June 29, 2022 | 15 minute read

Podcast Transcript: How to Optimize Your Listing Descriptions for Etsy Search

Two Etsy experts share tips and examples to help hone your listing descriptions—an important factor in search both on and off of Etsy.

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The following is a transcript of a podcast episode released in June 2022. The transcript has been edited slightly for this format. You can listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, or wherever you get your podcasts. Or stream it via the Spotify player above.

Isabella: Hi, everyone! Isabella from Etsy's Community Education Team here.

Amy: And I'm Amy. I'm a seller education specialist on the Community Team.

Isabella: Amy was on the show last year for some episodes about Etsy search. For anyone who may have missed those, Amy, can you tell us a little bit about what you do here at Etsy?

Amy: Sure. I’ve worked at Etsy supporting sellers in a lot of different capacities over the years, but I’ve mainly focused on shop optimization. Most recently I've been in the Forums, sharing tips and posting shop critiques. It's been a lot of fun.

I'm also a seller on Etsy. I started my shop years ago, before I started working here. I really love having that creative outlet at the end of the day, and the connections I make with my customers can be really special. I also think it's helpful that I have that shared experience with the people that I support.

Isabella: Plus one to that. I also have an Etsy shop. I make event pieces for dogs, so imagine floral collars and leashes for weddings or other big celebratory moments. And yes, it's definitely helpful to have that perspective when working with the seller community.

Amy: So let's talk about Etsy search. Specifically, what's new?

Isabella: Yes, today's episode is all about listing descriptions. The big news is that listing descriptions are now playing a role in search ranking on Etsy.

Listing descriptions have always been important in terms of visibility and sales. In the past, listing descriptions were crawled for keywords by other search engines outside of Etsy—for example, Google, Yahoo, and Bing. They’ve also always played a role in your conversion rate. When we say conversion rate, we mean turning a view into a sale, a favorite, or an "add to cart." Essentially it’s when somebody finds your listing, clicks on it, reads your description, learns more about your listing, and then feels more confident in purchasing it.

And all of that is still true. But now, in terms of keywords and search ranking on Etsy, Etsy search will consider your keywords and phrases within your listing descriptions when populating search results and then ranking those listings. Now that Etsy search is looking for keywords within your listing description, the algorithm has even more to scan which allows us to get your items in front of even more buyers.

Amy: This feels like the perfect opportunity to share a few tips on how to optimize descriptions. But first, we're going to do a quick rundown of how search works for any of the newer sellers out there who may be less familiar with the process. Then we'll dive into our tips and best practices for listing descriptions that are optimized for the new changes, and we'll close out with some examples so you can get a sense of what this all looks like in action.

Isabella: Let's do it.

Amy: I'll start with the basics: keywords. Keywords are the descriptive words and phrases that you add to your tags, titles, categories, attributes, and, now, listing descriptions. Keywords are important because they help match your listings with shoppers' searches, which helps make them eligible to appear in search results. So using strong keywords in your listings creates an opportunity for your items to be shown in search pages.

For example, if a buyer searches for something like “ceramic mug” and you have the phrase “ceramic mug” represented in your listing tags, titles, description, categories, and attributes, it has the potential to show up in a search for that buyer. It's basically query matching in a nutshell.

Isabella: I'm glad you mentioned query matching because I want to go over the two phases of Etsy search, which are query matching and ranking.

Amy: Good idea.

Isabella: So when a buyer types a query into the search bar, the query matching phase begins. Etsy search gathers all the listings that have keywords that match a shopper's query. Once we've gathered all the listings that match a buyer's query—like you said before, using the keywords from titles, tags, attributes, categories, and, now, listing descriptions—we then use the information that we have about each listing (as well as the shop) to rank the listings. The order that they're ranked in is dependent on a variety of factors, so people browsing Etsy can see the items that they’re most likely to purchase within their search results.

Those factors that go into Etsy search ranking are largely related to conversions. When we say conversions, we mean how often a view is turning into a favorite, an "add to cart," or a sale. And we call this whole metric “listing quality.” Additionally, factors like shipping and price will come into play. You can read more about how Etsy search works in our Ultimate Guide to Etsy Search.

Amy: OK, back to listing descriptions. Your listing descriptions on Etsy have always been part of that conversion piece. Like you were saying earlier, Isabella, they could help convert visits to sales.

Isabella: Right, because when you're sharing all the information that a buyer needs to know in your listing description, that buyer can then more easily make a purchase decision.

