Why Search Volume is Misleading You

Early on, search volume was the go to metric. The more something is searched, the better it must be, right?

Well not anymore. Not in 2016.

Search engines have gotten much smarter. They have to be, there’s so much content out there! They care about quality now. Quality in the search world means engagement.

Engagement is what you really want because that’s what search engines want. It’s very competitive. If you want to keep ranking in search, your content needs to get people engaged with it. That’s part of how search engines determine which results to show when there are millions to choose from.

They see what works and do more of it. We should all do that.

Search Volume is Top of the Funnel

Search Volume is where it starts, it’s the top line number. The real magic is in between Search Volume and making a Sale.

The funnel looks something like this in a simplistic fashion:

Shopper Funnel

There’s just too much variability to measure at the top (Search Volume).

Adding an item to a cart and closing a sale would be great if there were more data available.

That leaves us with views and favorites are where you can really measure something meaningful at scale.

4 Things You Should Care About Instead of Search Volume

1) Are Shoppers Engaging with the Keywords I’ve Chosen?

If shoppers are searching a keyword, but not engaging, it’s not doing you any good. It’s both a waste of a keyword and your listing will seem un-engaging.

When shoppers search, they start by scanning the listing images to see if it’s what they expect. If it’s not, they bounce to another search. Does it really matter if you’re ranking for a keyword that’s popular yet shoppers don’t engage? (Answer: No).

The next steps are important too. When they see interesting (clickable) listings, they click. If they really like what they see, they favorite it or even add it to their cart.

Your goal is to get sales. The best way to do that is to measure the actions as close to the sale as possible.

That’s Views and Favorites.

2) Feasibility of Ranking for the Keyword

It doesn’t matter how good a keyword seems if you can’t get ranked for it. If you’re just starting out, it’s going to be difficult to rank for highly competitive keywords. Listings with a track record of engagement and high conversion rate will receive preferential  treatment.

When you’re starting out, it’s super important to choose keywords that you can win at. Choose competition you can handle, and once you have a track record of success, increase the level of competition.

3) Are My Keywords Creating Customers?

The ultimate test of your keywords is whether they’re getting sales. While you won’t know exactly what keyword brought the buyer, you can make educated assumptions about it. Keywords with high engagement are likely to bring more sales.

You can test this by measuring whether you’re getting more views to sales after changing your keywords around.

4) What Does The Future Look Like?

I’m assuming you’re in this for the long-term. That means you’re not just looking for keywords that work well today, but also keywords that will get better with time.

To use the Marma-Meter as an example, this would look like Low to Moderate Engagement and Low Competition. That would signal the potential for growth in Engagement AND that your competitors haven’t swarmed it yet.

You’ll, of course, need to bring your own market expertise to the table in determining if this keyword will grow in the future. You know your market better than anyone and that’s part of your competitive advantage.

Closing Comments

With so much we can measure, it’s more important than ever to measure what really matters. Search Volume is a vanity metric that can easily send us on a wild goose chase. Time is a precious resource for all of us, so let’s use it wisely.


Busting Popular Etsy SEO Myths

The Etsy search bar. The number of times you should use your keyword. The eternal battle between commas and forward slashes. Even the order of your keywords in your title. We’ve probably all seen these topics at least once in our span as an Etsy seller (I know I do).

Which of these SEO myths hold truth? Let’s find out.

This is a written version of a Blab we recently made with Melissa Kaiserman of MakerySpace.com and Dan Safkow from MakingItOnEtsy. You can watch (or listen to) it here: Making It On Etsy – SEO Myth Busting by Marmalead

Myth 1: Does the order of Tags matter?

No. You can totally move your tags to any spot that you want. It doesn’t have any bearing on the search results. Etsy looks whether or not something exists in your tag and it doesn’t really care whether it’s the first tag or the last tag.

Myth 2: Does the order in which I put keywords in my Title matter?

Yes. If you put a word closer up in your title, then Etsy – just like people – the earlier these words are in your title, the more important they must be. Think of it kind of like a subject line for an email, if you want someone to open your email, you’re gonna say the most important stuff first.
Here’s an article straight from Etsy help: How Etsy Search Works
“The beginnings of titles have an especially strong pull. Keep words that buyers are most likely to search for close to the front.”

Myth 3: Etsy uses product descriptions for ranking.

Nope. Etsy doesn’t look at descriptions at all for ranking. Where your descriptions really do matter is in closing the deal. So inside of your descriptions you should be completing the picture for people. Describe things in ways your photos can’t.

Related: How to Write a Great Product Description

Bonus question: When sellers take their title and put it in the first paragraph of their product descriptions, does it hurt them at all?

No, it wouldn’t hurt them necessarily at all. The only thing that it might do is confuse the buyer. The thing we’re trying to avoid is sellers worrying about how often they should be using keywords in their descriptions.

