Etsy just released another of their much anticipated quarterly videos where they address the community and let us know how things are going and perhaps more importantly, where they’re going. This one is the Q4 Community Video released March 19th 2018.
Every now and then a question about how listings are structured comes up. Is it better to have one listing with a lot of variations or separate listings with a single color?
The argument for the single listing is that when it sells, it will improve the listing’s quality rating on Etsy, which will improve its ranking in search results. (Assuming that it’s something that can be made and sold more than once.) If you have individual listings, you’ll be spreading out the sales and the listings won’t be impacted at the same rate a single listing would.
However, a single listing has an advantage that people don’t usually think about, and that’s the power of the listing photo.
I did a search for “green edible butterflies” on Etsy. A bunch of listings came up, and many of the photos weren’t green. I asked a few people if they would click on those photos if they were looking for green butterflies, and the answer was always “no, those aren’t green.”
What the potential customers didn’t know was that each of those listings had green as a variation. There’s no way to tell that from the listing photo itself, though, you have to click through, then click on the variations menu to see it. Etsy’s search might pick up on the variation colors in search results, but unless the customers know to check, they’ll look at a photo of a different colored item and skip it.
If leaving one listing up with color variations as the default isn’t a reliable way to be found for the specific colors you offer, what are you supposed to do? I did a little experiment that resulted in an increase in sales, so I plan on expanding it to other listings in my shop. It’s simply to eliminate the listings with multiple color variations and make separate listings for each color. Sounds simple, but I think it works for a couple of reasons.
First, having only one color per listing allows you to use the color attributes, which will give you an advantage in filtered searches. The attribute will also act as a tag, so you can use that space in your tags for another keyword if you want to.
Second, and most importantly, customers tend to scan photos when they’re shopping, and if they don’t see the color they want in your photo, they won’t click on it even if the listing shows up in search results. If someone’s searching for “green edible butterflies,” my listing might show up if Etsy’s search picks up the “green” in my variations or attributes. But if the photo that’s on the listing has the rainbow assortment, the customer isn’t likely to click on that photo. They wouldn’t know that there’s a green version of the butterflies unless they clicked and saw the variations to choose from.
It’s a different story if they see a photo of green butterflies, though. That fits into what they’re shopping for, and they’re more likely to click on an image that matches their search.
Another benefit of having separate listings for each color is that it simply gives you more listings, which will help populate your shop, which then gives you more chances to be found overall. The more listings you have, the more unique keywords you can use, which gives people more chances to discover your shop if they’re just browsing. Plus, it gives you more items to link to on social media sites like Pinterest.
I took one listing for the butterflies and made it into ten by eliminating variations, using the color attributes, and doing only one color per listing. That increased my opportunity to add more keywords and attract more shoppers. I also added a link to all of the other colors of that style of butterfly in each listing to allow them to find coordinating colors inside my shop. I only changed the first photo, so there were still photos of other colors in the set, but the main photo was the single color.
So did this work? Yes, yes it did. As I mentioned before, the photo on the original listing had a picture of the rainbow butterflies, and that color combination has always sold fairly steadily overall, but I didn’t sell very many of the other colors. When I separated the colors out, I started seeing other colors selling more often, and the rainbow assortment also started selling faster. Since “rainbow” is an available attribute color, I assume that people are finding it that way now.
Since I’ve only had about a 60-day time period to test this on, this is highly unscientific, but it’s still telling. Before dividing the listing up I sold about 3 colors of butterflies on average per month, and most of those were the rainbow ones in the photo. In the 60 days since I divided the listings up, I’ve sold 8 colors and tripled the number of sales overall. Having the photos for each color as the first one in the listing lets people see them instead of having to imagine what they look like, and I think that makes people more likely to purchase. (People are very bad at imagining what things look like.) I’ve also noticed an increase in the number of people who buy multiple colors in the same order, so the internal links seem to be working.
Another style of butterflies I changed doubled their sales, and I sold 6 times the number of individual colors that I did before separating them out.
