Etsy Jam

Etsy SEO with Real Shopper Keywords

Today we are going to do a deep dive into the biggest changes to Marmalead – REAL Etsy shopper searches. We’ll talk about what it is, why we’re using it, what it means for you as an Etsy seller and even cover a couple of tips about the best way to use it for your Etsy SEO. Stick around for this episode of Etsy Jam!

Today we are going to do a deep dive into the biggest changes to Marmalead - REAL Etsy shopper data. We’ll talk about what it is, why we’re using it, what it means for you as an Etsy seller and even cover a couple tips about the best way to use it for your Etsy SEO. Stick around for this episode of Etsy Jam!

Part 2

If you haven’t checked out Part 1 of this Jam yet, you can do that HERE. This week is the deep dive we promised into the biggest change we made to Marmalead: real shopper searches! We’re going to address several things in this blog: we’ll talk about what we changed, what we were doing with Marmalead before we had real shopper searches, why we switched to this method instead of staying with the old method of doing things, why it’s better than the old way, how you can trust the information we’re showing you, and some tips on using the new information.

What is it?? 

When we say “real shopper searches” what does that mean? It means that when you do a search inside of Marmalead and look at the Marmameters, the first Marmameter that comes back is Etsy Shopper Searches per month for that keyword. The second Marmameter is Etsy Shopper Engagement or visits per month for that keyword. These are the two main changes we’ve made with this new set of releases. When we say “real shopper searches” we’re referring to the main change we made within Marmalead.

Richie’s analogy 

Richie came up with a great analogy to help you think about these changes: The old way of looking at the data was a lot like being on a hike. You’re trying to get to a campsite and you’re relying on your basic navigational skills to get you to that campsite. You know it’s northeast, you think it’s up the hill. To navigate, you’re relying on which side of the tree moss is growing on and that real Bear Grills outdoorsman kind of stuff!

But then, you get a compass!! This compass is going to help you a ton! However, even the compass has some issues like magnetic variation. And depending on where you are it’s not pointing to true north like your map is. Are you still going to get to the campsite even though you don’t have the best navigational tools ever? Sure! But you aren’t going to get there very quickly or efficiently. Also, depending on how good your map is, there’s a high possibility you’ll come upon a river or lake that you’ll have to navigate across or around.

Enter in GPS. Someone decides to launch some satellites into space and all of a sudden you have a device in your hand that’ll tell you exactly how to get to your campsite! Not only that, but that map on your GPS is SUPER up to date and will tell you what other kinds of obstacles will be up ahead that you’ll need to navigate around.  Not only will it tell you what’s ahead, it will navigate around them for you!

GPS is the equivalent of what we just introduced into Marmalead for you.

What were we doing before? 

Before we had the GPS built out, we were working off of a compass and map we’d built. It worked really well for a long time! You could definitely find where you were trying to get to. When we first built Marmalead, Etsy was a very different place than it is today. When you would do a keyword search in Marmalead, we would pull back all the listings that came from Etsy for that keyword. We would then look across all of those listings, look at all of the views those listings were getting, and tell you which listings had a lot of views and which listings had not so many views.

Consistency, consistency, consistency

Now, this worked because Etsy was delivering a very consistent set of results to us. So, you could do a search for a keyword and someone somewhere else in the world could do the same search for the same keyword and you would both get the same set of results. It was very consistent and easy to predict. One of the problems with this, however, is that a listing doesn’t have just one keyword on it. A listing has twelve other tags other than the one that matched the keyword search you were doing. A portion of those listing’s views were coming from those other keywords. The fact that they all came back for that one high-level keyword we were searching, tends to show that those listings performed well for that keyword. Chances are they were getting a decent chunk of their views from that keyword.

What you think is legit may not be so

There were always outliers and there could be counterexamples to that. It could be that a listing was totally killing because of the 12 other tags they were targeting. And then yesterday they went in and changed out one of their tags. That one tag they changed happened to be the keyword that you did a search for. So it comes back as part of the listings from Etsy for the keyword that you’re searching, but almost all of that listing’s views are from the other 12 tags that are on it.

We knew there was really no way around this and we were working with the best information that we had. It all came out in the wash because these were outliers. Overall, the results were still pretty consistent and the compass and map still worked really well! There were a lot of sellers that had great success with this method. 

The only consistent thing is change

Over time Etsy SEO has been changing. In order to remain relevant, we’re changing as well. Etsy acquired Black Bird Technologies to use their AI expertise in order to deliver better shopper results. This meant that the results people were seeing started to not be consistent with one another. And remember, consistency was key to why the old method inside of Marmalead worked so well. 

