There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about SEO on Etsy. You should stuff keywords. You should have short titles. You should copy your title in the description. You should dance with a unicorn by moonlight every other Thursday. Some people toss about “researched” Etsy SEO information like confetti and yet, behind the scenes, their theories are proven wrong time and again. When challenged to back up their claims, they refuse to offer methodology. Basically it’s “true because I say it’s true and I have special powers”. Which is the philosophy of despots and false gurus everywhere.
Here’s the bottom line: Nobody knows anything. They may claim to and will be happy to take your money and your worship for the low price of gimme. But without access to Etsy’s algorithm, it’s all guesswork. If you heed any guru’s advice without testing the theories yourself for your own shop, you may be leaving money on the table while he laughs all the way to his vacation home in Iowa.
My money’s on an Etsy SEO strategy that varies by keyword, category, and product.
EtSEO Vs Google SEO: So Different Yet Still So Different
It really chaps my ass when those people recommend optimizing for Google and Etsy at once. It’s such magnificently bad advice. Why? Because they are two very different environments with different revenue modelsand goals. In fact, they’re so different that I’d recommend anyone who wants to optimize for Google create his own site and do it there.
It all boils down to this one truth: Etsy’s main benefit to its sellers is foot traffic. People shop on Etsy for stuff they can’t get as fast or as cheap or as unique by searching on Google. Sometimes optimizing for both may make sense, but more often than not shopper behavior is too different to justify such a strategy. Add to that very different revenue models (which impacts search placement), a visual vs. text search (which impacts shopper behavior), a specific market vs. the world at large (which impacts effective and targeted keywords), and a dramatically different competitive landscape and you have a recipe for whatchu-talkin’-’bout-“guru”?
Sometimes it makes sense, more times not. I’d focus on Etsy and try not to piss off Google instead. And I wouldn’t even work too hard at the latter.
My recommendations are based on personal experience of having moved over 25,000 units of products on Etsy alone. No, I’m not a research junkie using a very unscientific method that seeks to prove theories rather than disprove them. Nor do I report findings as facts rather than as the unreliable statistics they are with far too piddly sample sizes, over-reliance on inductive reasoning, and correlation-seeking rather than hypothetis-testing. They are theories, at best. Guesses more likely. So take my claims, along with everyone else’s, with a silo of salt. All I do is test in my own shop to what works for me. You should do the same.
Here are five things I recommend considering when crafting your EtSEO strategy:
This is the single most important thing for Etsy SEO. Target searches where your photos, products, and policies are better than everyone else’s. Too often, sellers try to land in searches with similar items, but standing out is the only way to get any traction. A lot goes into this – more than I can get into here. But if everything on the first page of a search is gorgeous and you barely know how to operate a camera, find another search to target.
How do you know if your stuff is better? People buy it.
In some searches, a few sellers really dominate because they already give customers exactly what they want. I cannot stress this enough: Unless you look at their stuff and say, “I can do so much better than that”, get the hell out of that game. This is where your business model can pair nicely with a product strategy that is more than, “I know how to make this so I bet I can sell it.” You need to find a market (perhaps micro niched), a high demand feature, or something nobody else has figured out if you want to conquer that kind of domination. If you can’t deliver, make something else.
Too often, Etsy SEO folks recommend a literal description of a product. Sapphire ring. Funny card. But if you’re not superior in that search (see above), literal is the wrong strategy. Instead, find phrases where you can dominate by offering a superior product (see above) within that search phrase. Sterling Silver Sapphire Heart Shaped Ring. Funny Sarcastic Comic Card. Aim to place on the first ten pages searches with more than 5,000 results. Can’t do it within three months? Find a new key phrase.
It can take months, even years, to discover the right search, product, category, and presentation mix for Etsy. So test everything. Photos, prices, descriptions, tags, all of it and more. And when you need a break from testing, get over yourself and test some more. What works for one shop may not work for another. I don’t care which “experts” say otherwise. I don’t care who says they have the magic formula. Nobody knows dick about what’s going to work for your shop. And it’s up to you to figure it out.
The best SEO in the world won’t save a crap product. Sorry, truth hurts. And if you’ve done everything imaginable and can’t get traction, your product might be a nonstarter. At least on Etsy’s unique marketplace. So it may be time to reimagine the product or try a new venue. How do you know if you have a product you can’t move on Etsy? You don’t move any of it on Etsy. Or, you once moved a lot of it but nobody wants it anymore.
Hopefully these thoughts will help some wayward Etsy SEO struggling find his way to more visits and sales. Feel free to contact me (See the little green chat box in the bottom right corner? Use it.) to see if I can help.
If you think I’m just a dipshit, say so in the comments below.