In this episode, Gordon and Richie take on more quality questions from our Facebook group, BUT these questions are a bit trickier and don’t really have clear answers. Soooo, in just a moment, you’ll get to hear the guys “fumble” their way through them, while providing as much guidance as they can. Quality questions with fuzzy answers…oh boy, here we go…
Warning: Basically, the upcoming questions are NOT black and white. They don’t have a tried and true method, or a 1+1=2 sort of equation. These are the toughies, the questions you’re not sure how to ask, because I mean, what if you get ten different answers back?! Personally, I think is all pretty brave for anyone to try and tackle…or ask for that matter! So, as your writer for this Jam, I’ll be trying to shine some sort of flashlight into this dark and fuzzy episode. Just remember, Gordon and Richie are giving their opinions on all of this, they’re taking questions that don’t have solid answers and trying to give you the BEST hypothetical answers possible. So, if you’re ready, let’s start navigating!
1. At what point do you stop tweaking your SEO for a listing and move on to the next? When do you know your SEO is good enough for that listing?
…As soon as you get bored with it;) (I mean, am I aloud to put wink faces in a blog post…because, I feel like with the way this is starting off, I’m gonna need them…) I mean, semi seriously here, you don’t want to burn yourself out with it. If you feel like you’re getting to a point where you’ve tried a lot of different stuff and you’re not seeing anymore improvement, it’s probably a good idea to move onto the next one. Take a break! Eenie meenie miney mo…or something like that;)
Seriously though, you honestly don’t want to keep using the same SEO and essentially, spinning your wheels and burning yourself out. If you keep things constantly moving, changing, and fresh, if you see changes here and there or maybe large changes, this is all positive and exactly what you want! Obviously, if all of this is happening, you’re not going to get bored and frustrated. If you see things aren’t improving, the best thing to do is move on. Go back to the drawing bored. If you do, you’ll more than likely come up with new ideas. Or take a breath and step away. Do whatever it takes, grab a shower, drink a cup of coffee, but just allow yourself a breather whatever you do.This is one of the best things you can do to get your creative juices flowing again and new ideas spinning! Also, the time to go back to previous SEOs used, would be seasonally, or if something is now trending that previously wasn’t. Pay attention and know it’s ok to use something old if it’s now caught on.
2. How is ranking affected when 99% of your orders are custom? (Meaning, you created the order in a conversation thread using the “create an order” feature inside Etsy)
…Well….that’s gonna be a fuzzy answer! Ok, so these are almost completely custom orders, which means they’re not being searched or clicked on. These really aren’t part of that listing quality score that Etsy talks about for search. 99% custom orders are A LOT. Which makes me wonder if there are a lot of other listings in this shop? If there are, they aren’t being bought, unless there are some sort of instructions within the shop that says, ‘Hey, wait, don’t buy this, because you don’t want this one, what you really want is to message me and create an order and buy that one.’ So, is any of their traffic actually coming from search? This kinda leads to extra questions, which is interesting, because this is the first time we’ve had anyone say that 99% come from custom orders…which to us, sounds like a lot of extra work. It’s VERY labor intensive and high touch to have a shop set up this way. Ideally, you want your literal buyers and perspective buyers also, to search for your product and simply purchase it.
While we DO say it’s important to talk to your customers and learn from them, if this is basically the only way you’re getting sales, it would appear that you’re burning TONS of extra energy doing this. If buyers are finding you in search, but messaging you and asking you to change just one or two things, have you noticed a pattern there? Have several buyers asked for the same one or two things to be changed? If so, you might want to go ahead and make those changes on your actual listing(s) and see how the sales work after these changes are made. This would cut out some of the fuel you burn talking to everyone individually. Sometimes, less is more, as opposed to infinite options given. If you can receive even better results by narrowing your listings down or simplifying them, this would be the way to go.
We know you originally asked about rank in this situation. This is SUPER fuzzy. Unless you’re looking at the code behind the Etsy algorithm for how they rank things, there’s really no clear way to know exactly how this plays into that and what the Etsy strategy is for handling situations like this. Now, if we want to take a fuzzy stab at this thing and take a wild guess at how it MIGHT be set up, this would be my answer: I think in search, when Etsy does their search results and they decide how to rank things, there are things that are definitely tied to the individual listings, such as the performance of that listing, how many favorites it has, how many sales it has, when the last time that listing was renewed, tag title match (which is obviously tied to a listing) and ALL of this will impact how a listing will rank. I think there are also things tied to the shop, like whether or not you have your shop policies filled out, the general performance of that shop, what its overall conversion rate looks like, and things like that. It’s all of this that Etsy will use to offset each other. Also, the number of orders you have, whether they’re sold through your shop or set up as custom orders, would be something that Etsy would measure as being part of the shop criteria. Something like that could be having an effect on the ranking of your other listings. You might get a boost in rank for your normal listings if you’re doing a ton of custom orders, because that shop factor is helping raise everything up.
Another thing to keep in mind, and what we like to say a lot, is that SEO works while you sleep! There’s a TON of truth in this. While you have SEO set up and promoted listings, or ads, or anything else that you’re doing, that ALL works while you sleep. However, if your sales REQUIRE that you have a conversation with someone, that’s a lot tougher to happen while you’re sleeping. Make sense?
