Thursday, June 14, 2018

Will you try the new Etsy Plus tiered seller package?

If you use Promoted Listings, this package may be worth a try 
Most know about Etsy's fee increase. Along with that, they are rolling out new tiered packages.

First, if you are happy with how your shop is now, you do not need to do anything... everything is the same, except there will be a 1.5% increase in the sold item fee (up from 3.5% to 5%).

Folded into this announcement are details about new seller packages. One in particular may be of interest. The details from Etsy's information:


Etsy Plus (coming in July)

New ways to customize your shop


Sellers will be able to customize special options for their shop's look with new banner templates and featured listing options.

Tell shoppers your items are back in stock


When shoppers are interested in sold out items, Etsy Plus subscribers will be able to email them when the item is back in stock. Sellers can find out which listings are most popular. Could this be helpful in planning your vintage buying?

Send customers to your own web address


Save 50% on a custom .com address or get a .store address for free for a year. Some sellers may find this helpful.

**Bonus listing and advertising credits**


Get 15 listing credits and $5 in credit to advertise your items in Etsy search with Promoted Listings each month.

Discounts on custom packaging and promotional materials*


Enrolled sellers receive a special discount on custom shipping boxes, business cards, and other marketing materials from Etsy's partners.


If you use Promoted Listings


Etsy sellers who advertise may have even more of a reason to try out the "Etsy Plus" tiered upgrade at low cost; it is the "bonus listing and advertising credits."


The breakdown:

15 listing credits per month x 20 cents each = $3

$5 in credit to advertise your items (I spend over $30/month) = $5

That means that for the $10/month you pay for Etsy Plus at the introductory rate, it will cost only $2/month to try out.

You can find out if anything else in the package works for your and boosts sales. You can always opt out before the fee goes to $20 a month.

I hope this was helpful... Thanks for joining me for this quick tip about Etsy's latest announcement!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Does your Etsy shop need Privacy Policies?

GDPR laws in EU require privacy policies
Recent events have prompted an interest in privacy policies. The European Union has enacted new rules in that arena called the "General Data Protection Regulation" or GDPR. It takes effect on May 25, 2018.

Do small sellers really have to do this? Here is a hint: basic identity data like names and addresses are included under these new regulations.

Who needs to have a privacy policy in place?


This is what Etsy says:
"If you’re a seller based in the European Union or you offer your listings to buyers there, the GDPR applies to you, which means you’re required to have a privacy policy for your shop. Many other countries have also adopted data protection laws similar to the GDPR, so whether or not you sell to Europe, we recommend that all sellers create a privacy policy."

So privacy policy is recommended for all Etsy sellers.

If you use Etsy's so-called "canned" policies template (I do) your privacy policy will display as a link. For others, it will be a paragraph added.

How to do it


Here is Etsy's guide to crafting your own GDPR-compliant privacy policy. Simply use their template, copy and paste their example to fit your shop.

Here is one very simple sample privacy policy for those who only ship within the USA:
"We only use customer information to fulfill orders. We do not store or use customer information for any other purpose. Information such as name, address, and email address is not stored on our computers. If and when required, we will communicate with you about your order status using the Etsy platform."
Here is a longer one:
"ETSY is an online marketplace made up of over 1 million individual shops. The information you provide to Etsy for transaction purposes is governed and stored by Etsy. As a seller on Etsy, I am bound to their policies. If you have questions relating to the way Etsy uses your information, please refer to the Etsy Privacy Policy here: https://www.etsy.com/legal/privacy. 
"We only use customer information to fulfill orders. Your personal information (name and address) as provided to me by Etsy will only be used by me as needed to provide my services. I may use your information to fulfil your order, to settle disputes, or to provide customer support. I may collect, use, retain, and share your information if I have a good faith belief that it is reasonably necessary to: (a) respond to legal process or to government requests (i.e. taxes) (b) enforce my agreements, terms and policies; (c) prevent, investigate, and address fraud and other illegal activity, security, or technical issues; or (d) protect the rights, property, and safety of my customers or others. If and when required, we will communicate with you about your order status using the Etsy “convo” platform. 
"I have no access to your payment account details: Etsy Payments and PayPal process your financial information independently of me.  
"Your transaction information will be stored on the Etsy system as long as I have my store on Etsy or until Etsy deletes it. I will not spam you or solicit you using the information provided to me."
Here is another template to consider.

To adjust shop policies, go to your public shop page. Find the orange "Edit shop" button. (It is right under your shop's star rating next to your shop avatar.) Scroll down, down, down to where it says "shop policies" on the left side. Opposite that, on the right side, is the button to edit your shop policies.

