Etsy SEO for Long Tail Keywords

How to use onsite SEO strategies to get your products ranking higher in Etsy's search engine.

Etsy SEOThere are a lot of good resources out there about Etsy SEO and how to optimize your Etsy product page for search engines, but I want to explore in more detail how to rank higher in Etsy’s own search engine.

After some careful experimentation it seems that Etsy SEO and their own search algorithm might not be that complicated for long tail search terms.

My wife’s Etsy shop AbleGrable sells vintage kitchen items. She has an item that is a Federal Glass bowl with a sunflower design on it. It was showing up in Etsy’s search for the phrase “federal glass sunflower bowl”. Granted this is quite a specific search phrase but I wanted to find a search where the product was showing up on the first page of the Etsy search results.

Her Federal Glass bowl was ranked about 32nd on the first page for this search. I started looking at the products ranked in the top 4 and looked closely at their product pages. The first thing I noticed was the product title of the first three items all the had the exact phrase “federal glass sunflower bowl”.

Being an SEO, I know how important a title is so it made sense the product title would be so indicative of how to rank the product. So the first step to optimizing your Etsy products for the Etsy search engine is the product title.

Disclaimer: So far these strategies appear to only be working for longer tail search phrases (4 words or more).

Step 1: The Product Title

Title tag – One of the most important aspects of onsite SEO is the title tag. Turns out Etsy pulls the page’s Title Tag from the item title. Also, I noticed once I changed the item title to include the exact phrase “federal glass sunflower bowl” it jumped up a to about the 10th spot immediately!

Just like your regular keyword research, the short tail search terms are going to more competitive and take a lot more than just an item title to compete. In this preliminary research, I haven’t discovered a pattern for the shorter tail keywords. The strategies in this post work better for long tail keywords.

etsy-title-tag-645px

H1 Tag – The item title is also your H1 tag which is another important onsite SEO attribute that helps search engines understand what your page is about. When you change your item title you are actually killing 3 birds with one stone (see next section). It’s just important to note the extent of the impact this item title can have on organic SEO.

Etsy H1 tag

Image alt tag – The final SEO attribute that the item title affects is the image alt tag. This tag communicates to search engines what the images on your page are about. Etsy automatically populates the alt tag of ALL your images from the product item title. Make sure to add the maximum number of images (5) to get your image alt tag on the page as many times as possible.

Etsy image alt tag

Step 2: The Product Description

Meta description – The next most important item in optimizing your Etsy products is the product description. I realized that Etsy creates the meta description of the page from your product description. Make sure the keywords you are targeting are located in at least the first 100 words of your product description to ensure they show up on search engines.

When I added the exact search phrase to the very beginning of the product description, my wife’s item jumped up to spot #4 in the search results for “federal glass sunflower bowl”.

Etsy meta description

Below you can see how the product page shows up in Google after optimizing it for the phrase “federal glass sunflower bowl”. You can see that the title tag (blue link) and meta description both contain the keyword as I have added them to the product details.

Etsy product google snippet

Here you can see how the product now shows up in the Etsy search engine for the key phrase. The most astounding thing about this process is how fast the search engine updated. This makes me think Etsy does indeed search for products on the fly instead of indexing them like a search engine like Google. This makes it very easy to experiment with different item titles to see how you can show up in the Etsy search results.

Etsy search ranking

The Etsy Search Engine Algorithm

There has to be much more to the Etsy search engine than just these two attributes but it’s not clear yet what is most important to Etsy. Besides the title and product description there have to be some metrics that Etsy looks at in addition. Looking at the top 4 products for our search phrase “federal glass sunflower bowl” I analyzed the number of product favorites, store reviews and date the store was opened. As you can see below there is no correlation.

These numbers may hold more weight in short tail search terms but that will take more experimentation and testing. Etsy may also treat different categories of products different than others. More competitive categories may be more difficult to game.

