Etsy Jam

Episode 56: Keyword Decision Tree

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So, you’re working on your SEO and you found a keyword. Is it a good keyword? Will it work for you? Will it end up with sales? In this episode, Gordon and Richie walk you through Marmalead’s Keyword Decision Tree and show you 6 steps you can follow to decide if a keyword will work for you.

Knock, knock! Who’s there?

Surprise! Keywords are back! Because, we never talk about keywords (ha!) and they’re kinda a big part of SEO. It’s not always simple when you look at a keyword to know if it’s a good keyword. A lot of times the guys will get questions about keywords. Can they explain them? Absolutely. But, sometimes those questions are starting out in the middle of the “finding a good keyword process” which takes the guys explaining the entire process from the beginning. Also, it can be hard for Marmalead to tell you if a specific keyword is the best for you. As the seller, you need to have more info about the keyword you’re wanting to use. It’s definitely not a black and white answer for everyone across the board. The same keyword isn’t going to work like magic for every seller, even if they’re selling the same thing.  Can we help you figure keywords out? Yes! But this is a team effort between you and us.

Follow the yellow brick road

We know there are several steps in figuring out if a keyword is good for you or not. What we’ve done to try and simplify the process is put all the steps together. Introducing our Keyword Decision Tree! This will help you see exactly how we recommend if a keyword is actually a good fit for you. If you’d like to view this and follow along as we’re talking through it, you can find it here. Let’s get started!

Is engagement at least moderate?

If you’re not familiar with what engagement is and what we mean by it, inside of Marmalead we have Marmameters. They score the engagement, competition and category page of a listing. Engagement is basically measuring how many people are engaging with listings that use a specific keyword in them. Are buyers clicking on the listing, favoriting it, viewing the shop and purchasing an item? All of these steps would be engagement. We have a five step score for this, scoring from low to high. You want to stick with moderate and above for your score.

Broaden your horizons

If you look at a keyword and do a search in Marmalead that comes back “low” at this point (unless you’re an expert and know what you’re doing) you’re going to want to abandon that keyword or tweak it. If you can find another keyword that’s similar to the one scoring low and this one has a higher score, then perfect! Go with that! This happens a lot with super specific keywords that are very niche. You might need to broaden and remove some of the more specific words if it’s a phrase.

For example: Let’s say the keyword we’re looking at is Mason Jar Sconce. Now, engagement for this particular keyword is very high in real life. But for the sake of our example, let’s pretend that it has very low engagement. Someone searches this keyword, which is very specific, and the results come back with six items. Even if your item happens to be within the six results, the buyer searching will more than likely rethink his/her search, because buyers like more options than just six. So, to broaden this keyword, you could change it to Jar Sconce. This still describes your item but also puts you in with more listings.

Another great (and funny) example is the difference between how people in the states search for “flip flops” and how a larger part of the world does. In many countries, the word for flip flops is thong. So, if a buyer searches for “thongs” on Etsy, the search comes back very different;) And the engagement goes down because what they were expecting to see is definitely not something worn on your foot;) Which brings us to the question…if across the pond you call flip flops “thongs”…what do you call undergarments with less material?? Ok, moving on…

Hate to burst your bubble

So, let’s say you search a keyword in Marmalead that you want to use, and the engagement score comes back very high! Are you good to go? Can you just slap it on your listing and forget about it? Well, no. This just takes us to the next step on the decision tree: Is the level of competition in a range where I can be on the first couple search pages? This might be confusing because this keyword has scored with high engagement. But, you can’t just look at engagement alone. You also have to consider the competition of the word.

Test it out. There’s no magic formula.

The best way to explain this is again in the Marmameter. The Marmameter also has different levels of competition. And depending on your shop, listing quality score, how recently you’ve renewed your listing, this all factors in on where the listing will go within Etsy. These are things that you as a seller have to feel out. We don’t know what level of competition your particular listing can rank for. You will have to test out different formulas to see how well a keyword or words works on your particular listing. Where is it placing you? Are you moving up in ranking?

This is kinda the point that you have to prove yourself to Etsy. If you try different formulas and are steadily receiving more positive engagement, sales, reviews, better conversion rate, your ranking will definitely go up putting you ahead of your competition. This takes time and persistence though. It’s not a magic overnight formula.

Let us help

Yeah, we know it’s not a black and white formula. However, we’re doing our best to help you figure out the process. Check out the mini work shop on our website called “Is It Working” here (scroll to close to the bottom of the page). Level one will help you figure out how often to renew to keep your listing on the first page of search results. No, we can’t breakdown every single thing about keywords and SEO, however, we can give you tools to help you in your journey to discovering what will and won’t work for you.

Another thing we do for our entrepreneurs is to send out an email once a week. This email shares what the highest engagement keywords were for the previous week across all our searches on Marmalead. We break this down by level of competition, which is important to do because not everyone can rank for the higher level competition keywords. If you can figure out what the highest level of competition you can rank for is, when you receive the email you’ll be able to look at it and know hey, these keywords will work but these definitely won’t.

An example of some of the very low competition high engagement keywords in our last email were: hand writing bracelet, mason jar sconce, and weekly student planner. These are really specific and niche words. The competition for them will be really low, but a good plan might be to also sprinkle in some more high competition keywords as well. Yes, you may have to renew more often to make sure you’re staying on top, but we wouldn’t discourage you from using higher competition keywords if you can rank for them. Some of these higher competition keywords would include: crochet pattern, choker and home decor.