There are some unknowns in this process. For example, the EU law requires that companies provide a "reasonable" level of protection for personal data. But it does not specify exactly what “reasonable” means.

Time will tell how this shakes out. In the mean time, Etsy sellers should consider adopting a written privacy policy as a start. That includes sellers (like myself) who limit their selling to the USA.

Those who sell in the European Union will need privacy policies beyond the scope of this blog post. (Thanks for noting that this blog post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.) Here is a blog post with more information.

Concerns over privacy policies have changed the landscape of online selling. It is wise for sellers to do their homework.

Have you adopted a privacy policy for your shop?

Saturday, April 7, 2018

In 2018, matchy-matchy is out for Etsy search

The algorithm


Etsy's search algorithm is transitioning into a completely new animal. The days of meticulously matching up phrases in your tags and titles for guaranteed Etsy relevancy will soon be past.

Etsy is in the process making search more human... The old way of search was not natural, the necessity to laboriously match titles and tags.
search algorithms are usually secret
Etsy's algorithm is in flux

Compliments of Etsy seller Deborah McGregor:
"SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. 
It does not mean “Match Words Up" 
In a nutshell, Etsy has leveled the playing field for sellers.


The algorithm just does not like me...


An algorithm does not "do" anything of its own initiative. It is only a middleman. Its job is to find common factors between a search query and the information on your listing page. It serves up results (called Search Engine Results Pages, or SERPs) based on common denominators... The more commonalities, the higher the item places. The algorithm does its job according to what its code tells it to do. No emotions are involved.

The order of search results is what has changed. In fact, the order changes from search to search on Etsy now.

How do I get better placement in search results?


There is only one way for any product to place well in a search query. Create your listing so it has as many common factors with search queries as possible. In order to do it well, you must know your target market of customers. What search queries will they use to find your items? If you do not know who is searching the internet for products like you sell, how can you use the same words as they do?


How do I even know where I place in search results?


Etsy seller CindyLou says that it is now impossible to even do test searches because of contextualization and personalization: every searcher will see something different.

You can ask someone else to search, but there is no guarantee that what they see is what someone else will see, either. Remember that in 2018, search is changing all the time, so search placement can vary by a lot even repeating the same search.

The best way to "see" how you are do
ing is to use your shop stats.


Where is Etsy's search heading?



Etsy search in 2018
Machine learning takes time
Google's driverless cars and Etsy's search have something in common. They are both being driven by machine learning, or so-called artificial intelligence. Both are going somewhere.

But of course the technology is new. There are some unknowns, some unintended consequences.

I believe that things will get better. But the process of machine learning will take time (some say as long as two years). In the mean time, mistakes may be made. Mistakes that could discourage sellers if they fail to see these changes in the long run, as "training" the new algorithm.

Etsy sellers have been accustomed to doing a lot of tweaking. Sellers routinely made changes to listings to make sure of word-matching, which is how Etsy's search worked in the past.

The goal of the new search algorithm is to show the best, most relevant listings to buyers. It is designed to do that without the need to constantly adjust listings. Won't that be a relief?

As mentioned, the days of matchy-matchy titles and tags are fading. This is because the new algorithm is smarter than that. Or it will be, eventually.

In reality, nothing has changed. But on another hand it has...

Vintage selling


Vintage sellers continue to complain about being the proverbial red-headed child. I try not to have any big expectations that things will change for vintage on Etsy. It is what it is and has been since the beginning... Vintage seems to be tolerated, but Etsy is primarily a handmade "creative" site.

I can deal with that. If it is working, fine. If I am not selling, then I try to figure out why and deal with the issue.


Please note


I make a number of observations here. If your shop is selling just fine, there is no need to change anything. 

Make any changes slowly. Check for effectiveness in your case.

Conclusion


Etsy is in flux. Search is rife with change. 2018 may be the year to "wait and see."


How do you feel? Is Etsy moving your shop to the next level?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Etsy Quick Trick: use your SKU's

organize your vintage items for sale
A SKU system can work for vintage
In the mid-1980's I worked at a major chain garden center. (Ever heard of Flower Time or Frank's Nursery and Crafts?)

I remember when SKU (stock keeping unit) numbers arrived there... the cashiers hated them, as they had to enter a whole string of numbers rather than just the price. But inventory became much more accurate.

SKU numbers have come a long way since then... In fact, Etsy has recently added searchable SKU numbers. Have you harnessed their power in your shop yet?

