Experimenting With Search Words, For Buyers and Sellers On Etsy

I really struggle to understand how search terms work on Etsy. I am certainly not the only one. And just as you think you’ve got it, Etsy goes and changes the criteria again. I am not that good at searching like a customer because I look for more technical and detailed descriptions than the layman might not use, but when I do buy on Etsy, I make a point of noting my behaviour.

Etsy is constantly working on its search algorithms so that customers get a smaller number of results through titles and tags. If you search for ‘keyring gift’ for instance, you’ll get 37000 results in the UK alone. You’re not going to sift through that lot. If you add the word ‘buttons’ to that selection, you’re down to 442. But if you add ‘crafter’ to that selection, you’re down to 45 listings.

There is of course the added problem of sellers adding tags that aren’t relevant to their product simply to get seen. ‘Vintage’ is one that springs to mind and is a constant bugbear of Etsy sellers who really do sell vintage. There is a lot of non-vintage vintage on Etsy. Often these are posted by big sellers offering free shipping and selling products that most of us would consider outside the ethos of Etsy. All it does is push genuine sellers to the bottom of the listings where potential buyers often don’t go. And that’s one of the major problems with selling on Etsy at the moment.

I am told that Etsy search only picks up the first 45 characters in a title so your best key words need to be there, right at the front. Add a striking thumbnail photo for the listing preview that stands out from the rest, and with any luck you will catch the eye of potential customers. But there are no overnight successes here.

I have been experimenting extensively on my own listings with these attributes to see if they appear in searches when I am looking for something I don’t know much about. Recently, and because I have so much jewellery I don’t wear, I’ve started making a limited number of keyrings and bag charms. I don’t know much about keyrings from a sales perspective, so I tried searching like a customer to see how others were doing it. Implementing some of the above rules does help and now a lot of my items are starting to appear on the front page.

I have used the competition to get ideas for search words and then reversed the process to see where my listings are appearing. It’s trial and error and you are constantly refining to improve on results. In fact, testing your own listings is really important. If I’m not sure what photo to use as a thumbnail I put in my search words and wherever on the page my item appears, I look to see if the initial image is standing out. Sometimes it’s the quirky close up rather than the standard full length that catches the eye, especially as thumbnail images chop your picture short. If you are a customer searching through hundreds of listings, you are going to go on the initial view, not necessarily click on the listing to see the full spec.

Doing a bit of housework on your listings is a part of the job these days. You can’t just list something and wait for it to sell. If it isn’t getting enough visits take a critical look. Sometimes I find just swapping words around in the title is all it takes for an item to be noticed.

And, customers, be more specific with your searches. What you want is out there if you just know how to look.

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