Friday, December 30, 2016

How is your shop doing at the end of 2016?

How was 2016 in our shop? We all know about our gross sales. What about the other numbers?

item views graph screen shot

Views in general

My views aren't great. However, that didn't seem to decrease my sales. My shop set all-time records in November and December. 

graph 2016 Free Google Shopping ads

Google shopping⇛

Etsy announced a seller upgrade in late 2016: we can now set up our own Google shopping engine advertising campaign. It's a paid service. I haven't participated. Etsy is tapering off the free ads for sellers. This year shows a steady decline in my Google Shopping views.

2016 Etsy app traffic graph

⇚Etsy app

I am seeing more and more views via the Etsy app. We all need to optimize our shops for buyers using the app to shop. 
2017 vintage shop stats

Shop updates⇛

In October of 2015, Etsy released Shop Updates. Yes, you need a mobile device running the Sell on Etsy app on iOS or Android. I do feel that they improve the sales rate of featured items.

That's quite the bump in shop update views in October of 2016. I think it was my first post on this blog which covers 40 shop update ideas for vintage shops. I also published one on how and why to do the updates at the end of that month.

In this screen shot you can also see what items were viewed. I'm including it because I've read that you can't see which of your shop updates brought in viewers, but you can.

So, how was 2016 for your shop? What are your stats telling you? Are you making any changes?

And what changes are coming in 2017?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Etsy Search: The algorithm in 2016

proven factors raising and loweringWe hear many opinions about "the algorithm." It is how Etsy bumps our listings up and down within search results. Many things affect our ranking. 

Known Algorithm Factors

Some factors have been spelled out by Etsy. Here is what admin has said:

🠝Recently listed or relisted. This is a 20-cents way to boost a listing for the short term.
🠝Better listing quality with better shopper engagement . This is related to the item itself, photo quality and price. It goes up when:
  1. Buyer searches for an item and chooses to view (="click") your item over other images they are presented with.
  2. "...A buyer clicks, favorites, or purchases an item after they’ve seen it in search results."
🠝 Lower conversion rate (our views-to-sales ratio). Try to get it as low as possible, below approximately 50 views per sale [just a guess], although this can be tough.

Customer experience
     🠝 Complete your About section
     🠝 Fill out your shop policies. Use Etsy’s policy template (additional “slight bump” more)
     🠝 Ship on time
     🠋 Recent case
     🠋 Negative feedback

🠋 Intellectual property infringement

Debated Algorithm Factors

Some factors are secret. And you can be sure that this list changes all of the time, as does how much each aspect is weighted. The length of time that these factors bump us up or down is basically unknown as well. Here are some thoughts:

🠝 A particular search resulted in a sale. Your results will go up for those search terms. Recent example: I sold a green enamel ladle. Right away I sell a green enamel teapot to a different buyer.

🠋 Items that have been for sale for a long timea year perhaps, fall to the bottom of search (I call this the “stale item effect”). Renewing will bump them up for a bit, but they again fall to the  bottom of search.
🠋 Sold items not marked shipped (I'm less sure about this in the short term, but if your sold items are not marked as shipped in a timely manner it) can negatively affect your shop's placement in search results.

There are also rampant rumors, many with sound reasoning. Here are a few thought-provoking ones:

🠝 Sale from town/state. It keeps happening to me and others. Recent sales hot spots for me have been State College, PA and Winchester, NH. It could be chance, of course.
🠋 Recent Sale. Rumor has it that your items go to the back of the pack after a sale. This is the direct opposite of our similar items being better positioned after a sale.
🠝 Shop updates. My items that have been featured have a higher sales rate. I tested this recently and failed to prove my theory. My item's low position in Etsy search was unchanged the next day after a shop update feature.

What does it all mean?

Etsy has pioneered a unique discovery process. Shoppers love to browse an interesting, well-curated venue. Items that are on-trend and well-photographed fare the best.

How likely are shoppers to happen upon our great item, fall in love, and buy it? My opinion is that we have a lot less random shoppers browsing our vintage Etsy shops than we once did. That is, unless we are paying for ads. Etsy has changed its business model to include paid ads rather than self-promotion. And that's their prerogative.

My job is to use the venue to sell my items. So far it is working well. Of course, things change all the time and we must keep up with it.

What will 2017 bring? 😯 Stay tuned!

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?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Etsy Search: getting found in late 2016

etsy search ranking factorsOur tags and titles are the best way to get found on Etsy. A buyer enters search terms. We will be seen in search results only if we have put all of the words the buyer uses in our titles and/or our tags.

Where will our item be within the search results? On the front page? Or buried way at the end? What determines that? How do we improve our placement within search results?

First, be sure to place your items into the proper category. That's a shortcut to getting found because buyers so drill down when searching. I know that I do.

In the results of a big search, we will have a maximum of one item on the first page. That is, until every shop has had their chance to shine. That's how Etsy de-clumps results and provides a measure of fairness to all shops. 

The better our title and tags match up with the buyer's search terms, the higher within the results we will be. Also helpful is if the item has a higher degree of buyer engagement. Shoppers click on it and buy it at a higher rate than other items they are presented with.

The only way to guarantee high results is to pay for Etsy ads. Our featured items have automatic placement toward the beginning. (Ads show up differently on PC's vs. mobile devices. And of course, there are caveats. That's a subject for another day.)

But you're determined not to do that. 

