The California Crafters Club of Etsy (CCCOE) is a group of independent artists, crafters, & artisans from California who sell their wares on

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Making it Rank

How do you get your listings on the first page of Etsy's search?  

We've talked about tags and titles. We've talked about photos. We've even discussed listing descriptions. What we haven't talked about is ranking. There's a reason for that. 

First, what is ranking

When you type a query into a search engine, it lists your results in an order. This order is the ranking. 

What goes into a ranking? It depends on the search engine. Every algorithm is different. And it depends on the day. Search engines tweak their algorithms periodically so that they're returning good results for their users. 

So, if you type one query in to three different search engines, you'll probably get three different results. And if you type a query into Etsy today, you'll definitely get different results than you got last week, last month, or last year. This is why you need to periodically refresh your listings by doing things like checking your tags. 

Ranking is complicated. For every aspect you have control over (such as your tags), there's something else that you don't (such as the pages viewed by someone coming to your listing). That's why it is best to focus on the things you can control. 

What you can't control

The thing is, we don't know every aspect of the algorithm that Etsy uses to determine rank. And, Etsy has adjusted their algorithm for each user, so what you'd see when you make a query would be different than if someone else used the exact same search term. 

The bounce rate is about how long someone remains on your page. If someone clicks to see your item and then immediately clicks away, that hurts your ranking. But you can't help it if someone accidentally clicks a link to your page. This is why you want relevant tags, for you only want people visiting your listings that want to spend some time looking.

Links are just links to your item from elsewhere. The more links to your item you have, the better your listing looks to search engines. But, they have to be organic. 

Have you ever seen spam comments? They say something random and then have a link. The more links out there, the higher that page gets on a search engine. But Google and other search engines look for such spam links, and if anyone is tending those comments, those links get immediately deleted. 

So, if you were to try to help your listings with spam comments somewhere, you'd probably find that you did more harm than good. 

This is why it's best to focus on the things you can control. 

What you can control

Etsy is quite transparent in what they ask sellers for. The way they reward us for compliance is by boosting our listings. So, at the risk of repeating myself yet again, these are the things you should be doing: 
So, keep doing what you're doing, and your rank should improve. That's the idea, anyway.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Free Shipping

You may have noticed, Etsy is pushing sellers to do the free shipping thing. Should you?

There are lots of pros and cons to this. In the end, you'll have to determine if it'll work for your shop.

Here are some things to consider:

Shipping is never free. Someone has to pay the post office or the company doing the shipping. However, you can always add in your shipping costs into the price of the item. (Make sure to set international shipping as extra, though. Free shipping doesn't necessarily have to be free international shipping.)

But, a shopper is more likely to choose an item that has "free" shipping, so you might find that you're making more sales this way.

Etsy is prioritizing items that have free shipping, highlighting those items and helping them with ranking. This may make your products more visible to shoppers. More shoppers seeing your items may translate to more sales.

However, more sales where you're losing money on the endeavor will only hurt you in the long run. You still need to be making a profit.

Consider volume. If you're selling more, a smaller profit per item won't make that much of a difference. But this only works if you can reasonably make a lot of that item. You can only sell what product you have on hand (or can make in the time allotted.)

Etsy made a video to encourage sellers to offer free shipping (their article about the same is here):

If you're not sure if you can do this, take a look at other sellers who have comparable items. What are they charging? Do they have free shipping?

Keep in mind, you don't need to have the cheapest price to remain competitive. Some buyers won't buy the cheapest of the choices due to a perception that it is lower quality. And if your shipping is free...

You might be surprised how much wiggle room you have in this. Just something to consider. In the end, do what is right for your shop. Don't be pressured into offering free shipping if you absolutely cannot do it.

Do you offer free shipping? Did you find it easier or harder to implement than you thought?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Spooky Season

Halloween is just two weeks away. Are you ready?

Check out this creepy doll from Olde Tyme Notions. Wouldn't it be perfect with your spooky decor?

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20s Zombie French boudoir doll

Want to spookify your wardrobe? How about this spider necklace from Whimsicals?  

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Halloween Spiders Lair Necklace

If you're more of a do-it-yourself-er, you could start with this inspiration kit from haileys bobbins...

