Etsy SEO 101: How a Full Time Seller Does SEO for Etsy

Etsy SEO 101

Hi there! Having trouble figuring out Etsy SEO?

I’m Bethany. I’m a full time Etsy seller, single mother and I support my family selling products on Etsy since 2012.

And today, I’m going to take you through Etsy SEO 101 – exactly the same process I have used over and over again to make over 10,000 sales in three different shops.

It is the same method I used when I was laid off from my last “job” in February when I started my SVG shop and literally replaced my income in under 3 months.

Now I’m going to teach it to you, step by step. I’m going to pretend I’m selling t-shirts for a moment, and show you how I would Etsy SEO for a t-shirt shop.

This is a long process and I’m pretty wordy so you might want to get comfy and grab some coffee.

Shall we begin?

Etsy SEO – an overview

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation:

Person A: “I’ve been on Etsy for a few months but I can’t figure out why I’m not making sales! I don’t even get ANY views! Does no one like my stuff?”

Me: “Well, if you aren’t getting any views at all, it’s probably not your product, it’s probably your SEO. Have you studied how to do SEO?”

Person A: “What’s SEO?”

Ahh yes, the mysterious SEO. Here’s what Etsy SEO is:

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” In short, it is how Etsy’s website magically knows what items someone is looking for when they are searching and using keywords (which are not just “words” but are just what you call the phrase/words someone types in when they are searching).

In fact, it isn’t magic – it’s simply just a matter of you having the right keywords in your tags and titles. You have to have the exact search phrases in your title and also matching in your tags.

That’s really all it comes down to. Here’s an example:

Maria wants to get a new winter hat and her favorite color is blue. She goes onto Etsy and searches for “blue knit hat.” She sees a bunch of listings for blue knitted hats and she happily browses away until she finds the perfect blue knit hat for herself, adds it to her cart and buys it. Cha-ching!

Fact 1 – If you are selling a blue knit hat but your title and tags don’t have “blue knit hat” (the EXACT phrase), she would never have seen your listing.

Fact 2 – Etsy’s search algorithm will “mix and match” keywords BUT you end up buried at the very end of the search results. If your title is something like ” Softest Hat You Will Ever Wear Hand Knit With Love Using Blue Alpaca Yarn,” you may notice that all those three words are technically in that title, so technically, you will rank. Except you’ll be buried on page 800 of the listings… so might as well not be.

Clear as mud? So the tl;dr for this is basically this:

Creative, whimsical titles will not get your items found. Mix and match will get you nowhere. Targeted, keyword based titles and tags will get you found.

So your titles should look like this: “Keyword 1 – Keyword 2 – Keyword 3 – Keyword 4” and so forth. And then each keyword copied into the tags (split up long keywords into two tags, totally okay to do that).

Step 1 – How I get good keywords

If you read up much about Etsy SEO, you’ll see a lot of people use Google keyword data. But I’ll be the one to say nope – I’ve found that Google keywords (as in, the things people type into Google) are not always relevant to Etsy shopper behavior.

So I just go back to basics, and I head over to Etsy to use the ol’ basic search bar autocomplete. Etsy’s search autocomplete uses real actual keywords that real actual shoppers are typing, so I know it’s always relevant and up to date.

Let’s assume I’m selling a t-shirt that says “Coffee is my BFF.” It’s funny, a little bit cute, and I’ve used a more feminine script that will appeal to women. Even though it isn’t directly mom-related, I know it will appeal to moms. So I start typing, based on those keywords.

Note: I’m hardcore when I do this and I literally type each keyword into a list to keep track of all the keywords. I do this for two reasons: First, so when I have a new item to SEO, I can quickly know what keywords are relevant.

And second, Etsy’s autocomplete has a rolling time period. Which means it only shows data from the last few months, so if I continue to periodically do keyword research it shows me some more seasonal keywords. For example, Christmas keywords are not shown in March, but I’ll get a lot of St Patrick’s Day keywords.

I won’t lie to you, it’s work. But – if you want your Etsy shop to succeed, you MUST put time and work into the business and marketing end. It will be well worth it in the end, I promise.

Step 2 – Crafting my Title & TAGS

Once I’ve compiled a decent list of keywords that I want to use, I simply string them together to make my title. It’s VERY simple at this point. Here are some keywords that literally came up for me when I was writing this article:

  • Funny coffee tshirt
  • Coffee tshirt
  • Coffee t shirt
  • Funny tshirts
  • Funny Shirts
  • Funny tshirts for women
  • Funny tshirts for moms
  • Coffee lover shirt
  • Coffee lover tshirt
  • Coffee lovers gift
  • Coffee tshirt women
  • Coffee is my bff

And so forth. If you can’t tell, I initially started typing in one keyword (funny, or coffee lover, etc) and looked through the list until I saw something that applied to my item.

