It may seem like a fantastic shortcut to copy the tags and titles from a competitor’s listings, but today we’re going to talk about why copying Etsy tags is a terrible idea. Stick around and save yourself some pain on this episode of the Jam.
Don’t be a copy cat
We’ve had this comment before from people. It’s come through in support questions. We’ve seen this all over the place on social media and especially in the Etsy forums. We recently got a comment about this on one of our YouTube videos. So first, let me share the comment. And then we’re going to address this. This person says:
I tried copying the exact title and tags and descriptions from top sellers that were new, with almost the same starting date as mine. They had almost the same products! But I haven’t even gotten 1% of the results that they’re seeing.
Copying Etsy tags is super tempting
Obviously, this is super tempting! It’s tempting to copy straight-up tags and descriptions, even though Etsy SEO doesn’t really use descriptions (Google does). But regardless, you don’t want to copy anything, really. We know it’s super tempting to do this because it looks like it’s going to be a huge time-saver for you. It looks like — well, these people are having success, right?
This isn’t true
If someone shows up at the top of a search, they clearly picked the right keywords to show up there. So let me just grab what they’re doing and assume that it will work for me. I will save a lot of my time and some money instead of paying for a product to help me figure out what keywords I should be using. Or instead of paying that listing fee to keep re-listing because I’m trying out a bunch of different keywords, and I don’t know what’s going to work.
Clearly, they’re working for other people, and it would be awesome if they worked for me.
This is an easy trap to fall into. Of course, everyone wants a formula, a blueprint, the step-by-step directions!
Why doesn’t copying Etsy tags work?
There are a whole bunch of reasons why this doesn’t work! The top three things that show up in Etsy search aren’t necessarily the top performing things for that keyword. There’s a chance that they are, but Etsy has been really leaning into personalized search. So, the whole goal of Etsy’s search is to show the customer things that Etsy thinks that person is going to buy.
Yes, they need to be relevant to what the person searched and they want to show them the best things that are there. But Etsy also wants to be showing them things that their algorithm thinks those people are going to buy, which means that different shoppers are going to be seeing different products.
Etsy is going to be changing the order of those products around. Their whole goal with search isn’t to just show you what the best performing listings are. It’s to land the sale. That’s what they’re trying to do, and so that’s what everything is working towards. If you’re looking at search as the assumption that Etsy is showing you the best things for that keyword, you’re already starting off on the wrong foot.
All about variety
Keep in mind, Etsy doesn’t want to just show the top sellers all the time. Whoever the top sellers actually are, are not necessarily what Etsy is going to show buyers immediately, because Etsy is all about variety. It’s about the boutique experience. It’s not the top seller store.
Also, keep in mind that just because a listing is going to perform well for one keyword doesn’t mean it’s going to perform well for the other 12 tags it’s using. So when you’re copying the whole listing and you think, “OK, boom, here you go” you don’t really know how this is working. You don’t know where it’s coming from.
Two different searches
If Richie searches for something, it’s going to be different than what Gordon is getting in results. And even if Richie searches right now, it’s going to be later in the day than when Gordon searched earlier. Etsy is constantly testing things. Obviously, if Richie searched it and didn’t buy something earlier and then he searches it later (because he didn’t buy anything) whatever Etsy did earlier didn’t work. So they’re probably going to try something different to see if he will buy now.
Keep this in mind before copying Etsy tags
So, this is always something to keep in mind. There are multiple keywords on each listing. It’s not like Etsy just lets you put one alone on there. If I did a search for “gnome house” and this listing goes up right at the front, now, I might assume that it’s showing up there because all its keywords are good.
A piece of the puzzle
But, let’s say it has 5000 sales and the shop’s only a year old. I’m like, “Wow, that’s impressive! This is clearly set up well! I’m going to grab ‘gnome house’ and all the other keywords it’s using!” It could be that it shows up first for “gnome house” but 95% of its sales are coming from a completely different keyword on the listing.
