Etsy’s New Search Algorithm and Why You Don’t Need to Panic

Creative Entrepreneurship, DIY + Education | 4 comments

etsy's november 2015 search updates explained | the merriweather council blog

This week, Etsy announced a small change and said that it will now favor shops that are in good standing, have positive feedback and  have filled out about and policy pages in search results. It also mentioned that if a shop had a recent case of IP infringement against it, it would not be favored in search.

we will now include customer experience as a factor in search placement, in addition to whether a shop is in good standing based on Etsy’s policies. Now, positive reviews, completed About pages and completed shop Policies can help your placement in search. On the other hand, recent cases and intellectual property-infringement issues can result in lower placement.

AND THEN EVERYONE FREAKED OUT.

Let me give you my personal break down on this whole thing. I don’t think it’s that huge of a deal, honestly. 

Some people just LOVE to stir the pot. People hear “Etsy’s New Search Algorithm” and just want to incite mass fear.  Trust me, I’m not afraid to say something is bogus if it is – I’m not afraid to speak up against an Etsy change. (I’m still not the world’s biggest fan of the front page and basically invisible blog.) But this one is actually sort of great for the majority of people.

Firstly, sorry to tell you this but, not having your policy or about page filled out before this change was bad as well. You need a policy page!! And an about page is pretty standard operating procedure for most sites, shops and blogs. Most of you probably already had both of these things and now Etsy is sort of rewarding you a little bit for it. Remember: having an about page and policy page ALWAYS have increased the chances that someone would buy from you. Always. 

This is Etsy’s way of saying “be a committed seller, have a strong presence on our site, take your shop seriously” … they simply want you to make use of the tools and platform they’ve provided you with. And also, don’t be infringing on the copyright of another artist (I KNOW – I know, they need to be better at enforcing some of this.) But honestly, THAT IS IT.

The article they posted went on to say…

We’re excited to reveal more of the ingredients that go into our search algorithm. 

Our criteria include: 

  • Relevance of titles and tags 

  • Listing quality

  • Customer and marketplace experience

  • Recency

  • Shop Location

  • Shop Diversity

Here’s the explanation of “listing quality” from Etsy:

In an effort 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. Since listings at the top of results tend to receive more buyer attention than those at the bottom, Etsy’s search algorithm adjusts for the expected buyer behavior for these different locations. Note: New shops and listings have a neutral quality score, which has no impact on placement.”

Nothing new here

We knew this! We knew that- essentially the “conversion rate” on a listing impacted it’s performance. This ^^ bit is not new info. This bit is not a change, it’s been like this as far as I know. Please be aware that this isn’t like, the be all end all, these factors all work together.

The rest? Again, nothing here is new (except the customer and marketplace experience, which is what is explained above) or surprising.

We know that relevancy is king on Etsy for search results. We know that higher quality listings will perform better, we know that recency informs relevancy and we know that shop location is important (see what Etsy said about this.) Shop diversity is the practice of not showing a buyer 15 items from the same shop in search results, page after page, but rather showing items from a variety of shops – with relevant items from the same shop mixed in and spread out, also sometimes known as “no clumping.” Again, this is great because it’s wicked annoying to see the same thing over and over in a search if it’s not what you’re looking for.

So… what’s the big deal? They are rewarding sellers who invest their time and effort in their platform by putting significant effort into their customer service (policy and reviews) and presentation (listing quality and about page play into that yeah?) so you’re fine.

Further thinking.

Another thought: Etsy will still be primarily using your SEO to pull search results, that’s the only thing that makes sense. This change is icing on the cake. You won’t go to search “pink buttons” and start seeing black tee shirts just because those shops filled out their policy page. You’ll just see the pink buttons from sellers who appeal more fully to Etsy’s search algorithm  (as always) which now includes the factor of having your about page filled out, having a policy filled out and having some positive reviews.

Etsy wants to show their buyers shops that appear to be most reliable and trustworthy, basically. You don’t have to have billions of positive reviews, they just don’t want to nudge buyers in the direction of shops with a 2 star rating.

So if you took my http://www.merriweathercouncil.com/products/etsy-training-course-self-guided-critique – all of that information is still 100% on point.

At the end of the day, you still need to have solid SEO, lovely photos and, I should hope, strong customer service, the rest is icing.

Please also keep in mind that Etsy is MASSIVE. They NEED things like this in place in order for the site to function in such a way that anyone would want to use it. Is everything Etsy does perfect? No. But this whole favoring shops that are fully fleshed out and have good feedback is actually quite nice. IMHO of course.

Still think you need to panic? You don’t.

Please be aware, this is just another indicator that if changes bother you, then you need to establish your own website where you can sell your work without a third party entity controlling things for you. It’s just that simple. Well, honestly, everyone should have their own site even if they LOVE constant changes.


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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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4 Comments

  1. Thanks for reminding us all to step back and take a deep breath, Danielle.

  2. Love your take on this, as always, Danielle! Thanks for being a level-headed guide with wise advice for the etsy-seller-masses! I totally agree that these changes are for the best and will only help those of us who take our handmade businesses on etsy seriously.

  3. Thanks for breaking this down, Danielle!! And PS–your glasses are adorable! xo

  4. Thank you so much for breaking this down and clarifying this. My views and sales have gone down some so I did start to panic. I figured it was the changes Etsy made as another friend has said her sales and views had also gone down. But I won’t freak out as much now lol :)

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