What else can be done besides paying ad fees for preferred placement on Etsy?

Vintage Maine license plates
My sad license plate is near the end of search.
If a search has one page of results and we are 1/3 down, our buyer only has to scan 1/3 page before finding us. What if the search returns 100 pages of results and we are 1/3 down, at page 33? Not much hope of being found. What do we do?

When a buyer enters only a few search terms, say, one or two words, getting found can be difficult. We shouldn't assume that it is impossible to be found that way, but harder.

If our buyer enters 3-5 keywords, that is better. A group of that many words is called a "long-tail" keyword. Be sure to consider what longer keyword combinations potential buyers may use. It is not a bad thing to include both types of keyword types, both the shorter and longer.

All right, enough for today. My next post will be about the basics of test searching. After that... (drum roll, please) The Algorithm.

Monday, December 12, 2016

SEO: 2016 admin update - does social media help?

We have been encouraged to use social media to promote our Etsy shops. Not everyone is on board with this idea. Do I have enough time and energy? Which form of social media is best? Will I enjoy promoting my shop via social media?

Brooklyn NY near Etsy HQ
Does social media drive traffic to our listings?
A fundamental issue, though, is whether social media for our shops will even have any effect. For an answer to that question, let's consider Etsy admin's answer to a question asked during an Etsy SEO seminar in late 2016:
Q: I heard that relevancy on the search is based on the amounts of views/favorites/sales an item gets after is searched. Am I right?  
Now, I understand that because teams where playing some favorite games, the direct "favoriting" items won't affect his rank. My question is: I share a lot of my listings in social media, and I know for my views that many people are clicking on those links and favoriting some of them. Will this improve in what page my items are shown on the search, or it only gets affected by favoriting through Etsy search engine? 
Can we get some extra tips on how to make it work better for us (ones that aren't on the seller handbook)... 
Facebook Twitter Tumblr InstagramAdmin: Yes you are correct, any external likes or shares outside of Etsy will not affect your visibility on On the other hand, Google has said that while there isn’t a direct correlation between social and SEO rankings, studies have shown there is correlation between SEO rankings and social signals.
You are also correct in saying favoriting listings or click farming won’t have an effect on your rankings. On the contrary I would think of it as, the more buyers engage with your listing, the more positive signals your listing will send that factor into your visibility on Etsy search.
As for extra tips, we would recommend adding as much relevant content on your listing and shop page as possible. Attributes such as color, size, material and gender would be examples of more descriptive content.

So admin is saying here that Social Media helps with SEO, which is getting traffic into our shops from outside of Etsy. Not directly, but "studies have shown" that it helps... Is that enough assurance to commit to social media?

Each shop owner must decide for themselves.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Etsy Search: what is keyword stuffing?

Etsy titles turkey monkeyI've been stuffed after a big dinner. However, I keep hearing about keyword stuffing my Etsy titles and even descriptions. What is that all about?
Keyword stuffing is using many unnatural word combinations in our titles (and text). For years now, Google has been penalizing content with keyword stuffing. Yet many sellers still encourage using every space in our title that Etsy gives us. Why? Because Etsy search has been unintentionally rewarding such practices. The more exact search phrases you used, the more chances to be first in search results. 
Primitive spindle bobbins
How Do I Title This Listing?
Here is an example: I sell antique wooden things, including bobbins from Maine. How should I describe them in my description? 
"Primitive Bobbins - Antique Wooden Spindles - Weaving Spools"
Or "Antique Bobbins / Primitive Wood Bobbins / Rustic Wooden Bobbins from Maine / Antique Weaving Tool / Prim Quills with Wool / Old Bobbins / Etc Etc Etc."
Etsy admin has recently stated that the "search algorithm [will] no longer favor stuffed titles [in order] "to be more aligned with Google's best practices." Google search sees right through such practices, and already penalizes your search results in Google. However, Etsy will be cracking down on doing this as well.
This subject was directly addressed in Etsy's last SEO Admin Question and Answer seminar in October, 2016. Let's get the information right from the source.

Q: Listing titles: keyword stuffing or user friendly?

Some people recommend using every one of our 140 characters in the title and repeating phrases exactly the same as the tags, with the main word repeated multiple times eg:
Beaded Bracelet / Green Bracelet / Boho Bracelet / Handmade Bracelet (and so on.)
On the other hand, optimizing titles for Google Search is a little different:
Brooklyn NY traffic on BQE
We all want to direct traffic to our listings
No one wants to read a list of words. Write your <title> tag text in natural language, making it as compelling to the human reader as possible. 
  • Use no more than 70 characters, including spaces
  • Keep it unique between pages
  • Avoid "keyword stuffing"
Is it possible to achieve a happy medium?
Admin: while we recognize that incentives do exist for sellers to stuff our titles for internal search purposes, they do not follow Google’s best practices. We are working to improve our internal search algorithm to no longer favor stuffed titles, to be more aligned with Google’s best practices. While there isn’t an immediate fix, this is on our radars and we will be communicating when we make the change. Thanks!
Update on February 6, 2018:
Still wondering if keyword spamming is really a bad practice? 
 "in October 2016, they wanted to improve Etsy search so that title stuffing was no longer beneficial [link]. As of Feb. 2018, we still aren't there yet, but I am seeing some signs of it heading in that direction."
Update on June 16, 2018

More details about why title stuffing is no longer working.

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