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 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 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
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.
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.
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!
– – –
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.