Don’t abandon it

So let’s say you do you’re search inside of Marmalead and your keyword engagement looks great, but your competition is very high and you can’t rank for it. You’re no where in the top one hundred search results. Does it mean you shouldn’t use that keyword? Yeah, probably not that exact one. But, you don’t have to completely abandon it. You can try and make that keyword more specific. Being more specific definitely lowers the competition. So take that specific keyword and tweak it so make it slightly more specific.


Ok, so NOW you’ve got a keyword that has great engagement, you’re level of competition is good and you’re ranking for it! You’re done, right? Well no, not quite yet. The next step is evaluating if the Category Page is “Low Risk.” Right now on Etsy, it’s super low risk because Etsy recently turned this off in their search. They must be listeners to the Jams/readers of our blog;) Because we’re not big fans of the category page. Thankfully it’s now off, so moving on!

Matchin’ those numbers

Alright, you don’t have to worry about the Category Page. Is your keyword good now?! Nope, because being thorough is important. So we’re going to take a deeper look. Up until now, the Marmameters have told us what we want to know. Now, we want to look at the matching listings table in Marmalead search results. Do most of those listings have strong views and engagement? If they are, the chances of you having the same thing when you rank there is very high! Do they ALL have to have high engagement and views? No, because maybe some of them simply don’t have good pictures and it’s easy to see why no one would click on them. Just make sure that you have views per week that match these listings, if you were among them. Usually we say about 15-20 views per listing, but remember, the higher the competition keyword the more views you’ll get. This doesn’t mean they’re engaging views, but these more broad keywords do tend to bring in more views in general than a super niche keyword.

Point and click 

Why do photos matter when we’re talking about keywords? Keywords set expectations for what will show up after you hit enter on a search. If the pictures pop up and a buyer doesn’t see what they want, they’re going to do another search. Buyers won’t waste time just aimlessly clicking around. So, the photos of competing listings need to be a good fit for your product. If there are forty other listings on a page and yours stands out for the wrong reasons it doesn’t matter that you’re ranking on the first page, no one will click that listing. Buyers click the few listings that look interesting to them and match their search, then they move on.

Also, if every other listing on a search page has high quality photos and yours is blurry or grainy, this will NOT work in your favor. If this is the case, get your photos up to speed! Bottom line: make sure your photos fit with those around you and that they’re good quality. It seriously matters and makes a huge difference.

Rollin’ in the dough 

There’s another very important piece to this keyword puzzle before we’re all done: pricing. Is the price of your listing appropriate with the other search results around you. We don’t mean is it cheaper. We don’t even mean, is it the same. The example we give is this: if I want to be a high quality competitor, am I priced properly? Buyers will often use price as a surrogate for quality. We are all conditioned to a certain extent to think of a higher priced product as a higher quality product. Obviously, the product needs to reflect this and hold up under those expectations. But, if you’re way under pricing your listing, the first thought could be, “what’s wrong with it?” The rule here is, if you truly have a high quality product, price it as a high quality product. If you have an average or middle of the road product, price it moderately, etc.

Green means go!

SO, you’ve done all the above steps, everything is looking fantastic…do you actually have a good keyword?! YES! Finally! Now you have something worth trying:) Is this a full proof formula? No. If you try out all these steps, are you giving yourself a better chance of a sell? Absolutely! So often sellers will approach keywords and SEO as something they really don’t want to do. Why can’t ya just throw something on there and let Etsy sort it all out?? Well, you can do that, it’s just that if you only do it half way you won’t get the results you’re hoping for. If you’re willing to try this process though and test out the formula, tweaking it as you need to, you will reap the benefits. You are truly the best one to fully understand what will work best for you. You are the one intimately familiar with your product, waaay more than we are:)

In summary

Ok, so a quick review to determine whether a keyword is good, because we wanna make it easy:

1.) Is the level of competition in a range where you can be on the first couple pages?

2.) Is the Category Page “Low Risk”? (Don’t really have to worry about this one for now.)

3.) Look at the Matching Listings table. Do the number of view per week for most of the listings look strong?

4.) Do the photos of competing listings look like a good fit for your product? Will it look favorable?

5.) Is the price of your listing appropriate compared with other results?

Give us some feedback on the Decision Tree and how this is all working out for you. We LOVE hearing how it’s all going and what we can do to improve our material. If you’d like to do that, email us at As always, go listen to this week’s Jam! The guys have some great details not captured here. Also, their closing thoughts are fantastic! Thanks for reading, everyone and happy selling.

So, you’re working on your SEO and you found a keyword. Is it a good keyword? Will it work for you? Will it end up with sales? In this episode, Gordon and Richie walk you through Marmalead’s Keyword Decision Tree and show you 6 steps you can follow to decide if a keyword will work for you.

Etsy Jam Scoops

2 replies on “Episode 56: Keyword Decision Tree”

Glad it helped ya out, Carol! I think the changes in Etsy’s categories happened shortly after the new shop stats update. Still, it’s nice to know Etsy is really doing its part in improving their marketplace for both shoppers and sellers alike!

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