Example: If I’m selling ‘jewelry’, maybe I want to use the word ‘jewelry’ a certain number of times in my description so that I’ll rank higher. You don’t have to worry about that as a seller.

Myth 4: Will repeating keywords hurt my rank?

“If I have a listing titled ‘Starfish necklace, beach necklace’ and I used it both as tags, the fact that I used ‘necklace’ twice; will it hurt my rank?”
Etsy doesn’t mind that. Etsy looks at things in context. They’re looking at ‘beach necklace’ as one kind of thing or ‘starfish necklace’ as one kind of thing. The only downside of doing this is that you’re using part of your title twice. You’re using that space in your title to say ‘necklace’ twice where you could have used a different keyword in there. But if you really want to target those keywords, don’t be afraid to put them both.

Myth 5: The number of pages somebody go through when they do a search.

“Are people only looking at the 1st page? 2 pages? 5 pages etc?”
We’ve done some shoppers’ study, and in our experience, everybody is very impatient. If they don’t find what they’re looking for pretty quickly, they leave that search and move on to the next one. Some people do browse past 5 pages but they’re mostly in ‘browsing’ mode, not in ‘buying’ mode. The reason for this is as people flip through pages and pages of search, their interest in buying dwindles because they can’t find what they’re looking for. If they’re serious about buying, they would have left the search and began typing similar search terms.

Myth 6: Etsy uses your Shop Policy for ranking. Is this true?

Yes. With one of the recent updates in search, Etsy started looking if you have your Shop Policies filled up. The more comfortable shoppers are shopping on Etsy from any sellers, the more comfortable they are with all the good sellers like you. Have your Shop Policies filled out.

Myth 7: The Etsy search bar shows most popular search keywords. True or False?

False. As per conversation that we had with Etsy Support, what they’re actually showing in the search bar are recent searches from people. It’s actual searches people are doing, but they’re not the most popular searches. It is also based on what things you’re gonna start typing out – like an autocomplete.
It’s also flawed since it is an autocomplete and it’s based on the first word that you type which may not be the most important keyword in the phrase, and there’s no way to do it backwards to see what they might put in front of the second word.

Related: Etsy Search Bar Suggestions

Myth 8: I’m doing everything right and it’s not working. Help!

A lot of times it feels like you’re doing everything right and all logic points that this is the right way to go but if you’re not getting the results, something’s not right. If you think you’re doing everything right and it’s not working, get out of your circle and bring someone else to help you out. Don’t give up. Reach out to us, reach to your teams, reach out and get help. If it’s keyword based, try and get other people to describe it to you. If it’s photos, get some feedback from other people, even on people you normally don’t get feedback from. Keep trying!

Myth 9: Listings that have a momentum of sales rank near the top.

“I can’t break into the top 100 because I don’t have the momentum of sales and you need sales. All the other shops are successful and they’re the only ones that are gonna stay at the top because Etsy just wants to support them. They don’t care about the new shops.” 
Is there any ground to it?
It is plausible. They do take into consideration things like views, favorites, sales, momentum and bunch of other stuffs and why wouldn’t they? Etsy wants to keep promoting things that are selling. They get paid not just when you renew, they also get money when you sell your product. But here’s the good news, they do want new shops to break into the market. They have a vested interest to grow and to do that, they need more shoppers and more sellers. You can, even as a new seller, build that momentum and you can be up there just like everyone else. Get quality photos, use the right keywords, renew frequently to be recent up there cause that’s your chance and once you start gaining a momentum – we have found that you are going to stay near the top.

Myth 10: Renewing your listings give a quick bump in rank.

“Just going in and renewing that listing whether I make changes to it or not; do I get a bump in rank?”
Yes. Recency does matter. Though it is not the only thing that we’d recommend you to do, of course we still recommend tweaking your keywords every now and then but as far as this myth goes, it is confirmed.
Renewing gets you seen, and the more you get seen, the more you get sales and the more you get sales, the more they come back.

Bonus question: What if you have one-of-a-kind type of listings?

How to gain traction with those, it’s not like an item that you can sell and renew in a continuous basis.”
Without per-listing momentum, it’s your shop in general. It has a factor as far as conversion rates and sales momentum go, not just on a specific listing. Etsy just wants to make sure they get more sales for everyone so they can make more profit too. So Etsy would be looking for conversion rates of the whole shop. Like how well does a shop do in general and not just on this one off listings.

So next time you find yourself in the midst of a clashing debate in the forums on common misconceptions about Etsy SEO; these bits of information might help you gain the upper hand.

Over to you:

Got any good SEO myths we didn’t cover? Follow up questions?
Well, let us know in the comments!
Maybe you have a friend that just can’t sleep because she did not put the word ‘necklace’ 5 times in her description? Share it to them!

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