So now Etsy has changed things and that means Gordon can do a search for a keyword. Richie can do a search for a keyword. Someone else in Turkey does a search for a keyword and none of them are seeing the same results. This is SO important. The data that we were working with and the information that we were generating from that would naturally start to be different. We were going to draw different conclusions from a different set of results.

So, if Etsy is showing different results between Marmalead, and their mobile app, it’s not as good of a predictor as it was when we first built out Marmalead and everything was nice and consistent and simple. Because of this, Marmalead had to adapt! We had to come up with a better solution. We needed the information we were providing to our customers to adapt to the changes that Etsy was making to insure we weren’t showing inaccurate information.

The infamous laundry basket

A quick example of this: context sensitive search results. Etsy had an example where they showed a laundry basket. They showed that when you went into Etsy BEFORE they made this change and you searched for laundry basket, it would show you a bunch of laundry basket stickers designed for daily planners. But, they didn’t like this because they found that when shoppers were doing this search, most of the time they weren’t looking for stickers.

The shoppers were engaging with actual pictures of laundry baskets and laundry basket products. This is one example of how Etsy is starting to vary search results. To complicate things further, Etsy doesn’t do this for every keyword out there. Which makes it tough for anyone who’s trying to analyze the results set that Etsy is delivering and come up with meaningful information based on that.

If you do a search inside of Marmalead for laundry basket and see all these stickers, that will skew the data that you’re working from. It’s going to skew the price ranges and the engagement numbers.Why? Because if you’re selling a laundry basket and not a sticker, all of those stickers really aren’t relevant to what you want to be comparing against. This is why we really had to reach out and start seeking a better solution to the changes that we were seeing from Etsy and that we’ll likely continue seeing from Etsy.

It’s a huge deal. 

For the longest time, Etsy was making these changes and it was very reactive. It was us being aware of the Etsy SEO changes and figuring out how to tweak what we had to stay consistent and accurate. This wasn’t something we built three years ago and have been able to leave alone since then. Over the past three years, lots of changes have happened and continue to. We have to keep following this. Having actual search volume data is a huge step in being ahead of the curve.

You can change what comes back in search all you want, but we know what things people are actually shopping for. We know what they’re typing into the search bar and what they’re clicking on after they type whatever it may be into the search bar. No matter how many keywords Etsy puts CSR on, no matter how personalized they are, we may not know who’s going to get these different results shopper wise, but we do know how many people are typing in laundry basket, which is a huge deal!


Another great example to think about is Google. Google today is very different from the way it was when it first started out. You can think of Etsy as being in that same boat. When Google started out, search was their thing. There wasn’t any Gmail and there wasn’t any Google shopping. They didn’t own YouTube at that point, it was just search. All of their efforts were going into building a better search engine. And that’s where Etsy is putting their effort right now.

An example

If Gordon goes onto Google today (for example) and does a search for “docker” he’ll get a bunch of results for virtualized containers, because he does a lot of technical searches on Google. If his sister goes onto Google and does a search for “docker” she’s not going to get the same results that Gordon does. She’ll be getting shoes, docker pants, and that kind of stuff. That’s because Google knows what Gordon is looking for (or they’re trying to guess as best as they can) and they’re also trying to guess as best as they can what Gordon’s sister is looking for.

This is the EXACT same process that Etsy is starting to get into. They’re looking at shopper data and they’re trying to deliver a better shopper experience for individual people. This is fantastic and exactly what they should be doing as a company. This will mean more purchases, a better experience for all their shoppers, and more sales for you guys as sellers! This is the perfect direction to be moving in. Like we were saying though, this changes the search results coming back and makes looking at any one specific set of results as not a great indicator of the overall performance of those results. Again, this is because the results are changing so much and are so personalized. Etsy is only going to continue to move more in this direction. Their focus is building out that shopper experience to boost sales and purchase on Etsy.

Just to clarify

Just so we’re clear, Etsy is NOT moving their search to be more like Google. The comparison is that Google started out basic and grew into something much more advanced. We’ve heard people say “Why don’t they just make Etsy more like Google?” The reason is that they’re two completely different types of searches. Google works based on other websites aiming back at particular domains, articles, etc. to show that something is a source of good information.

Totally different from Etsy. They also have completely different goals. Etsy’s goal is to help you sell more product so you both make money. Etsy cares about what’s selling. Google cares about delivering good content. Please don’t think that Etsy is moving in the direction of Google. The whole reason they bought Black Bird Technologies is that they specialize in product searches. It’s not to help them build a content platform. They could have hired Google to do that;)

Better than chocolate cake?  

