If you’ve spent any time on the internet, you’ve probably seen or heard the acronym, SEO. But what do those 3 letters mean? SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is simply the process of optimizing web content to be found in a search engine.
Having content that is optimized for search is so important on the internet because using a search engine, such as Google, is one of the most common ways people find what they are looking for.
For Etsy sellers, this is also important because most shoppers find what they are looking for by entering a query into Etsy’s own search engine. Having listings optimized in a way that helps pair a shopper’s search query with your listings is how your products get in front of those shoppers.
What Is a Search Engine?
If you’ve used the internet, then you have probably used a search engine. A search engine is simply a website or function of a website dedicated to helping users find what they are looking for. Google is probably the most well-known search engine, but there are plenty of alternatives such as Bing and Yahoo. Many other websites, such as Etsy or YouTube have their own search engines that allow users to find what they are looking for on that site.
Search engines work by using software called “Crawlers” or “Spiders” that crawl the web, following links and finding new data to add to that search engine’s database. The gathered data is then indexed in a way that can be retrieved readily when a user enters a search. You can think of a search engine as a huge library. The crawlers are the people who go get new books for the library, and indexing can be thought of as the process of putting those new books in their appropriate section of the library.
OK, but How Does SEO Work?
Now that we understand conceptually what a search engine is and how it works, let’s look at what optimizing our content for search means.
For the sake of example, let’s say you are on the homepage of Etsy and you want to find some Autumn-themed drink coasters for your home. You might type something in the Etsy search bar like “Autumn Drink Coasters”. After you click search, you are presented with a page full of search results. At this point, you may be wondering where all these results come from. As we mentioned above, every search engine has software designed to crawl content and build an index of results. In the case of Etsy, these results are built from indexing product listings. Currently, Etsy crawls titles, tags, and descriptions looking for keywords.
Upon reviewing the results of your search, you realize that you specifically want pumpkin-themed drink coasters made from wood. So you might enter “pumpkin-themed wood drink coasters” in the search field. Now, even though you are technically still searching for autumn-themed drink coasters, you are provided with even more fine-tuned results. The reason you can see these more specific results is that the sellers of these products have accurately described their items as pumpkin-themed wooden drink coasters using the description, title and tag fields when creating their product listing.
What is a Keyword?
A keyword is any part of a search query that is used to describe what a searcher is looking for. In our example, each word of “pumpkin-themed wood drink coaster” is a keyword. That entire search query could be referred to as a key phrase or longtail keyword, which are groupings of keywords that lead to a more refined set of search results.
On the listing side, keywords are gathered from several places. Like we mentioned earlier, Etsy search looks for these keywords in a listing’s title, description, and tags. So as an Etsy seller, you want to make sure that you are including keywords and key phrases in a way that reads like it was written by a human and is relevant to the product. The key here is to include keywords and phrases that someone looking for your product might be typing into the search box.
How To Find Relevant Keywords
Now that you know what a keyword is, it’s time to start building a list of relevant keywords to use in your listing. The best place to start is to think about how you would search for a product like yours.
Let’s assume you are selling pumpkin-shaped lanterns made of wood. As a buyer, you might start your search by typing “wooden pumpkin lanterns” in the Etsy search box. You also want to consider similar search terms that may also describe your item like “Autumn Themed Lantern” since someone could potentially search that term and still be interested in your item.
One helpful way to build a list of relevant keywords is to use eRank’s Keyword Explorer tool. This tool allows you to enter keywords and key phrases and then provides you with search volume, competition, and other relevant data for that keyword along with other related search terms. This can be a great starting point to see how effective your keywords may be in getting your product found.
It’s More Than Just Keywords
Keywords are an important part of how a potential buyer’s search query is paired with your listings, but it’s not the only thing to consider. Just showing up in Etsy’s search results isn’t enough to seal the deal.
Remember that you are competing with everyone else who shows up for that search query. Quality photos and a compelling title are key to bringing customers into your listing.
Other Things to Consider
In addition to keywords, there are some other things that are taken into consideration when the Etsy algorithm places listings within the search results.
- Free shipping (Only affects US search results on the app)
- How recently your listing was created
- How well your listing converts shoppers into buyers
- Reviews (good reviews help you rank better)
Etsy also often mentions that attributes are considered when serving up search results to potential buyers. So it’s always a good idea to fill them in when relevant to your product.
For further reading directly from the source, check out this article on how Etsy search works.
You’re Just Getting Started
SEO is an ever-changing landscape with many complexities and even the best SEO experts are learning new things all the time. Now that you understand the basics of search and SEO, get out there and start experimenting. Take note of what works, and what doesn’t. Getting your Etsy SEO dialed in doesn’t happen overnight, so be patient and keep at it.