Etsy SEO Guest Posts

Should You Use Google Keyword Planner OR Marmalead For Your Etsy SEO Research

Hi my name is Tara and I am an SEO addict! I have been working in SEO and marketing since 2001, before there even was a Google or an Etsy. I currently rank on page one of Google for keywords like “Realtor SEO” and on the first page of Etsy for “Etsy SEO”.

I don’t say this to brag, but to let you know that I am knowledgeable and successful at actually DOING SEO for my business on both Google and Etsy.

Now, there are some serious SEO differences between Etsy and Google. With that said, should you use Google Keyword Planner OR Marmalead for your Etsy SEO Research?

There Are A Lot Of “Experts”

I am writing this post because someone was talking badly about my favorite Etsy SEO tool, Marmalead, and confusing the nice sellers on Etsy who are just trying to figure out how to get their listings to rank so they can sell more.

It seems that there are a few “experts” out there who are saying that Marmalead only tells you what keywords people are using while Google shows what people are actually buying (false, and more about this later).

Tip #1 – Please check out your experts before you go changing a bunch of things in your store. Are they SEO experts or are they just well meaning people who know a little about SEO?

How SEO Works

SEO can sometimes be a mystery to new marketers. It seems like there must be some kind of magic mojo that people are using to get to the first page of Google or on the first page of Etsy listings. That is just not true!

Both Etsy and Google are databases that use words to rank the results that should appear first. They do this very differently and that is an important distinction!

Google Rankings

Google has spent years battling spammers who are trying to game the system. There were entire industries built around trying to trick Google into putting bad sites on the first page. They have mostly fixed this now, but they are super vigilant about what they rank well, changing the rules often.

To rank well on Google you have to have certain elements on your page or site:

  • One or two main keywords that you are trying to rank for
  • A strong title that is keyword rich
  • Content that supports the targeted keyword
  • Formatting in your post that shows emphasis on your target keyword
  • Backlinks to your page from outside sources

Etsy Rankings

Etsy ranks things differently than Google does. They place absolutely no weight on the content of your description, instead using the following criteria to rank your product listings:

  • Title description
  • Categories
  • Tags

That is it for what YOU can do to manipulate your listing rank in Etsy. Now, there are definitely factors working behind the scenes that depend on the number of sales you have, the number of items in your store and even the percentage of views to favorites your items get, but that is a post for another day.

For now, let’s just look a the things that we can control!

Tip #2 – Before you start worrying about anything else, get good at writing great title descriptions and picking good tags for your products.

Related: Etsy SEO – Marmalead vs Google Keyword Planner

Why Google And Etsy Are Very Different

It is easy to get romantic about companies and think they are looking out for our best interests, but they aren’t. Companies like Google and Etsy are designed to make a profit, period.

How Google Makes A Profit

Google’s customer is the searcher. They have built a business on providing great results when you are looking for something and they are not going to jeopardize that one principal to make the people who provide the content they index happy.

Google’s search profits come from selling ads on their network (called Adwords). These are seen on the sides websites, in blog posts and even on YouTube videos.

How Etsy Makes A Profit

Etsy makes a profit two ways. First from the sellers who are paying $.20 for every product they list. There are tens of MILLIONS of products listed on Etsy today (estimates are in the 30-40 Million item range, equaling six million dollars there alone).

Additionally they get paid when an item SELLS. This is an important distinction that we will look at more now.

What Is Commercial Viability?

Commercial viability is the difference between using the Google Keyword Planner and Marmalead to do your SEO keyword research!

Google is not at all concerned with how much you sell (commercial viability), except as it pertains to Google making a profit. You can rank for hundreds of keywords in Google and never sell anything.

Etsy on the other hand is a website dedicated to commercial viability (Ecommerce). They want you to sell more, so you list more, so you pay more, so you sell more…in a dazzling spiral of commerce.

Buying Keywords Versus Searching Keywords

So let’s get down to brass tacks now and start looking at searches. I will use my product, a business calendar, as an example (because I can show you the behind the scenes data).

