Yes, You Should Always Fully and Properly Categorize Your Etsy Listings

Creative Entrepreneurship


Rumors, myths, and flat-out falsehoods (that’s a nice way of saying lies) about Etsy come into our inbox daily.

We’ve addressed many Etsy rumors and myths before, but recently, we received a question about a new one that I had not seen or heard before. I won’t lie; this one had me shook.

“Hey, Danielle! I recently was advised not to fully categorize my items on Etsy or to categorize them randomly so that Etsy wouldn’t publish similar listings on my item page.”

My jaw dropped, my spine shivered, a dark cloud passed overhead.

“WHAT?!!” I screeched.

Once I settled my emotions and had a snack, I took a pragmatic look at why you might not categorize your Etsy listings correctly.

The idea here is that If you use the wrong category or do not entirely categorize your item in the listing creation phase, Etsy will not show like-items on the bottom of your listing. Instead, it will show unrelated items (non-competing items.) For example, if you sell candles, you might categorize them as “men’s clothing” to ‘throw the system off.’

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If you just asked yourself, “what are like-items?” I’ll explain.

On the bottom of every Etsy listing, there are several sections: one that shows more items from the shop you’re currently looking at a listing from, one section with items from other shops, sometimes you’ll see other items from a similar search term, and another section for ads (similar items but from sellers who pay for on-site ads – formerly promoted listings.) This could potentially put up to 16 listing suggestions on your page that are to other shops.

Here are some examples of what the bottom of an Etsy listing might display:

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Those sections will appear at the bottom of your listing, Etsy will use that space whether you fully or properly categorize your item or not.

The bad advice to not categorize your Etsy listing hinges entirely on the theory that you will ‘benefit’ by way of MAYBE the listings that show up in those sections will be less directly competitive with yours. For example, if you sell socks but categorize them wrong on purpose, maybe candles will show up, and someone looking for socks would be less interested in clicking away from the listing.

problems with mis-categorizing or not categorizing your Etsy listings

Not fully categorizing your item, or worse, mis-categorizing your item, means Etsy cannot do good work for you.

The entire point of using a marketplace like Etsy is so that Etsy can connect people who are looking for items like yours with your shop. Etsy cannot do that well or at all if you do not tell them what your item is.

Etsy cannot show shoppers things they go looking for if it doesn’t know what your product is. Even if it’s what they are looking for, Etsy can’t do its job as well if you haven’t given them proper info. Categorizing your item is an essential part of Etsy being able to work for you. Do not skip it in hopes that you are somehow gaming the system… you aren’t. The only person you would be gaming here is yourself. You cannot game this system.

You cannot protect yourself from the ‘downsides’ of a marketplace while also getting the benefits of a marketplace.

categories help your Etsy listing

Secondly, YOUR listings could be appearing on other listings, too. Etsy is a community marketplace platform. We all give a little to get a lot. It’s okay. This is a two-way street.

If your listing is set up correctly and is well optimized, it won’t matter that other listings appear under yours. Keyword: UNDER. I repeat: if your listing is optimized, it will not matter that other listings exist alongside yours. If you use Etsy the way we suggest (discourage you from sending your social and marketing traffic to Etsy), there were listings alongside yours all along anyway.

The actual problem here is not that Etsy is showing items from other shops on listings. It’s that sellers have exerted themselves a ton to get traffic to their listings.

The main reason it bothers people that other listings show up on theirs is that THEY have spent a LOT OF TIME and energy getting traffic to their shop. And yes, it hurts a lot when you are hustling to get traffic to your shop, and then it is being diverted elsewhere. I agree. I wouldn’t like that either. That’s why we always encourage sellers to send their hard-earned traffic to their own eCommerce site, where it’s singularly and entirely about them and their products and let Etsy send their traffic to you, not the other way around. (We strongly suggest Shopify as the host of your branded eCommerce shop.)

It’s so important that Etsy sellers learn the platform FULLY

It is not enough to achieve decent SEO. Sellers should understand the platform in other ways, too. When random snippets and rumors like this pop up, sellers can easily confirm, dispel, or navigate without hesitation when a fuller understanding is present. That is one of the goals of our Training Course for Etsy Sellers. We hope that after going through our course, sellers will have a strong understanding of the platform so they can stand on their own two feet in the face of new information, whether that information is true or false and be able to identify it as such.

*This post is written and published by The Merriweather Council. The Merriweather Council is not affiliated with Etsy Inc. Etsy is a trademark of Etsy Inc. We write about Etsy, from our own experiences, not for Etsy.

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hello + welcome

Oh, hi! Welcome to The Merriweather Council. I’m Danielle and I am a maker in business and mentor to other makers in business. I teach you how to turn your crafty tendencies into profits!

Oh, I’m also really into crafts, boy bands + iced coffee. Email me anytime to say hello or send cute Backstreet Boy videos or dog pictures .. or whatever! danielle (at) Thanks for stopping by.

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