For Etsy SEO: Renew or Relist?

Reading Time: 7 minutes

As an Etsy coach, a question I see a lot in my inbox is: “Should I renew a listing after it sells out / expires, or should I relist it as a new listing?” And a related question: “If I have a sold-out listing for a product I no longer carry, can I just replace my photos and my description with those of a new product?” In choosing, there are two viewpoints to include in your consideration: Etsy’s, and that of the shoppers who engage with the listing.

Renew or Relist

Let’s begin with the first question. You have the exact same product for which you created the listing, and whether the quantity you initially set has sold out, or you let the listing expire because it hasn’t sold yet, the listing is now inactive and you are wondering, is it better to renew it? Or should you create a new listing for it instead?

Scenario One:

You’ve sold out. Especially if you had more than one entered in the Quantity field and every one of them has sold, then Etsy will have established a handsome quality score for that listing.

Quality score is an internal Etsy metric that we sellers unfortunately cannot access, but we do know of its existence, and that Etsy assigns a quality score to every listing on its site. We know this score is based on how shoppers interact with a listing. Do they click on it? After that click, how long do they spend viewing it? Did they favorite it? Buy it? Review it? Each of these shopper interactions adds to a listing’s quality score.

When your listing with that handsome quality score sells out or expires, and rather than renewing it, if you were to choose instead to relist it as a new listing, that quality score will not carry over to the new listing. Basically, you just forfeited all the gains that you earned from your work to nurture and grow that listing: all those clicks, engagement, favorites, sales, and reviews.

(Not to mention what you invested Etsy Ads! And what about people who favorited it? They’ll get nothing but one of Etsy’s “Uh-oh! Sad Face” if they click that favorite.)

Ergo, for our Scenario One, no, it is not a good idea to relist that sold-out/expired listing as a new listing. In this instance, you want to renew the listing, because if people are buying it, it probably means that you’ve got some great SEO going on: shoppers are really into what it is that you’ve listed. Therefore, you don’t want to change a thing!

Scenario Two:

Conversely, if you have a listing that you created, say, six months ago, and it hasn’t had any sales, so it hasn’t renewed organically from a sale, and it has expired. This is a circumstance in which relisting that item as a new listing should be considered. Begin by analyzing whether you could improve that listing: how are your product photos? Is its SEO current? How long has it been since you researched its tags and titles in eRank? How is your pricing?

Intermission: A Bit of Backstory

There was a time in Etsy’s early days when Etsy sellers would go into the back end of their shop, select all of their listings, and click “Renew.” Some of us did this every single day. The reason made sense at the time.

Obviously, new Etsy listings can’t start out with a quality score. And yet it would not be fair or useful for brand-new listings to get pushed all the way to the bitter end of any search where they wouldn’t stand a chance to be seen. To compensate, Etsy gives new listings a bit of a boost in search. They do this to assess how shoppers engage with that listing — how many people are clicking on it, how long are they spending on the listing page. Did that click lead to a favorite? A purchase? Now, how long this assessment period may last will vary. Whether hours, days, or weeks, it lasts as long as Etsy needs to gather its data on shopper interaction with that listing in order to assign it a quality score.

So, back in the Before Time, what sellers used to do was select all of their listings in the back end of their shop and they’d click renew and they would pay 20 cents per listing (which I imagine probably got pretty expensive) every single day: that way, they would benefit from that little boost in search that every new listing gets.

Then, Etsy caught on. And no platform enjoys being gamed.

Think of it like this. If Etsy sees that you’re renewing your listings every single day, and people still aren’t engaging with them, people still aren’t favoriting them, people still aren’t clicking on them, and people still aren’t buying them, Etsy is going to conclude that your listings must be crappy, and in fact, following this Renew method is the best way to wind up perennially way, way back in search and this is not something that you want for your shop. Not only will this affect your listing quality score, it will also negatively impact your “customer and market experience score.”

Think of this metric as the sum total of your entire shop. To calculate it, Etsy looks at things like sketchy behavior and bad reviews and cases that are opened against you. A bad customer and market experience score can count against you in search placement, and could eventually end up getting your shop taken down, which is not a result any of us want.

Therefore, when it comes to renewing versus relisting, renew if your product is selling well and if people have engaged positively with that listing. On the other hand, relist if you’re dealing with an expired product that isn’t doing well and hasn’t been doing very well for a while. This will give it a fresh start.

Scenario Three

Say you have a listing that has done really well in the past: you have every reason to believe it’s got a good customer and market experience score, and a lot of people have made purchases through that listing, and now you’ve sold out of that product and you can’t make it or source it anymore.

Your first impulse might be to take that listing that you’ve already paid for, remove all of the product photos and description, and replace them with those of an entirely different product you want to list.

Yes, technically, your listing quality score will most likely carry over to the new listing. However, there’s a significant downside to this.

Have you ever gone into your Etsy favorites and looked at all of the items that you’ve favorited and then suddenly you notice that something doesn’t seem quite right? Every once in a while, I’ll go into my favorites and I’ll notice that there are items in there that I definitely did not favorite. In fact, there have been times I didn’t just wonder what the– I’ve actually been a bit upset! For example, there was the time I was in the midst of recording a video for the Alphas and in the demo on my screen, there were a bunch of different jewelry and other random items I’d favorited, and there among them was an Adult item I decidedly did not want to showcase on my channel. This item was most definitely not something I would have ever favorited, although I had favorited a necklace from that shop. (Won’t be shopping there again.)

This is just one instance in which it might be problematic for you to just swap the contents of a sold-out / discontinued listing for something different. Every item that someone has favorited is going to show up in their favorites, and there are customers who will notice and will not be pleased.

Do some sellers do this anyway? Of course they do: some people will try anything to make a sale. But is it good practice? I think not, and take it from me, as someone who had to re-record an entire 20-minute YouTube tutorial all because I flashed something on my screen that I had no idea was there, and indeed should not have been there. You have no way to know; a Grandma might have a youngster on her lap looking through Mom’s Etsy favorites to choose a Mother’s Day gift for her. A husband might buy his wife a gift based on her favorites and wind up with a fail.

Or a customer might favorite a home decor item because it’s a perfect match for the wallpaper they’ve got planned. When they’re ready, if they don’t look closely before buying, you can wind up with a disgruntled customer. Or even a “Not As Described” claim which will negatively impact your ODR (Order Dissatisfaction Rate).

My advice? Don’t be that guy. If it’s a different item, don’t relist, don’t renew: create a new listing.

Starla Moore

CEO – Handmade Alpha Academy