Etsy product statsTL;DR

  • Product titles and descriptions are the 2 most important attributes for optimizing an Etsy product
  • The product title dictates the Title Tag, H1 tag, Image alt tag of the page
  • The meta description of the page is populated from the product description
  • So far, product and store stats don’t seem to influence long tail keyword searches

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About the author: Scott Taft
Scott loves good writing, good coffee and good music. He currently works at SEER Interactive in Philadelphia but in his spare time he loves blogging about content right here on OG Content.
18 Comments
  1. jensdreamdecor April 17, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Hello, being a bit of a techno wimp, could you please explain what an image alt tag is…I have no idea ??

    • Scott Taft April 17, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      Sure thing! The purpose of an alt tag is to describe the image so search engines know what it is of. It can be a short phrase or even a sentence – the point is to get your keywords into it.

      When you have an img tag in HTML, the alt tag sits within it like so:

      Hope that helps!

      • jensdreamdecor April 17, 2014 at 9:20 pm

        thanks, this is great information, hope to put it to good use :)

        • Delta Moon Soap April 18, 2014 at 2:26 am

          Thanks for the info. I now realize I need to use all my pix, I get lazy and just do a couple most of the time, anything that helps is a good thing!

  2. Angela @ pillowhead April 17, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Does the actual file name of the images you are uploading have any value then if Etsy is populating the image alt tags automatically? If I call my image picture1.jpg vs calling it handembroideredpillowpillowhead.jpg?

    • Scott Taft April 17, 2014 at 6:45 pm

      Usually the image filename plays a role in onsite SEO but it looks like Etsy renames them automatically so I wouldn’t waste your time renaming images.

      For example, I tried calling one “federal-glass-sunflower-bowl.jpg” and it was renamed to https://img1.etsystatic.com/041/0/9149957/il_570xN.588908793_ikhw.jpg

      • Angela @ pillowhead April 17, 2014 at 8:36 pm

        That’s too bad. Also explains why my pictures never come up in image searches on google.

        Thanks for your reply!

        • Scott Taft April 17, 2014 at 9:23 pm

          Good point. Kind of a missed opportunity on Etsy’s part. I imagine they could increase their traffic through Google Image search.

  3. LeAllyson Meyer April 25, 2014 at 1:06 am

    Scott – This is such good information. Thanks for taking time to research how Etsy handles this. I am going to my Etsy shop, Plum Beadacious, to try out some things to see if I can improve my SEO on products.

    • Scott Taft April 25, 2014 at 1:29 am

      Glad you found it useful, LeAllyson! Let me know if you need help.

      Btw, nice looking shop!

  4. Mariah May 16, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    i have read both ways on the description. That it either helps or it doesn’t. Some articles claim its all about tags and title.

    However this is good proof. My Shop is Etsy.com/shop/CoverMePonchos. As you can see, I agree that description has something to do with it.

  5. AntiDote August 4, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    SO let me understand. There seem to be no mention of TAGS which are all over the Etsy forums alongside the Title and Description. What is their significance, if any, in terms of ranking on etsy search?

    Cheers, Davor

    https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/AntiDoteSkinCare?ref=hdr_shop_menu

    http://www.antidoteco.com

    • Scott Taft August 5, 2014 at 3:06 am

      Great question. Not sure…there might have to be another experiment.

  6. Destination Ltd October 12, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Thanks for the great info Scott! I am currently playing with mine in my Etsy shop and I am finding that it is a combination of title, description and tags. Corresponding your key search terms at the beginning of these seems to bring a higher relevancy in search.

    • Scott Taft October 12, 2014 at 8:36 pm

      Good to know Tags are playing a part in rankings. I always imagined Etsy would take them into account but hadn’t tested them myself. Let me know if you come across any other interesting tidbits and glad you found this useful!

  7. Sharon (The Old Button) October 14, 2014 at 6:16 am

    What a great article. Really explains it easily to the non techie like me. Am off to check my meta descriptions & titles. Have signed up to your blog and look forward to more – especially if you look into shorter word searches and the benefits of tags….

    • Scott Taft October 15, 2014 at 10:59 am

      Good luck with the changes, Sharon. Let me know how it works for you!

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