Monday, November 20, 2017

Who is in the driver's seat?

What is up with Etsy's search?

Etsy's search algorithm has changed
Hold on tight!

Reports vary... some shops are doing all right and some are not: theories abound.

Things have changed with Etsy's search. That is a fact. As one seller put it,"relevancy is no longer relevant on Etsy."

This may sound radical, but it is time to reassess everything that what we think we know about how search works. Everything. The entire ball game has changed.

Why are sellers holding their breath?

Artificial Intelligence is now in the driver's seat of Etsy search. 

Etsy feels a bit like driverless car... No one, not even the programmers, know exactly where the search "vehicle" is headed with the new "recommendation technology." Sellers will have to be patient. "Machine learning" has to do its thing. It will be seeking connections between searches and purchases. Its goal is to figure out what searchers want to see, what motivates them to buy.

Artificial intelligence at work
Analyzing data takes time
It takes time to examine millions of pieces of data. The algorithm will be looking for connections, called "context-specific results." This new technology will be seeking common factors between millions of buyer search queries and actual sales. It will be connecting the dots.

Add to that personalization of results. Everyone will see something different.

Etsy's search has become more complicated than any human can understand... "machine learning." That is why no one can even begin to predict search results at this point.

The thought is that search will change all the time for a year or two. Search results may at times be bad due to the learning curve. Of course, sales can suffer in the short term.

This "deep learning" technology is calculated to "deliver even more relevant search results and a shopping experience that can be even more tailored to individual buyers." Ultimately, things should improve.

Google's driverless car goes places... It is basically doing what it has been "trained" to do. Eventually Etsy's search will get there.

Can Etsy's machine learning figure out vintage?

Vintage is vulnerable at Etsy. It seems like the proverbial red-headed step-child. Etsy is stressing its "made by someone" mystique, which is not vintage.

Etsy stressing creative goods
Etsy is stressing handmade in this sale banner from late 2017
Being in on the ground floor of a revolutionary new search experience has its pros and cons. Etsy sellers are about to find out the good, the bad and the ugly.

What can be done now?

Until more information is provided, making major changes would just be a shot in the dark. Let common sense prevail.

For now, the rules appear to be the same as always... When listing, accurately describe your item. Use understandable and descriptive language. Carefully word your titles and tags. Fill out any slots for attributes. (Those are material, size and other search factors that are different for each type of item). Use great photos.

Etsy's instructions have not changed. Yet at least. (Please let me know if you see that they have.)

Hang on tight, though. It could be a rough ride when machine learning is driving search.

Want to know more? Here is some more in-depth information about recent changes in Etsy search.


  1. Well said, glad I'm not the only one confused as ever. All rules, as we know them are broken. Holding on for the long haul, as of right now.

  2. An awesome brief synopsis of what is happening with Etsy search. Your call for patience is appreciated. As far as vintage goes, I don't think we will ever be in the forefront of Etsy's mind. I do, however, believe some will always be able to make a, albeit small, living from selling vintage on Etsy.

  3. Thank you for your thoughts and such a clear summary explanation of the controlled chaos that is Etsy these days. I also appreciate the urging for patience and not being in a hurry to change things with every test. I think that is especially wise given how fast and furious the testing is!


Selling vintage in uncertain times

With coronavirus, we have seen supply chain disruptions, stock market fluctuations, even companies temporarily stopping business. The news s...