So, why is the new way better than the old way in Marmalead? Why is looking at real shopper data better than looking at results that Etsy is returning for keywords? It all goes back to the compass and GPS analogy. If we carry that example through, magnetic north moves around. It doesn’t always stay in one spot. What we were doing before was GREAT when magnetic north always stayed in the same spot. Etsy results were consistent and so was our compass.

Now that Etsy is delivering different results, that’s the same as magnetic north starting to shift. How much does it shift? Well, it shifts different amounts for different keywords. As a seller and as anyone trying to do SEO analysis on Etsy, you need to account for that shift. This is something that in the old method we weren’t able to do. We would not have been able to point you in the ever-changing directions if we could only ever point in one specific direction all the time. And this is why we had to adapt.

New and shiny

So the new information looking at actual shopper searches and actual shopper engagement is a whole lot more accurate for these keywords. You’re now getting information purely based on that one specific keyword and it’s true whether or not a listing included that tag before and then stopped including it. Why? Because the search would have been caught when it had that tag on it. You’re no longer looking at a listing that all of a sudden has a tag, and none of the information or the views for that listing came from that tag.

In this same way, engagement is now super specific too. Now we’re able to look at information from that specific keyword. It’s not getting mixed together with other keywords. We no longer have the issue of outliers that we had before with the data. It’s much cleaner information that we’re receiving and sharing with you about search volume and engagement for specific keywords. If a listing is playing a click party, this is not included in the engagement for that keyword whatsoever. To be included engagement, a shopper actually has to search a keyword and click a listing as a result of that search. This is the ONLY engagement that counts.

BUT how can you trust it?! 

You, as a skeptical Marmalead user, might be wondering how you can trust this new information.You’ve been using the old method for a long time and you had great success with it. Why should you trust this new info we’re putting in front of you just because we’re saying it’s better? There’s actually a great way of checking us on this!

What Etsy says goes!

Etsy tells us that in their search bar they show the most popular searched suggestions. If you start typing in a keyword there, they populate suggestions in their search bar to show you what they think you might be searching for based on what’s popular recently. So, what you can do is go to Etsy and type in a single letter like “H”. See what comes back in Etsy’s search bar. They’ll give you around five or ten suggestions.

Then, type those keywords into Marmalead and they will ALL have VERY high search volume. This is because when you type in “H” Etsy is giving you the most searched words for this recently. The more letters that you type into the search bar, the more specific you’re getting with your word and the lower number of searches those words will have. But they’re more accurate based on the letters you’ve already typed in.

You’ll see this in Marmalead too. If you pick a keyword inside Marmalead that you see has very low search volume and then you go back to Etsy’s search bar and start to type in that keyword, you’re really gonna have to spell it out before it’ll show up for you in the search bar if it even shows up at all.

Not a replacement

Is the search bar in Etsy a good replacement for Marmalead because it would appear you can get the same info from the search bar as you can from Marmalead? No, definitely not. Engagement score is more important than search volume and you really have no sense when you’re using the search bar of how much something is being searched. Yes, you know when you type “H” that certain words are being searched more than the words not showing in the list, but how much more? You could do this over and over with any letter and the same would be true, there would be words you know are being searched but who knows how much. Inside of Marmalead, we’ll show you the search volume break down for the different keywords.

Bottom line: If you’re a skeptical Marmaleader, this is a good way to check the information we’re providing to verify that we’re not misleading you. We’re showing the same thing you’ll see inside of Etsy and the same thing shoppers see when they’re doing their searches too.

Tips on using the info and stuff

Obviously, things are different from the old method we were using inside of Marmalead. But, at the end of the day, your process as a seller is going to be the same. You’re going to want to look at the Marmameters coming back and pick keywords based on the information in those Marmameters. You were doing this before and must continue to do this still. We didn’t want to change things up on you guys a whole lot where this is concerned. The data behind the scenes has changed, but the method of using that data we wanted to keep as similar as possible to what you’re used to.

You’re going to see that the new shopper data we’re looking at is going to affect the scores for your keywords. So, if you’re keeping track of your grades inside of Marmalead and the individual scores on your individual tags on your listings, those are going to change. Why? Because the data behind the scenes has changed. We’re looking at real shopper data now and it’s taken that compass method out and put the GPS in its place.

What matters more, searches or engagement? 

What should you really be looking at here when picking keywords? Engagement is still king. You want to be looking at the engagement meter to determine whether a keyword is good or not. If you have two different keywords that you’re weighing and they both seem to have the same engagement, competition level, pricing range, renewal period etc., then you should start looking at search to differentiate those two keywords and see how they might be different.

