Etsy Jam

Episode 53: Making the Grade

Have you ever wondered what it takes to earn an A on your listings in Marmalead? Are you curious why we’re scoring your descriptions’ sentiment? Does it baffle you that one of your A listings can turn into a C listing a month later without you making any changes to it? Well, in this episode, Richie and I take a deep dive into how grading works in Marmalead. Learn how to score A’s on all your listings and set yourself up for success.

What’s on the docket?

Understanding shop grades! It’s something that’s discussed a lot in our Facebook group. So, if you’re not currently a part of that group you should definitely join the community there. This is a topic that keeps coming up. New users, seasoned users, those just trying us out, they’re all asking the same question: what’s the deal with shop grades?? 

Here’s your overview

Basically, shop grades are pulling in your listings from Etsy and allowing Marmalead to grade them based on Etsy SEO best practices. To clarify, we are only talking about Etsy SEO. Not google, Bing or any other platform. Just Etsy. We only grade things listed in Etsy. But it’s not everything found in Etsy’s algorithm. We’re specifically grading on the things that you as a seller on Etsy can control with SEO. The things you yourself can change.

Losing Control

Wait, back up! There are things you can’t control on Etsy with your SEO?! Well, to put it simply: yes. So what are these things? They are as follows: The listing quality score and the shop quality score. Ok, deep breath. We know you might be asking, “Huh?! What in the world are those?!” Well, that’s a great question! Even though Etsy doesn’t release a ton of information on either one of these, there are definitely some valuable things to know about them.

Listing Quality Score vs. Shop Quality Score

Overall, the listing quality score has to do with whether your buyers are happy with your product. Are you getting good reviews? When your listing is showing up in search are people engaging with it? By engage we mean is your listing be clicked on and is it then being purchased? Things like a conversion rate factor into this. Now, we aren’t sure where the line between these two scores is different, unfortunately. Etsy mentions them regularly. However, since Etsy doesn’t really talk in depth about the different factors between these scores, all you really need to know is they’re there and they have to do with your buyers experiences with your listings and your shop. 

Taking back control

There are a couple important things to remember with both listing quality and shop quality. While you may not be able to directly control these scores you definitely can indirectly impact them in your favor. Some practical things you can do are to solicit for reviews, have buyers leave you good feedback, take care of any issues a buyer might have with your product and make sure you pick keywords that represent your listings correctly. This last one is important for when buyers are doing a search and expecting to see a certain product. You want your product to be in line for buyers to see and engage with! If you’re doing the right things to impact these scores you can definitely influence them in a positive way. 

Digging deeper with the Listing Quality Score

A great example with listing quality is this: Let’s say you have a listing up and ready to go, but the picture isn’t the best and most captivating picture. You’re still showing up in search but because your picture isn’t great buyers aren’t clicking on your listing. Well, Etsy is going to see this and think,”Hmmm, we presented your item in search a few times and buyers aren’t clicking on it. Not only are they not clicking on your listing, they ARE clicking on other listings around yours.” At this point Etsy will more than likely stop prioritizing your listing in search. The goal is to cycle through the most engaging listings and that’s exactly what they’ll do. Overall, Etsy is going to prioritize the listings they think will sell best. And the ones that sell the best are the listings that get the most engagement. This is all to show you just how important it is that you put your best foot forward with how your listings look and are worded.

So…just how bad are a B or C grade?

It’s the end of the world. You’re failing. Your parents are definitely gonna ground you! Or your report card is gonna need to be signed…Ok, ok, just kidding! So just how serious is it? Is it really the end of your Etsy world? Well, that really does depend on where you’re falling short. You’re not failing at this point, but you will want to improve whatever area is less than stellar. Now, an A grade is optimum. Everything is great and there’s no room for improvement. However, a B or C grade is communicating to you that you have room to grow!

A C+ listing example

Ok, so your listing has a C+. It starts out with tags used. There are thirteen of thirteen tags used. That part is great! Etsy gives you thirteen tags for a listing and you should use them. Now, here’s where this C+ listing is falling short: there are only two tags in the title and full credit would be seven. Is that awful? Well, if you’re really happy with how this listing is preforming with only two tags in the title, that’s great! You’re winning even without an A grade! The important thing is to be aware of the fact that if you’re “breaking the rules” you need to know which areas you’re bending to do this. And if you have success in this, then that’s all that matters.

SEO vs. Keywords

There’s a difference between having good SEO and having good keywords. They fit together and keywords are definitely part of an SEO strategy, but you can’t just say, “Hey, I have an A! That’s all encompassing and everything is fantastic!” It’s possible you could have an “A” for applying really bad keywords to your listing. It’s really two different tactics that come into one SEO strategy. SEO grading is based on how those keywords are applied to your listing. But, you have to use the other tools in Marmalead independently in keyword research to find out what really are the BEST keywords for you and your listings.

Why can’t you guys just grade it on a curve?!

