8 Etsy Myths And Other Bad Ideas – Debunked

In Small Business on

I’ve written about Etsy SEO before, but I wanted to address a few of the recommendations even Etsy itself recommends to optimize Etsy SEO. Because so often people’s ideas conflict, seem dodgy, or make no damned sense at all. Have a look at my general Etsy SEO recommendations if you like. And below, let’s debunk some myths as beloved as unicorns.

Myth #1 
Use Google’s keyword tool to find great keywords for Etsy.

This is plain dumb. If you want to optimize for Google, use Google’s keyword tool. But if you’re on Etsy, optimize for Etsy using Etsy’s keyword tool (or search bar) instead. While Google’s tool may deliver general ideas if you’re stuck, when it gets down to it Etsy’s search bar will tell you what Etsy shoppers are searching for on Etsy.

Recommendation: Use Etsy’s keyword tool for Etsy and Google’s keyword tool for Google.


Myth #2
Keyword stuffing is baaaad.

Hogwash. Etsy currently even rewards keyword stuffing to some degree. And even Google doesn’t punish keyword stuffing as much as some might have you believe. Keyword stuffing means repeating the same word for no reason, not repeating it to describe different aspects of the same product. “Sapphire ring, blue ring, heart ring” isn’t keyword stuffing. “Sapphire ring round ring blue ring rock ring rings women for rings and rings” is. And on Etsy, the latter title may net better results than the former. Again, test it for your products.

Recommendation: Test it for your shop. What works for one product, shop, or category won’t work for all.


Myth #3
Etsy search is going to be more like Google soon.

People are proclaiming it from the mountaintops these days based on this statement from Etsy.

Bottom line? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t see it because of their very different revenue models. While I do believe Etsy will try to help products place well on Google, I don’t think this means they’ll operate the same. And things like descriptive titles, tags, and other Etsy functions simply don’t fit with the Google of today.

Recommendation: Wait. Don’t go changing shit on your listings to accommodate Google or any guru. Instead test and update your own Etsy SEO regularly and you may or may not notice any Googlish impact on your shop.


Myth #4
Short product titles are better for Etsy SEO.

Pure nonsense. They might perform better, or not. It all depends on how your market searches for your products. Etsy is not Google, so Etsy doesn’t follow Google rules. I don’t care how Google friendly Etsy says say it wants to be. Because their business models are different, they’ll never be the same.

Recommendation. Test this one side by side. I’ve done it for myself and found short titles to be completely contradictory. But you may see different results.


Myth #5
Don’t renew to give yourself an Etsy SEO boost. Copy and replace.

This is up for some debate. Some sellers report renewing regularly, others are copy and replacers to the core. I haven’t tested this myself, but it seems like it may sometimes be true for some products (especially extremely dead ones).

Recommendation: Test it, baby! If the product is already dead, no harm in a copy and replace to see if you can get it some traction. But test it side by side with a renewal to see which performs better.


Myth #6
Don’t compete with yourself.

Some SEO folks caution against repeating the same keywords in various products in your shop with the argument, “You’re just competing with yourself and that’s dumb.” But I think that’s dumb. Because what may happen is your shop becomes an expert in that product line. Which can improve search placement for your shop overall.

Recommendation: Test it to see if it’s true for you, but don’t buy this kind of nonsense hook, line, and sinker.


Myth #7
The first listing in search results is the most popular.

This appears to be false on Etsy. Because Etsy search is visual, I’m betting search results are not linear. Just look at Amazon to see how the big guns do it. Their best seller is rarely the first listing, but somewhere in the first ten. This goes back to graphic design and usability theories from the days of yore. People’s eyes, when treated with visual data, don’t always go left to right. They have tools to test this kind of thing for websites, and I’m thinking Etsy has made use of them to determine that the eyes are drawn to somewhere on the page, but not the first listing.

Recommendation: Check it in any search to see if it’s true for you. Pay attention to where your eye goes first.


Myth #8
Etsy has an “on/off switch” or “lights out” switch for shops.

This theory has been going around for year. Its absurdity combined with general acceptance reminds me of your everyday cult. One guy decides something is true after he ate a bunch of shrooms, posits it to some folks, and people who don’t understand it but also don’t want to be responsible for themselves join in, pay their dues, and before you know it they’re all living in a commune in New Mexico. Forum users seem to attribute it to the fact that they sell a few items one day, week, or month then don’t sell anything for the next few days, weeks, or months. But what these folks don’t seem to understand is that retail is always erratic and Etsy retail even moreso. Because most of us are selling a limited type of specialty item in a limited market, consistent sales are a pipe dream. You want consistent sales? Start selling stuff everyone needs and wants cheap. Be Walmart or Amazon. But don’t expect it from handmade goods. It’s rare.

Recommendation: Recognize the limited demand for your product. Try to achieve some measure of consistency by offering year-round relevant items to a broader range of customers.

Don’t fall for everything you read on Etsy, off Etsy or about Etsy. The only way to determine what is true and what is nonsense is to test it for your shop. I’ll add to this list as new insane theories emerge.

Got any more theories, myths and bad ideas you want my zany opinion on? Post them in the comments below.

Comment (1)

  1. Joni 3 weeks ago

    Hey there…I agree with 7/8 of the above…but I am not convinced there isn’t a rotation going on i.e. lights on and off” theory. Here’s why…because it could make good biz sense from Etsy’s perspective. Think I am crazy? Perhaps…but here’s my rationale…

    Etsy buyer intel.

    It is conceivable to me that a) Etsy knows a crap load about buyer behaviour and b) buyers are segmented (or put in buckets).

    I can theorize that then buyers are rotated through stores based on their segment(s) and the segment(s) the store is in as well. They do this to get the buyers to spend the most coin based on their past behaviour (data points). This rotation may cause stores to be prominent for a period of time…then not…or fall off the rotation due to some ranking fall (product no longer trendy, processing time too long, better competition etc.).

    This is conceivable to me and can also explain why some stores don’t see this rotation and some do.

    But that’s my opinion based on what I’ve seen/researched. 🙂

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