So using my above keywords, here is what I would type in as my item title:

Coffee Lover Shirt – Coffee T-shirt Women – Funny Coffee TShirt – Coffee is my BFF – Coffee Lovers Gift – Funny Tshirts for Women

Now – regarding tags. Tags are basically just an extension of the title. I don’t know why Etsy does it this way, but your tags MUST match your title keywords. The Etsy SEO doesn’t really work well otherwise.

So basing everything off my title,  my tags would be:

Coffee Lover, Coffee Lover Shirt, Coffee Tshirt Women, Coffee T-shirt, Funny Coffee, Coffee Tshirt, Coffee is my bff, coffee lovers gift, Funny tshirts, tshirts for women

The above tags are based off exact phrases (punctuation aside) that are in the title. If I have any space for tags left, I might put in some mix and match tags like “Coffee Shirt” and so forth.

Extra Etsy SEO Tips:

Etsy SEO tip 1:
Using what we call “longtail” keywords is a great place to start with this. Understanding that the shorter the keyword is (t-shirts) the more traffic it will get, but also there is more competition and people are often just browsing when they use generic keywords.

If you use a more specific keyword (Coffee Lover Shirt), you are more likely to make sales because people using the more specific keywords are more likely to buy and there is less competition.

Etsy SEO Tip #2:
Your FIRST (Primary) keyword should be the most important one that you are gearing towards. Really, the first 30 or so characters are vital. Do not put anything in there that is not essential. I’ve seen people put internal SKU numbers there so they can easily keep track – but they are losing sales as a result.

Etsy SEO Tip #3:
Etsy does what they call “declumping.” What this means is that their search results will never show more than 1-2 items per seller in any given page of listings. Because of this, you should never SEO more than 2-3 items for the same primary keyword, because if you do, you’re competing with yourself. Mix it up and make sure you are targeting different keyword variations.

Etsy SEO Tip #4:
After a month or two, I would really recommend going into your listing analytics to see what keywords come up a lot for a particular item. I’ve noticed that oftentimes I have an item that is very popular but if I look at the analytics, I notice that the main keyword it’s being found for, is not actually the primary keyword on my title/tags. I usually switch it around to optimize for the keyword that is bringing me the most traffic.

Periodically, you may want to just keep re-checking this. The more popular an item is, the higher on the search rankings it will get for the higher competition keywords. If you continue to refine the SEO, you will find you can catapult a listing to page one for a pretty good high traffic keyword – and keep it there. It just takes time.

Etsy SEO questions by readers

None yet! Want to ask a question? Ask in the comments and I’ll answer it here!

Thank you SO much for joining me today and I wish you ALL the sales and LOTS of cha-chings for your shop ❤️

Trying to figure out Etsy SEO? Don't miss this step-by-step tutorial from a full time Etsy seller on the exact process she uses to SEO her items to get FOUND on Etsy.

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2 thoughts on “Etsy SEO 101: How a Full Time Seller Does SEO for Etsy”

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for the article. In tip 4 you talk about the main keywords it’s being found for. Do you mean when you are in your Etsy stats the Search tems section. Because some searchterms mentioned there aren’t even used by me. But possible people do found my stuff by those search terms..? And some ofcourse are used in my tags. But I’m confused what you mean.

    1. Hi Suzanne,

      Okay yes – if you go into the stats for that individual item (I usually go from the listings page, find the item I want to look at, click the little gear on the lower right and select “stats”) you will see a list of keywords used. These are NOT necessarily the keywords used in your listing – these are the keywords that were used by people that arrived at your listing. Not only do you see the keywords, but how many people visited you for that specific keyword. If your item has good SEO, you’ll probably have 1 or 2 keywords that have WAY more views than the others.

      What I mean is – let’s say you have your item title listed as “Keyword 1 – Keyword 2 – Keyword 3” and so forth. You go look into your stats and notice that even though it’s not in the first 30 characters of your title, you actually get a TON of hits from Keyword 3 but not many from Keyword 2. It’s pretty clear that people using Keyword 3 REALLY like your item. So then you would change your title around to be “Keyword 3 – Keyword 1 – Keyword 2” which optimizes you even better for keyword 3, and will result in more sales because we already know that buyers using Keyword 3 respond really well to your item.

      The other thing is, sometimes you’ll notice you get a lot of hits for a particular keyword that is not even in the title – perhaps the words are all there, but it’s not one you included. It would be smart, again, to optimize for that keyword so you can get in front of even MORE eyes for that particular keyword.

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