Now, you might be thinking, “Well, you’re scoring keywords using the Marmameter and you’re scoring my listings using these grades…why can’t you just work the Marmameter’s scores into the keywords and then wrap it all into one and give me an overall score? Why is there this difference between keywords and my overall listing?” There are two big reasons for this, so read on!

Teach the grade

First of all, different shops and different listings are going to be able to target for different levels of competition. Something might be super high competition, but if I’ve got a lot of shop cred I might have a really good shot at being able to target that keyword. Yet, if I’m a shop that’s just starting out and I don’t have a lot of built up history, track record and sales, I’ll have a much harder time targeting highly competitive markets/keywords. We can’t necessarily tell you whether or not you’re going to have success targeting a keyword. However, we CAN show you the competition level. Over time, as you apply these keywords to your shop you’ll get a good sense of, ok, here’s a keyword with very high competition that I wasn’t able to successfully target. But, here’s on with moderate competition and I was able to be successful with it.  This all teaches you what level of competition you can target and be successful with.

Things you know that we don’t

The other big reason for why we can’t wrap all those previously mentioned things in together is because it’s really hard for us to know whether or not a keyword is an accurate description of your listing or not. It could be the best keyword in the world, it could have extremely high engagement and it could be something that has a competition level that you can target for. However, if your listing pops up in search and the buyer on Etsy looks at it and thinks, “This isn’t what I was looking for at all” well, no one will be clicking your listing and you’re not going to get the benefits of that keyword. Again, you’re going to know all of this WAY better than we can programmatically try and figure out. You’ll know best whether or not that keyword is a good description for your listing.

So why does my C listing out perform my A listing?

A lot of what we just talked about factors into this. There’s a lot that we can’t know. We’re not experts on what your actual listing is and whether or not particular keywords apply to it and all that. This also depends on what’s driving your lower grade. Maybe like we said before, you’re getting that lower grade because you only have one tag in your title. Yet, you’re killing it with that one keyword (or tag) and that’s awesome! Another reason might be that your A listing is targeting a keyword where you’re not a great fit. Buyers might even be engaging with it, but if it’s not a good fit then they might just be clicking out of curiosity and moving on. Again, the grades in Marmalead are about how well you’re applying keywords to your listing. This is assuming that the keywords you’re applying are the best keywords for that listing. That’s the BIG take away here: you have to make sure you’re choosing good keywords. Keywords that have good engagement and competition you can handle and that they’re appropriate for your listings. Also, don’t forget that photos play a huge role in all of this. Your lower grade listing could be out preforming your higher grade listing simply because the picture on your lower grade listing is really that much better. That’s kinda what it boils down to when you’re doing a search, if you think about it. Once you’ve mastered getting found in search, it suddenly becomes a photo contest!

Why does it say my tags aren’t in my title?

Usually this is due to some punctuation that’s going on in the title that aren’t in the tags. For example, if your title is silver-starfish-necklace and your tags are silver, starfish and necklace, they will count. BUT, if your tags are silver starfish and necklace, necklace will count because your title is breaking up that keyword with punctuation. Punctuation, it matters. However you write it in your title is how you should write it in your tags.

Why should I care about descriptions?

These are simply used for selling your item. It’s not a part of any SEO with Etsy. The description is still important, however, no matter if it’s a part of SEO or not. Descriptions can play a HUGE role for you as a seller in having happy customers. Descriptions can be the turning point between a “window” shopper and a serious buyer. Remember, all a buyer has when shopping online are the pictures and the words. Keep the descriptions simple as far as your writing goes. You’re not writing a novel. Take a look at words that might not be obvious to a lot of people. Review the more complicated words and longer sentences you may have. Be distinct, direct and clear. Keep things positive, leaving out words like, cancel, fail, broken, cracked, spontaneously catches on fire, damaged and words similar to this;) Not that you’d be using any of these for your product, but these would have a more negative sentiment. On the other end of the spectrum, using words like beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful, adorbs (ha), courageous and anything with a more positive sentiment is always recommended!

Just remember

We have tool tips throughout Marmalead as well. If you forget about something we’ve covered in the Jam or blog, you can always use those to remind you what you need to do in order to have a better grade! Also, make sure you check out this week’s Jam! As always, the guys are awesome and hilarious! Don’t miss out on the tidbits I couldn’t cover here.

Happy selling, everyone!


** We’ve made some changes to the content of the blog post since original publishing. It’s way more difficult to rewrite history in the audio/video so while MOST of the content in the audio/video is current, consider that things do change and the best source of the most current Marmalead/Etsy SEO guidance is inside the Marmalead toolset itself. **

Have you ever wondered what it takes to earn an A on your listings in Marmalead? Are you curious why we’re scoring your descriptions’ sentiment? Does it baffle you that one of your A listings can turn into a C listing a month later without you making any changes to it? Well, in this episode, Richie and I take a deep dive into how grading works in Marmalead. Learn how to score A’s on all your listings and set yourself up for success.


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