Are you or do you know a vintage or one-of-a-kind seller on Etsy? Feeling a little forgotten by Etsy’s last round of sales, leaders in the Etsy space, and online seller groups? Well boy do we have an episode that’s tailor made JUST for you. Tara Jacobsen from Marketing Artfully and So Glamorously Vintage joins us today to cover everything you need to know about vintage and one-of-a-kind SEO. Tara is a true leader in the SEO space – she’s joined us before on the podcast – and we are super excited to have her back today to focus on vintage SEO.
All you need is love
Vintage doesn’t always get much love on Etsy. It can be hard to know how to set up your vintage items and get noticed. We thought it would be relevant to have a conversation with Tara specifically about selling vintage and one-of-a-kind items.
Tara currently has four hundred plus listings in her shop. She’s pushing to have five hundred by Christmas. She says she’ll never be able to accomplish this if she spends hours and hours massaging just a couple of her listings. What she looked at was how she and other sellers can first lift their stores, then their categories and then lift items using SEO without wasting a ton of time. First, she broke this up into classes. These are going to be things like “home and living” or “lamps and lightings.” Tara wrote a fantastic blog breaking down exactly what she’s talking about and how to accomplish it! We could write out exactly what she talks about in our Jam for you, but we’d rather send you straight to the source;) We ask that you click here and read Tara’s blog now before continuing on with ours.
Tara says that the vintage community is a little P.O.’d at Etsy. This is because the big push and all the new changes made this year did not include vintage as much. Tara knows there were several vintage sellers who voiced their frustration on some of the Etsy forums concerning this. She believes their voices may have been heard because Etsy sent out a newsletter a couple weeks ago called a “Vintage Home Decor” newsletter. Tara said this letter was really cool! It really gave vintage and OOAK sellers a chance to have their items highlighted.
When the letter comes
Tara says that when you receive these newsletters from Etsy, you want to look at them for keywords. Remember that Etsy spends a ton of time, money and testing figuring out what is generating the most sells and what they should be including in these newsletters. You should definitely be acknowledging this and take clues from what they’re saying. If you click on the link for whatever the section might be in the newsletter it will take you to a webpage. In the top address bar of the webpage it will tell you what the actual search was.
Tara gives an example of this in the last newsletter where there was a section called “blush glass.” Now, you might think people are literally searching for blush glass. But when Tara looked in the address bar of the webpage, it was “pink glass” that was being used in search. This is a prime example of how you can miss out on a huge search if you don’t pay attention to the keywords being used.
Research and all that jazz
Tara has great advice as far as researching goes. The first thing you want to do is use Etsy to do your basic research. No matter what you’re looking up you need to pay attention to the search bar auto complete. What comes up here first? Then, once you’ve chosen what you’re entering in search, pay attention to the small boxes that pop up underneath the search bar. Tara actually made a spread sheet including the boxes that come up on what she’s searching. This way she doesn’t constantly have to recreate each categories.
Bring it to us
After you’ve chosen five really strong keywords through using the search bar autocorrect and the boxes under the search bar Tara suggests going into Marmalead. Marmalead is fantastic for checking what certain items area called. For example: Tara is from Northern Pennsylvania. Where she’s from they call the things around light switches, “switch plate covers.” Tara literally didn’t know any other words to call this item.
When she searched this term in Marmalead she found it had low engagement and 112,000 views on Etsy. Using Storm and search in Marmalead Tara found out that “light switch covers” had moderate engagement (much better) and 476,000 views in Etsy. This is 364,000 more views than her original search term! There is literally no way to find this information in Etsy. You really have to do this search in Marmalead to find the views and to better understand if the terms you’re using are the best for your item.
All the changes all at once
Tara keeps running into Etsy sellers who are frustrated about keywords. Especially long-tail keywords. Often, sellers will listen to advice they’ve heard or read about keywords, rushing to change ALL their keywords on ALL their listings at once. Don’t do this! Try changes out on a couple different listings before taking the time to change everything.
Understand that your one of a kind items have a much lower chance of ranking in search than someone who hand makes an item and has a thousand of them. They can just keep renewing these items. You might have an AMAZING vintage/OOAK item (like a desk lamp)! However, you can’t do enough SEO work to make it rank and beat someone who has sold two thousand hand made desk lamps prior to you. Especially if the seller also has a shop full of hundreds more desk lamps just waiting to be sold.
So what do you do?!
You need to start looking for your OOAK item(s). For example: Tara has one vintage flamingo box. On this listing she’d be trying to sell “kitchy boxes” or “1960s boxes” or “retro boxes” more than trying to sell this one particular item. She’s always thinking of her store as a whole. Think about how you can use your OOAK items in a way that’s going to lift your whole store for certain categories of keywords.
