5 things I’ve learnt in my first month of Etsy optimisation

About two months ago, I joined the excellent Facebook groups Etsy UK Sellers NETWORKING Group and sister group Etsy UK Sellers Help Group and from there I learnt a metric ton about how to properly configure my Etsy listings (mostly from the Fairy Fountain Gift blog) to get people viewing and clicking.

I started digging deeper and deeper, finding material on Youtube and other people’s blogs. This is a summary of what I’ve learnt with my first dozen or so sales since following advice that’s freely available. If I’ve made mistakes – please tell me in the comments and I’ll correct it.

1. The Triple-lock / focus / VIP keyword is king (or queen)

Fuzzy and Birch call it the Focus Keyword. The website http://www.etsyrank.com calls it a ‘VIP’ keyword.

I call it the ‘triple lock’.

What is it? It’s your most important keyword, and as such, it needs to take pride of place in three locations (hence the term ‘triple lock’):

1. The start of your listing title.
2. The start of the description (more beneficial for Google SEO than Etsy)
3. One of your tags.

Example listing showing an identical keyword in 3 places
Example listing showing an identical keyword in 3 places

This one concept alone will help you rank better in Etsy search. But here’s the problem: what should your triple lock be? If you go too narrow (too specific), you’ll certainly rank highly in listings, but you’ll also probably be on your own:

An example of what happens if your triple lock is too specific.
An example of what happens if your triple lock is too specific.

This is a problem because it means that most people probably aren’t searching for it.

Conversely, if you make your triple-lock too broad, it’s going to be a massive struggle to rank for it because everyone else will be competing. So it has to meet three criteria:

1. A term that people WHO HAVE NEVER SEEN YOUR EXACT PRODUCT will actually type into the search box
2. A term that is broad enough to be regularly searched, but specific enough that it doesn’t bring back 500 pages of results
3. A term that is actually relevant to your product (i.e. don’t cybersquat on popular but irrelevant keywords)

I can’t tell you what to choose for your product, but have a look at other successful products on etsy (look at several) and see what terms they have in common. Also ask family and friends how they’d describe your product.

Remember, you want to capture the essence of the listing via the thought process of someone who has never seen it and doesn’t yet know the details. Don’t describe the actual product itself in your triple lock, describe the need it meets eg. ‘geek xmas card’ is better than ‘atom illustration card’ because almost nobody will know in advance they want a card with an atom illustration, but they may know in advance they want a christmas card for someone into geek stuff.

That doesn’t mean ‘atom illustration’ is bad, because elsewhere on Etsy someone else could be searching for an ‘atom illustration’, maybe for a tshirt or a mug, and your listing might then pop up too.

Also check out this post on help with picking keywords:  https://fairyfountaingiftshop.wordpress.com/2015/09/05/seo-help-helping-fellow-etsians-to-success/


2. Don’t compete with yourself on triple lock keywords.

You can only rank once for each keyword. In lower-populated categories you might sneak in a couple of listings, but generally, if you get on page 1 or 2 with a keyword, any other listing with the same keyword will be many pages back. Use this as an opportunity to come up with variations of your triple lock keyword and spread the love across multiple listings.


3. Pictures are everything

The main image (also called the ‘click-grabber’) is designed to do one thing and one thing only – get a click from a potential buyer.
It must be inviting, clear, bright. It has to make them want to know more.

I bought a half share with my other half in some bright daylight photography lamps which are already starting to show some results (not with my photography skills, which are awful, but my wife is pretty amazing at it). You don’t necessarily need them, but it was important for us because we’re rapidly listing lots of new products and consistent photography was becoming a major constraint. By consistent I mean we didn’t have to wait for perfect conditions and balance a load of stuff outside against a wall with bounce boards and reflectors. Instead we could shoot any time of day or night.

It’s perfectly possible to do this with a decent smartphone (the Camera+ app is very good) and some daylight and some sheets of paper. You don’t have to spend tons. But convenience + consistency + slight improvement in end photo quality trumped cost.


4. ‘Better’ over ‘perfect’

Every day pick one thing and improve it a bit. The aggregation of this, something I call ‘relentless pressure’ – is the force of nature that lets tree roots destroy concrete. The whole ethos of continual improvement is a major topic of most MBAs and certainly in service management, which is my day job (and something I’ll be introducing in later blogs).


5. Artificial ‘like for like’ games are no longer worth it.

Etsy have tweaked their algorithm to exclude these results. Spend that time doing improving else.

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