Amy: Yes, their decision to purchase or not purchase after visiting your listing contributes to the ranking phase. And now that Etsy search is also looking for keywords within your listing descriptions, it can also influence the query matching phases of search.

Isabella: Right, it's an additional way to describe your items and help improve their discoverability in Etsy search results. It's basically like having additional tags.

Another thing that's really great about this update is that it aligns with the SEO best practices that we've been recommending all along. Google and other search engines crawl entire pages for keywords for ranking purposes, right? So the updates that you make to your listing descriptions can now help your items get discovered on Etsy and external search engines.

Amy: OK, let's talk about how to ensure listing descriptions are optimized for getting discovered. First, I always recommend trying to incorporate your most relevant keywords in the first few sentences of your listing descriptions. This can help draw buyers in and make your listing more search-friendly.

Isabella: That's right. Next, I would say avoid copying your title verbatim or simply listing your top keywords. Instead, you want to craft sentences that casually incorporate a few of your top keywords in a way that sounds human and written in your brand's voice. Your brand's voice represents your shop's personality or style, so think about your target audience and the image you're trying to convey to them when writing these descriptions.

For example, let's say you sell party decor and your customers are typically couples planning a wedding. You might tailor your descriptions to appeal to those couples more directly and draw them in with something like, "Are you looking for unique earth-friendly favors for your big event?"

Amy: Yes, descriptions are there for your buyers to read so they should be written with your target customer in mind. It can also be helpful to experiment with different phrasing over time. Since the writing in your descriptions is so closely connected to how people perceive your brand, you want to keep it feeling fresh. This is when you can ask friends or family or other sellers in the Etsy community for feedback. You can also refer to your listing-level stats occasionally to track your performance.

Isabella: Good call. Keeping your descriptions up-to-date really is key. With that in mind, you may want to update your descriptions ahead of any big holiday or shopping moments to help stand out to people who are purchasing gifts. For instance, show gift givers how or why your item is the perfect choice for them. You can communicate the needs the item solves for, suggest recipients the item would make a good gift for, and call out any gift wrap options that you offer.

Amy: Do you have any tips on how sellers should format their descriptions?

Isabella: Yes! It really depends on the item and the way each seller prefers to communicate. My first tip would be to do a bit of research. Check out websites of well-known brands—ones that you look up to or have a similar aesthetic to—to get a sense of how they're prioritizing information in their descriptions. You may get a few ideas that can be inspirational for your own shop.

But generally, as we've said, lead with the most important information about your item. Shoppers want the details on your items as soon as possible. Help pique your buyer's interest by starting off with the most enticing selling point. This is where the keywords can really hold some extra weight in the query matching phase.

Utilize short paragraphs and lists for key details, like materials, measurements, and care instructions. This can be helpful for buyers who are more interested in the nuts and bolts of the item. It's also a great way to highlight important product details. Just be careful to keep punctuation fairly simple.

End on a note that helps buyers envision owning or enjoying your item, or giving it as a gift. Is there a certain detail that your customers are always raving about? Or do you offer anything special with purchases, like gift wrap? Or maybe your items can be bundled with another listing in your shop. If this is the case, I would recommend adding a link to that listing to your description to keep shoppers engaged and clicking around your shop. You could also try adding links to shop sections in your shop.

Amy: I find it helpful to think of my listing descriptions as virtual salespeople. I try to make them sound very friendly and helpful. And the overall tone is pretty informal, which is a through line to my products' casual aesthetic. So it all feels brand-aligned.

Isabella: I like the idea of virtual salespeople. It's all connected, right?

Amy: It is! OK, now I think it'd be helpful to go over a few examples. Since listing descriptions are unique to each shop and item, let's talk through some tips for different types of listings. Hopefully folks will glean some insights that they can apply to their specific shops.

Isabella: Yes, examples can be really helpful. I was doing some vintage shopping earlier today, so vintage is top of mind for me. How about we start with a few ideas for vintage sellers?

Amy: Definitely. There are so many key details that can be communicated in a vintage item description. There are things like decade, era, designer, material, style, measurement, and the condition of the item.

Isabella: Yes, there’s a lot to cover. At the same time, though, I recommend keeping descriptions fairly simple and approachable so that they're digestible and easy for everyone to understand. It's about finding the right balance. You don’t want to share too little but you don’t want to go overboard either. Some shoppers may be newly in love with vintage and have less awareness of certain lingo or brand names, so it’s important to find the right balance that appeals to both the casual browser and the shopper on a mission.