Quick tricks to improve your Etsy shop
Another quick trick for your vintage shop
We might brush it aside and tell ourselves it is more for bar codes and big companies. Not so.

It can be super simple and easy... I have some SKU names like “small metal bin” “bracelet bin” “glass shelf” and “hanging” to describe where listed stuff is located. 

Have you ever listed several similar items? You were worried about mixing them up so you put "1," "2," and "3" in the title. But that can look rather unprofessional... Now you can hide that and make it a SKU.

(You have 32 characters to name yours. Do not start with a space.)

Your SKU will show up before the title of your item when you process an order. I really like it.

Having an inventory system is never a bad idea. This is especially true come tax time. (Ask me why I know.) I am in the process of adding a SKU system to my shop. How about you?

Give SKU's a try!

Here is more information from Etsy.

Adding sku numbers to vintage shelves
Adding my inventory SKU's in June, 2018

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Sample keyword list for vintage sellers

keyword list ideas for vintage sellers
A hand written list is even more effective
When selling, we need to know our target buyer. Writing up and using a keyword list can be helpful. Well crafted listing text can lead to more sales. Really, it can.

What can such a list look like for a vintage shop? Here is a sample.

Descriptors


Sensational, fabulous, wonderful, lovely, great, fantastic, drool-worthy, stunning, incredible, enjoy, appreciate, delightful, fun, precious, glowing, luxurious, enticing, classic, beautiful, glorious, garnished, superb, distinctive, aesthetic, charming, fascinating, make you smile, striking, dramatic, cheerful, statement piece, lovable, special, sure to please, colorful, muted, perfect, superlative, understated, serene, eye candy, attractive

Regional terms (for me of course)


Northeast, New England, Maine, Pine Tree State, American, Primitive, Americana, Canadian, Acadian, Quebecois, Canuk, [words translated into language of target market buyers], folklore, cultural heritage, geographic detail, Maritime Provinces, Penobscot
hand write a keyword list
Do you have your key word list yet?

Vintage, conveying age


Vintage, antique, early, authentic, aged, old, ancient, last century, historical, bygone era, artifact, aged, prehistoric, antiquated, archaic, rarity, yore, classical, venerable, relic, decades

Styles


Timeless, classical, traditional, inspired, whimsical, compatible, industrial, rustic, primitive, ethnic tribal, Native American Indian, Southwestern, Southwest, art nouveau, art deco, arts and crafts, mission, mid century modern, retro mod, kitsch, Victorian era, aesthetic, colonial, cottage chic, boho, bohemian, Victorian revival, Georgian, abstract, brutalist, modernist, pop, country farmhouse, French apartment, Kawaii, Edwardian, Civil War era, Navajo, European, Scandinavian, Asian, Hollywood regency, essence of the period, tailored, modernist, steampunk, granny chic, folk art, coastal, beachy

Details of design and craftsmanship


Intricate workmanship, rich detailing, skillful craftsmanship, consummate professional, fine finishing details, lost art, artistic detail, pleasing dimensions, fine art, great proportions, classic lines, superb design, patented (including information), artisan, realistic design, made with care, finely executed, traditional methods, at the top of their game, finely crafted, well crafted, carefully made, durable, versatile, useful, finished with, topped off, plain, simple, high quality

Collector-friendly, words conveying uniqueness:


Collection, valuable, uncommon, unique, prized, one of a kind, OOAK, hard to find, rare, desirable, exclusive, only, sought after, curio, memento, remember, heirloom, specimen, trophy, keepsake, museum piece, souvenir, curious, singular, Wabi-sabi keepsake, memory, curio, treasure, special edition, signed, showpiece, keystone, conversation piece

Condition


Pristine, excellent, outstanding, museum quality, pre-owned, vintage, lovingly used, patina, signs of previous ownership, evidence of loving use, distressed, wearable, original condition, crisp, manufacturing flaw, wear consistent with age, complete, functional, scuffs, shows its age, strong, sturdy, secure, usable, for display only, original detail, factory finish, works as intended

Girly


Dainty, pretty, sweet, feminine, romantic, ethereal, delicate, confident woman, elegant, understated, silhouette, darling, cute, adorable, glam, confection, frilly

Jewelry


Glamour, pizzazz, sparkle, flowing, classical lines, designer, brushed, textured, stylish, flourish, glowing, luxury, scintillating, flashy, simple elegance, formal occasion, bling

Crafty


Embellish, repurpose, remodel, refurbish, easy to install, versatile, customized, salvaged, art assemblage, create, rusty, ornamental

------------------------------

The narrower your target buyer, the smaller this list will be.

