Friday, December 23, 2016

Why should you test search on Etsy? And how?

Vintage Maine License Plates
First page of search results: ads + one listing from every shop
Let's face it: Etsy sellers like to know how our items are positioned in searches compared to the competition. 

Especially if sales and views are down. Sellers try to assess what is going on and how to fix it.

Our position in search shifts all the time. Where are we today? Did we sell an item? (Bump up.) Did we get a bad review? (Bump down 😟). Etsy rotates shops around to different slots.

An added benefit is that we can see how our photo(s), our visual item presentation measures up. We see that when our items are viewed among the other offerings that buyers see when searching.

Basically we need to find one or 
more test search phrases. 

Find a test phrase

No, I can't tell you exactly how to find it. Just keep doing searches to survey how your different items fall within search.

A search should eventually present itself that will serve the purpose of a useful test search for you. If you're diligent and fortunate, more than one will work.

My test phrase

I'll share one of mine. I'm a vintage store in Maine. I sell vintage Maine license plates. "Vintage Maine License Plates" works as a test phrase for me. There are four pages of results right now. They are dominated by one seller with a lot of plates (not me). This shop uses the same background, so it is easier to see how my items are placed. There are four pages of total results. That is enough to be informational for me, without being overwhelming.

What we see in the test search, step by step:

What do we see here? Four ads along the top from the same seller (on a PC. The mobile device view is sneakier, with the ads more woven in and harder to ignore.)

After that, there are a bunch of plates from different sellers. I'm third in that pile. That's acceptable. (My position has changed since earlier today. Rotation I'm guessing. Or my bump up from a Maine license sale a couple of days is wearing off.)

(In the old days, each shop got one spot per page. Those days are over now that Etsy has implemented Artificial Intelligence. Clumping now reigns )

VintageMaineia vintage license plates
Bottom half of first page of search results
After the four ads (only present if a shop is paying for them) we can glean some more information. In my case, there is another shop's license plate. Then two of mine. Then it alternates: my shop, then another for a few slots. Then it's the dominant seller (also happens to be the advertising shop) in this search. So we are done with page one and on to page two.

ranking for vintage license plates
Page two of search results
What do we see here? After the featured items (all by that one seller) there are three shops before my item. Then another shop's item followed by one of mine. Then it's (snooze) that same seller, all the way to the bottom of the page.

More of the same on page three. Nothing exciting to see. And page four. I have one item about 1/4 the 
way down on each of those pages.

Alternate methods:

Another way to test search is to use an app like You add your search terms into the field. After a short wait, out pops "best tags for search tag 'vintage Maine license plate.'" There can be some useful alternate tagging ideas. After that is a breakdown of where we fall in search results.

Rather than the visual search method I just described, this is written: "position 34 on page number 1." Some sellers prefer it this way. Hard (written) data can be kept and referred to over a period of time.

A great brand-new way to do this is through EtsyRank. They have released a new app (the day after I first posted this blog, in fact.) It is called the "Monitor Tool."

From developer Anthony: "With the Monitor tool you can see what pages your listings are found on. You specify your most important search terms and every hour EtsyRank will update the report and store the rankings for up to a week."

Instead performing your search over and over and visually remembering it, or receiving numerical positions, EtsyRank's tool gives you a graph that shows the "rise and fall" of your rankings:
EtsyRank monitor search tool
Graph for the Vintage Maine License Plate search

My graph is for the same license plate search. It will work better for a broader search. I'll be trying that next.

Right now, EtsyRank's Monitor Tool can only be used to check up on one keyword phrase. There are plans to expand that in the future. I will still be searching manually.

How often should I test search?

Once you have found a good test search or two, perform them. Repeatedly. Early in the day, later in the day, every day. Try it on different devices. Try it on a device someone else is using. The more you do it, the more you can see and learn. You might be surprised.

Or if you're using an app, let them do the tests. You do need to review the data periodically. On EtsyRank, that's every week at least, which is as long as they keep the data. 

Expect to see movement

Etsy's algorithm changes up results all the time. Even the relative positions of my own items to each other will vary. On the graph, you can see my items changing position.

Here are some questions you will want to note the answers to:
  1. What happens when you renew an item? 
  2. What happens when another shop renews their item? 
  3. What happens when you sell this type of item?
  4. How different are the results in incognito mode?
It is important to understand what we are seeing in Etsy's search results, and why. My next post will get into that some more. We will delve a bit into the Algorithm. Are you ready?


  1. Amazing information, Joanne! Thanks so much!

  2. Love you blog! Packed with very important information! Great job, Joanne!


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