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Etsy Relevancy SEO and Stats SEO for Etsy newbies, draft edition - search engine optimization thread

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This team is open to any Etsy shop owner who wants to discuss & learn more about SEO, relevancy & GA. It is self-help style - you are expected to read the threads provided & learn the basics on your own. This is not a promotion forum, nor is it a critique forum - please do not post asking for a shop critique or a general "what is wrong with my SEO?" But asking for help with specific optimization problems is OK!

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Original Post

I've been working on a full SEO tutorial with both beginner & advanced sections, but I am still not happy with the readability & usability. However, with all of the new sellers on the team lately, I thought it might be helpful to post my boiled-down summary of SEO for Etsy shops, written for people who really know nothing about SEO before they read it. If I ever get the more detailed version to a level that I am happy with, I will post it, of course.

****NOTE - these are the very basics. Yes, there is more to it. But if you have never thought about these things ever, then following these 6 steps should increase your traffic.


1) Find commonly-searched keywords/phrases for your products that do not have too much competition for you to be able to get standing on Google for them. You can use the Google Keyword tool:
adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
& also the suggested searches (that appear when you start typing) on both Etsy & other search engines.

2) Use these words throughout your shop & listings – shop title, shop announcement, shop sections, item titles, item descriptions. Use exact strings of keywords when they are your target search; matching exact keyword phrases is important on Google.

3) Put the most important words near the beginning of titles, descriptions & announcements. For descriptions, repeat those important words/phases more than once, but do not go overboard.

4) For announcements & descriptions, write naturally – do not just use a string of keywords. Titles need to be longer than 3 words but less than 10, generally. Google prefers 70 characters or less, & remember that Etsy will cut your title to add your shopname to the end on Google.

5) Do not copy/cut & paste each listing - every description you do should mostly be unique text.

6) Get links back to your shop on other websites – this is a crucial part of SEO, & is often the reason you might see a page very similar to yours rank higher than yours on Google; the other site may have more “backlinks”. Do this by being featured on blogs, working on social media etc. DO NOT buy links from someone – that is frowned upon by Google & could make your rankings worse, not better. DO post on Etsy forum & team pages, make treasuries, get hearts etc. – those links all help too.

Posted at 11:15 pm Apr 24, 2012 EDT

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Cindy from cindylouwho2 says
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Ginny - you raise a good point. Not everyone can find a lot of low competition keywords. If you download the results from Google keywords, it will give you a more nuanced rating - the competition score goes from 0 to 1. Everything above 0.67 is considered high, but obviously there is not much difference between 0.66 & 0.68. So aiming for keywords below 1 but above .67 is another strategy.

& of course Etsy shops can get ranking for high competition phrases. I am ranked for "abalone shell jewelry", which is a 1. But it has taken me some time to get there, & its search frequency has dropped since I first selected it. I used to be on the 1st or 2nd page of google for "shell jewelry", which is a 1 & 4 times the volume of "abalone shell jewelry", but an Etsy search link bumped me & I am now down on page 5. Mind you, I am not working very hard to get backlinks to my shop home page.

Definitely do not overthink the keyword research, especially for listing titles - it's harder to get google rank for them in the first place, but you might get good relevancy & Google shopping rank instead, even with a high competition term. Currently I am ranked first of the snippets shown for Google Shopping in the regular Google search for "abalone shell jewelry" - & they show that ahead of my shop link, with a photo. So it is getting as much traffic as my shop home for that phrase.

and you have to make stuff as well!

Posted at 12:47 pm May 8, 2012 EDT

Cindy from cindylouwho2 says
Highlighted Post

Mireya Pizarro from asweetattitude says
it is so easy to get lost in this stuff. How do you keep things simple. What is the one thing you can do to build traffic.
==========
there is no "one thing" you can do to build traffic. Each business' approach would depend on your business plan, your product, your target market, your available time, your competition, trends, etc. However, it is not necessary for each business to do everything available - that is usually a mistake, & paring that back is one way to keep it simple. So it may be that there are far more effective ways for a particular business to drive traffic, & they will not worry about SEO for Google & other search engines. Other businesses may make SEO their biggest focus. Both approaches might be right for a particular business.

I do not blog or Facebook or Tweet my shop. I am not on Pinterest. I do not pay for advertising. I get most of my sales through Etsy relevancy searches, & a nice chunk from Google & other search engines. That is how I simplify my approach to building traffic.