First let’s search for “business” on Google, which is a broad keyword and not good for selling:


As you can see there are 6.5 BILLION results for this keyword search. Holy buckets, batman, that is a LOT of competition and not really commercial viability. No one searching for “business” on Google is going to find my little planner pages for sale.

Results include an online business magazine, Bloomberg’s Twitter account and Forbes magazine.

google keyword planner or marmalead

There is a LOT less competition here, only about 125,000 results. BUT the main thing to know is that every one of the results is something to buy!

Results include a water bottle label, a tie and a business card.

I KNOW, you are thinking that I am not even using Marmalead or the Keyword planner, what the heck! When you are looking at numbers this big, it is super important to understand the motivation of the search. Someone searching for that broad a keyword on either Google or Etsy is probably not going to be BUYING anything today!

Now let’s move on to my actual product, a business calendar!


As you can see I get keyword results that are factually correct, there ARE about 210 searches per month on that exact search term in Google and people ARE willing to pay $4.27 a click in Adwords. BUT what does that actually tell us? That the search volume for my business calendar is low across Google, not sure how that is helpful even to someone like me who understands SEO better than the average bear.

Additionally the keywords that they suggest are not relevant to my product, calendar software, scheduling software, business calendar software.

If I wanted to find actual buying keywords in Google I would have to add “for sale” or other commerce based keywords to get a clear picture of buying terms.

Now let’s look at that same data in Marmalead, which is using ONLY Etsy data to provide results!


We can see that there are 1,566 competing products and 58 shops competing. Interesting, not all that helpful for SEO research (good for product development though), but what IS helpful is the total views (quite substantial at 221,846).

The average favorites per week (4.4) will help me to know if I have targeted the right keyword. If I have a high ranking but but a low favorites per week compared to the average then I will know that my product is not a good match for the keyword and there will be few purchases from ranking for that word.

The reason that is is important is that I would effectively be “wasting” that keyword and should instead target one that is more relevant to my selling something.


Now let’s get down to the meat of the argument that Marmalead is only displaying keywords that other sellers are using. That is EXACTLY right! These tags and additionally the tag clouds are a compilation of the words that other SELLERS are using in their listings.

Words for me like business planner (obvious), and printable planner (a staple of my niche), but also words that I hadn’t thought of yet like small business and business printable.

THESE unthought of words are the magic that Marmalead shows us!

These words are the ones that sellers have aggregated over time to be selling words for products like mine. And because they would not be used at scale if they were ineffective for selling products, I can safely assume that some or all of them would help sell products in my store too!

Because Etsy is an ecommerce site to begin with, we don’t have to worry about whether the words are buying words or just informational words. All the words are selling based, unlike in Google.

You Can Lead A Horse To Water

This is an already epic post so I will just mention a few things that may be what is really frustrating Etsy sellers.

SEO just gets the eyeballs, it is your description and pictures that will sell the products. I have read a bunch of comments that sellers are ranking better but not selling more. Well, that is not SEO’s fault. SEO got the people to at least have the OPPORTUNITY to buy, but if your descriptions are bad or your pictures are blurry, they are not going to convert to a sale.

You can be great at SEOing for the wrong keyword. Another thing that will not help sales is to find a “popular” keyword that doesn’t really match what your product is. For example, I did use “business planner” in my title and keywords for the business calendar so I do rank for that term on page one of the Etsy search (#32 today) BUT it is not exactly a good fit. The business planners are more robust than my product and I doubt that this term will drive many sales.

DO NOT change too many things at once. I have been reading that people are sad because they spent days using the Google Keyword Planner to change all their listings and now they aren’t getting any views. While it is tempting to get all this done at once, that is a recipe for disaster. Work on one product, get a good ranking, check your sales and then work on another one!

Last but not least, SEO is much more an art than a science. You have to try things, see what works and then change or pivot if you see that something is not working. As you do it more, you WILL get better. My shop and my products are only a couple of months old but I do rank in the top page for many different keywords. That is because I already know how to do SEO and can look at the data and figure it out easily. You will get there as you do more SEO research too!

