Wednesday, December 13, 2017

December 2017 Updates from Etsy's CEO

Etsy's CEO Josh Silverman
Etsy's CEO Josh Silverman
On December 13, Etsy CEO Josh Silverman updated Etsy sellers.  He also shared information in a video on December 5, 2017.

Here are some highlights about search improvements.

First, from his earlier video chat:
In September, we introduced a major improvement called Context Specific Ranking, or CSR. Through CSR, we’re personalizing the search experience by using information about the shopper, time of day, and other context-specific factors to rank results in real time… The more personalized approach means that you’ll no longer see the same results every time you type in a search term. And the good news is that we’re already seeing CSR drive more sales.
 We’re also working hard to get better at understanding what your item actually is, based on all of the information in your listings, with less focus on your titles. Eventually, as search continues to improve, our goal is to enable you to include all the relevant data about your products as you list them, reducing the need to continuously refine your SEO terms.
Let us break this down a bit.
 "...you’ll no longer see the same results every time you type in a search term."
That means that doing test searches to determine ranking of our items is no longer possible. Every time someone searches, they will see something different.

This is where Josh introduced the term "CSR" or "Context Specific Ranking."
Through CSR, we’re personalizing the search experience by using information about the shopper, time of day, and other context-specific factors to rank results in real time.
He let sellers know that any need to stuff item titles full of keyword phrases is fading:
We’re also working hard to get better at understanding what your item actually is, based on all of the information in your listings, with less focus on your titles.  
He finishes this section with this statement:
Eventually, as search continues to improve, our goal is to enable you to include all the relevant data about your products as you list them, reducing the need to continuously refine your SEO terms.
This is good news if you dislike tweaking listings. It means more time to pick great vintage to sell, right?

Adjustments to search and discovery


Regarding improvements to search and discovery, this continues to be a major focus for us. As I mentioned in my video, in addition to rolling out context-specific ranking, or CSR, we’re working hard to get better at understanding what your item actually is, based on all of the information in your listings, including image recognition, with less focus on your titles. Eventually, our goal is to have you design your title and item description in a way that most appeals to customers. We’ll keep you posted on our progress.
 We boost new shops and new listings in relevant search for a very brief time to give them a chance to be seen. After this quick boost the new items will appear as they normally would in search results. This practice, which is common in ecommerce and retail in general, has been in place on Etsy for the past few years.
 I’d like to address search “clumping,” which has been a hot topic lately. Our system limits the number of listings per seller that can return within the first few pages of results for any given query. This allows us to help buyers experience the breadth of items available on Etsy, which, as we’ve learned through data and testing, increases the likelihood they’ll make a purchase. We’ll continue to analyze the data to make sure we’re helping buyers find what they’re looking for within our diverse collection of listings. We need to do a better job at delivering Breadth, and not just Depth. I agree this is an area where we need to improve, and we are making significant investments to do so.
…the search algorithm, the way we match search terms to listings hasn’t changed and our guidance remains the same, including recommendations for keywords, titles, and categories. What has changed is how we rank search results. Through context-specific ranking, we’re personalizing search rankings in real-time using information about the shopper, time of day, and other context-specific factors. This new approach is leading to an increase in sales in the marketplace. 

Now we will break it down a bit.
Etsy sellers now can host more photos
Etsy recently added five photo fields
...In addition to rolling out context-specific ranking, or CSR, we’re working hard to get better at understanding what your item actually is, based on all of the information in your listings, including image recognition, with less focus on your titles.
Fill out all of your attribute fields (things like color, size, capacity, style, occasion). Include lots of pictures, as image recognition is on the horizon. Think about it, the more photos you have the more chances to be matched up with a buyer's search!
We boost new shops and new listings in relevant search for a very brief time to give them a chance to be seen. After this quick boost the new items will appear as they normally would in search results.
Our system limits the number of listings per seller that can return within the first few pages of results for any given query. This allows us to help buyers experience the breadth of items available on Etsy, which, as we’ve learned through data and testing, increases the likelihood they’ll make a purchase.
Clumping is the new normal. You can be sure that Etsy would not be doing it unless it resulted in increased sales over all.

guessing at Etsy's search changes
Best practices are the same
What are sellers to do? Has anything changed? Josh addresses that:
…the search algorithm, the way we match search terms to listings hasn’t changed and our guidance remains the same, including recommendations for keywords, titles, and categories. 
Etsy's "best practices" have not changed. (As always, use a variety of long-tail keywords. Use concise titles and accurate tags. Those are the best ways right now to capture different queries that buyers might make.) Try this prototype team for an improved way to find Etsy's categories.
What has changed is how we rank search results. Through context-specific ranking, we’re personalizing search rankings in real-time using information about the shopper, time of day, and other context-specific factors. This new approach is leading to an increase in sales in the marketplace. 
But how search results are served up has changed. There is that term "CSR" again. How items are placed in search are personalized (using information about the shopper, the time of day and other factors to be sure).

Josh Silverman is saying that he has the shareholders' backs. And sellers, as there would be no marketplace without them.

Happy selling!

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