Etsy SEO Reality Check | Episode 148

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The ever-popular topic of Etsy SEO is on the docket for today, so let’s chat!

What is Etsy SEO?

Of course, when we say Etsy SEO, that means Search Engine Optimization specific to Etsy’s native search engine. Etsy SEO is a common focal point for Etsy sellers, maybe even to a fault.

Here are three things I want you to know about Etsy SEO off the top to get this started:

1. The factors that go into Etsy SEO and how it is calculated and achieved do not change as often or as dramatically as people seem to think it does. 

If you see people constantly talking about supposed or ‘apparent changes to the algorithm’ in gigantic, free, unmoderated Facebook groups – it’s very UNLIKELY that the issue is actually because of a system-wide, sweeping, dramatic change to how the algorithm works. More likely, these issues are just the usual ebb and flow of the internet. Truly. I wish that weren’t the case, but usually, it is.

Etsy doesn’t want to change things dramatically or quickly because a lot of what their system depends on to deliver relevant results to shoppers comes from sellers. If sellers don’t have notice or understanding of how to provide the information, Etsy cannot do its job. It’s very unlikely that Etsy would change things dramatically in a short period of time. Historically, they haven’t done this. On that same note, all algorithms we use daily are constantly optimizing in small ways to get better and better. These are minor tweaks! Small little things you don’t need to think or worry about, and those tweaks are based on what is already there.

2. SEO is not the be-all, end-all to Etsy success! This applies anywhere. SEO might get you found, but it is not the thing that makes sales. SEO is a marketing strategy, not a sales strategy!

3. You shouldn’t focus so much on SEO (on any platform) that you forget about other important areas of optimization.

Everyone who has taken our Training Course for Etsy sellers knows by now that ranking on Etsy search is a composite of many different factors. 

There is no one thing to do to improve it! It’s quite nice that many factors are considered. If that were not the case, you’d be more paranoid about it than you might currently be. 

We do break down all of those factors in our training course and give you what I call an SEO tour to set the stage for good SEO! We also cover how to maximize your visibility in search. MANY other things also really matter just as much if not more (we protect them, too.)

Again, don’t get so consumed with SEO that you forget to pay attention to other significant parts of your Etsy shop and business.

the reality of search ranking on Etsy

What I really wanted to highlight in today’s episode is the reality of search ranking! There is a lack of perspective here that is causing some unnecessary drama and anxiety for a lot of sellers.

When you go about optimizing for search, the goal is commonly to rank on the first page of search results. Certainly, that isn’t a bad goal – it makes sense! Of course, you want to rank on the first page. But the thing is, that might not always be realistic. In a lot of cases, if your listings rank on later pages of search results, that doesn’t even necessarily mean you have room to improve — which I will explain here shortly.

I hope that in breaking this down by the numbers, I can help shift the mindset about SEO and the desire to rank on the first page of results.

When people search for things on Etsy, unless they are using hyper-specific search phrases, they will likely get a return of tens of thousands of listings. They might even get maybe 100,000 or 200,000 listings. That is still a lot smaller of a pool than your average google search, but it’s a lot. It is not uncommon to get a ton of results in a search on Etsy. 

Etsy search numbers

For example, I just ran a search for ‘vinyl cat sticker” that returned nearly 45 thousand listings.

Keeping in mind how many listings might turn up in any given search is key to gaining a realistic perspective on the reality of what’s going on here.

Each page of Etsy’s search results displays between 12 and 16 rows of 4 listings per row – I saw different amounts in different searches but let’s take the high end for our example.

16 x 4 is 64

Several of those rows are reserved for On-Site Ads (formerly known as promoted listings),  usually 3 or 4 rows – depending on the search.

That means up to 16 of those spaces are for ads! Your listings cannot appear in those spaces unless you are running On-Site Etsy Ads (formerly known as promoted listings.)

That leaves up to 48 spaces on the first page of search results for any of 45 thousand listings to show up in. Remember, it could be less space than that, depending on how many rows Etsy is displaying.

Each of those four spaces in each row is a container that only one listing can fill. That means that listings on pages 3, 4, 5, etc., of a massive search field are JUST as relevant as the listings on the first page! It’s just that only so many containers exist on the first page to show listings in.

You should NOT feel bad about ranking on page 8, 9 or even 15 in a massive search field of 50,000 – 100,000 plus listings.

The more listings that return in a search, the better optimized your listing on, let’s say, page 4 is.

If there are 45,000 results in a search return, and you are on page 5, that’s incredible.

If there are only 100 listings that return for your search and you are on page five that’s not as good BUT there are far fewer listings for someone to look at that they could very well see your listing anyway.

So fewer results mean your Etsy SEO doesn’t have to be as great, and more results means your SEO could be ideal and still not rank first! That doesn’t mean it’s not well optimized, it means there is only so much space to show listing, and the system has to organize them somehow.

do user metrics influe search results on Etsy

Some people will ask, “well, isn’t it true that we don’t all see the same search results based on our history of searching and buying and interacting with Etsy?”

Sort of. In terms of search results, not really.

I have tested this many times with friends in different locations, with various devices and accounts and generally, we all see the same results. Sometimes in a slightly different order. 

Here’s my rule of thumb: if you run general searches on Etsy with the goal of discovering your listings, and you find your listings, that means other people are finding them too.

Again, the order of listings might vary from user to user, but It’s a good indicator — if you can find your listings, I safely assume they are optimized enough that other people are finding them as well.

Of course, this means you are finding them in moderately general phrase searches and not like, copying and pasting your exact listing title into Etsy search, and your listing comes up.

As an avid Etsy shopper, I don’t get the sense I’m being shown anything (IN SEARCH) that’s taking into account my personal history or behavior on site. I wish I would do that more.

Remember the importance of SEO on Etsy

That is the reality of the situation! You might never rank on page one, and that’s okay! Remember your consumer self – do you ONLY look at one page of search results when shopping online? I don’t. Particularly when buying the sort of things I buy on Etsy, which tend to be more special than plastic baggies or phone chargers. I am taking my time and looking at several things, maybe even across several days! (Which is why those cart abandon and favorite listing coupons need to be tossed!!)

If Etsy SEO stresses you out, remember it’s not the only thing that matters it’s not even the most important thing. If you want to learn about optimizing your shop for ALL the opportunities of Etsy, not just search, check out our Training Course for Etsy Sellers!

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode; it’s an honor to be a small part of your business in this way. We’ll see you on the next episode!

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*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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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) merriweathercouncil.com Thanks for stopping by.

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