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This is a guest post from Tara Jacobsen, an SEO expert since 2001. She is a current Marmalead customer and a Etsy shop owner herself, having started her Paperly People shop in the late summer of 2015. If you would like to learn more about Etsy SEO, please visit her article, SEO For Etsy Sellers | Ultimate Etsy SEO Guide.


12 replies on “Should You Use Google Keyword Planner OR Marmalead For Your Etsy SEO Research”

Thank you very much for posting this.
I do need to learn more about SEO.
This post opens my eyes about the difference between Google search/Ads and Etsy. (Thought all the search engine are the same. )
Also a lot of information which is very clear here, while the other ‘SEO experts’ articles often even confused me further.
Thank you for the tips to say that do not change the whole things at once. Do it one by one, see whether it works, then move on to the other item. You’re absolutely right. I often made myself overwhelming by trying to change the whole things at once when I read some tips.
I will try your advice.

This is a great post and I look forward to doing some keyword research on Marmalead. Alexandra is the artist and I manage her art business on and off line so she has more time to paint. I understand a little about SEO but I am not sure what you mean when you say: “Backlinks to your page from outside sources.” How do I know if we have this. I am not sure what backlinks are. Are the backlinks for our website or the Etsy Shop? I put in my website below but I sell mostly out of my Etsy Shop: artbyalexandranicole

Thank you for the question Lisa!

Back links are something Google uses. It’s one of the many ways that Google and Etsy are different in search. If you’re focusing on Etsy like us, they’re not something to worry about 🙂

They’re basically other websites that have links back to your website. Typically this is used at the domain (.com) level to help Google evaluate who has quality content and who does not.

That’s smart to separate the painting from the management by the way 🙂 very different activities.

Hi Lisa I have a shop on Etsy. I’m an artist painter. after 2016 haven’t sold a thing. No one is finding me that must be it. I must be down so low on the searches I guess on Etsy. I’m amazed every time I get a favorite. Which I have been getting. I thought of trying Marmalead for a month. I’m the one spending the money first.

Is there any magic to knowing how long it will take after optimizing an Etsy listing for it to start “working”? Does it affect listings immediately, or does it take a few days to “catch up”? Thanks for this great article – wonderful info!

Interesting question Erin! Well, SEO takes effect immediately and once you renew your newly tweaked listing, you’ll notice it’ll start appearing on those new keyword spaces. The timeframe before you can say it’s working varies though. For markets with high activity (like soaps, jewelries), you probably would see the traffic and sales within a few weeks (assuming you got highly engaged keywords right). But in markets where there isn’t much demand, it will be quite slow. But on the upshot, you’ll retain your position in those slow markets and you don’t have to renew so often.

Hi Erin! I use the paid version of Marmalead and obsessively track where my listings rank in the search compared to other listings. Because SEO is not static (those darn other sellers are trying to make theirs better to), I like to make sure I am not slipping for my best ranking keywords.

I also use the 80/20 rule so I don’t make myself nuts. About 80% of my sales come from 20% of my products so those are the ones that I focus on (paying for promoted listings, monitoring on Marmalead and “tweaking” when needed!)

Hope that helps!!! Tara

Etsy has to scan your newly revised page before it is aware of the changes. Once it is aware of those changes, it probably uses them instantly. Keep in mind that you don’t improve your site’s rating just because you use better key words. It’s still the same site with the same reputation and the same place in the pecking order. If you find a cool term that no one is using as a key word, then you will rank well with that term because no one else is using it. Using good relevant key words, is a great way to convince search engines that you should be ranked higher. As your site gains credibility with the search engines, you will rise through the ranks. If you want to find out whether your site is gaining credibility, take a very common key word and discover your rank for that word or term. As you rise in credibility, you will rise through the ranks for that key word. In my area, “pen” is super popular. I won’t make sales with that key word, but I can use it to see how I am faring against the competition.

It’s true that google has to crawl your site to pick up changes, NOT Etsy. Your listings are internal to them so they know what you did the moment you click to save. Etsy changes are instant. Google changes are a slower process. Here at Marmalead we talk Etsy.

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