Handwritten lists are supposed to be even more effective. (Who knew?) (Let me know how those Japanese characters for Wabi-Sabi go for you.)

Make a list and add to it as you think of more terms.

Use your keyword list as you compose listings.

Take your item descriptions to the next level with a buyer keyword list!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Etsy search in early 2018: algorithm factor list

colorful data graphic
No one really knows Etsy's algorithm
This post is about Etsy's search factors in 2018.

This is all theory and conjecture. Information is based on my observations and those of many others. If you want facts, please move on to another blog post.

Possible Algorithm Factors


Remember that these change all the time. And some are weighted differently.

(The algorithm is kept private. That maintains fairness for all sellers.)

Okay, here goes...

*Asterisk means factors that I have seen said by Etsy Admin that DO count. But factors can always change.

#Pound key means factors that I personally have seen at work.

->Elements seller can work on


Item quality

Beautiful click-worthy photos*
Titles and tags*
Accurate item category*
Attributes completely filled out*
Attributes accurate*
Accurate title and tags* (Admin is saying that inaccuracies are now being penalized by Etsy search)

Seller shop activity

Regularly renewing items and listing new#
Using Shop Updates in the last period of time (week? month?)#

Shop completeness

Completed About section*
Returns Policy* (have something)
Canned Policies* (Etsy prefers that sellers use their preset policies)

Shop promotion

Offering free shipping
Having sales
Using Promoted Listings (internal Etsy ads seems to have an indirect positive effect)

Shop quality, buyer experience

Shipping quickly (do not go past your stated shipping time)*
Customer service cases*
Review score (stars)*
Copyright infringement cases*

Factors some feel play a part, but I disagree with

Use all 5 About photos
Using FAQs (in canned policies)
Frequent renewal of items
Using Etsy shipping labels
Using a cover photo (I do not)
Using Integrated PayPal (I do not)

Things that Etsy has stated do not factor in but may have changed

Content of Descriptions (admin has said that it may eventually be a part of search)
Using Pattern (website)

->Elements that sellers cannot directly control


Quality scores of the competition
Random rotation (of items within search)
Time of day
Buyer location (some countries are regionalized)

Buyer behavior

Shopper's recent search history
Shopper's overall Etsy search history
Shopper's social media activity through Etsy

Item quality

How long listing has been listed without sales#
Hearts (to a degree, within reason)
High click rate (can work negatively if no one buys)
Item conversion rate*#

Specific to search terms

Shop score for those search terms
Sales in that specific search*
Sales in similar searches#
Clicks in that specific search*
Clicks in similar searches
Favorites in that specific search*
Favorites in similar searches
Details (context) of current search*

Shopper data

Etsy Purchase history*
Shopper location*
Shopper age, gender and other demographics (this just makes sense)

Clicks of similar shoppers
Favorites of similar shoppers
Purchase history of similar shoppers

Shop quality

Shop conversion rate*
Backlinks to your shop
Backlinks to your listings

Items that are not a direct factor


Price (can certainly be an indirect factor)
Using all ten photos (could become an indirect factor if Etsy adds photo recognition)

-------------------

Phew, that was a lot of factors. No wonder artificial intelligence is necessary to sort it all out!

Here is some new information on search:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb-oZNJD-QI

Have I missed something? Let me know and I will add it.

In another post we will cover what sellers can do with the information.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Vintage buyers: are yours collectors, trend setters or thrifty?

If you are a vintage seller, you already have a defined target market. Etsy defines it for you by limiting "vintage" to items over 20 years old. Plus, not everyone wants to buy pre-owned merchandise.

So we just limited our target market by, say, 50%. Every vintage seller is a niche seller. That was easy!

Within vintage there are at least three types of buyers:


target vintage buyers trendy thrifty collectors
Know your target market

  • collectors
  • trendy shoppers
  • thrifty shoppers

Who are your buyers?

  • What motivates them to buy? 
  • How does your shop appeal to those motivations?

Consider the buyers who come to Etsy and browse vintage shops... They want to buy something. Sometimes they will buy something they had no idea that they wanted until they saw it

What made them decide to buy? You need to crack the code.

Great product selection helps, but it is not the only factor.

Sellers need to identify why some items sell well. Harness that information and use it to sell more stuff.

Pinpoint your most effective listing style


Separate yourself from the products you sell... just consider the listings themselves. Not the "what" is being sold but "how" it sold. What is it about the listing's style and makeup that buyers are responding to?

Consider the details of some listings that sold right away. Look at a few items that were barely in your shop before they sold.