It could have built up credit for that keyword over time. You have no idea that you’re even going to be able to rank for that keyword. Here you are thinking that it’s set up well for “gnome house” because it shows up at the front. And you might think it’s getting a bunch of sales for “gnome house” when in fact all of its sales and traffic are coming from a completely different keyword that it’s using on this listing.
One piece isn’t the whole puzzle
The other twelve tags could be complete garbage, and you’re better off using something completely different, but you won’t know that because it’s not your shop and you’re trying to copy it from the outside. You’re basically trying to look blindly through a one-way mirror.
Consider the credit and avoid copying Etsy tags
We touched on this a little bit ago, but there is that keyword credit to consider as well. Listings as they exist on Etsy for certain keywords, Etsy starts to learn how well these listings are performing for those keywords. When I show them to people, are people clicking them?
And every time someone clicks on a listing from doing a search, that’s a little thumbs up! Etsy’s like, “Oh cool, I did a good job. That’s a good thing for this listing.” And when a listing gets a sale because a buyer did a search and clicked through for that keyword, that’s even better.
There’s this whole sense of keyword cred. If you copy another listing’s keywords, they might have a massive amount of credibility built up for these keywords, even if they’ve only been running for a couple months. Etsy is going to be throwing things at them and already building that credit up.
So you can’t necessarily assume that because you’re using those same keywords, you’re going to have that same sort of success right off of the bat. It could take a while, or it might not ever happen for you because you’ve never built up the credibility for those keywords.
We’ve talked about stair-stepping keywords before. Starting with something with lower competition that you can actually get found for and then moving your way up as you build that track record. Again, it’s all about what Etsy actually thinks is going to get your products sold.
The other thing to consider is non-SEO traffic. Again, you’ve got no idea what this shop you’re looking at copying is doing as far as this goes. As far as ads, social media, a mailing list, killer promos, and their packaging that goes out (which helps send people back to their Etsy shop to buy more stuff), coupons, all these things are non-SEO sources.
Of course, they work hand in hand, and you want to do all these things. But again, if you’re looking at a shop from the outside and just trying to copy their tags, copy their titles, and essentially, copy what they’re doing, you don’t see these other things. We’ve talked to other people (coaches specifically) that have run into this with other sellers.
The coach might have some insight that the seller who is copying doesn’t where they’re able to give insight into the behind-the-scenes. The coach might say, “So what this shop is actually doing that you’re not seeing is working on an awesome mailing list! They’ve been building it for a long time and that’s where a lot of those sales are coming from.” You have to remember it often will be the things you can’t see that is giving a particular shop the success you’re seeing on the outside.
Taking a step back before copying Etsy tags
Let’s take a step back here, and let’s assume that you steal someone else’s title and tags. You use it on your own listing, and it’s perfect. It’s performing for you exactly as it’s performing for them (we’ve already walked through why that’s likely not going to be the case, but let’s assume for this example that it is). You’re showing up in search results like they are.
But you’re still not seeing the results that they’re seeing. They’re blowing you out of the water. You’ve got 1% of their results. That’s because there are so many other things that come into play than just showing up in search.
A picture is worth 1,000 words
Photos are a huge component for whether or not you’re going to get clicked for a keyword. It’s fantastic to have good SEO and show up for something, but if your photos aren’t better than the ones around you, the chances of you getting clicked for that keyword aren’t particularly good.
You want to make sure that your photos are killer and that when people do a search and your listing shows up, you’re compelling them to click on your listing because your photos look amazing. They’re eye-catching! People want to learn more and see that product and drill into it.
Other factors you need to remember instead of copying Etsy tags
Obviously, there are other things too that you need to remember. You could be way out of line in your pricing for your products. Your descriptions come into play at a certain point as well. The number of reviews that you have and what those reviews say about your shop is also important.
There are so many other factors that come into play for whether or not you’re going to see success on Etsy from your keyword strategy than just the keywords themselves. These are intangible things that, even if you knew about them, you really can’t copy.
