Etsy SEO Guide: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Rank #1 (2021)📊

Aug 3, 2019 · 11 min read
Etsy SEO guide — Updated January 2021

In this guide, I will share my process on how to get more traffic on Etsy using search engine optimization (SEO). You will learn how to optimize your shop and listings to get your products on top of Etsy search which ultimately increases sales! 🥳

But why should you take my advice? I've been an Etsy seller for two years and I believe the numbers speak for themselves:

Etsy SEO Guide — The Numbers for one of my Shops

This guide is based on the information Etsy has disclosed about factors that go into Etsy search ranking, personal experience, and general SEO knowledge.

Here is a quick overview of what I’ll go through:

  1. How Etsy search works
  2. Titles & tag relevancy
  3. Keyword research
  4. Listing quality score
  5. Customer and market experience score
Bonus: Check out our free Etsy keyword research tool (image is a link)

Alura has a suite of tools made specifically for Etsy sellers. Check out Keyword Finder which is a keyword research tool made specifically for Etsy. Get started for free here:

1. How Etsy Search works 🕵🏼‍♀️

Having a deep understanding of how Etsy search works is important to ranking on Etsy. Whenever a buyer searches for an item on Etsy, Etsy uses a product ranking algorithm that is composed of multiple factors used to match user’s search queries to products they are most likely to purchase. The tool that matches buyers with the items they’re looking for works in two phases:

  1. Query matching 👫

If your listing is relevant to the query (search term) a buyer entered it is matched with the query. A listing becomes relevant if it has the search term in the title or tags. This is why keyword research, titles, and tags are important!

2. Ranking 🥇

Etsy ranks relevant listings to the search term based on a variety of factors and serves these to the buyer. Even though your listing contains the exact keyword a customer searched for, it might not be prioritized in search placement. This is because Etsy considers all relevant listings and prioritizes the ones that have a high listing quality score and customer and market experience score. We will go into more detail on how to optimize your shop for these factors later.

Etsy identifies all of these factors in the seller handbook. You can find more details about how Etsy search works here.

2. Titles & tag relevancy 🏷

Titles and tags are the main factors Etsy considers when a customer enters a search query. For your listing to be relevant to a search query it needs to match the phrase in the listing title or tags.

I'll walk you through my process for creating titles and tags for my products and then give you some important factors to keep in mind when creating yours.

Whenever I add a new listing, I like to target one main keyword which I add at the beginning of my title, as a tag, and in my description. I select this keyword by doing keyword research (that’s explained in section 3). In addition to the main keyword, I have a secondary keyword. The main keyword is more of a long-tail keyword which has less competition on Etsy and one that I am able to rank for fairly easily. The second keyword is a high volume, hard to rank for keyword with a lot of competition. I've found that as my listings get a sales history on Etsy they start to rank for competitive keywords with high search volume. Once an item ranks for a high volume search term it starts generating a lot of traffic and sales.

Here are some very important factors and best practices to keep in mind when you are adding your titles and tags:

Exact phrases 👩🏼‍🔬

Exact phrase matches are stronger than matches on individual words. If a customer searches for “blue dress” Etsy returns all items with the words “blue” and “dress” in the tags or title. But items with “blue dress” (the exact phrase the customer searched for) will rank higher because it is an exact match. This is why long-tail keywords are important.

Formating titles ✍🏼

Words at the beginning of titles are more important than words at the end. The first 40 characters of your listing’s title are the most important because Etsy gives those keywords a higher value in search placement. Place your main keyword at the beginning of your title, even before the product name if needed.

Imagine that you’re selling a handcrafted bow tie you’ve named “The Billy”. Instead of formatting your title as “The Billy — Handcrafted bow tie” you should place the keyword at the beginning of your title: “Handcrafted bow tie — The billy”.

Keyword stuffing titles 🧸

Don’t stuff your titles with keywords. Keyword stuffing titles is when you place as many keywords as possible in your title, like this:

Chicago City Skyline Printable, Chicago Silhouette Print, Chicago Poster, Black White Wall Art Decor, Illinois Cityscape, Office decoration

Etsy’s response to keyword stuffing is that they are working on improving their internal search algorithm to no longer favor stuffed titles. Therefore, it is not a good idea to keyword stuff you listings anymore. Instead, try to add one or two keywords to your listing and focus on making them readable.

Titles & tags together 🤝

If a customer searches for a phrase that appears both in your title and tags it is considered more relevant. Therefore, always add your main keywords to your product title and tags. Your titles and tags should match exactly.

Best practices 🥇

  • Always remember to use all 13 tags, the order of your tags does not matter.
  • Include spaces or separators in your titles to increase readability:
    “Baby Shopper Gift, Baby headband, Newborn Gift”✅
    “Baby Shopper Gift Baby headband Newborn Gift” ❌
  • Use short, clear, descriptives titles that are easily readable

3. Keyword research 📖

Keyword research is probably the most important step to getting found on Etsy. It's important to identify relevant search terms that potential customers are using. That’s why keyword research is a process that I spend a lot of time on. I do keyword research in a number of different ways:

Etsy Suggests 🙋🏼‍♀️

You’ve probably noticed Etsy search autocomplete feature. When you start typing a query, Etsy suggests relevant queries:

Etsy Suggests — Keyword research

These are a goldmine for keyword ideas. They are a good starting point because those suggestions are actual keywords people are searching for on Etsy. Try entering a keyword that describes your item and see what the autocomplete features suggests.

