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10 Ways to Beat the Etsy Algorithm

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

I’ve been selling on Etsy for over 5 years and have made over 500 sales. People often ask me for tips so I thought I’d write a blog post to share my learnings. I hope that you find some of them useful.

For context, I no longer sell many items on Etsy. My strategy has changed to drive traffic to this website instead. So, if you happen to venture over to my Etsy shop you may notice it’s currently lacking lustre. This is deliberate as I plan to close my Etsy shop this year and focus purely on website sales. Just wanted to get that out there.

1. Add your Shop Name to each listing title

I see this so often, someone starts an Etsy shop (yay, congrats!), you search for them by shop name on Etsy - nothing comes up. It’s so simple but adding your shop name to each of your listing titles means that anyone searching for you can find your products easily. These are your easiest sales to convert so it’s a great place to start.

Example: “Baby booties hand crocheted in taupe organic wool by The Knitting Queen

2. Put the most important words first

Etsy search results only show up the first two or three words of a listing title in the search results page. So, make sure the two or three most important words are first on your listing title.

Bad example: “Blue, green and gold hand painted vase by Amy’s Creations

And that’s it. Sure, there’s a picture but if people can’t tell within about a second what your item is, they’re unlikely to click. They will scroll on past.

So, try something front loaded using the inverted triangle principle of most important information first:

Good example: “Vase hand painted in blue green and gold by Amy’s Creations

3. Use all the words

It’s worth remembering that your listing title doesn’t necessarily need to make grammatic sense. Algorithms use keywords and likeness matches to work out whose stuff to show, or not show, in search results.

So use all the spaces provided to you on your listing title and don’t worry too much if it doesn’t make exact sense. You don’t want to waste precious characters on prepositions or definite articles. You just want people to find you and understand quickly what it is you’re selling.

Once you’ve got your head around this you’ll start to notice other sellers doing this. Or you may have noticed already and wondered why some people on Etsy have lost their grasp of basic grammar. They haven’t, they just want to get their stuff to show up in search results.

Example: “Polymer earrings geometric black grey pink terrazzo Emo goth monochrome mother’s day gift handmade by Jessie’s Jewels”

Does it read right? Not exactly. But you get a really good idea of the product, the target audience, the occasion and who made it. More to the point anyone searching for a goth Mother’s Day gift will be super happy you listed your product this way. But more on this strategy next.

4. Know your audience

Target everyone, sell to no one. Did someone important once say that? Dunno, but hopefully you get my point? When you’re marketing your products don’t try to appeal to everyone. If you’re making baby products; target mums. Yes there are dads, grandparents and gift givers to consider but the main bulk of your traffic is either going to be a mum, a pregnant woman or someone shopping for a new mum gift.

By being specific about who you are targeting and the occasion, you are going to attract the right buyers to your listing who want to buy from you. You don’t want to waste your time with people further up the marketing funnel. You want people who are like ‘oh crap I need a new mum gift ASAP’ and ta-dah your stuff comes up in their search results.

Example: “Breast feeding cushion handmade organic cotton Scandi design new mum baby gift by Clare’s Cushions”

There can be no doubt who you are selling to and what you are offering. You’re more likely to come up in their search results.

5. Changes can take up to 30 days

So you’ve had a tinker across all your listings. This is excellent, well done it takes flipping ages and you probably need a glass of Chablis right now. But where are the sales? Why isn’t your phone making the Etsy ker-ching sound?!

So algorithms and bots take a while to crawl websites. Sometimes up to a month. Yeah, annoying I know. So, if you suddenly realise Mother’s Day is tomorrow there’s probably not a lot of point changing 20 listings. Sorry to say you may have missed the boat on that one.

But what you might want to try is changing say half your listings and leaving the other half as they were. This is known as A / B testing. It’s a great way to test if your hunch was correct, without jeopardising all your listings in case the killer tweak you thought of wasn’t so killer after all. And don’t beat yourself up about this either; marketing is all about testing and learning. Dialling up what works and dialling down what doesn’t. There is no exact science only data and creativity.

6. More listings mean more chances

I was once told that to make sure you come up on the first page of search results you needed 80 or more product listings. Let that sink in for a moment. I mean, that’s literally insane, right?

So, whilst physically creating 80 products to make 80 listings is not possible for most normal people who have a full time job or kids outside of their Etsy side hustle, there are a few quick wins to increasing the amount of products in your shop with very little effort required. Hold on for the maths talk!

- Bundle your products: So, let’s say you sell a pack of four coasters. Each coaster has a different design so you could bundle 2 packs together to make a listing for 8 coasters. That’s one more listing.

- Split your products: This same 4-pack of coasters could be split into two 2-packs. And then split the other way to make another 2-packs. You’ve just made four more listings.

- Sell each coaster individually. That’s another 4 listings.

- Group with another item you sell, perhaps wine charm or napkin ring. That’s another listing call it the ‘Ultimate Night In’ package, for example.

Anyway, hopefully you can see that by grouping or splitting what you already have you can easily and quickly create more listings in your shop. It looks great when buyers check out your shop but will also help you to appear in search results too.

7. Use all your tags

Hopefully this is fairly self-explanatory but you can have up to 13 tags on each listing – please use them all! A bit like the A / B testing I mentioned in point 5, so you might want to try different sets of tags on different listings to see which ones work best for you before rolling them out to all your listings. Remember to give them at least one month for the algorithms and bots to do their thing.

Sometimes people say they struggle to fill all 13 so here’s an example to help you think up some more:

Purple bangle; purple bracelet; plastic bracelet; plastic bangle; purple jewellery; purple jewelry; mum gift; mothers day; birthday gift; purple plastic; violet bangle; violet jewellery; purple gift.

8. New listings get more attention

Add new listings to your Etsy shop regularly. New product listings seem to get a bit of a boost in search results. In addition, anyone following you will also see your new listings come up in their Etsy news feed.

9. Get your policies up to date

Make sure you fill in all your shop policies, Etsy prioritises shops that have all the sections filled in. Not sure what to say? Check out other sellers and use theirs as a guide. I’m not suggesting you plagiarise but research some similar shops to help inform what you’d like to say in yours.

10. Is your postage too high?

Items that have a postage that is perceived to be too high are likely to put off potential buyers. This is slightly contentious but one way around this is to put your item cost up by £1 or £2 and lower your postage. This may seem counter intuitive, but many people believe that offering low, or even free P&P, helps convert more sales despite the slightly higher price point.

Well, I hope some of that is useful? There of course many other ways to leverage the Etsy algorithm, I haven’t even touched on product photography or product descriptions for long tail searches. But these are the quick wins for anyone who isn’t into metrics and dashboards.

Good luck! Live long and prosper. Vic xx

Disclaimer: This post is in no way endorsed by Etsy. All listings and shop names used are fabricated by me as examples to illustrate a point. Any likeness to actual Etsy shops, sellers or listings are purely coincidental.

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