There’s a new search algorithm in town. Is your shop still set up to win? Etsy has been making changes to how they present search results and it could have an impact on your stats, listings, and sales. Stick around to find out what you need to be doing in your shop to take advantage of this Etsy search change.
We’re back again with Kara Buntin, and this time we’re discussing a recent change that Etsy seems to have made in their search algorithm. Honestly, we say recent – but this has been going on since the end of last year, maybe even longer! We’ve been starting to see some things with search that are different than how they were behaving before. So, we’re going to take you through what this change looks like, why we think Etsy made this change, and what you as a seller should do. So first of all, what change do we notice to search at the end of last year?
The latest Etsy search change is very interesting…
Related listings are now showing up in search, even if the search term is not an exact match to the listing. In general, when you search on Etsy, the results should match the words typed into the search bar. These results will typically show a matching title, tag, attribute – or wherever it is that Etsy is pulling that keyword you searched. And if those search words are not included anywhere in your listing, then your listing simply won’t show up. However, for searches that have low results, Etsy now seems to be filling in similar listings that don’t necessarily include the exact same search terms.
Here’s an example: If someone searches for “mountain lion”, then they might like to see a listing for a cougar poster, even though they didn’t mention “cougar” in their search. So, even if the cougar listing doesn’t have the words “mountain lion” anywhere in it, Etsy may still show cougar-related items in your search results. In a way, this seems to be somewhat similar to how you would use Google search. This means that you may not need to have a specific search term in your title and tags, and Etsy may show your listings for certain searches anyways!
This isn’t happening all across the board, but it is happening enough that we’re comfortable talking about it. So, put those tinfoil hats away!
Better at Search & Discovery
While Etsy hasn’t made an announcement about this, in their quarterly results speeches and investor presentations, they mentioned that one of their goals is to be better at search and discovery.
Etsy Search Change From a Shopper’s Perspective
Let’s think of this from a shopper’s perspective, using the mountain lion example. If somebody is on Etsy looking for mountain lion items, they could very well be interested in cougar items and just couldn’t think of the word. You know what we mean — “What’s the name again? It’s this cat… They have them in like, California with mountains and stuff – ah, what is it??” They end up typing in the word “mountain lion” when the word they were really thinking was “cougar.” And why shouldn’t the shopper see potential matches just because they couldn’t think of the right word to type in search?
“I shouldn’t have to know the exact word to find what I’m looking for” is sort of the mentality that people have nowadays because of Google (and now even Amazon). In a way, this means you may not necessarily have to have your keywords EXACTLY perfect for shoppers to find your store.
Now, let’s speculate
So, here are Kara’s thoughts on how it came to be that Etsy made this search change (this is just her speculation). Back when they started the off-site ad system, she called Etsy up and asked, “How are you deciding what to show [in off-site ads]?” They responded that they have agreements with the off-site ad platforms (ones like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Pinterest, etc.) to use their data. So, if Etsy is getting data from these different platforms, why not use it? Part of this data from Google could show search results from keywords that are related but don’t exactly match. If Etsy can see this in the data shared from Google, why wouldn’t Etsy use this in their own search engine?
In a nutshell, Kara’s theory is that Etsy now has access to a bigger pool of information because they pay for off-site ads. And with this information from other platforms, they can use it to improve their own search.
…So yeah, this is her tinfoil hat theory 😎
How does the Etsy search change affect your store?
So, there’s going to be obvious concern for Etsy sellers who have done their keyword research. Now, all of a sudden with some of the keywords you’re targeting, you might not be the only shop showing up. There could be other listings that are getting pulled in that aren’t even targeting the same keyword and there’s even a chance that these listings could be shown above yours. This is because it’s not like Etsy is just filling in the bottom of search results, they’re kind of mixing them in throughout the full results.
What do you need to do about the Etsy search change?
As a seller, what do you need to do about this? Should you freak out and put YOUR tinfoil hat on? Should you join Kara’s Facebook group and comment about all of your conspiracy theories? Well no, because here’s the thing… You don’t have to do anything as long as you’ve been doing your SEO right the whole time.
Regardless of this change, you shouldn’t be focusing too much on being found for one keyword or one string of words in that exact order. If your keywords match what someone types into the search bar, it’s going to give you a little “points” advantage. And if not, you may show up as a similar search result anyways.
So yes, you still need to research your keywords and choose the best ones to gain an edge over your competition. These keywords may be the one thing that put’s you at the top of the fold, as opposed to at the bottom of the first page of search results. If you’ve built out your listing with relevant information in the categories and the attributes and if you’ve been filling out your titles with relevant, realistic terms, you really don’t have to do anything.
However, there are ways to take advantage of this recent Etsy search change to benefit your shop:
1. Here’s the first thing you should do
The best way to take advantage of this recent Etsy search change is to watch your stats to see how your listings are found.
Protip: Look in your Etsy stats for keywords that don’t appear in your listing!
And the stats don’t lie. So, throw in any search terms that aren’t already in your listing and you could rank higher in search! If Etsy already shows your listings in these search results, then they had the assumption that your listing was related. Give them that positive confirmation to say “yes, my listing is related!” by targeting these search terms. This may be the one thing that puts you at the top of the search results page instead of at the bottom.
2. And here’s the second thing you should do
Go into Marmalead, and use the Storm Tool to find synonyms to your listings. This is the same concept as above. Use these synonyms in your listing to appear in more search results without solely relying on the relevancy of similar search terms. By giving as much information to Etsy as you can (that’s relevant and accurate) you broaden your web of relevancy to appear in more search results.
One thing to remember: Please do not take the attitude that you don’t have to worry about your research because Etsy is just going to show your listings anyways. With this Etsy search change, Etsy is looking for related listings to show. And the only way for Etsy to know if your listing is related is to tell Etsy as much information as you can about your listing.
Why isn’t anyone panicking about the change?
Etsy hasn’t officially said anything about this. If they officially come out and say “there’s a change to search!” then you may see some panic, but you shouldn’t be one who does. Etsy tweaks the algorithm all the time. If you’re doing your SEO the right way to begin with, there is nothing to panic about!
Etsy is growing their search engine and making little changes here and there, but the foundations have always kind of stayed the same. So follow the same basic idea of how Etsy SEO is structured and don’t worry about the rest. Work the system the right way and no matter what Etsy does, you will be successful!
What are some search terms in your stats that you didn’t think would bring traffic to your listings? Are you using those search terms in your shop now? Let us know in the comments below!