The Etsy Shop Optimization Phone Call

I’ve been on Etsy since 2008, in this shop, with another one even earlier on. You could say I’m an old hand at this. I regularly get email surveys and try-out emails from Etsy because I join all the marketing research they offer. Earlier this year and then again, later, I got offered a phone call to help optimize my shop. I decided to go with it. I figured I’d get to ask questions and they’d try to sell me Etsy ads.

Turns out, no, it was exactly as billed. We did a bit of a shop critique right out of the shop optimization checklist that we get sent to do with our Etsy Teams. And the stuff I always need to improve is still the stuff I need to improve: more pictures Elaine! Tweak your titles for the current SEO practice! Work on your social media game to bring outside folks in!

It’s just that this time, Emily – whom I’ve real life met, while at an Etsy Canada meeting! – explained that the algorithm which determines your placement in search takes a variety of things into consideration and awards you “points” towards your score. Your score determines how you place in search, how often your stuff gets to be recommended, and probably a bunch of other stuff.

You get points for:

  • Having 5 to 10 photos. I did not have this ANYWHERE and I have 400+ listings.
  • Using all or almost of your tags. This one I rock.
  • Make your titles useful rather than just long. Front load the important stuff in the first few words. I am a mixed bag here.
  • Having made sales, favourites, positive reviews. I’m good, I’ve been there FOREVER
  • Offering free shipping along Etsy’s coercive policy suggestion. Not a fan but I do it.
  • Bringing in outside visitors. This one was new to me!

There are other things on the list but we sort of glossed over those and visited (here’s a partial list though). I have more than 8000 sales on Etsy and, honestly, this would have been better for someone who’d started making sales but was much earlier on in their Etsy journey.

I made some filler graphics for my listings to bring more of them up to at least 5 slots. That was an excellent suggestion. What do I mean by filler graphics? A picture of your packaging. A social media follow list. A related items picture. That sort of thing. Since I’ve been updating photos anyways – ongoing process from Hell – this is the time. I used Vela, an Etsy suggested app, to add two images to each of my 400+ listings in seconds. For free. I use Canva or Adobe Express for that sort of graphic thing and the free versions of each of those still do fabulous things.

These are two graphics I used in the pictures slots:

Since I still have something like 100 items with fewer than 5 images… I’ll probably toss another filler graphic for the packaging details.

I’ll also tweak my titles. I do this on the regular as I renew stuff anyways but it’s always worth a little more poking. Same with tags – make sure they’re all there, all spelled correctly. A bit of trivia was how you can see what tags people have searched to reach your listing on the bottom of the listing page (or check competition, to see what brought folks to THOSE listings) and use some of those.

And I’ll work on my social media game a bit more so that I can grab people a little more often. I’m lucky – I have good sales momentum but I’m also crushingly anxious about it all disappearing if the mail service gets worse in the US or if I get a certain virus going around.

Basically, this is the argument that there is always some inexpensive tweaks you can do to concretely improve your Etsy shop. I do not buy Etsy ads on site and apart from a few experiments with it early, early on I probably won’t. And I would opt out of the Etsy offsite ads if I had a choice.

Two further bits of advice:

  • The Etsy Seller Handbook has newish (2019/2020) articles if it’s been awhile since you had a look
  • CindyLouWho2 does regular, useful updates about SEO, what Etsy has broken lately, and a variety of related topics. Dig in.

updated in 2022: I’ll write a new post for this but adding updates here: Vela, the excellent editor for Etsy things, is no longer free but is pretty reasonably priced to use for a month if you need to do something like I did here. Etsy has continued to update their SEO practices so check that out in the handbook – it impacts what you should include in titles, descriptions and, now, alt text for images. Adobe Spark rebranded to become Adobe Express and added a bunch more functionality, even for the free version, that’s nifty.