Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Etsy search: clumping is the new normal?

Etsy seller help manual quote
Shop diversity is no longer a part of Etsy search
For a long time, when buyers searched for items on Etsy, they saw a predictable mix. One item from a variety of shops on page 1, 2 and so on...

As usual, changes are afoot.

The “shop diversity” part of Etsy's search algorithm is no longer in place. We know that because the wording about it has been removed from Etsy’s seller help manual.

Etsy has been testing this for the past two months or so. Complaints of “clumping” have been made.

What is clumping?

Clumping is when you see a page of search results with the same shop repeated over and over. Certain shops seem to dominate search results for some searches.
clumping packaging lamps mushroom
What is clumping, anyway?

Why is Etsy allowing it?

Ultimately it comes down to making money. If items are not selling, then Etsy is not making money. Etsy's search results will favor what makes the most money for Etsy. End of story.

As mentioned, sellers had become accustomed to “fairness” or “diversity” in search results. That was when you saw one item displayed from each seller, especially on the first few pages.

Some sellers got used to having their items consistently on page one of search results. It is easy to feel that if your item placed highly for a year or two, then you are set for life. That is not the case. Etsy's search changes constantly. This might be a case for the expression: “adapt or die.”

How can I be the shop that shows multiple results?

There are many steps you can take.

Fill out all of your attributes. These are the new fields where you tell buyers the color, size and perhaps style of an item (as well as other attributes depending on the category). Search results are now being weighted with this information. Don’t get left behind.

Make sure your item categories are drilled down as far as possible.

Use all of your tags. Fill as many of the 20 characters in each tag as you can. For vintage items, be sure to use the word “vintage” in one of your tags. Try to use a variety of natural search phrases for “broader search presence.”

Do not obsess about getting found on a one- or two-word general search. Focus on niche searches (AKA “long-tail searches”). By focusing on improving your items' rank in these specific multiple-word searches, your items gain ground in the more generic searches.

Put the most searchable words at the beginning of your titles. The first few words (Etsy Admin keeps saying three) have the most weight. If you have more than one similar item, change up your wording (of both titles and tags). That way, your items may get found with a variety of search terms. 

Have the highest possible conversion rate.

Have the lowest possible conversion rate
A higher conversion rate is better.

Raise your listing quality. Have 10 great photos

Ship quickly. Provide excellent customer service. Have minimal cases.

Etsy free shipping search results
Offering free shipping could place your shop front and center

Renew items often. List a new item or two every day.

Offer more items. Larger shops seem to do better in searches these days. It also increases the odds that you will have something that someone wants to buy.

Give the market what it wants. Figure out what is selling. If what you are offering does not move well, try something else.

Try different price points. If it seems that cheaper is selling better, then offer lower priced items.

Try a sale or free shipping. Your shop can be front and center if a buyer clicks a check box and applies the filter.

factors in etsy's search algorithm

The algorithm

There are a number of factors that determine where our items land in search. (One informed seller says dozens of factors.) No one (outside Etsy programmers) knows what those factors are. Or how each is weighted. 

They change all the time. The above factors ("steps you can take") are some educated guesses.

How are sales in your shop? Is clumping good or bad?

More to come on this subject... stay tuned.


  1. Great blog post, Joanne. You stay on top of things and I like the way you simplify it.

  2. Excellent information. And, such a big help now for the holiday season. You always clear up my worries and wonders so well. Those search pages are.....arrrrggg.

  3. Something I learned recently from a marketing class was to closely follow the email promotions etsy sends out to market the site to find new keywords. Etsy is sending these emails out to millions of shoppers so if you can figure out the tags they are using you can ride on the coat tails of this advertising.
    For example:
    Each time I get an email from etsy I go through what the specific promos are. Recently they had a picture of"wooden kitchen items". When I clicked on that promo, I saw the tag that came up in the search box. It was "wooden serving". So I put that tag at the beginning of my listing title and also in my tags ( for several wood kitchen items) and then renewed the items. Bam! One of them sold in 24 hrs.
    So you are basically using etsy's promo ads's tags to get your item tons of more views.
    Of course you must have items that match the etsy promo, but as vintage sellers we have a mix of stuff. They recently promoted "Camp Mugs". I tagged one of my mugs and I will see if it sells?

  4. Thank you for explaining this Joanne. Excellent advice as usual!

  5. I just came across this blog. Thanks so much for this info. I am following and hope to see more info like this. Thank you!


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