Ask yourself some questions about the makeup of each listing.


Wording & listing setup


  • Keywords. Check for keywords common to the titles or descriptions of your best-selling listings.
  • What was the opening sentence in the first paragraph? 
  • Description: how did you "talk" to your customers?
  • Were listings more effective if  you gave some history of the item? 
  • Were listings more effective if you suggested ways to use the item? 
  • Where in the listing did measurements appear?
  • vintage bottles on a shelf
    Collectors are unique buyers
  • How did you manage the "attributes" fields on the listing creation page?

Photos


Here is more information from Etsy about taking effective product photos.
vintage sellers photo style
Are you styling photos?

Target buyer


  • Consider what you know about who bought the items (age, location).
  • Was the item a gift?
  • Look at their Etsy profile. Can you see preferences in their favorites?
  • Was the buyer a collector, trendy or thrifty? Does the same listing style appeal to all three?


After gathering this data, analyze it. What made the listing effective?

Now, go make more listings like that.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The art & science of item descriptions

The opening paragraph of your item description is crucial. It is both a science and an art.
Item descriptions are important

First the science: your description should clearly inform the AI (artificial intelligence) algorithm*:
  1. what is for sale
  2. context for which the item is appropriate (example: "shower" ... is it wedding or bathroom? See "LSI" at the bottom.)
  3. type of query for which your item would be a good response
Craft your opening paragraph to match as many factors in the search query as possible. You must know your target market.

At the same time, your opening paragraph must engage your viewer, converting them into a buyer. Search engines and Etsy love a great conversion rate.

how do you set the hook
Catching buyers
Capturing the attention of a shopper is an art. It is where your personal writing skills come into play. 

Use your persuasive ability to market your product. Use a writing style and terminology that are comfortable for your target audience.

If you capture the attention of viewers in the first few sentences, they will continue to read the page. They will see all the interesting details you have provided that will convince them to buy.

If you fail to engage your shopper, they will never see the rest of what you have written. Instead they will leave the page, bouncing to another listing in another shop 😟.

Improve your bounce rate
Reduce your bounce rate
To restate, an effective item description must:
  • accurately convey what is for sale (to the AI in the algorithm*)
  • engage your viewer (so they stay and do not bounce out)
  • convince your shopper to buy (of course!)

How long should product descriptions be?


One school of thought is to keep listings brief. Use short paragraphs (even one sentence). Use bullet points. After all, users of smart phones have that small screen.

Yet some guidance is saying to aim for 2000 words. Say what? Supposedly descriptions of that length are ranked better by search engines. (This is taken from advice that is directed to websites and blogs as well as selling websites. Note that even my most complicated my blog posts are not that long, let alone item descriptions...)

Which is best? Use the amount of text that is best for your target customer base. Higher quality writing can be a tool to make your products sound more appealing than your competitors’. And longer descriptions take longer to read, which pleases search engines.

Use longer descriptions for items that are extra interesting, have a backstory, or are ultra competitive. What will work best to engage buyers?

It can be difficult to provide long descriptions that are meaningful. Share some interesting or amusing details about the item. Educational facts are fine. But customers love reading short stories just as much.

Give it a try on a few listings. Craft longer descriptions for pricier items. Save the short and brief ones for low-end stuff. Mix it up. Observe if anything changes.

Insert a link to more items. Most websites try to keep you in their store by linking you to their "latest" items or picks "just for" their shoppers. That tactic works for online vintage sellers, too. 

Can I use boilerplate in my listings?


Boilerplate is repeating the same block of text in each listing. The short answer is "no." There are many reasons. Item descriptions should be just that, descriptions. It should not be returns or shipping information. 

Some feel that the very end of a long description could contain some repetitive material, so you could try that... But put your shipping and return information in your shop policies where they belong.



How to incorporate title words in item descriptions



From Etsy admin in 2016:

Q: Is it better to copy & paste your title at the start of the description, or to sprinkle the keywords from your title conversationally into the first few sentences?

Admin: we recommend using your keywords as naturally as possible throughout your item description because Google does not like unnatural keyword use. Therefore, describe your product in a thorough and accurate way to give yourself the best shot at ranking well in Google.

The importance of natural wording


Search engines do prefer natural wording. That is not the only reason to use it...

Consider the increasing importance of voice search. Many people now own and use Alexa or Google Voice.

(So artificial Intelligence is already here. It is in fact helping people to find what they are looking for online.)