If you think that your listings would benefit from this, try it out on one and see what happens to your sales and traffic. Having customers see the photo of the actual item plus the extra opportunities for being found in search seems to be a powerful combination. It can increase the visibility of your items and may result in more sales.
And if you’re worried that you can’t find the right color attribute for your color, choose the one that’s closest to it, and also put in a second color choice. Or do two listings with a different color that’s close to yours (blue and green for teal, for example.) As long as the actual color is in the title and tags you’ll be fine.
Cake supplies, gumpaste flowers, wafer paper and cake toppers at https://www.etsy.com/shop/ACakeToRemember
Voted Best of the Knot 2011, 2013
Richmond Magazine A-List 2013-20151
On this episode we talk to Andrew from MorganPeter.co.uk and two Etsy shops by nearly the same name. He was kind enough to share his story with us along with many things he’s tried that did and didn’t work!
Getting Started Story
Photos That Work
- Cross promotion between shops is cool. Just looking at these pictures it’s easy to want to take home the whole set!
- They’re interesting. They aren’t on plain white backgrounds.
- They have character, they show context, and I can see them in my home.
- They’re consistent between shops
Things That Worked
Two Shops; Double Sales
Different SEO Strokes for Different Folks
Thanks For Your Order Hacks
Researching What Else Shoppers Are Favoriting
Winning with a Website
Things That Didn’t Work
Business Cards with Coupon Codes
Mo Options; Mo Problems
The Blogging Blues
Facebook and Twitter Crickets
The Day Job Balancing Act
Where To Find Andrew
Etsy Jam Scoops:
- Photos That Work
- Two Shops Double Sales
- Different SEO Strokes for Different Folks
- Thanks For Your Order Hacks
- Business Cards with Coupon Codes
- Mo Options Mo Problems
- Researching What Else Shoppers Are Favoriting
- The Blogging Blues
- Facebook and Twitter Crickets
- Winning with a Website
- The Day Job Balancing Act
The question, “if an item gets a lot of views and hearts and doesn’t sell it will lose relevancy in Etsy search?” has been asked many times in many ways.
The answer? It depends.
There’s a lot of noise in the how does Etsy search work space. Maybe you’ve heard of click parties aka clickathons. In case you haven’t, they’re based on the false belief that random views and favorites on your listings will increase your search ranking. Clickathons are a waste of time for so many reasons they deserve their own post.
On the other hand we have the shops that are very worried about getting non-buyer clicks and favorites for fear that it will sink their search ranking.
This topic is entirely about how Etsy’s search handles listings.
Search and Non-Search Traffic
Etsy distinguishes between views that come from search and ones that don’t. They get really granular, but for our purposes they either come from search or they don’t.
Views that don’t come from search are just whatever. We all get random visitors to our sites so it’s expected that the quality of view will differ.
Search results however are prime real estate. We’ve all seen it and Etsy has stated they incorporate performance (sometimes called listing quality) in search ranking. They take the listings that do a great job of being relevant (Etsy SEO), and they give them a shot at great rankings. If the listings perform well, they stay up there. If they don’t, they give other listings a chance. Etsy wants to present shoppers with listings they’re likely to purchase. The best way to predict that is whether others searched for this and ended up purchasing.
When does it matter?
So back to the original question. Does it hurt listings to favorite them and not buy?
It doesn’t matter when the view comes from outside of Etsy’s search.
It does matter when the view comes from within Etsy’s search.
If many people find your listing in search, view it, favorite it, and NOT buy it. Eventually, yeah it will hurt the listing. It establishes a track record of shoppers passing up that listing despite finding it in a relevant search. Etsy wants to display listings with the greatest chance of selling. The key there is that the traffic is coming from search.
I certainly wouldn’t ask a group of people to search “xyz keyword”, find your listings, and favorite them just for fun. The result would be totally not fun.
I wouldn’t worry about casually liking something. I would continue to promote your shop everywhere that gets you in front of shoppers. Business cards, packaging inserts customers can give to friends, and online communities where your customers want to hear from you to name a few.
The best thing that can happen to your shop is to consistently get found in search and close the sale. You make money, Etsy makes money, shopper is happy, win win win.