Comparing the two

If you’re looking at a keyword that has two hundred visits per month engagement versus another keyword that has two hundred visits per month engagement, does it really matter that one of those was searched four hundred times and the other one was only searched three hundred times? No, it really doesn’t matter because they’re driving the same number of views. All other things considered equal you should put more weight on the engagement metric than the search metric that we’re showing you.

But, the search metric is still very helpful! Going back to the example where the two keywords are the exact same and search is super different between the two, go with the one that’s searched more. There could end up being a swing in engagement, people could click more than they have in the past for those searches. It could mean a lot of people are searching for it and then getting to the results and aren’t seeing what they want. But, you could be that thing they want! It’s possible. If a lot of people are searching for a keyword but no one is clicking on it, this means they’re surprised in a bad way. That the keyword is bringing back listings that aren’t making sense.

Real-world shopping example

This is definitely a real-world shopping dilemma that happens on Etsy. Say, for example, I’m looking for a “Mother’s Day gift” but I have no idea what to actually look for, all I know is that my mom likes Etsy. So I’m looking for ideas. I don’t really want to consider buying the things I’m looking at in the results, I’m just scrolling through for ideas. I’m scrolling through and see a listing for soap that looks pretty awesome. But, instead of clicking on that first soap listing, I decide I want to see all soap now!

So I go up and do a search for “soap” or “handmade soap” or whatever the keyword might be. This is a whole lot more specific than just doing a search for “Mother’s Day gift”. This is the very beginning of my shopping process. And it’s possible I’ll get even more specific. I might find that these soaps are scented. My mom likes lavender so now I’m tacking on the keyword “lavender” to my soap search. I might not have even clicked anything at this point. But, this is the process a shopper may go through when shopping for things.

Long tail keywords 

The other thing that comes up a lot is long tail keywords. The old method we were using inside Marmalead versus the new method with shopper data, lots of the long tail keywords that people were looking at and searching before are coming back with a low search volume and low engagement volume because we’re looking at actual shopper data. So, it can look scary and make you freak out because the numbers are a lot lower.

This makes sense though when you think about how long tail keywords work. Naturally, you’re going to be targeting a smaller number of people who are closer to the end of their shopping experience. They’re ready to make a purchase. They’ve dialed in that they want to be buying “handmade organic lavender soap” at this point. They’re not at the “Mother’s Day Gift” point in their shopping experience.

There are fewer people shopping for a Mother’s Day gift that end up deciding on that one specific thing that they’re trying to find. So the searches that you’re going to be seeing for those long tail keywords are going to be much lower than the searches that are being done for keywords like jewelry, bracelet, or gold necklace. How you account for this as an Etsy seller is that you’re still going to want to compare the different long tail keyword options that you have and find a good balance there. It’s all about balance.

Slim pickins’

As far as comparing all your long tail keyword options, we’re not talking about all the super long tails that are going to show 0-100. If you’re at 0-100, you’re WAY down there in the low range. Let’s say you’re at the top end of that. There are 100 searches an entire month on all of Etsy for a particular keyword. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say with promoted listings there are about fifty listings per page. The chance of those 100 people clicking your listing every single time is pretty low. It’s only a percentage of those. So really, if you had 100 searches you’re hardly going to get anything.

All about balance

This is an opportunity to go up a little bit. We’re not saying you have to go way back up to “Mother’s Day Gift” but don’t go all the way down to “handmade organic lavender soap” either. You want to be somewhere between these two. Find a longer tail keyword that has consistent searches. That’s the balance you want. It’s got good search volume and good engagement, which is a great place to hang out.

Target that, do well in that, and then when the five or twenty people a month decide to search this long tail crazy variation that you would also be somewhat of a fit for, Etsy is going to look at all the listings in its database and see what the good fits are for this. Well, this listing up here has been doing really well for a keyword that’s similar, so they’re going to throw that in the results. You’re still going to get seen for this.

Just remember

More importantly, is not trying to be real specific like 100% SEO on this long tail keyword that’s super specific, it’s more important to target and be really good on your SEO and check all your boxes for the keyword that’s a little less specific, and also for the more competitive ones. That’s the range where you’ll have slightly more competition. That super specific keyword, the one so few people are searching for, you’re going to get found for it.

We’ve all seen that if you look at your stats and look at the keywords coming in you’ll see all those that you didn’t target but were found with. Etsy will always pick the best they have, even if it’s related and not exact to a search typed in. They want you to be found and they want the shopper to feel like they have options. There’s no way you’ll be able to match every search with your listings because of the thousands of variations that people will type in randomly.

