SEO and Etsy Search Algorithm
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I just posted this in a response to some questions in Etsy Success Team and thought I would copy it over here because I thought it might be helpful:
Etsy Search algorithm (the formula used to determine relevancy) is said to function like this:
First Etsy looks at the title for EXACT word phrase matches and lists those items as most relevant.
Second it looks for EXACT word phrases in the tags section and lists those matches.
Now, you have probably noticed that most of the listings in a relevant search DO NOT have EXACT keyword phrase matches in their title and maybe not even their tags and here is why:
Etsy also uses USER INPUT to determine relevancy. So, if someone searches for "crochet baby bib" and looks at 3 pages and clicks on a listing from page 3, that listing just got a huge bump in relevancy because someone found it relevant. Though the other listings previous to it were also relevant the one that got clicked became more relevant and jumped up to maybe page 2. It might have been what the user was looking for.
Now, the relevancy of being clicked does not just get a bump in a relevancy search. It gains relevancy if it is clicked on from any spot. If it is clicked on for a treasury or in the Newly listed section of the front page or clicked on from anywhere inside Etsy it gains relevancy based on its title and tags.
Renewing gives your item a small chance of being clicked on from different areas on Etsy. Renewing does not guarantee you a bump in relevancy just by renewing.
There are other aspects of the Etsy Search algorithm that they have not released and probably never will. The best thing to do is to make sure you have a very relevant title (mainly the first 3 words) and relevant tags. The better you are at describing the item in the title and guessing how a customer will search for your item the better chance you have of being found, clicked on and sold.
Forgot to mention that it is far better to work within a niche rather than in the general category. Example:
It is better to optimize for Crochet Baby Bib than Baby Bib. You'll find far less competition the more specific you get with your title and tags.
Posted at 10:15 am May 27, 2012 EDT
Interesting, I knew about the title and tags but not the "user input". So how does this work for new items? If I list a pair of Turquoise Stud Earrings and someone searches for that term how will I ever get in front of the other Turquoise Stud Earrings that have been listed for months or years since they would be bumped to the front since they have been found using these search terms before?
Posted at 12:39 am May 31, 2012 EDT
Yesterday I listed a pair of copper earrings. I've done eveything I could think of to bring it to the first pages of the search. I'm at page 8. Other items that don't even use the relevancy terms, etc are on page 1 2 3. It makes you feel kinda helpless here.
Posted at 6:23 am May 31, 2012 EDT
I do not think it makes it more difficult to be found. What is does do is make is VERY IMPORTANT to have really good photos, at least on the very first photo.
It is important to have a well rounded listing. The first thing people see is the photo. The best way to be found so that people can see your photo is a great title and tags. The best way to make a sale is have a great description, which helps you to be found in Google.
All aspects of the listing relies on all aspects of the listing. When people are having trouble being found it isn't always because the title or tags are bad. It could be a bad photo or not so good description. Everything needs to be in place. This is the foundation of your entire shop.
It is better to have 20 really great listing than 500 really bad ones.
Posted at 9:43 am May 31, 2012 EDT
I agree with Eric, the premise of optimisation is the same as it has always been and the whole package is the same premise as it has always been. Get the basics right and then tweak if you want to when little changes are discovered in how the algorithm on Etsy works or what Google decides to throw at people in it's latest changes (Penguin for example.)
Etsy wants good titles and tags.
Google wants good titles and descriptions. Also your shop title/header and announcement are important.
It makes perfect sense to have excellent photos, buyers like to look at your nice things in nice images. It makes perfect sense to have good policies, to tell people about yourself and so on. You promote and market in ways that increase your profile on and off Etsy. Anything that gets you seen will help you.
The only people who can get away with not have the best pictures or doing any promotion or having brilliant tags are those that have been on Etsy for a while, have lots of repeat buyers and are heavily indexed on search engines and links galore all over the place.
Posted at 10:30 am May 31, 2012 EDT
Rats! I typed your name wrong. I'm so sorry :( Leave it to me to do something like that.
How you feel about white backgrounds for our photos? I'm reading all over the place that white is where it's at for Etsy. But I would like to hear from someone with knowledge rather than gossip ... lol
Thank you so much for all your help.
Posted at 7:15 pm May 31, 2012 EDT
Don't worry I mistype my own name often enough!
White backgrounds are just a guide to what can look good as most things on white will stand out. However they aren't a must and it is a myth that they are the only images that ever appear on the FP. Look at any FP treasury at any given time and at least half of them won't have pure white or even white at all backgrounds. As long as the background doesn't detract from the product or the product doesn't stand out enough because of the colour then anything goes really. I like white either burnt out so it is a pure white background or white which is a textured background e.g. on a nice piece of card stock with normal shadows and lighting. I also like wood and I've seen some great images on things like black/grey slate tiles and leather/fabric covers books. All of these can work so well on close-ups and standard shots. A lot of it depends on what you are selling. If you are selling clothing and are using models then a piece of card isn't very helpful but any non distracting background can work. Plain white walls, a fence, metal doors, plain fabrics, the sea, brick walls - all sorts really. A lot of it is down to personal taste, what works for you and just experimenting in the first place.
With regards to your own here is my opinion.
White - the embossed pattern is a little busy and therefore distracting somewhat from the design. Try a card stock that is much plainer. The image below is shot on an unfolded textured greetings card. Not one of my best images but if you used that kind of stock it would be a little less distracting. Obviously buy a big piece of card - that was all I had at the time also I haven't done any editing!
With regards to the wood, they are nice, perfectly acceptable and no difference from many other Etsy images. I use wood too - a wooden bowl bought from a charity shop for 50p!
So basically there is no one answer to this. It needs to be clear, the product needs to stand out from the background, the background shouldn't distract, it needs to be in focus. Apart from that anything goes really.
For further hints and tips on photography have a look at the SASsy Blog, there is lots of information on there. Just do a search to find more.
Posted at 12:03 pm Jun 3, 2012 EDT