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Posted on February 20, 2013 in Build Your Brand by Katie Oskin
Today it is my awesome joy to have another guest blogger join me. I met Patricia over two years ago and instantly she was a person that I knew I’d love: smart, helpful, kind, joyous, willing to help, and a supremely hard worker. Patricia runs an extremely successful Etsy shop, DellCoveSpices, and has just leased a fabulous corner store in Chicago (you go girl!). Without any further ado, Patricia is going to help us to all understand how vital SEO is for your Etsy store, Google and more! Patricia … let’s Etsy SEO today, shall we?!
Let me begin by saying that while David is the computer guru in the family, I am not a computer database or analysis expert by any stretch. What we’ve learned – and what we’re sharing with you here – is some of the information that we’ve gathered over the past year, put it into practice and seen very positive results for our Etsy-based spice shop. And given that so many people have been generous with their time and information, we wanted to pay it forward: We figured that if we could improve our shop’s visibility online, others might like to know how we did it.
So….grab that cup of coffee or tea (or cocktail) and let’s start!
I know it can feel that way. But that’s not what’s happening. (At least, I don’t think that’s what is happening.) More likely, it’s because your shop and listings need some SEO finessing.
SEO – or Search Engine Optimization – is something every artist who has an online presence needs to understand. You may never become a computer wizard. That’s ok. You don’t need to be.
But whether you are just starting out with your online shop, or you’re an Etsy veteran, we all understand the importance of having customers (and the curious virtual window-shopper) finding your work online.That’s where SEO comes in.
SEO is the process of setting up your site – or, in the case of an Etsy shop, your listings – to attract traffic from the search engines in a free and organic way. This is traffic from people typing in search terms – and showing up in the search engine’s results – rather than purchasing an advertisement in order to be found. All major search engines, including Google, Yahoo and Bing, have such results.
Etsy has a similar set-up with its Search function.
That seemingly simple question can have a fairly complicated answer. Let’s examine Etsy’s Search first.
The key is to become relevant to Etsy’s search engine. Put another way. Etsy is a librarian – and the customers are readers hunting for the exact right book. So, Etsy’s Search needs to have a system that takes in all sorts of information about millions of products and pops out the best answer for the customer hunting for…say…stained glass, wine charms, popcorn seasonings, or whatever fantastic thing it is you make!
In general, Google and Bing and other search engines have to do the same thing. They each have their own super-secret recipe (called an algorithm) that organizes all that information into search results.
Those results matter. A lot. If you have higher rankings, more people will find you.
So what you need to figure out is what sort of stuff (or ingredients, if we’re continuing the cooking analogy) that needs to be on your shop pages in order to best fit Etsy’s and Google’s (and others) search recipes.
Enter SEO (or in the Etsy world, Search Relevancy).
When Etsy shifted its search to having its search function weighted on relevancy (how relevant is the listing to what the person wants to find?) instead of recency (when was this widget listed for sale?), we realized that we needed to take a closer look at our shop and make some changes.
The first thing we did was join a couple of SEO-specific teams on Etsy. The two that I highly recommend are:
There are other teams out there – these are just two of our favorites! Both have pretty extensive discussion threads that outline the basics and get fairly deep into issues tied with Etsy Search Relevancy and Google SEO.
Then, we went on to take a look at our listings….ouch.
We learned that words matter. There’s been a lot of chatter on Etsy about the order of your words – and whether that’s important (same with the order of your tags at the bottom of the listing).
Here’s what we’ve found: It does seem to help a bit if your most relevant words are placed at the beginning of your title.
Unless you have a crystal ball, you won’t ever be able to glean all the different search terms that people are going to use to find your products. But you can figure out a lot of them.
Try going to Etsy’s search bar and type in a few general descriptive words and see what comes up. For example, if we want to figure out ways people are finding our popcorn seasonings, I would start typing in “pop…”
Some of the words that come back are:
If I keep typing out the word “popcorn” I get:
Now, some of these terms are not applicable – but some of them are! These terms pop up because Etsy’s search system has found that these words are being used in real searches by real customers. And sometimes, customers will pick one of these drop-down terms – instead of typing in their whole query.
On Google, you can do the same thing. However, this link offers you some great ideas of advanced Google search terms:
I spend way too much time on this Web page. But it’s really helpful to use it – and find out whether the words you’re using in your title, listing description and tags are what normal customers are using when they search for your fantastic products. If it’s not, then you know you need to make a change!
Take a look at the order of the words in your title.
If we want to be relevant for the search “popcorn seasoning”, then we need to have the phrase “popcorn seasoning” in our title AND IN A TAG. We need them in both places. We also have the phrase in the first sentence of your listing.
However, having the phrase “popcorn salt seasoning” will mean the listing will not show up as relevant for the search “popcorn seasoning” because of the extra word between “popcorn” and “seasoning”.
Also – don’t have single word tags. Having “popcorn” and “seasoning” is not as good as having them on one tag together for people searching for “popcorn seasoning”.
While Etsy’s tags are not currently part of the data that Google collects, you need the tags for Etsy’s site search engine. Use them. Use all of them.
Once you have your words – use them! Use the phrases and words throughout your shop and your different listings.
You’ve probably come across titles that are super-stuffed, don’t make sense to read – or repeat a word over and over. Repeating an important word or phrase is fine. But keyword stuffing isn’t great. It can actually come back and bite you in the butt, in the Google search world. For Google, title tags ideally should be a maximum of 70 characters long, including spaces.
Nope. (I know. Sorry!) Your titles and descriptions need to be different, otherwise search engines will see them as duplicate pages – and your ranking in the search engine will suffer.
Use this as a chance to test out some of your lesser tried-out keywords. And that can help you get more views in the long run!
What do I mean by that? Let’s say you are selling wine charms in different colors. Your titles could open up this way:
What if they’re all the same color, but other things make them different? Then think about what that difference is and highlight it!
That seems to change, day by day. Based on what we’re seeing reported in some of the SEO teams and from Etsy administration, Etsy’s relevancy search system is not based on the following things:
• Item descriptions
• Tag order
• Number of listings in a shop
Though, we’re trying to pay close attention to make sure that doesn’t change.
We did. It was a mistake. Instead, try changing a few and see what happens. Did you start showing up in search? See an increase in traffic? Hopefully, the answer is yes! And do keep a close eye on your stats page. You can find that area by clicking on “Your Shop” and then, on the left side of your monitor, click on “Shop Stats.” Watch to see what is happening with your stats – and give the changes at least a week. It can take some time for the changes to show results.
I hope that some of this information can help you take your first steps to understanding the often-murky world of SEO.
We’re David and Patricia, a husband-and-wife team who love a good story as much as a great glass of wine. We fell in love over bowls of spicy gumbo and platters of freshly shucked oysters. We love to travel, which lets us explore farmers markets, Amish produce auctions and hidden culinary hot spots in big cities and tiny towns.
We live by this simple mantra: It’s good to play with your food.
Thanks for joining me today. Join me next week to Build Your Brand on Etsy & experience success.