Something else to consider is that shopping is seasonal. If you were looking at a shop and you’re saying, “Wow, they’re so successful! I’m going to copy their stuff” and you are copying them right outside of a busy season, it very well could have something to do with that shop’s seasonality.
If they were selling a ton of mittens because the weather was cold, but now you’re looking at their shop in the spring, you’re clearly not going to be selling those same products now. It’s hindsight versus forecasting out for what’s going to happen, which is super important.
So, what do you do? We can’t just leave you with that! What do you actually do instead of copying someone else? Well, shameless plug: use Marmalead! If you really want to spy on those top listings and look at those 13 tags that a certain shop has on their listing, put those tags through Marmalead to get a better sense of how those actual tags are performing and how those keywords might do for your own shop.
Don’t try copying Etsy tags, use what works best
If you see that they’re using a tag that has zero searches and zero engagement, don’t bother putting that one on your listing. Likewise, if you see one that has amazing search and engagement, but it has crazy high competition, you might not want to put that one on your listing right off the bat either. You might want to wait until you build up some credibility for your listing with Etsy and then start to target and attack those more competitive keywords.
Put in the research
So yeah, you can spy on people and see what they’re doing, but don’t just blindly use their keywords. You want to do your own research on those keywords. Putting those into Marmalead and getting a good sense of how they’re performing, and which ones might be stronger than others is a fantastic way to handle this.
It’s not as clear as it seems
Also, consider it’s not just going to be perfectly straight forward. Just because this is the tag doesn’t mean that’s the keyword. You want to consider combinations of tags as keywords. Remember, keywords are not just a word, it’s a phrase. It’s what goes into search. It’s not necessarily individual words. So consider those tag combos. This is something we consider in our grading in Marmalead. The reason we do this is that it’s what Etsy is looking for.
Some alternatives instead of copying Etsy tags
Another reason that you’re in Marmalead and you’re doing this keyword research anyways is you’re going to be seeing some high-performing longtail keyword variations of those keywords. So, if you throw one of those keywords in there, and it’s not long-tail, and it has insanely high competition, we’re going to show you long-tail alternatives for that keyword. Simply because it’s not a long-tail keyword.
Look through those and see if any of those are going to work for you. Could you use any of the long tail variations of that keyword? Are they even more relevant to your listing? Will they bring you more people that are likely to be making a purchase, rather than people that are just browsing and searching?
We’re saying it again
Also, again, consider seasonality. We’re not sure we can say this enough! Seasonality is so important. Etsy is retail. Look at the physical shops around you. Everything is seasonal. Bathing suits are out in the summer. Winter hats and gloves are out in the winter. Seasonality is so important. So when you’re doing this research don’t just look at what’s happening right now or what happened last month or the month before. Look at what’s coming. That’s what you want to be prepared and ready for.
Test and measure your changes
Lastly, we’ve said this before, but it’s super important to test and measure the changes that you’re making in your shop. Yes, Marmalead can help you find keywords that look like they’re going to be fantastic for your shop and for your listings. Use those, test them, make sure that they work for you. Put them on your listing and then after two or four weeks, check back into your stats. See if you’re getting visits from those keywords. Measure your success with those keywords.
You have to try it out
There’s no way for Marmalead to tell you that a keyword is 100% going to work for you. The only way to know it is to try it and see if Etsy confirms, yeah, shoppers think this is a great keyword and were able to find you. You show up and everybody is happy!
So measure that stuff. And when you’re looking and you find keywords that aren’t bringing you any visits or views, replace them. Keep the ones that are generating traffic for you. Don’t touch those. Don’t change your title so that those are being removed, or remove those from your tags when you’re reworking a listing. Keep the stuff that’s working. Replace the ones that aren’t with better ones that are generating traffic. Kind of a rinse and repeat sort of process.
Final thoughts on copying Etsy tags
We wish you the best of luck in your keyword endeavors! Hopefully, this helps you. We know it’s really tempting to look at someone else’s keywords and just use those. That’s not going to work for you though. We’ve outlined why and hopefully gave you some input on how you can actually have success with finding keywords on Etsy.
Happy selling, everyone!
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