If you’re finding that you literally never sell the same thing, Tara recommends you try to source more things that are similar. You can get your reticular activator going by keeping an eye out for the same kind of things. For her this is door stops. Whenever she’s at an estate sale or antique store, she’s constantly on the lookout for door stops. For you it might be something completely different. Whatever it is, instead of buying a ton of bricka-brack, think about how you can make your store more cohesive, even as a vintage seller.
Wash, spin, repeat
As a OOAK/ vintage seller having similar items will help your SEO in general. The more things you have that are similar throughout your shop, the less work you have to do in reinventing SEO for every single listing. This can save you time in general as well.
Ephemeral listings & Studio
Tara recently sold a picture to someone in Williston, ND. Her customer bought this picture on a very long tail keyword. This particular picture was a wedding picture so, Tara had keywords like bride, groom, and wedding fashion in the front. At the end she had keywords that would help her ephemera pieces rank. Whether you know it or not, Etsy rewards you for this.
For example: You might have a bunch of different stuff in your store, but you randomly sell a vintage blue jean jacket. Then, five minutes later you sell another one. It’s not likely that two different people were sitting there just waiting to poke the button at the same time. This is Etsy having weighted your value as a vintage jean jacket seller higher for a little bit while you sold this item.
This also works with Studio. Tara tends to sell a lot of old tools that she uses when she’s doing her “artsy” stuff through Studio. If you’re doing ephemera you can also get this into the studio part of it. What will happen for Tara is she will sell two paint scrapers in the same day or maybe a paint scraper and a screw driver. This is because Studio has recognized that she’s sold one of these and is like,” Oh look! She sells tools!” This will also give her sales more of a boost.
So, when you have a more broad keyword that you’re using in your title, do you care if you’re ranking for this? Or do you just use this to boost your credit for that keyword when you get a sale from a different keyword? If you have a very small number of items in your store you might try and rank for that broad keyword, but this is going to be very difficult if you have limited listings. If you’re spending so much time on one or two listings trying to rank for such a hard term, you’re losing time where you might have been able to list five other items.
Testing 1, 2, 3
Tara says to watch the testing that Etsy does because this can often benefit vintage/OOAK sellers. She’s often seen sellers complain in forums about testing. They will talk about how the testing Etsy is doing is ruining their shop. Tara says you have to remember that the only reason Etsy is doing any testing is so they can sell more. They want you to be successful. If you’re successful as a seller, then they’re successful. They’re absolutely not trying to hurt you. Tara says anytime she hears about Etsy doing a test it makes her sit up and take notice. She is always wondering if whatever they’re testing is something she should be doing.
Tara’s printable shop is called Paperly People, which you can check out here. Tara says the difference between having a product you can really tweak and massage as far as keywords and SEO in general goes is night and day between what happens in her Etsy vintage shop. As a vintage seller you often don’t have the luxury of having a listed item long enough to really perfect the keywords and SEO on that particular item. Tara recently bought a huge bowl of chandelier crystals which she got tons of traffic for. She said this is rare to have items as a vintage seller that are identical and that you can do identical SEO for. However, it’s possible to buy similar items that can have the same SEO as she mentioned earlier in this blog.
Tara came from a google SEO back ground. Gordon asked Tara when she’s working on SEO for one of her Etsy listings, how much time and energy she put into the google aspect of SEO for that listing? He also asked whether those keywords would preform well on google versus Etsy? Tara said first of all you want to look at the types of items that you sell and then you want to do a search on Google. For example, Tara says she will never show up in Google for a “wall paper roller.” There are a thousand places on Google that sell new wall paper rollers (hello Lowe’s and Home Depot). These will function much better than her little thirty year old wall paper roller.
Now, you will have buyers looking for vintage scrapers or wall paper rollers. So, Tara suggests that you do a search on Google incognito to see if your items come up. Remember, your items may not be in the general results tab, but in the shopping tab. The really nice thing about Google is that a lot of Etsy searches come up in the shopping tab in Google. What you need to find out is what characteristics the Etsy listings share in the shopping tab in Google. Tara recently searched vintage linens in Google and literally every result in Google shopping was vintage style from Wayfair, Target, etc. If you know you have no chance of ranking in Google you might want to try and get something longer off of vintage or real vintage. You’ll never know what to do, however, if you don’t look at Google for yourself.
Which one is it?!