Users of this technology speak their search terms. If necessary, they refine their query. They tell the device what they want, using natural spoken English language (in the USA). The words used are "LSI keywords" in SEO-speak.

Do item descriptions really matter?

*NOTE: Etsy does not use item descriptions in search right now. But indications are that they could begin to use them. For now, the algorithms referred to are only for outside searches by search engines. But that could change. Part of the goal of this blog post is to make you aware of possible changes in the Etsy pipeline.


Extra credit:

What are LSI keywords?


LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing. They are keywords related to your main keywords. So write in a natural way, not for a machine. For example, when writing about old things, you might include words like "vintage" or "antique" and "patina." Mention what it might have been used for, its history. 

The terms you use give clues to the search engines what your item is. Even better, those terms lead searchers to your items.

Search engines look for topic and context rather than exact words. Real people do too. So write content for real people. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Etsy Search: Titles - Sending the Right Signals

Can you reach every buyer with one title?

writing titles for etsy listings
Best practices for writing item titles

The new "machine learning" algorithms simulate how people look for things in real life. Think about it: they search for the few items that are tailored to a particular need.  

Buyers seek a specific item (not something that fits the needs of the entire vintage-buying population on earth...) 

Use your title to speak to the perfect buyer for that item. No need to worry about everyone else, as they are not buyers.


Speak to your target market


This goes back to basic marketing: who is your target market? You cannot reach everyone with one title. Narrow your target audience.

If you try to market your items  to everyone, you will hold back your shop. Besides, no one can afford to market to everyone. Not even huge companies.

Think about the commercials you see on sports events,  versus those you see on Saturday morning cartoons... Yes, different markets.

The importance of natural wording


Search engines prefer natural wording. But that is not the only reason to use it.

Consider the increasing importance of voice search. Many people now own and use Alexa or Google Voice.

(Indeed Artificial Intelligence is already in use, helping people to find what they are looking for online.)

Users of this technology speak their search terms. If necessary, they refine their search query. They tell the device what they want, using natural spoken English language. The words used are called "LSI keywords" in SEO-speak. (There will be more about LSI keywords in an upcoming post.)

Search engines look for topic and context rather than exact words. Real people do too. So write titles for real people. 

How do I reduce my bounce rate?


Make your listings appeal to the people your title is set up to attract. Use keywords and buyer phrases that are relevant to your target customers. 

Make shoppers comfortable. Convince them that you are knowledgeable and trustworthy. This is easier if you specialize in what you sell.

Here are more ideas for keeping buyers in your shop.

Why is it bad to use the same word combinations over and over in titles?


Some sellers get into the habit of using similar word combinations over and over again in their item titles. When you do that, you miss out on marketing to buyers who use different terms to search for your items.

Mix it up. I know it sounds crazy, but varying the wording of your titles could make a big difference in getting found. Change up your word combinations. What kinds of terms does your target audience use? Use a purchase phrase list.


One word that it is OK to have in every item title is the word "vintage." Do avoid placing the word "vintage" in the valuable real estate right at the beginning. Put it after the first five or so words.


What about "word salad" titles?


Avoid stuffing your titles with keywords. Although this may have been encouraged in the past, Etsy is switching over to artificial intelligence, or AI. "Stuffed" titles will no longer be rewarded in search.

AI is dealing with one searcher at a time. There is no benefit to stuff your titles with terms that make it unclear exactly what your product is. (An example is naming every possible holiday gift your item could be. Instead, aim for niche, long-tail searches.) 

Etsy's AI scours the site looking to match up searchers and the items they search for. When your title is unclear, AI will find lots of clear titles that do match what it is looking for. Those items get moved up in search. The “muddier” titles get pushed down in ranking.


Etsy admin answers questions about titles


Now let us look at some information from the horse's mouth, so to speak. Etsy has been moving toward AI for a couple of years now. 

In October of 2016 Etsy Administrators fielded many questions from sellers about getting items found in searches. Here are a few questions answered about titles:


Q: Is it acceptable to repeat a word in the title?
Admin: We don’t recommend repeating a word [the same word over and over] in the title.

Q: Must word phrases [keywords] within Titles and Tags match exactly?

Admin: Word phrases within titles and tags don’t need to match exactly. However, tagging your product for “red boots” and having “red boots” in your title will give you a better chance of ranking for “red boots”.

Q: If using commas within a title, is it recommended to put one space after the comma?

Admin: In general, we recommend making your titles as readable as possible while still being descriptive. This would usually involve putting a space after commas when appropriate. Google definitely rewards well crafted, easy to read titles.

