Seller Handbook

Advice and inspiration for successfully running your Etsy shop

Seller Handbook

How Etsy Search Works

Learn more about the different phases of Etsy search and the factors that go into search ranking.

By Etsy Staff Jul 16, 2019
Photo by Inna Kostukovsky

Etsy search is a powerful tool designed to match buyers with the items they’re looking for, making it easy for them to make a purchase.

There are two phases of how search works: Query matching and ranking. We’ll explore each one in detail below, but here’s a quick overview:

Query matching: A buyer enters a query and we look at the inventory of listings that match that query.

Ranking: Behind the scenes, we rank the matching listings based on a variety of factors, which we’ll talk about in more detail below.

We also rank listings using our Context Specific Ranking (CSR) technology. CSR helps us show shoppers relevant listings we believe they’re more likely to purchase based on what we’ve learned from shoppers’ habits across Etsy.

Before we get into the details, there’s one thing we should note: Subscribing to Etsy Plus or Etsy Premium does not influence where listings appear in Etsy search.

Query matching

When a customer enters a search query on Etsy, we look at the titles, tags, categories, and attributes you’ve added to find matching keywords. Using all 13 tags, adding variety to your tags, adding all the relevant attribute options, and categorizing your items as specifically as you may all help increase the chance that your listings will match with a query.

Diversifying your inventory and trying lots of different tags on your listings gives you the opportunity to match with more searches.

Learn more about using tags, categories, and attributes to match with searches in Keywords 101: Everything You Need To Know.

Ranking

Once we’ve gathered all the listings that match a buyer’s query, we use the information we have about each listing and shop to rank the listings so people browsing Etsy see the items that they are most likely to purchase earlier in the results. Here are some of the factors that go into Etsy search ranking:

Relevancy

When your tags, titles, categories, and attributes match a shopper’s query, your listings have the potential to appear in their search results. If those keywords are an exact match for the query, your listing may be ranked higher in results because it’s seen as more relevant to the search.

Listing quality score

When a buyer searches on Etsy, our goal is to help them find items they want to purchase. To do this, Etsy search looks at clues from shoppers to determine whether a listing is appealing and meets their expectations once they click. We look at how well a listing converts—how many people view it and then make a purchase—to determine whether buyers are interested in it, which boosts that listing’s quality score and placement in search results.

Sometimes you need to take a much-needed break, but when you return from vacation mode, you might not see the same traffic to your shop from search as before you went away. That’s because we’re gathering information about how buyers interact with other listings, while your listing quality scores stay the same. Once you return from vacation mode and your listings are appearing in search results again, we’ll start to gather up-to-date information about how shoppers are interacting with your listings.

Learn more about how conversion rate influences search ranking in Create Listings That Convert.

Recency

When a new listing is created, it gets a small, temporary boost in search results so that Etsy search can learn more about how buyers interact with it to determine the listing’s quality score. Renewed listings get a similar, though smaller, boost. This temporary boost can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on how often people are searching for a particular item. Regularly renewing your items or creating new listings just to get this small boost isn’t an effective search optimization strategy. Instead, we recommend focusing your time and efforts on improving your tags or working to help increase your conversion rate.

Customer and market experience score

In addition to helping people find items they want to purchase, we want buyers to have a great experience when they shop on Etsy. To do this, we give each shop a customer and market experience score and factor it into search placement. Getting great reviews, having complete shop policies, and adding an About section positively impact your search ranking, while recent cases opened against your shop and intellectual property infringement issues can hurt your search ranking. Learn more about customer and market experience score.

Shipping price

In our research, Etsy buyers tell us that shipping price is one of the most important factors they look at when deciding to make a purchase. In a March 2018 survey they said they were 50% less likely to buy an item if they thought the price of shipping was even a little bit more expensive than they were used to.

Listings that ship for free to the United States and shops that offer a US free shipping guarantee get priority US search placement in the Etsy app where millions of Etsy’s most active shoppers are searching. Plus: We prioritize these items wherever Etsy advertises in the US—in email marketing, social media, and television ads.

Digital download items are also eligible for priority search placement in the Etsy app because they don't have any shipping costs. In addition, we also include shipping price as a factor in search ranking. If you don’t offer a US free shipping guarantee or free shipping to US shoppers, offering free shipping or lowering your shipping costs for shoppers in your country can improve your search ranking.

Read How to Create a Competitive Shipping Strategy for more tips.

Translations and language

When you set up your shop on Etsy, you choose a shop language. The titles and tags you add to your listings should be in the language you choose during setup. We’ll translate your keywords and show shoppers results that match their query and language settings.

If you speak multiple languages, you can add your own translations to your listings. Translations you add yourself tend to be higher quality and sound more natural so they often outperform machine translations. Get step by step instructions for adding your own translation in this Help Article.

Shoppers' habits

In addition to looking at the above factors, including relevancy, listing quality, and customer experience, we also customize search results to shoppers. Our Context Specific Ranking technology learns what buyers are interested in to show them the items they’re most likely to purchase.

When you search on Etsy, what you see isn’t always what another buyer might be seeing. Searching for your own listings and comparing the results over time or across devices isn’t an effective way to determine where your listings are appearing in search, since the results you see are just a small slice of a much bigger picture.

Instead, dig into your Stats to see which listings are bringing you the most traffic from Etsy search. On the traffic details page, you can see your most-visited listings and the search terms that are bringing buyers to your shop. Look at the listings that are getting the least views and compare the tags to your top-performing listings. Could you give your tags a refresh or add some keywords from your popular listings? Also think about how you can optimize your underperforming listings for conversion. Read Create Listings That Convert for more tips on improving your conversion rate.

Continue reading > Keywords 101: Everything You Need to Know

Go back > The Ultimate Guide to Etsy Search

Note: Etsy search is always changing. These are some of the current best practices we recommend and we’ll regularly update this content to keep you informed*.

*As of July 2019

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