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Halloween---Inspiration Kit

This treat basket from such and sort altered would go perfectly on your mantle or as a centerpiece on your dining room table.

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Rusty Shabby Halloweeny Treat Basket

Maybe you need a little pick-me-up just for yourself. I bet this soap from savor doesn't smell wicked (or maybe it does 😉)...

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Whipped Soap Wicked

What's Halloween without some classic monsters? Frankenstein's monster from Indy & Cleo is sure to add a little something to your day.

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FRANKENSTEIN Handmade Scrabble Tile Pendant

And what's more Halloween than a pirate skeleton from Salty Seas Studios? Not much, I'd wager.

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Pirate Mason Jar Snowglobe

And make sure to check out the other Halloween offerings from the members of the team. There's sure to be something else to spook you. 

Much thanks to Annie from annie k designs for curating most of the items in this post.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Write It Up

Lately, here on the blog I've been discussing the tags, titles, and product photography that go into our listings on Etsy. These things are vital to getting our items in front of buyers. But there are other things that go into listings.

Like, the product description.

Product descriptions don't tend to get a lot of attention, generally. That's because, sadly, many people don't bother to read them. If you've run your shop for any amount of time, you've probably gotten a convo from a buyer with a question that was clearly answered in your product description. Probably more than one.

But that doesn't mean you should skimp on them. There are plenty of people who do read the descriptions, and you'll probably never hear from them. Or you might just get a sale that you would have missed otherwise. So, it's generally a good idea to take some time to write and edit your product descriptions so that they don't cost you a sale.

From a search engine optimization viewpoint, product descriptions may or may not be helpful. Etsy does not use them in their internal search (they focus on tags and titles), but other search engines (*cough* Google *cough*) may look at the first 160-500 characters of your description. So, it's a good idea to spend that first sentence or two saying what the item is and targeting your good long tail keywords.

Product descriptions need not be very long. They should answer the 20 important questions, though. And they should sound natural, like a human wrote it.

Much like newspaper journalism, the important stuff should go in the beginning, and extra details can be added towards the end. Assume that anyone who is still reading to the end of the description is pretty much sold, so that's where you include fun tidbits and really let your personality shine.

Etsy also encourages adding links. If your item happens to also come in other colors, include a link to the shop section where those other colors reside. You can include a link to your about page, your shop policies, or another item that might pair well with that listing. If the item is a pattern and you also sell the finished item (or vice versa), include the link.

Try to keep the links internal to Etsy (it'll help with ranking).

One last thing: If you have many items that are the same, do find a way to change up your product descriptions a bit. Etsy's algorithms won't care, but outside search engines do "read" the words, and copies (a description that is exactly the same) won't "register" as a new page. But different listings have something different about them (size, color, etc.), so changing that up in the description will help.

How much time do you spend on your product descriptions? Do you get many questions that you did answer that just got missed?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Target the Long Tail Keywords

One of the things that popped up in Etsy's new search guide was "do target 'long tail' keywords". Which we've all been doing already, right?

No? What is a "long tail" keyword? Ahem...

Let's pretend we're in a big box store, ambling about. We have no specific destination in mind. We're just killing time. But then we notice the bedding section.

Hey, you think, I could really use a replacement set of sheets.

So, you head over and walk up and down the aisles. And as you peruse, you think. It's fall. The weather's turning cooler. A warmer set of sheets, like flannel, might be what you need. You head towards the flannel sets, and you look for queen size as that's what's going to fit your bed.

What color? Do you want a print? Thread count? As you look, you narrow down what kind of sheet set you want.

If you were to look online, at this point you wouldn't search "bed sheets". No. Your query would be something along the lines of "flannel bed sheets queen size" with color indicated and maybe thread count.

That's a "long tail" keyword. You pretty much know what you want, so you can be fairly specific in the search. And you're pretty much ready to buy.

This is what we want to target when finding tags. We want to end up in the search by the buyer who is ready to buy and pretty much knows what they want. This means being very specific in your tags.

So, let's take a look at this bag from annie k designs:

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Chihuahua Hipster Bag

Who's going to want this bag? A dog lover, preferrably one who loves chihuahuas. Someone who's looking for a purse and wants a crossbody one. 

