Every now and again, Etsy community forums go nuts. Why? Popular, best-selling products suddenly stop appearing in the first Etsy results page. Even products that are long-standing, unique, and completely SEO optimized. The advice these forum complaints give rise to is often contradictory. In truth, Etsy rank depends on numerous factors. Most can be controlled, but a handful are all about luck. So let’s get your Etsy store rankings right, once and for all!
Problem 1: An Etsy algorithm glitch
We’re all human. And that goes for the Etsy team, too. But while some humans admit their mistakes, Etsy doesn’t always sheepishly put up its hand and say sorry.
Late in 2021, search results were literally turned upside-down for a few hours. Why? The algorithm put Best Sellers last on the list, instead of first. Luckily, this problem was quickly resolved. But not quickly enough to prevent a loss of sales for many Etsy stores. Etsy customer services has to deal with thousands of complaints a day. This means the advice they give is very standard. It’s good to be able to tell the service operator you’ve done all the right things. That way, any complaint might be taken more seriously.
Problem 2: Frequency capping and clumping
Frequency capping, according to the Etsy website, limits …
The number of times the same listing or shop appears at the top of results for a specific user or keyword.
Clumping is the result of bad frequency capping, where the same store appears at the top of search results listings many times over. It’s very unfair … unless you’re the store that’s clumping.
But in the long-term, clumping isn’t good for any store, including yours. Buyers can become so frustrated by your regular appearance, they ‘unfavor’ you. In other words, they stop your store from appearing in their results. That’s the equivalent of Etsy suicide.
We’ve all had experiences with low standards in frequency capping. So we also all realize it’s a good thing. When you decide to buy a new sofa, for example, and suddenly come across sofa ads on every website you visit; every social media feed suddenly shows home furnishing advertisements.
At some point, you might get so frustrated by all these blatant and privacy-infringing ads, you give up looking for a sofa. You might even block any mention of sofas from your preferences.
So if you’re a popular seller offering lots of products that don’t always make the top of every search query, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Because once you’re unfavored, you won’t appear in personalized searches, no matter how brilliant your strategy is.
Problem 3: Resellers
Ranking on Etsy can be stolen. As can your products, images, and even Etsy store name and brand. Theft isn’t tolerated by Etsy policy, but it can take a lot of time to sort out. In the meantime, new stores reselling your products take your spotlight.
Authorized resellers are only allowed to sell vintage goods and crafting supplies. Resell someone’s handicrafts, and you’re immediately violating Etsy protocol. This can lead to suspensions that negatively affect your Etsy ranking.
There are limited ways you can protect your products from unauthorized reseller activity:
- Photography watermarks
- Mention your Etsy shop is the only original seller of your items
- Make it clear anyone who is selling your unique items is committing fraud
- File a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) with Etsy
- Sending polite but legally-threatening messages to unauthorized resellers of your products
Dropping down the Etsy ranks through reseller activity also shows us that Etsy gifts all newcomers an initial boost. When new sellers hijack your items, they temporarily get higher visibility.
Why on earth does it reward newbies and not loyal, long-term sellers?
To get the data it needs for future ranking, the Etsy algorithm pushes new stores and products up the charts. Only by doing this can it correctly measure buyer responses. And when these measurements are made, a shop or product is allotted the ranking position it ‘deserves’.
Problem 4: Illegal products
It’s amazing how many top Etsy shops get away with selling products Etsy doesn’t allow. Approaching an incredible 5 million active sellers, it’s no surprise the Etsy office can’t check every listing and every shop. Are you selling products Etsy doesn’t allow but hasn’t found out about yet? Optimizing your SEO could bring you under the Etsy radar. Less scrupulous sellers will therefore want to keep away from the first page of search results.
If you want to take advantage of Etsy SEO, you MUST obey Etsy product guidelines. The official website gives a detailed list of what not to sell. Check out Etsy’s Prohibited Items Policy here and sell only what Etsy allows and you can avoid suspension. Prohibited items aren’t the same as acceptable items so make sure you are familiar with Etsy selling guidelines.
Problem 5: Outdated, repetitive SEO
If you always stick to the same keywords, you’re not doing your Etsy ranking a favor. By all means keep the words and phrases that bring in the most buyers. You can check these out on your Stats page.
On the How Shoppers Found You menu, click on Etsy Search. The terms you find here are already in your metadata. You should be regularly testing different word combinations, swapping them with the keywords that don’t perform as well. And, of course, regularly check to ensure your top keywords are still bringing in the buyers.
More specific keyword results can be found in the Stats Listings tab. Adjust these results by clicking on Views; this will rank your keywords according to popularity. The stats of each listing show you which search terms are most relevant.
