Selling Vintage on Etsy – SEO, Keywords and Descriptions

by myklist

Selling vintage on Etsy is very different than selling handmade or supplies. We are not able to make one or two shining star listings that stay up forever, but need to be super mindful of the fact that our current listings have to each be great so that we show up in Etsy search for the items we have for sale.

3 Part Series For Vintage Etsy Sellers

  • SEO, Keywords and Descriptions
  • Sourcing, Margins, Shipping and Storage
  • Niches, Target Audience and Branding


So first let’s talk about Etsy SEO in general. Etsy uses the title of your listing and the tags (keywords) that you select to rank your listings. So if someone is searching for a vintage item like a brass globe, the might do a broad search for just “brass globe”.

This shows the ads first and then a mixture of jewelry, materials and decor. That is my listing there on the top right for a brass globe I have listed. So how did I get that one little listing to show up so high on the rankings? There are 1,724 Results and my globe is #4 overall.

First I have it in my title, in that exact order. A little further along I have the plural, “brass globes”.

Now, there is a school of thought that you should have it many times (like “vintage brass globe”, “antique brass globe”, and “brass globe vintage”) over and over to rank well.

But if we look at the titles of the top 4 places we see they say…

  • Brass Stamping – Brass Globe – Set of 4
  • Moroccan Brass Lamp Shade, Jeweled Brass Globe, Boho Home Decor, Moorish Lighting, Moroccan Decor, Hollywood Regency Chandelier, Filigree
  • Tall Vintage Brass Globe, Vintage World Globe, Vintage Retro Old, Vintage Brass Globes Tall Pedestal, Gift For Travelers, Gifts for Traveler
  • 30pcs 15mm Antique Brass Globe Charm Pendant – World Map Charm

The term, “brass globe”, appears only once in each of the title tags of these listings. BUT there are other factors that Etsy uses to determine the listings they show like price, feedback for seller and location in comparison to the buyer.

When I am doing my listings I do everything I can to make each of my listings stand out for a keyword or two!

The Dreaded Categories

So now we are going to get a bit advanced and talk about categories and how they affect your ranking in search. Say we look at one of the other keywords I am using like, “gifts for travelers”.

If you do that search then you see this happen…

NONE of those categories will show my beautiful home decor globe…sigh. Now, does that mean I shouldn’t use that term? Maybe, if there are other keywords that I would be able to rank for that don’t have categories come up.

I use a program called Marmalead to check this out when I am doing my listing. It shows whether the “category risk” is high or not (meaning that if it is high then there is a good chance there ARE categories in the keyword search).

I definitely check and see if there are category pages that come up and then check and see if they are going in my favor (my item WOULD show up in the top categories) or not in my favor (like this one where my item DOES NOT show up in the category).

Do It Every Time

So I get asked all the time, “do you do this for every listing?” Well, in a word, yes! I check Marmalead for every listing and if it is a higher priced item then I will actually do a search in Etsy to see what they are recommending in the dropdown box. For example, I have a doctors bag I am listing today so I will check and see what Etsy thinks I should use…

This is a great example of how I would have messed up if I didn’t do this search. In my world this item would be called a “doctors bag” or “doctor’s bag” but Etsy promotes the term “doctor bag” in the dropdown bar when people search.

So I will use that too! And make sure that those phrases, “gift for doctor” and “doctor gift” are in there too.

This can sometimes seem like a lot of work for just one listing, but don’t forget, if you get them to your shop for one listing they might stick around and buy something else!

Vintage Troubles

So one of the troubles we have as vintage sellers is that we can’t really do deep research and use that over and over again. I don’t have another vintage brass globe to slot in there if that one sells.

That is one of the reasons that I think having LOTS of listings with great keywords is so vital. You want to get your items to rank well so someone clicks and checks it out, other similar items in your store catch their eye.

Don’t “Roll Up” Your Listings Into Variations

One last thing before we move on. As a vintage seller, I NEVER “roll up” my listings into one with variations. YES, I have items that I have sourced multiples of (cupcake tins come to mind), but I have them listed individually for a couple of different reasons. First off is a practical one…because they are used they are in different condition and secondly, I want to have them all separate to rank for different keywords in search.

Keywords & Tags

Okay, now let’s talk about the keywords that you use in the tags of your listing. You can have 13 in all and I generally use one of them to include my store name, leaving me 12 to work with. HERE is where I will load up that main keyword I want to rank for so you will see LOTS of “brass globe” keywords.

This is because tags are for computers (the Etsy search algorithm) and not people so it doesn’t matter the configurations that I use. Here are the keywords that I am using for this listing…

I have heard that it matters the order so I might be able to rank higher if I had “Brass Globe Globes” as my first tag instead of my last tag, but that would mean getting rid of all my tags and starting over and I am just, honestly, too lazy to do that.

You can find out good keywords to use by searching your competitors tags. I actually use Marmalead for this too… here are the keywords that people who have brass globes listed use:

That is where I found the keyword “world globe” that I could also use for this listing. Because search engines like the Etsy search engine, use word cues to figure out how to rank listings, having relevant and similar tags to ones that other globe sellers use might be helping me to rise in the rankings.


Descriptions will not help with your Etsy SEO at all. What they will help with is selling your item AFTER you have succeeded and gotten someone interested enough from search to click on it for more details.

Some descriptions are long and flowery and some are short and factual. I tend to use a template that breaks down things that I would find important to know before buying an item:

  • SHIPPING (I will be shipping these in a padded mailer with lots of packing to keep them safe during transport.)
  • NOT THE PROPS (This listing is for the item listed only, and does not include any photography props used in our fabulous marketing photos!)
  • CLEANING (Item is left in original condition without major cleaning. We feel like the buyer should have the choice of how to restore it. Some light dusting or all natural cleaning of sticky areas or dirt when appropriate.)

I also use underlines, capital letters and bullets to make it easier to read:

Etsy doesn’t allow the use of fancy HTML so I have just cut and pasted my bullets from one of my blog pages and dropped them in! Underline is the regular underline without shift and CAPS make my headlines stand out.

Mobile Descriptions

On mobile there is very little information that shows beyond the category that your item is in, the materials and the price. All of your glorious description is hidden behind the “Item Details” tiny little drop down arrow.

This is why sometimes it seems like your potential buyers ask stupid questions. You think, “that is in the listing, why are you asking this?” and need to understand that they might not know about the item details in the mobile listings on the Etsy app.

There are things that you can do to help yourself, like add more of the details to the material section and prompt them to click the item details tab, again from the material area when you are listing. This additional information will give a mobile buyer much more to work with when checking out your listing!

Now this may seem like a subtle change, but it really is giving the searcher much more to look at and decide if they want to take the next step and click on the item details.

The more compelling you can make your listings all the way through, the more likely you are to make a sale!

Selling Vintage on Etsy SEO, Keyword and Descriptions Wrapup

So now you have a super nice overview of some of the things that you can do to increase your chances of showing up in Etsy search.

If you would like more, make sure to check out the Ultimate Etsy SEO Guide where I drill down even further into how to do your Etsy SEO!

There are three things that you can do to increase your views (and sales) as an Etsy Seller. Knowing how to write good SEO Titles & Tags for the Etsy algorithm PLUS adding descriptions that sell to humans will help increase your bottom line. #etsyseller #vintageseller

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