Etsy 2018 SEO changes: 5 things you need to know


There have been some big changes on the Etsy platform this year, and the biggest one is, of course, the recent changes in the search algorithm. What are those SEO changes and what does it mean for your Etsy shop?

Let’s dive in.

You can watch the video or read the written version below.

When it comes to Etsy SEO, one thing is for sure – it always comes with speculations, forum talks, and rumors, and that’s not what we want to do here. We finally have some clarity because we finally have an official statement and a brand new shiny SEO guide from the Etsy team themselves, so we’re not going to speculate. I’m not going to dive into some crazy SEO strategies, but I want to take the time with you to understand what really changed and what really is going on with Etsy SEO these days. To do that, I want to review five very important points.

CSR: Context Specific Ranking

We knew that before September but it’s still important to note it: Etsy uses a technology called CSR or Context Specific Ranking. In plain English, it means that Etsy tracks and analyses shopper’s behavior on the platform and that the results they will display for each shopper/visitor will be different.

If you type in “minimalist bracelet” and I type the same thing and we were to take a screenshot and compare the results – they would be very different. It’s because Etsy is smart enough to know what I am most likely to like and purchase based on products and shops I visited in the past. Therefore there is no such thing as ranking #1 because everyone has a different #1 result.

Long tail keywords

In the Etsy SEO guide, you’ll find this graphic:

It represents the search volume on the vertical axis and the conversion rate on the horizontal axis for a given keyword. The part of that orange arrow on that graphic are long tail keywords. Those keywords don’t get as much volume as the general keywords, but they get a much higher conversion rate.

In plain English: people don’t look for these keywords as often, but when they look for them, they’re more likely to purchase and that’s really what we want. Someone looking for “baby gift” (general keyword) is much less likely to purchase than someone searching for “baby romper dinosaurs” (long tail keyword).

The first keyword will have higher search volume but lower conversion. Imagine someone looking for a “baby gift” on Etsy. That’s when the visitor or the shopper is just really trying to find even just an idea of what to get as a baby gift. Then they will find a few rompers and decide it’s a good gift, so they type in “baby romper” in the search. Then they see a few cute dino patterns on a couple of listings and think “that’s great, Maria would love that”. Then they type in “baby romper dinosaurs” as they finally know what they want to purchase and boom! you just got conversion/sale.

That’s why less volume / more conversion is good and you need to add long tail keywords to your listings. It’s good for SEO, sales and helps Etsy understand even more what your product is about, making it easier for them to put it in front of the right people. Again, that’s something that we knew before the announcement that Etsy made in September, but now they’ve really officialized it by saying that you should focus on the long tail keywords.

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This is part of getting your listing actually CLICKED ON when it shows in search (as it boosts your SEO score when someone clicks on it). We already know images are super important for that, but Etsy said that titles are also important, and they recommend the titles should be “short and easy to read”. Let’s break that down.

You can use up to 140 characters for your titles, but Etsy is pretty much saying you don’t need to necessarily use all of those characters. Instead, they want you to keep in mind that those titles need to be easy to read and there are two reasons for that. The first is mobile friendliness – more an more people are browsing Etsy on their phones and it doesn’t show the same amount of characters than on the desktop.

The second reason is that Etsy wants your titles to be created by a human for humans, not for computers. Let’s be honest, when you find a listing and the title is something like ‘Mug Coffee Cup, large Coffee Cup, fine time gift, gift for her, cute mug, sarcasm mug, coffee Mug, Coffee Mug 12 ounces’ this isn’t really human-friendly. It was written to try to maximize that SEO game and Etsy says it’s more important to be clear and concise to get that CLICK instead.

You want to have a title that people feel like they can click on because it resonates with what they’re looking for. Be descriptive of what your products are and don’t stuff your title with keywords and absolutely those 140 characters. It’s better to have something like “Set of 4 Ceramic Espresso Cups Ruby Red”. That’s a bit more human, will play nicely on mobile and get you more clicks, which will help you with your SEO score for that listing.


This is a touchy subject and it has made a lot of makers and Etsy shop owners really upset. Here’s what Etsy actually said:

“To make it easier for shoppers to find listings with competitive shipping prices, Etsy search factors shipping price into search ranking. Lowering your shipping prices makes your items more likely to rank higher in the search.”

There are a few things you can do here. I won’t get into the details in this video because I want to stay very factual rather than diving into the strategy but you can:

  • Add shipping to item price;
  • Split shipping between shipping and item cost to lower shipping;
  • Set a minimum order amount;
  • Set minimum order quantity;
  • Add free shipping only to local orders.

I know it’s not easy for every shop to do so but take it into consideration as it not only helps you rank better (algorithm), but it also gets you more sales which:

  1. yay and
  2. helps you rank even better as you have a better conversion rate.

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It appears that renewing your item isn’t quite as useful as it might have been in the past. Etsy does say in their SEO guide that items that are new or renewed get a small temporary boost. They also say that it might not be entirely worth it:

“{Renewed listings} get a temporary boost {that} can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on how often people are searching for a particular item. Regularly renewing your items or creating new listings just to get this small boost isn’t an effective search optimization strategy. Instead, we recommend focusing your time and efforts on improving your tags or working to help increase your conversion rate.”

It’s a nice way of saying “don’t bother”. The effort isn’t worth it, compared to all the other points we mentioned before to boost your SEO.

One more thing I’d like to mention is that pro and premium accounts on Etsy do not get preferential treatment when it comes to SEO score. I know that’s something that is being discussed widely all over the Internet and it is simply not true. Etsy has confirmed that themselves and I really don’t think they’re lying to you, so don’t feel that if you don’t upgrade your plan on Etsy, your item won’t rank as well because it has nothing to do with it.

I also have 3 tips for you:

  • SEO is important to make sure that your item gets found, but once your item is actually displayed in the search results, you have to make sure that people click on it and that they will purchase it, so really pay attention to the quality of your product images because that is key to more sales, a better conversion rate, and a better SEO score.
  • Don’t put all your eggs in the Etsy SEO basket. I know it’s tempting because it feels like it’s so important and because everyone seems to be talking about when you sell on Etsy, but really it isn’t. It’s important to pay attention to it. It’s important to take note of those changes and to make adjustments if necessary, but really you want to be driving your own traffic to your store as well. My recommendation has always been and still is to use Pinterest and an email marketing strategy to do so. So it would really recommend you look into diversifying your sources of traffic so that you don’t rely only on the traffic that Etsy sent you.
  • Read the SEO Guide. If you’re selling on Etsy and think that Etsy SEO is important and you’re about to make changes to your listings to accommodate for the new announcement that Etsy made, but you haven’t read the Etsy SEO Guide I believe that it is way worth your time to actually sit down for 45 minutes – it’s really not that long – and to read it from a to z. I’ve summed that up for you in this video so it’s better than if you didn’t know anything about it, but I would still recommend you go and read every single thing in this guide before believing anything that you read on forums, Facebook groups, or anywhere else on the Internet. It’s important that you use facts and when Etsy releases an official announcement, pay attention and take the time out of your week to actually read it.

What are your thoughts on Etsy SEO changes?

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