A good long tail keyword for this might be "pink chihuahua crossbody bag". Obviously, this won't fit in one tag as it's way longer than 20 characters. But "pink" should be one of the attributes (which will show up in Etsy search). And "chihuahua" and "crossbody bag" will both work as tags. 

(While they didn't come out and say it, the new guide hinted that exact phrase matches in the title and tags weren't as vital as in the past, so if "bag" is used once in the tags, it doesn't have to be repeated.)

Have you been targeting long tail keywords?

Monday, September 24, 2018

Search Updates

Etsy just released a new search guide. We need to pay attention.

When Etsy updates their search guide, that means that they've adjusted the algorithm their search uses in evaluating listings. So, we need to look at our listings to make sure that we've optimized them so that they can take advantage of these updates.

Marmalead's blog noted three big takeaways from the new guide: title length, renewing listings, and long tail keywords.

The new guide says that of the 140 characters available for titles, it's fine not to use all of them. Your title should be readable by a human. Much of what I wrote three weeks ago still holds. Combine tags into a naturally sounding specific description of your item. Only now there's no need to "tag stuff" your title. Two or three phrases that describe your listing will suffice.

As for renewing listings, it's no longer going to give your listings the bump it once did. The goal is to make your listings more searchable in the long term. This is good news as we no longer need to worry about the cost of frequent renewing. (Although, that might not be entirely accurate.)

Long tail keywords we'll talk about in a later post.

There were a few other takeaways I noticed in the new guide (that hopefully aren't surprising to you):

  1. Categories and attributes are important. They act like tags in search and will help direct buyers to your items if that's what they are searching for.
  2. Have you ever considered using a tag with a misspelled word in case buyers are misspelling in the search bar? Don't. Etsy corrects misspellings from searchers and directs them to the correctly spelled tags.
  3. Make sure your About section is filled out as well as your shop policies. When determining ranking (how high your item shows in a relevant search), a shop with an About section and shop policies will rank higher than one that doesn't. 
  4. Consider free shipping. This is going to be more relevant going forward. (Hint: raise the price of your item by the amount it's going to cost to ship, and then call the shipping "free".)
  5. Only choose occasion for things specifically for that occasion (such as Christmas stockings for Christmas). But, feel free to use a tag if your item can be used for that occasion ("Christmas gift" tag).
The good news is, not much has really changed. If you've been keeping to good SEO practices up until now, you probably don't need to make any drastic changes. And this is a good opportunity to refresh your listings (which you should be doing seasonally, anyway). 

What changes have you noticed in the new search guide?

Friday, September 21, 2018

In the Background

There is a bit of a debate over backgrounds in listing photographs. Some say that backgrounds should be plain so that your item is the center of attention. Others say that a photo needs something in the background or it's too plain.

Whichever side you fall on is fine. The best thing is to be consistent. A set background that you use for all your photos helps to brand your shop. Or if all your photographs are shot with a plain white background, that will also define a type of brand.

One good way to ensure that you have a uniform background for all your product photos is to purchase a yard or two of fabric. You can pick whatever neutral color you'd like, and then you can throw that over whatever table you're photographing on.

But the best way to see what you prefer is to look at some examples. First up, some examples of plain backgrounds:

Let's start with supplies. When you're selling something that someone's going to use to make something else, we really want to get a good look at it. Close up and plain background is great for this.

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DMC 4245 Variegated 6 Strand Floss Mystical Midnight from Ancora Crafts

This little critter does well against a plain background...

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Sweater Scrap Prawn by Zazu Faure

And a plain background doesn't have to be white. The dark background helps make this silver necklace pop.

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30 inch .925 sterling silver 1mm snake chain necklace by Designs by Tami

Next, here are sellers that have more scenery behind their products:

Hollow Books' photos all seem to have this background. It makes it really easy to spot their products, especially in a random search.

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Book Safe - Ravenclaw Harry Potter by Hollow Books by Refined Pallet 

Here's a different way to showcase a pair of earrings--with a map for the background...

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Sealife earrings by jewelry N gemstones

And if you're showing off an item that can be worn, having a model is great. We can really see this product in use and imagine wearing it ourselves.

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Knee High Socks by pink candy studio

If these were your products, would you have chosen to shoot them against a different background? What sort of background do you prefer in your photos?