Q: I would like to ask why is it SOOO important to use the same keywords and combinations in your title, in the description and again in the tags. .... We are constantly working to improve our internal search practices though and eventually we hope to not rely as much on the quantity of times you use a certain phrase when listing your product.

Interesting video about search says that Etsy is no longer weighting the beginning of the title more than the end. (Google still does, and the beginning is what buyers see, so do not discount the beginning of your titles altogether.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fb-oZNJD-QI

----------------------------

What signals are you sending with your titles? Are you reaching your target market? 

More on item descriptions next...

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Etsy Quick Trick: keeping buyers in your shop


Etsy Quick Trick banner
Improve the bounce rate in your shop
It is hard enough to get shoppers into your shops... sometimes they bounce right back out. (This increases your "bounce rate" which search engines do not like.)

How can sellers prevent that?

Photography


Have lots of interesting items, photographed well.

On every item page, eight of your items are displayed to the right (from your shop section). Fourmore are on the top right, your most recently listed items. Make sure everything has enticing, clickable photos. Style your photos for your target market.

Item descriptions


Write compelling item descriptions. Tell a story. Do it in the way that your target audience prefers. Make your product listing descriptions appealing to the buyers who are searching for them.

Link to more similar items


Another way to keep buyers in your shop is to provide a link lead at the bottom of every listing. Most websites try to keep you in their store by linking you to an attractive gallery of similar items.

Use phrasing that you see on other websites:
More things you might like [link]
My picks for you [link]
Browse my latest listings [link] 
[Style or item type] selections [link]
[Style or item type] gallery [link] 
[Style or item type] finds [link]  
[Style or item type] selections [link] 
Or personalize it in a way that your target buyers might prefer:
Check out the rest of our [style or item type]: [link]
We have more [item type] here: [link]
More similar items here: [link]
Please see the rest of our [item type] here: [link]
If you liked this/these, you might like more of my [item type] at [section link or shop search]
Shops that sell limited lines of items have an advantage, as you can really target your buyer. Shops that sell a broad range of items and styles will require more effort to implement this. (I have been working at this for some time now.)

On a page with an animal item, I present a link to other animal items. On a listing with sterling silver brooches, I show other brooches. You could show more art deco items on a deco piece, more mid-century modern items for that style. "See more great baby shower gifts here." Whatever items you have that might be of interest a shopper for that particular item. Sometimes I use two or three lines (farmhouse, bedding and boho for example) if the item for sale fits those genres.

This method requires careful attention to tags. It works best if your items that will be presented together have a similar look, make an attractive collection. Think... treasuries!

I put mine at the bottom of each listing. They can go anywhere within your listing text, though. If you think that a buyer might not finish reading the listing and move on, try placing your back links higher in the listing. "Grab" them, prevent them from bouncing out.

According to Etsy admin, these back links do not affect rankings in Etsy search.

Tip: when making the link to your similar shop items, be sure that you you are in the public, customer-facing shop view, not your shop manager view.

Tip: use short links from a site like Bit.ly to streamline (and track) your link.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Keywords: develop and use a purchase phrase list

find and use effective keywords for vintage online selling
Etsy search is all about keywords and key phrases. 


Many sellers still try to draw buyers with general phrases. Phrases with a lot of competition like "[holiday] gift" "vintage gift" and "silver necklace" have thousands of search results on Etsy. There is no need to be concerned with placing highly in broad searches.

Instead sellers need to concentrate on long-tail keywords. These are browse-phrase keywords and purchase-phrase keywords. These are words, specific phrases, that a customer types in to the search bar when they are ready to search for something and buy.

Use specific keywords that say what the item is. Select terms that tell people what the item actually is in different ways. Use terminology that your target customer would use.

Advice is out there to have at least 100 relevant keywords available. Have terms at your fingertips for any product genre or type you might sell. If have 2 or more types or genres of products on Etsy, consider having 100 keywords to use for each one.

That might seem like a lot, but it is not.


How to brainstorm for more keywords


Other sellers can help out with this. Check out listings on Etsy or other venues. What keywords are they using? Check out their sold items. Titles are at the top of course. Tags can be found at the bottom of any listing page. (Recently those disappeared for some sellers, so changes could be afoot there.)

Follow a blog, like Apartment Therapy. Note terms that they use to describe items, trends and styles. Their readers will also be searching using those keywords.

Here is another method of market research.


Read magazines for keyword ideas

Read a magazine for keyword ideas
Try magazines for keyword research

Try magazines for keywords. Magazines that are of interest to your target audience. You will not necessarily be reading the magazine, but rather the advertisements.