Amy: It makes sense to write descriptions that speak to different types of buyers for sure. I feel like this is true for handmade sellers as well. Finding that right balance of what info to share because it's what sets your product apart from the competition, but not overwhelming buyers with any jargon or details that they might not understand.

Isabella: Yes, it all comes back to knowing your customer. So I imagine a lot of vintage buyers are searching for their favorite eras, designers, and styles, so I’d definitely include that type of information within the first few sentences. This should help make the listing easy to discover in search and feel more relevant and enticing to the buyers that have just clicked on it.

Think of your opener as a quick intro to the product with key details about the color, material, style, era, and, if it's applicable, the designer. You can also include some reasoning as to why your item is the best choice.

I put together an example here that I'm going to read. Let me know what you think about this:

“This chic 1970s olive green wool pencil skirt with brass buttons was hand-sewn in Paris with impeccable attention to detail. This classic silhouette would make the perfect addition to your wardrobe or an excellent holiday gift.”

Amy: That was great.

Isabella: Don't be afraid to show a bit of your personality here in your descriptions. Just make sure the tone aligns with your brand.

In the next section, I'd highlight all the specific must-know info in a way that's easy to read and reference. Bullet points or lists are clear and easy in terms of providing information about measurements, fit, item condition, and any special notes about the fabric or colors.

Remember that for vintage clothing, the sizing isn't always the same sizing that we have today. Including detailed measurements can help ensure your customers are getting what they expect. And if you're using a model in your listing photos, it's a best practice to include their measurements and how the item fits them as well.

It's also important to carefully describe any damage or wear and tear within your listing descriptions. Don't forget to capture this in your photographs too.

Finally, try wrapping up by helping shoppers imagine how your vintage items can fit into their modern lifestyle. So back to my examples here: “This skirt will look lovely paired with pearls or your boldest statement piece.” This is where you'd want to include a link to any of those perfect pairings that you have available in your shop.

Amy: So much great info! Let me follow that with a few ideas for shops that sell handmade items.

I recommend the same format: a strong opening statement, well-organized specs, and ending on a high note with a link. Think about the details that are most appealing to your customers and you can lean a bit more into how your products can enhance their home, event, occasion, or life.

For example, if you sell weekly planners your customers are likely interested in becoming more organized. An opener that frames the product as a problem solver can help draw buyers in. Isabella, you're doing such a good job with examples. How would you write an opener to a listing description for a weekly planner?

Isabella: How about: “Need help getting organized? This custom undated weekly planner is the perfect overview of your week.”

Amy: Perfect. That sentence was loaded with keywords and it was clear about what's for sale, why it's special, and why you need it.

Isabella: For the main portion of your description, you want to make sure you're anticipating and answering any questions that you think buyers might have about your items. Think for a second: Have you noticed any trends in the types of questions you receive in your Messages from buyers? If so, that's a pretty good sign that you might want to rework your description to include that information or clarify something.

Amy: Again, short paragraphs and bulleted lists are great. Buyers might be looking for something specific like a size or material, so make it really easy for them to find that information. And not to sound like a broken record, but I also recommend adding a link to the end of your listings to encourage buyers to check out other items in your shop.

All right, should we talk about craft supplies?

Isabella: Sure! When selling craft supplies, you may want to keep your descriptions more simple and to the point. Your goal is to communicate exactly what's included in each listing in an informative, easy-to-read format. I'd suggest using a bulleted list again here to ensure all of the key details are easy to find.

Amy: Right, like what the supply is, what it's used for…anything else?

Isabella: Yes. Ask yourself: What material is it? For example, if it's fabric, what fiber and weight is the fabric? For jewelry findings, what metal is it? What’s the size and shape? Are there any other key measurements? What color is it? Is it patterned? Does it have a special finish? What quantity is available? If it's a kit, what skill level is it for? Are additional tools required? How long will it take to complete? Are there any color or size variations available?

Amy: Thanks, Isabella. I think that sums it up. This is a really exciting update. At the same time, remember: Many sellers may already have descriptions that are aligned with our newest recommendations.

Note: Etsy search is always changing and every shop is different. These are some of the current best practices we recommend as of June 2022.

Avatar image for Etsy Staff Words by Etsy Staff

Etsy staff writers and contributing editors.

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