By adding a letter after the suggestion (start with A, then B..) you can find even more keyword ideas. The longer the keyword, the more specific it is (long-tail keyword). Instead of trying to compete for popular, generic searches like “t-shirt”, prioritize less popular phrases that describe what’s really special about your listing. It means lower competition and a better chance of ranking for that keyword.

Similar stores 🏬

Check out similar stores to yours to see which keywords they are using to describe their products.

Scroll down to the bottom of a listing to see which keywords are used. The last 13 (if all 13 tags have been used) are always the tags a seller has entered to describe the listing. This can be a great source of inspiration.

Keyword tools & other research methods 🤓

I use a variety of keyword tools for keyword research:

While Google Keyword Planner is the most powerful tool, Alura, Erank and Marmalead are Etsy specific.

Other relevant tools worth checking out for keyword research are:

Choosing the Right Keywords for Your Store 🔦

At this point, I normally have a pretty big list of keywords. To narrow it down and focus on the keywords that matter most I prioritize these factors:

  1. Volume vs. competition
    The higher the search volume, the more potential traffic but also competition. Therefore I focus on finding a balance between keywords I can rank for (less competition) and volume.
  2. Relevancy
    Relevant keywords because a listing will convert better and consequently rank better.

Overall, I’m looking for relevant high volume, low competition keywords.

3. Listing quality score 💎

Etsy is fairly vague in their description of the listing quality score:

“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.”

Based on this description, my focus has been to increase my conversion rate. Conversion rate is the number of purchases divided by the total number of visitors. In other words “if a buyer purchases an item after they’ve seen it in search results”. Strategies I've implemented to increase conversion rate are:

  1. Fantastic thumbnail photo and high-quality images 📸

Your thumbnail photo is what buyers see when they search on Etsy and it needs to be a photo that catches shoppers interest and encourages them to click your listing. 63% of customers think that a product image is more important than the description, or even the reviews. Consequently, high-quality photos increase your conversion rate and when your conversion rate increases, your search rankings will increase as well.

  1. Offer free shipping 📦

Buyers are 20% more likely to buy items with free shipping and Etsy has stated that it prioritizes shops that offer free shipping in search placement. Etsy has run extensive testing showing that customers frequently back out of purchases when they see a shipping charge that they perceive as too high. Therefore, you should consider offering free shipping, or at least lowering your shipping price. Etsy even made a video explaining this:

After implementing free shipping on my own shop I saw an increase in revenue of about 20%. My conversion rate stayed about the same while my traffic increased organically. In order to be able to offer free shipping, I had to include the shipping cost in my item prices.

3. Give detailed product descriptions 📝

Make sure you describe your listing in great detail so that the customer knows exactly what they are getting. Remember, they don't touch the product and they are not in a store where they can ask questions. This will also prevent returns!

When writing products descriptions focusing on the product benefits helps conversion rates. How can the product improve your buyer's life?

4. Have a great product return policy 🤚🏼

Most customers (over 50%) will read the return policy before buying. I know that this can be hard for some handmade and customized product, so don’t over-promise if you cant. If possible, make it painless and easy for customers to return products.

That said, you should consider having a generous return policy because your listings will convert better and consequently rank higher in Etsy search since they have a high conversion rate.

4. Customer and market experience score 🛒

All Etsy stores are given a customer and market experience score that factors into search placement. If you have a good customer and market experience score, you will rank better in Etsy search. These are the factors that impact your customer and market experience score:

  • Positive reviews (+)
  • Complete shop policies and about section (+)
  • Cases opened against your shop (-)
  • Intellectual property infringement issues (-)

Positive reviews ✨

Great reviews positively impact your search ranking on Etsy. Therefore, getting more positive reviews help your products rank better on Etsy and increases sales. People are 63% more likely to purchase a product from you if you have reviews and 70% of people check reviews before making a purchase. A high average review rating will also inspire trust and increase your conversion rate, which we know will improve your search placement.

My strategies for increasing reviews is quite simple: I ask for it.

Strategy 1: Message buyers after an order is delivered

I send the customer a message after their order has been delivered, but I do it in a decent way. I normally reach out around the time the item is expected to arrive and ask the buyer if they’ve received everything safely and as expected. I’ll also give them instructions for leaving feedback if they’re so inclined. The message looks something like this:

This message has two main benefits:

  1. It increases reviews. More reviews = better search placement 🥳
  2. It reduces cases against my shop (which inevitably happens, packages are lost in transit and arrive late) by encouraging customers to contact me directly. Fewer cases = better search placement 🥳

Following up like this is 100% withing Etsys ToS and in the Etsy handbook and they even encourage sellers to follow up with buyers.

Strategy 2: Ask for reviews on order insert cards

A great way to encourage buyers to leave a review is to ask for it on your order insert card. Insert cars are a great way to thank your customer for their order and ask them to leave a review. Something like this works well because it encourages buyers to interact with your store and to return because you added a discount:

A handwritten note works even better!

Complete about section and shop policies 📓

Filling out your about section increases your customer and market experience score. Adding an About section increases your score, and a higher score may improve your search ranking. Etsy knows that having a complete about section makes customers feel more comfortable purchasing from your store. Give your customers insight into the story of your business and show how you create your items to increase engagement and conversion rates.

You can read more about tips for filling it out here.

Similarly, having shop policies has a positive effect on your search placement. You can use Etsy’s shop policies template and customize it according to your needs.

Closing remarks🙊

I hope this guide gave you some actionable tips for optimizing your Etsy store. These Etsy SEO tips take time, so be patient, keep trying and you will see results! I have a few more very effective strategies using email and social media marketing.

Updated January 2021.

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