Magazines devote teams of staff dedicated to using proper keywords in their ads... key words that cause viewers to want to buy the product! Those marketing people have done their keyword research. Why not apply it in your own shop?

Note the terms used for products in magazine ads. These writers must be on-trend with their use of key words.

If you could, which vintage magazine sums up your customer base? Use it to harvest new terms to attract buyers.

There is no need to subscribe... look at them at your library, or supermarket check-out. (You might even stay there until they kick you out.)


Make a keyword list

notepad graphic
Once you have keywords, make a list. (Here is a sample for vintage shops.) Keep that list handy to use when you compose listings.

While writing your listing text, keep an eye on your keyword list. Your goal is to use important keywords in a natural, conversational way. 

Be sure to write your first paragraph for your target buyer, not for a machine. The more you understand about your buyers, the better you will be able to write for them.

Happy vintage selling!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Who is afraid of free shipping?

Mailboxes... can packages ship for free?
Do you have free shipping?
I do some reading on Etsy. I see a lot of US vintage sellers who are afraid of free shipping. Deathly afraid.

(Perhaps it is an issue with shipping in general, but that is a subject for a different post.)

Repeated studies indicate that buyers (in the USA at least) love free shipping. Although they know it raises the cost of an item, they still prefer it. It is not logical (free shipping is not really "free") but there you have it.

Plus word on the street is that Etsy's algorithm may bump up your items if you run a sale.

Is now the time to think about it?


shipping from Maine is expensive
Geographically challenged?

First, what is holding you back?


Heavy items, those over two pounds. If that is all you sell in your shop, then you can just stop reading this right now. This is the time when Etsy's Calculated Shipping shines. You are good to go.

(Living in the northeast corner of the USA, I understand the issue of zoned shipping. Most of the west and deep south are expensive shipping zones for  me.) Items over two pounds are the exception. Leave them be, safely ensconced in Calculated Shipping.

Yellow ware mixing bowl
Heavy items are the exception.
Almost everything else? I add some, most or even all of the shipping to the cost and call it good.

(A caveat: although January's visits are down, my YOY revenue this month is now showing "up 28%".  With the shipping bundled in there, revenue is inflated.)

Can a shop really do that? 


I am. I have not converted everything (items under two pounds, that is) over to free shipping yet. (Some sellers call this "shipping included.")

How: I set up a manual shipping profile called "FREE." When renewing I open the item, check attributes, listing text and tags. I look at how I have shipping set. Most of the time, I increase the price to accommodate the "free shipping" model. Then I click the new "free" shipping profile. Done.

Will free shipping discourage multiple purchases?


Weighing bubble envelope
Small packages are easier
It will not if you give a corresponding discount off of multiple purchases. I have my shop set at 15% off for purchases of three or more items. That way my multiple buyers get their "free"
shipping back and feel like they are getting a bargain.

Another benefit of offering a percentage-off promotion is that my shop shows up on any search for items on sale.... (And of course searches with free shipping...) I get fewer requests for lower prices, too.

Here is a little bit of Q & A on the subject from Etsy CEO Josh Silverman.

Who is afraid of free shipping now?

Happy Etsy selling!

free shipping is easy on etsy
Once your free shipping profile is set up, the rest is easy.


etsy seller screen for shipping setup
Setting up a new free shipping profile

Afterthought: I find that converting my listings to free shipping helps me see my pricing in a new light. Perhaps some items are too expensive to ship, and not worth carrying in my online shops.

Another afterthought: offering free shipping forces sellers to be on their game as to the cheapest shipping options. Make friends with regional boxes and the many other nuances of the USPS (or other postal service if you are not in the USA).


I wanted the graphic smaller, but...

What about international shipping?


Because it can be so expensive, small sellers have difficulty offering free shipping internationally. If item prices are raised to compensate for free shipping to domestic locations what can be done to sweeten the deal for international buyers?

That IS a good question. Perhaps you can lower your international shipping prices to a degree to coincide with the discount you are giving to your buyers who are receiving "free shipping." For example, if a particular item you added $4 to the price to cover shipping, why not take approximately $4 off shipping your international buyers?

I do not ship internationally except by request. I am not sure if there is a full answer of how to make some sort of equitable "free shipping" for international buyers. A case-by-case basis? Set up a bunch of individualized profiles and use the one that fits the size of your item? Please let me know if you come up with a workable solution.

Will you try the new Etsy Plus tiered seller package?

If you use Promoted Listings, this package may be worth a try  Most know about Etsy's fee increase. Along with that, they are rollin...