Tried and true and still for you

The other aspect with long tail keywords that is still true and hasn’t changed with Marmalead’s new method is that most of them are longer than the twenty character limit that Etsy has on tags. You’re going to need to break these up into multiple tags. When you’re trying to figure out how to break these up, you still need to go through the same process you were doing before of testing out the different combinations and seeing which have the most engagement and the right level of competition.

All the low grades 

Another thing we’re hearing a lot from sellers is that they’re grades are down. They go into Marmalead and all the keywords they’d picked before, which had been delivering good grades, seem to now be delivering lower letter grades for their listing. For sellers who want to go into Marmalead and tweak all their listings and get them to A+, this can be really upsetting. It’s frustrating to put a ton of work in and then the next day find your grades are down.

Test it out, wash, repeat

First of all, don’t freak out! It’s ok, we promise:) Your grades shouldn’t be the only thing you’re looking at. If you did have all A’s or do still, you should never look at that and think that just because you have those A grades you’re all set. No. You should always be testing things, relying on the stats that you see inside of Etsy and ultimately on the sales you’re getting. We would never tell someone who is getting sales from a listing that might have a lower grade in Marmalead, that they have huge issues with that listing. If you’re getting sales for something, even if it has a low-grade, that’s totally ok! The grade is just an indicator that there’s an opportunity for improvement on that listing.

What you think goes

So if you have a C listing and you’re doing really well, are we telling you to change it? No! We’re saying that we think there are opportunities where you can improve, but you’re going to have to put your own human judgment on it. See what Marmalead thinks you should improve on. You can either agree with it and make the changes suggested or you can decide you don’t think it’s an improvement for your sales, and that’s fine! We can still be friends;)

What we’d rather do for ya

There’s another side to this: what if you have an A on a listing but it’s not doing well? We certainly don’t want to say don’t worry just because you have an A grade. The last thing we ever want to do is give you artificial A’s. We never want to tell you that hey, we’re sorry no one’s buying your products but you have an A so this is as good as it gets. That sounds awful and depressing! We’d much rather show you that there’s room for improvement. The grades are opportunities for you to improve! Which is exciting! If your grade is lower it’s us saying, hey here’s some extra opportunities to improve that we didn’t have before! This is just something to be aware of and understand.

Why is it so?

You might be wondering why Marmalead would be showing that you have an A on a listing and it isn’t doing well. What we’re doing when we calculate your grades is we’re looking at how well you’ve applied the keywords to your listing, how well you’re following good SEO practices on Etsy, and how well those keywords perform on Etsy.

Now, just because those keywords are performing well on Etsy and just because you’ve added them really well to your listing, doesn’t mean that they’re a good fit for your listing. Someone could be searching one of those keywords and see your listing and know that it isn’t what they’re looking for at all. If this is the case, you’re not going to get views from these keywords and they’re not going to work for you. To see if they’re working, you really need to go back into your Etsy shop stats, then go into your individual listing stats and see what keywords you’re actually getting views from for that listing. That’s how you want to check if these keywords are working.

Different for everyone, everywhere

We talked at the very beginning about how Etsy is delivering a different result set.  Etsy used to allow you to do a search for your keywords and see where you ranked and on what page. You can’t do that anymore because it won’t be accurate. The results that you’re getting will be different from the results everyone else is getting.

This notion of rank is evaporating. This is because rank for you is going to be different from rank for your customers. What you really need to care about is where you’re ranking for your customers when they’re searching. What you have to concentrate on now because of all these changes is the listing stats and the views you’re getting from different keywords. If you change out your tags and put a new keyword on a listing, give it a while for Etsy to start applying it to your listing. It has to gain traction in the results for that keyword first. It also takes a while for shoppers to do their searches and click on listings and engage. A couple of weeks to a month should be a good time frame for testing. Then, go back into your shop stats and see if you’re getting views from that keyword.

Final thoughts

What it all comes down to is this: Etsy has changed a lot in the way that they’re delivering search results. At Marmalead, we have changed along with Etsy. We did this to make sure that we’re delivering our customers the best possible solution that we can. We’re giving you a huge leg up on your competition with this new data, which is fantastic stuff!

As always, make sure you listen to this week’s Jam as it’s chock full of information! We hope you run with it! Apply some new keywords, find the ones the shoppers are using and go crush your competition! 

Happy selling, everyone!

Etsy Jam Scoops

Grow your online business, develop your SEO, and launch your sales into the stratosphere.

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9 replies on “Etsy SEO with Real Shopper Keywords”

Hello Caitlin,
Thanks for reading and for taking the time to send in a question! If you don’t mind, send your question to They’ll be able to troubleshoot what’s going on!

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