All of this is definitely fuzzy, but plausible for sure!
3. In regards to sales of an item boosting your position, what about one of a kind items?
This is kind of like the previous question, except, maybe these are one of a kind listing items, instead of one of a kind custom order items. If you’re selling vintage items, that will more than likely be a one of a kind sale for you, because you might only ever find that item once to sell. Again, you’re going to be competing with other one of a kind listings in a lot of scenarios. And this type of market and competition, isn’t heavily weighted formula wise, as other more main stream markets are. It really is VERY relative to what your competition is doing. If someone is searching for something that’s one of a kind, everyone in this unique, one of a kind market, are all kind of on the same level playing field at that point. It’s kinda like the story that Richie tells, where a guy puts on running shoes to outrun a lion that shows up (dude, you need to move to the city, bro) and another guy tells him that no matter what kind of running shoes he puts on, he absolutely won’t outrun that lion…to which Mr. Running Shoes says, ‘Yeah, you’re right, I can’t outrun the lion, I just have to outrun you!’ At which point I’m sure he sprints off. Basically, this question is an example of this story. You don’t need to completely crush everything and make sure you’re one of a kind listings are recreations of other ones, or copies, or whatever people try to do to give these things a bump, you just need to make sure you’re outrunning the other people that show up for the same search results as you.
Whew, ok everyone, we’ve come to the last question…how’s my flashlight shining going?? I’m definitely gonna be looking for some validation in the comments section of this blog;) Ok, here we go…
4. Which counts more, a listings individual conversion rate or a shops overall conversion rate? (Shameless plug time: if you haven’t already, read my previous write up that I did on Jam 45! The guys talk more about conversion rates there as well!)
We first want to remind people what conversion rate is: it’s the number of sales divided by the number of views. Basically, you’re trying to figure out how many views it takes to get a sale.
So, which is Etsy using, the individual views on a listing, or the shops overall viewings for all listings? Are they more concerned with how the individual listing is doing and what the conversion rate is for each of those listings when they decide to rank them? OR are they more concerned with the shop’s overall performance? Well, surprise, surprise, it’s hard to say because it’s, you guessed it, fuzzy! It’s really tough to know how much that difference matters. Did they factor in that someone might have a ton of really horrible listings and then one really fantastic listing? Um…well….I don’t know. Maybe they did, or maybe they didn’t. Or maybe Etsy figured out it’s all gonna come out in the wash anyway. Obviously, there are things that have VERY strong factors in Etsy search. We definitely know that conversion rate HELPS and listing quality HELPS and shop experience HELPS, but does it help as much as having your target keyword in the very front of your title? Does it matter as much as having that target keyword also in your tags? It doesn’t seem like it helps AS much. Since there’s a lot to it, we’re not sure that you can really distinguish between whether it matters more to have a really high converting listing, or not to worry so much about this and just try and lift them all up to have a higher conversion rate. We’re just not sure that you can hold everything else stable in one spot to say, ok, THIS is really where it is, and THIS is the tie breaker. You’re competing with SO many other shops and listings for those spots anyway, everyone else isn’t going to have everything else the same and then this one particular thing (whatever that might be) is the tie breaker.
One of the other things that could come into this too is how long a shop is considered new, (hey look, another plug! Want to hear more about how much the newness of your shop matters? Go listen to/read the blog write up for Jam 45) because the longer your shop has been on Etsy, the more data Etsy has about it. This could come into play with conversion rate as well. If we think about it in terms of how Etsy is deciding to rank things that come back because they have strong tag/title match (which we think is the number one thing they’re looking at), we can see how Etsy would want to use the most data that they can. As Richie has said before, for something to have statistical relevance, you need to have thirty data points or more. So, for newer shops where a listing itself might not have a whole lot of data points behind it, they might put more weight on your shop’s conversion rate, your shops performance and how many views and sales your shop has overall. This will then impact what kind of bump or negative impact that is applying to your listings that are coming back in the search results. Now, once an individual listing has been around for a while and has a whole bunch of views and sales and its own statistics, we can see Etsy putting more weight on that individual listing instead of the overall shop. At the end of the day, you really want to be pulling the highest performing listings up to the top, especially the ones that have the best chance of making a sale, so that the buyer will find what they’re looking for and are happy with.
Ok dear readers, if you haven’t listened to the guy’s jam yet, now would be a fantastic time to do so, and make sure you make it to the end because, they basically challenged me to write this thing up clearly after their fuzzy answers;) Which is why I have now resorted to winky faces and letting you know that there’s another person over here, desperately trying to shine a flashlight on all this dark and fuzzy content…ha! Seriously though, I personally think they did a fantastic job, and I will be applying this stuff to my own shop in the future! And, unlike the guys at the end of the jam (where they talk about after parties, planets, jokes, and Gordon’s extremely intelligent mother), I’m officially signing off for now, while hoping I didn’t make things even more confusing…Until next week, here’s to hoping your sales skyrocket from what you learned here! Happy selling!