SEO Announcement - 6/18/09

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Original Post

Dear sellers,

This is a follow-up on my posts from Saturday night and last night. I want to offer a bit of context around the search engine optimization (SEO) threads, an announcement that we hope will address your concerns, and an apology.


Headlines:

1. We are rolling out now an SEO update that changes the format of the page titles on all item listing pages to the following:

[Item Title] by [username] on Etsy

2. We will also be changing the format of the meta keywords for item listing pages to include only the exact Etsy tags for your item listing.


Background:

Last September, in an article posted on Etsy’s blog, The Storque, we explained that both SEO and SEM are among our top marketing priorities, and that with a new technical team taking shape at Etsy, SEO techniques would begin to be implemented on an on-going basis across Etsy (see: www.etsy.com/storque/article/2542/ ). A few months later, we rolled out a number of SEO-related improvements to various pages across the site. We explained some of those changes in a how-to article for sellers (see: www.etsy.com/storque/article/3835/ ). That article explains our then-current approach to page titling formats for individual item pages. The basic approach was:



* For handmade items -- "Handmade [Category] on Etsy - [Item Title] by [username]"
* For vintage items -- "Vintage on Etsy - [Item Title] by [username]"

* For supplies -- "Craft Supplies on Etsy - [Item Title] by [username]"



The Issue and The Solution:


As I acknowledged in my post last Saturday, our approach in April was, in hindsight, not as thoughtful or nuanced as it should have been. One of the important goals of that initial SEO work was to help new sellers on Etsy -- many of whom are less experienced with optimizing their items and shops -- get exposure.

We understand that for sellers who are already optimizing item titles, our April changes were too much of a ”one size fits many” approach. Furthermore, we understand from reading Forum threads that some sellers don’t want words in front of their item titles, including the word “Etsy”.

So, as mentioned above, we are rolling out today an SEO update that changes the format of the page titles on all item listing pages to the following:

[Item Title] by [username] on Etsy

We will also be changing the format of the meta keywords for item listing pages to include only the exact tags for your item listing. We think these improvements address many of your concerns. SEO is an ongoing process and we will always do what we think is best for the overall optimization of search traffic and subsequently the community.


One Note on Etsy’s Intent and Page Views:

An important, overarching goal of SEO, as with all marketing efforts at Etsy, is to drive as many shoppers to the site as possible. We read that some of you believe our initial SEO approach was deceitful or mal-intentioned. This is not true. Etsy does not want to "compete" with sellers for organic search results that lead back to Etsy. Ultimately, organic search traffic benefits all of us.

The truth is that Etsy was trying to move quickly to improve search rankings for a large number of sellers (some of whom were not optimizing), and in doing so we failed those of you who are doing a good job on SEO. We apologize for that. We fully appreciate that many of you are working hard to drive traffic to your item pages on Etsy. We thank you for that and want you to know that our strategy is not to optimize only for the short- or mid-tail keyword searches.

Some of you have indicated in the Forum threads that views to your shops and items pages are down; others of you have indicated that they’re up. I think the overarching point is that many, many factors impact traffic to pages on Etsy.

We’re planning on scheduling a Virtual Lab session for those of you who may want to continue to talk about this, but in the meantime, we want to say unequivocally that we understand this: if you’re successful, we’re successful.


What Have We Learned:

We have learned two important lessons from this experience:

1. Our approach to SEO needs to be more sophisticated and nuanced for different categories, sellers, etc. We will be focusing in the coming weeks and months on giving sellers more control of SEO for their item listing and shop pages. In addition, we will increasingly focus on providing more educational resources to the community.

2. Communication, communication, communication: We understand that you need to hear from us and that we’re listening. I can assure you we are, but can do a better job of letting you know.

We apologize again for the concern this has raised, that we were unclear in the communication of this matter, and for our initial “one size fits many” approach. Thank you for selling on Etsy and participating in the Etsy community. We’re committed to ongoing improvements to our SEO efforts and, as always, appreciate your feedback and suggestions.


Kind regards,

Sara

Posted at 1:03pm Jun 18, 2009 EDT

Responses

In an effort to hold true to our commitment to communicate more effectively with our seller community in regards to SEO (Search Engine Optimization), I have a brief update.

We are hiring SEO specialists to work with us on a comprehensive strategy as well as implementation plan. Once we have an agreement formalized with these specialists, we will share with you more details; we expect that will be next week. Among other goals, we want to implement and share SEO best practices with our community.

Thank you for your patience.

Sara

Posted at 5:54pm Jun 26, 2009 EDT