that looks more full will make customers feel more comfortable about buying from it.

search results on Etsy xwalk
Listings in Etsy search results.

Do you have to repeat your entire Etsy title in your tags? No!

Repeat the one or two “best” keywords that you want to send Etsy a signal for as far as them being relevant for your listing.

After that, you don’t need to repeat words in both places, and it’s a waste of space if you do.

It’s better to add more relevant words that can help the search engine figure out what your listing is, and give Etsy more keywords to match to a variety of long-tail searches.

Etsy doesn’t give you extra credit for using the same keywords twice, so don’t do it if you can help it. Use the space they give you to add a variety of accurate, descriptive terms.

Should you post your whole title at the very top of your description, and use capital letters? No!

Etsy search does use the description as a part of their search placement algorithm, but repeating the entire title in the description is a bad experience for the customer.

And if this advice is meant for Google, the person giving it doesn’t understand how Google works with Etsy.

You should definitely put some good keywords in the description for the customer’s sake, but not in all caps, and definitely not by repeating your entire title and all of your tags.

Write the description using natural language that includes keywords, and describe your listing so that the customer can get the information that they need.

click for the video

Is the Etsy search bar the best place to find keywords, and should you only use terms that show up in the search bar? No!

The Etsy search bar auto-populates with recent searches, not necessarily good ones. Some of them have ultra-high competition, and others are switched out every few days.

The search bar is one place to get ideas for keywords, but it should NOT be the only place.

Just because something shows up in the search bar’s autosuggest does NOT mean that it has good search and engagement on Etsy.

A lot of the time the things that show up in the autosuggest are just random things, and they can also be different from browser to browser.

If you have enough people type something into the search bar it will start showing up, too, so it’s definitely not all “good” keywords.

Should you use “keyword saturation” as a strategy? No!

Keyword saturation is a search engine strategy that assumes that the more a keyword is used on a page, the more relevance the search engine will see it having.

However, it’s not really as big a thing as people seem to think it is on Google, and in Etsy search it’s not a thing at all.

The keyword saturation strategies I’ve seen described seem to assume that there are a finite number of slots that a shop can be seen on in any given Etsy search result, but Etsy doesn’t limit the number of times a shop can be shown in search.

Any strategy that involves having you count the number of times a keyword is used is probably based on busywork, and is likely not going to help you at all.

Favorites on an Etsy listing
Favorites on an Etsy listing.

If people don’t like your listing, does Etsy stop showing it in search results at all? No!

Etsy uses likes and clicks through to the listing from search results to gather information about the listing.

If nobody favorites your listing, Etsy won’t have information about it, but it can still be found for specific long-tail searches.

The competition for those searches is usually lower, too, so it might be easier to be found to begin with.

And when Etsy gets information about the listing, they’ll start showing it for more competitive searches eventually, it might just take some time.

So you can be found in searches if people haven’t favorited your listing, but it will take longer than if people favorite it after they find it in search.

Should you only create entirely new listings instead of copying them? No!

I’ve seen a few justifications for this, but creating a copy of a listing makes a new listing, they’re treated the same as if you started from scratch.

Making a copy is a time-saver, and regardless of whether it’s a copy or created from scratch, the new listing will probably be at the back of search results for a while until Etsy can gather enough information about it to rank it in search.

That has nothing to do with whether it’s a copy or not.

Obviously, make sure that the copied listing has the right details so that it describes your new listing accurately. Don’t just copy something and not adjust things!

But it doesn’t matter if you start from scratch, or copy a listing that you already have, they’ll both be considered “new” by Etsy.

Think about this critically…Why would Etsy be mad about people sending them free traffic? They like free traffic.

Will social media traffic ruin your conversion rate?

A group member got this information directly from Etsy, and they said she could share it: “Your overall shop conversion is not very important at all. What matters is how your listing converts for the search term it is being shown in. So spikes from social media etc. do not hurt your listing’s ranking.”

Etsy likes it when you send social media traffic to your listings, and it doesn’t punish you if your listings are featured on social platforms.

Think about this critically…Why would Etsy be mad about people sending them free traffic? They like free traffic.

So don’t worry about sending social media traffic to your Etsy shop, it will only help you, and Etsy won’t penalize you for doing it.

Should your title only have two keywords in it, and should it be short? No!

Etsy reads the entire title space, and you should use the entire title and tags space to give it information about your listing.

Short titles leave keywords out that could be included for more long-tail search query matches.

Also, there can be an unlimited number of keywords that can be formed from an average Etsy title, because Etsy doesn’t limit search results to things that match the exact word order in the titles and tags.

So thinking of keywords as being individual units is a basic misunderstanding of how Etsy search works.

Should all Etsy tags be a searched-for phrase? No!

Tags are there to support the title and to give Etsy more information about the listing.

Tags don’t need to make sense, and Etsy doesn’t see them in isolation.

The Etsy search engine will bounce around in the title and tags matching terms to the search query, and it doesn’t matter if the words are in the exact same order or not.

You can put words together on a tag if they fit, and you don’t need to worry about whether it makes sense or not, let alone whether it’s something that people search for.

click for the video

Does it take 30-90 days for Etsy to rank your listing in search, and is it true that they won’t be found until then? No!

Etsy will find your listings almost immediately, and even though ranking can take longer, that’s an ongoing process that can change after 90, 120 or however many days.

Your listings can be found in search and purchased within 10 minutes or so after they’re listed.

Read this article about search vs ranking to learn more: The Etsy Algorithm, And Why It’s Not What You Think It Is.

If short tail keywords are included in long tail keywords, is it true that they won’t be a direct word order match for searches? No!

If a short tail keyword is included in a long tail keyword, it will be a direct word order match.

For example, if the phrase “women’s black dress” is on a tag, and someone searches for “black dress,” that is considered an exact word order match even though “women’s ” is also on the tag.

Remember, tags aren’t seen in isolation or as individual units.

So basically, if the words that someone types into the search bar are in the title or tags in the same order, it’s an exact word-order match. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a part of a longer phrase or not.

Will listing new things every day and doing certain things every day (shop updates etc.) guarantee sales on Etsy?

Activity for the sake of activity doesn’t guarantee sales on Etsy.

If you list three things that nobody wants to buy every day, you probably won’t sell them.

A lot of Etsy coaches and gurus come at you with a long list of things to do every day in your shop, but as long as you’re making consistent organic sales and getting reviews coming in regularly, that’s the kind of activity that Etsy really wants.

Doing busywork won’t get you sales, it just makes you feel like you’re busy and is a basic waste of time most of the time.

For lists of ecommerce keywords that I’ve personally come up with using data from Etsy searches, click here: Keyword Lists For Etsy Sellers

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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