Tara says sellers always ask if they should SEO their items for Google or Etsy? Tara gives an example for this if you’re trying to get a listing to rank on Google: Let’s say she’s going to try and SEO one amazing vintage table cloth that she has. She’s done everything right. She has a long description and she’s got outbound links to it from social media and her website. But if Google is literally only going to show “fake” vintage table cloths like those you’d find at Target, it doesn’t matter if you do all that. Tara really feels like if you’re trying to sell your vintage/OOAK products on Etsy you need to try and rank well for the Etsy search. If you’re selling on eBay you need to rank well for the eBay search. The bottom line is whichever platform you’re using you want to be an expert in their SEO.
Marmalead for the win
Tara says if you’re subscribing to Marmalead or plugged into our Jams/blogs/podcasts you’re already way ahead of the majority of sellers on Etsy. She knows it’s easy to start feeling like everyone is doing SEO. She works with a lot of sellers whether it’s through her website, speaking engagements, or simply looking through their shops on Etsy and she says most sellers are not doing SEO.
Remember, once you start learning something the audience you start comparing yourself to tends to be a higher and higher caliber audience. All of a sudden you can feel like everyone knows so much and you’re still behind. Often, the reality of the situation is that you’ve changed who you’re comparing yourself to. If you’ll think back to where you were when you first started and what you knew then compared to now, we’re sure it’s a huge difference. It’s that you learned (along with many other things) about people who know a lot as well!
The rule on Etsy
There’s definitely an 80/20 rule where Etsy’s concerned. 80% of the sellers on Etsy really aren’t worried about SEO at all. If you’re trying to learn more about SEO, if you’re subscribing to Marmalead, if you’re reading Tara’s blog, you’re probably not even in that other 20%! You’re probably in 20% of the 20%! You’re really doing the work!
People often ask Tara if it’s worth paying for Marmalead as a vintage/OOAK seller. Her answer is a resounding, yes! She says she can’t imagine trying to figure out all the keywords she should be using without Marmalead. If she had to rely on Etsy’s dropdown menu and what other people are using for tags, she says she wouldn’t even be selling on Etsy. Every day that Tara lists new items, she uses Marmalead.
Being frustrated & practical advice
Tara says it’s frustrating when she sees other sellers complaining. Often she sees sellers on the Marmalead group or some of the vintage/OOAK forums voicing how much work they’ve done on the FIVE items they have listed in their shop. How they’ve spent so much time on their SEO on these FIVE items. You MUST get more items listed! Having only a handful of items listed just isn’t going to cut it. You can’t compete in such a huge ocean with a boat made out of five boards!
Think about it this way: You go to a craft fair. You walk by a booth with five things on a table. Would you be more or less likely to browse and ultimately buy something from this booth? Now, you walk by a booth with one hundred things. Would you stop and browse? Perhaps buy something? Normally, we want more choices when looking to purchase from a seller.
The other frustrating thing Tara sees sellers doing is swapping horrible customer stories. Often these conversations will go on for hours. This is valuable time lost! These sellers could be working instead on improving their SEO or adding new listings to their shop. Tara has plenty of stories she could tell about bad experiences she’s had with buyers. She wouldn’t dream of posting these somewhere that people could talk about them. Instead she wants to focus her time on what she’s talked about above. These are things she can control and things you can control as a seller. You cannot control how someone else reacts so don’t waste your time and energy there.
Those pictures though…
If you don’t have good pictures on your listings, get. good. pictures. We’ve had a lot of people talk about this, but Tara is definitely one of them. You have to do this. It’s a must. If your lighting is weird and your images are blurry, fix them. You can do this one listing at a time. It makes a difference in the overall professional feel of your shop.
As always, make sure you’re pricing your listings correctly. Tara thinks vintage/OOAK sellers are often priced too low. If you’re priced low, buyers might assume there’s something wrong with your vintage item. But pricing correctly communicates the worth of the item you’re trying to sell.
Tara says to always pick your battles. Remember that things are constantly changing. What is said today can change tomorrow. Make sure that you’re checking the dates of any SEO posts or how to do Etsy posts. You need to use information for your resources that is current.
Along this same line, be sure that your Etsy shop is current. Do not let it stagnate. We’ve mentioned this in previous blogs but we can’t say it enough, keep things moving in your shop. Etsy likes movement and wants to know you’re still interested in selling from your shop. Keep adding listings when you can. Tara suggests time blocking to help with managing your time. This will also keep your shop on more of a schedule.
As always, remember that what you focus on expands! We’re huge believers in this and so is Tara:) We loved chatting with Tara and learning more about what she does and her strategies! Make sure you listen to this week’s Jam as it’s full of tidbits not covered in this write up. If you have any questions for Tara, feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join our Marmalead Facebook group to connect with Tara!
Happy selling, everyone!