SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a term that every marketer across the globe could tell you about. Their eye may twitch at the mere mention of it.
As the world has shifted to an entirely digital landscape, the need for search engines, like Google, to provide relevant information to users based solely on their search intent is key. We are in the Information Age- actually, some could argue we're way past the Information Age with the boom in AI technologies (I'll save that conversation for another day when I feel like going into an existential dread spiral.)
With so much information at our fingertips, if the wrong thing was served up every time you searched for it, you'd be frustrated and more likely to abandon search and head for more traditional means- think library.
Search engines and the role of SEO
When you think search engine, you likely think Google. Of course, there are plenty of others- Bing, Duck Duck Go, etc. These search engines are built on powerful algorithms that scan text on web pages to identify if a page answers a users search intent. If you were searching for "best craft store", and were served up ingredients for crock-pot chili, you'd be frustrated.
And as algorithms have gotten smarter and technologies have gotten more advanced, so have the results. If a webpage is crafted with SEO in mind, its crafted utilizing knowledge of what the user is searching for and using strategic keywords in order to fulfill that search.
Etsy is a search engine
Sure, Etsy is "a global online marketplace, where people come together to make, sell, buy, and collect unique items." But in reality, Etsy is, and needs to continue to be, a search engine.
As of 2021, there were over 7.5 million active sellers on Etsy. So how, in a veritable ocean of makers will you get noticed? Of those 7.5 million sellers, how many are selling something similar to you?
The answer, whether you like it or not, is to leverage SEO.
How to do SEO on Etsy
1. Think like a shopper, not a maker
You know more about your product than anyone. You know what it's supposed to be, who it's intended for, and all the little details about it. Too often, I see sellers writing their listings assuming shoppers have the same level of knowledge that they have.
Instead, you need to flip it on it's head. This goes for all channels of your marketing and selling efforts. You need to put yourself in your shoppers' shoes and think how they think.
What are the phrases or questions they would use? What would they be actively typing into the Etsy search bar to find something like your product. 99.9% of the time, it's not what you would initially think to put. Try stepping outside of your creatively-wonderful self for a moment and think about the person buying your products.
They're likely turning to Etsy because they either don't know how to make something themselves, so they want a trusted maker to do it for them. Or, they are specifically seeking out handmade goods and may not necessarily know exactly what they want yet.
2. Your title is gold
On Etsy, your title allows for up to 140 characters. You should aim to use at least 100 of those characters. Why? Your title is a gold-mine. It's the first thing your shopper will see (outside of your photo) and can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you in terms of getting them the information they need to know exactly what it is you're selling.
My advice for structuring your title is to use a format like this:
What is the item- Describe the item- Give a few key characteristics of the item- Give any relevant references for the item.
Here's an example. If I were selling a stuffed crochet plushie, I may make a title that looks something like:
Crocheted teddy bear- Blue teddy bear- Handmade crocheted teddy bear- Gifts for baby showers- Gifts for kids.
It may seem repetitive or like overkill, but it allows for searchers to be served up the item they're looking for.
3. Max out your description
The next big opportunity to maximize your SEO efforts on your listings is in your description. I recently came across a maker who had 4 words on their description. FOUR! Even I had a hard time deciphering exactly what it was they were selling, and you know what? I abandoned that page in lieu of one that had more information.
Your description is where you can really sell your item. Will it take time to write this out? Yes! But is it worth every minute you spend on it? Also yes! You'll want to include keywords and key phrases throughout your description that are related to what your customers are searching for. Remember- think like a shopper.
Using our teddy bear example, I may write a description that looks something like this:
This crocheted teddy bear is ready to find a new home! Handmade using blue acrylic yarn, hypoallergenic Poly-Fil, and safety eyes, this bear was a true labor of love.
This crocheted teddy bear measures 12" x 6", and has opposable legs and arms, so you can put it in any position you'd like.
Crocheted teddy bears make the perfect gift for a baby shower, kid's birthday or holiday, or as a just because present. This little teddy bear is small enough for a display shelf in a nursery or room, but large enough to be played with by all ages.
All items in my shop are crocheted by hand by me. It is my joy to bring you and your families crocheted plushies to brighten your day.
If you are looking for more crocheted plushies, check out the rest of my shop. [INSERT LINK TO SHOP]
Honestly, I could probably have gone even further with it, but you get the gist. Really talk about your item. Tell the buyer who you are in the process and why you made your product. Throw in a personal story or anecdote. People go to Etsy to buy from makers, so show them the maker you are!
Notice the use of keywords in the description. Things like "crocheted teddy bear" and "crocheted plushie" and "baby shower gift" or "kids gift". These are what helps the algorithm understand what your product is and effectively serves it up to the right customer.
4. Use every tag
You get 13 tags. Though it says "optional," for SEO purposes, it's not. Use all 13 tags!
You'll want to use things like your user name or a name people know you by on other platforms, what your item is (and multiple iterations of that), the color you offer, how its made, what its for, who its for. Get creative and be sure to use every last one.
Optimize, optimize, optimize
At the end of the day, as more sellers enter the Etsy marketplace, it will continue to be difficult to be seen by customers without a true omnichannel strategy. But a wonderful starting place to give yourself the best chance of being noticed is in your SEO efforts on your product listings. Good luck out there! Happy optimizing!