But no buyer is exactly the same. And different trends make certain keywords change. Think of Christmas and Valentine’s Day sales, and different vocabulary used by different age groups. All of these can significantly affect your Etsy ranking success. And problem 6 is one you’ll definitely have to sort out very early on.
Problem 6: Etsy Context Specific Ranking technology
The Etsy algorithm can change at any given moment. These changes aren’t always planned. Bugs and programming issues have been known to cause major problems for sellers. They even make irrelevant products appear in buyer searches. Luckily, these glitches rarely last for long.
The name of the technology gives a major clue as to what it does. It’s all about product relevance to the context of a particular buyer’s search. If we know what this technology measures, we can make it work for us.
Query matching describes how close your product title, 13 tags, category and attributes match a buyer query. It also includes how closely your Etsy shop matches with what the customer asks. It’s essential to put your product in the correct category. Some sellers think adding products to unusual categories makes them stand out.
Your product will be classed as irrelevant and booted down the Etsy SERPs. In a nutshell, the more products you offer and the greater your selection of tags, the more your Etsy store ranking rises. This has positive repercussions on product listings, because a popular shop gets a higher search result position.
After query matching, the Etsy algorithm has enough data to rank a product and rank a shop. As with most online marketplaces, ranking means taking buyer behavior and history into account. If a buyer never looks at the products you offer – for example you sell dog bowls and the buyer doesn’t own a dog – the Etsy algorithm will eventually work this out. You won’t appear anywhere near the first 2 pages of that person’s search results. This protects sellers, too. Because you don’t want to waste your time and energy attracting people who won’t buy your products.
At the same time, you can override query matching if you sell more than doggy items. Etsy success 101 is the continuous expansion of your product categories. Expansion means you need to take query matching extremely seriously. Make keywords for a dog bowl perfectly match appropriate dog owner search terms, and keywords for other product categories do the same for their specific buyer targets.
The algorithm allots your Etsy ranking according to:
- The relevancy of both your listing and your shop
- How many people are interested in the products you have to sell
- How many conversions you have per listing
- How recent your listing is
- What your customers think of your product and your shop
- How much information you give about your protocols and principles
- Whether you infringe Etsy policy
- How much it costs to ship your product
- Whether your product is downloadable, and
- What language(s) you use
The next factor that determines how Context Specific Ranking technology measures your popularity has little to do with you. Unless you own a crystal ball or are a very lucky marketing guru.
Shopper habits or personalization is key to getting relevant information right to the top of the page. If Etsy consistently provided irrelevant results, no-one would use the platform. Even the device a shopper uses affects measurements. So using Etsy analytics tools is absolutely essential. These help you build strong buyer profiles for each product or product subcategory.
Remember, consumer groups are fluid. They get older, move around, listen to the news or opinions, and form different relationships all the time. So you can’t stick to the same strategy forever. Oh, and forget about Plus or Premium accounts for ranking on Etsy. These aren’t taken into consideration at all.
What’s a good Etsy ranking solution?
Boost your store and product visibility through the following steps:
- Make a date: arrange fortnightly or monthly sessions to review your Etsy store and listings stats, test potential changes, and make necessary adjustments
- Expand your offerings: the more products you offer to different target groups, the more relevant you become to more people
- Stick to the rules: never violate Etsy rules and regulations
- Treat buyers like royalty: respect, refund and returns policies, and transparency all work to increase consumer trust and appreciation
- Join the Etsy community: you’ll learn about other problems and ideas and be kept up to date with algorithm changes
- Protect your brand: keep an eye out for reseller activity or even logo or brand theft by using your specific keywords with anonymous (VPN protected) searches
- Build solid consumer profiles and think about how behaviors might change during holiday periods and different seasons.
- Build customer stories. For example, if you sell fixtures and fittings, your buyers might be renovating or upgrading a home. What might they want next? Or could you catch them early and sell products for preceding renovation stages?
- Never charge for shipping. Free shipping means a free Etsy ranking boost
- Use a professional to find out exactly how well your products can perform
Get a geek
Step number 10 is a great way to find out what your product listings are capable of.
EtsyGeeks doesn’t use black hat methods to push listings up the Etsy SERPs. The results of the team’s labor is due to a long-term, highly focused relationship with Etsy marketing strategies.
If you’re struggling with Etsy SEO, or can only get so far using the above advice, maybe it’s time you got a geek. Because if EtsyGeeks can’t get your product to the top of page 1, it’s unlikely anyone can. Including you.
Time to stop reading and start planning. There’s a lot of research and development ahead! But get that part of the Etsy equation right, and you’ll soon be top of the page for thousands of interested, targeted, converting buyers!