In general, running a business is NOT simple. It is a complex activity requiring multiple skills. Even for a small handmade business, making stuff is not the majority of your day-to-day time. I know that is not what you wanted to hear, but sadly it IS reality.

Posted at 2:27 pm Jan 4, 2013 EST

Cindy from cindylouwho2 says
Highlighted Post

new thread on how to do keyword research:
www.etsy.com/teams/10713/etsy-relevancy-seo-and-stats/discuss/13252...

Posted at 12:32 am Oct 29, 2013 EDT

Cindy from cindylouwho2 says
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I see a lot of people saying things like "I am doing [insert odd idea here] to help my SEO!" & it can be difficult to convince folks there are no quick tricks that will improve your Google ranking.

I think Google says it best here in their quality guidelines:
support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769#3

specific quotes I like:

"Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.

Don't deceive your users.

Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you'd feel comfortable explaining what you've done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?""

Posted at 4:02 pm Jun 18, 2014 EDT

Cindy from cindylouwho2 says
Highlighted Post

I have had a few questions lately on how current this thread is. As always, any clarifications or updates will highlighted & can be accessed from any page by clicking "Show Thread Summary"

The truth is, the OP is still valid, although if I wrote it today I would put more emphasis on getting backlinks naturally instead of through specific efforts. But SEO for Google has not really changed that much over several years. If you were not trying to game the system & were writing good content, then an Etsy page you optimized years ago could still be ranking well today.

Most of the Google changes you hear about do not affect Etsy sellers who were never trying to game the system. But if you would like to keep up with those sorts of changes, I strongly suggest reading the "Recent News" thread here:
www.etsy.com/teams/10713/etsy-relevancy-seo-and-stats/discuss/9852316
DO NOT read it if you are brand new & confused; it will make a lot of things seem more complicated than they really are. But it is an excellent place to learn about Google changes & rumours, & advanced SEO topics that apply to free standing websites. I also post news about stats programs & content marketing there, as well as tips on optimizing various sorts of pages (e.g., Pinterest, Facebook)

Posted at 5:05 pm Nov 10, 2014 EST

Responses

comments & questions are welcome!

Posted at 11:15 pm Apr 24, 2012 EDT

Great succinct summary! Thanks Cindy

Posted at 2:26 am Apr 25, 2012 EDT

Great summary-thanks for sharing.

Going for a google GA seminar tonight.

I will compile notes and share them too.

Posted at 2:27 pm Apr 25, 2012 EDT

sounds great, Shiko! It is sad that a lot of GA tricks don't apply to Etsy shops, since Etsy is the top level domain & we are just under them, but there are definitely new developments that could be useful.

Posted at 2:34 pm Apr 25, 2012 EDT

Sounds great Cindy! It's very easy to understand.

Posted at 12:05 am Apr 26, 2012 EDT

it is easy to understand ..just hard to get right ?!

Posted at 3:45 pm Apr 26, 2012 EDT

this should be an interesting read. i am marking.

Posted at 12:06 pm Apr 29, 2012 EDT

What does "buying a link" mean? How is that different from paid advertising?

Posted at 2:59 pm May 1, 2012 EDT

Carole, there are individuals & companies that will promise you "100 high quality links" or some such deal. In advertising, you are buying an ad for a period of time, hoping people who land on the page come to your shop. Rarely are those sorts of ads permanent, & you usually buy them on pages with lots of traffic & content. In link buying, you are buying permanent links hoping Google will think more people like your page.

Usually the people selling these links are not putting them on high quality pages. They may have a link scheme going where blogs or other websites link between each other to gain standing, for example, but they aren't providing good content on the page that people might want to read.

Google gives backlinks value; they consider them a vote for your page. But if they catch you with tons of links on low quality sites, or sites that appear to be link schemes, then they will give those links no value & perhaps even penalize your page. So you would end up worse off than you were with no links at all.

In March google deindexed a huge network of linked blogs that existed solely to game Google ranking. They have also recently been notifying independent website owners of bad backlinks through the Google Webmaster tools & applying site penalties to sites that do not move to clean up the bad backlinks. So while backlink buying has been a Google no no for a long time, it is only recently that the penalties are becoming more severe, & the likelihood of being caught has increased.

Posted at 3:38 pm May 1, 2012 EDT

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