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: The order of Tags matters.

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: The order in which I put keywords in my Title matters.

Yes, but not for Etsy SEO. Shoppers like to see the keyword they searched in a title as confirmation they’re in the right place and Google for SEO cares about this. Etsy SEO however no longer cares about this. 

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: My descriptions are part of Etsy SEO.

Nope. Etsy doesn’t look at descriptions. 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 increase my relevancy. You don’t have to worry about that as a seller.

Myth 4: Repeating keywords will hurt me.

“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 listing?”
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 doesn’t care if my shop policies are filled out. True or False?

False. 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?

Update! This is true now!

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.

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: Only listings that have a momentum of sales perform better.

“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 and renew frequently. That’s how you’ll seize your chance to start gaining momentum.

Myth 10: Renewing my listings doesn’t matter. 

“Just going in and renewing that listing whether I make changes to it or not; does it matter?”

Sales matters more than recency. Focus more on getting your listings sold (and renewed if you have another to sell) and you’ll get more mileage than if you just renew frequently. Basically everyone likes a fresh listing and now the best way to signal your fresh listings is to

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!

Connect with us on Twitter!

25 thoughts on “Busting Popular Etsy SEO Myths”

    1. That’s an interesting question Belinda. Unfortunately Etsy renames your photos when you upload them. They replace your file name with string of numbers and you lose the SEO advantage. Etsy does copy your listing title though and sets it as your alt tag.

    1. Nothing. They’re the same. 🙂
      Keywords are your focus words in a listing. Words in your tags are keywords and words in your titles are also called keywords.

    1. Hi Linda,
      Great question! From an SEO standpoint, material tags don’t affect your ranking in search. In our experience, Etsy don’t look in these tags (at least not yet) so it won’t matter if you fill them all up or not. Where this matters is when your shoppers click on your listing. We want to know as much information as we can about an item we’re eyeing at, being Etsy an online commerce, these details only become more important. Shoppers are curious to know what materials were used since there’s no way for them to touch your listings. Some shoppers will be concerned if your bath items have an ingredient which they’re allergic to for example. So make sure you include these details as well.

  1. Just like any other profession, the SEO arena also has some traditional tactics that are used, quite extensively, by all the consultants and marketing agencies. For example, the production of quality content is the first and most unanimous priority of every SEO guru present in the field. They all make sure to include the most relevant and engaging content, which doesn’t only grab the reader’s attention but also motivates them to refer it to their friends and family. The content doesn’t have to be long and fancy, but just user-friendly and easy to read with precise information that fulfills all the reader’s needs.

  2. Very nice article, thank you!

    I have a question: If I write ‘hair bow scrunchie’ in my title, would my item be listed in both search results – for ‘hair bow’ AND ‘bow scrunchie’?

    Thank you!

    1. Yes Lyla, that’s very likely IF ‘hair bow’, and ‘bow scrunchie’ don’t have too much competition in them. But if you’re asking you’ll show up in that market, then yes. Eventually you’ll find your listings there, it might be tens of pages deep though depending on how many listings are competing for that market.

  3. I’m surprised that you say descriptions don’t count for ranking. Etsy have an SEO article about the importance of the first 160 characters of the description. Is this just for the benefit of search engines outside Etsy?

      1. What about commas in titles? If, in my title I include “opaque white seed beads”, can I create 3 tags out of them: “opaque white”, “white seed beads”, and “seed beads”?
        Thanks, Susan R.

        1. Yes Susan, that would work! That’s a good way to break down your title so they can fit as tags. It’s important because you have a stronger impact on search placement if you have the same keywords present in your tags and title.

          As quoted on the same article I shared above:

          If a word or phrase in a buyer’s search appears in both the title and tags of a listing, the search algorithm considers that listing more relevant than a listing with that word or phrase in the tags or title alone.

          Cheers,
          Kevin

  4. Hi Kevin,
    i read somewhere that the right way of writing the titles is,
    keyword,space,comma,space,keyword.
    If not put that way with the spaces between,
    the algorithm takes the whole title as one phrase.
    On the webinar of the 23rd of August Michelle says that the right way is with commas and no spaces in between which saves some letters for putting some more keywords on the title.
    Which one is true?

  5. This is just a lovely article!
    Question: I noticed some of the relevant tags I used 2 months ago are no longer relevant. Do all my tags have to be relavant at all time? What defines if a teg stays relevant or no? Is it automated?

  6. Hi Kevin,

    Could you please include some mythsin this articleabout the recent changes and attributes added to the descriptions?

    Thanks a lot in advance! 🙂

  7. Dear Kevin,
    I run a shop with the old shop policy filled in. Should I upgrade to the new one for better ranking and results?
    Thanks!

  8. Great article. I have a new shop May of 2016 is when I started. I didn’t start doing well until I added well over 500 items. In May-July this year my sales quadrupled. I had momentum and was ranked in top 1,000 stores on Etsy. Then suddenly, for no reason at all it seems, my store tanked. I still get daily sales but the high volume has vanished. Almost as if an on/off button just switched off the lights. To add context- I also noticed that 2 major competitors put their shops on vacation. Do you think this was why? Or could I have been throttled?

  9. Another title question! I have been told 2 or 3 different things regarding larger spaces, commas or dashes or none at all between key word phrases. I don’t use anything between key word phrases in my titles. I understand it is better for the customer to break the title down and space it out but is it better for Etsy ranking or more importantly, Google ranking if you put punctuation between your key phrases? You know, since people don’t read anymore.

    1. Any other punctuation between your keywords should be fine. Not putting anything at all is fine too. Google and Etsy don’t really care how you break your titles but what’s important is that there has to be a space between your keywords. If you don’t put a space in between them, it will be read as one continuous string and that’s gonna be a problem.

Leave a Reply