Monday evening the Brighton Etsy Team had arranged a talk about SEO – Search Engine Optimisation. This is something a lot of Etsyers struggle with, because it can be quite difficult. But it’s so important, because it’s the main thing that keeps your shop coming up in search. Without optimising your content for search, no one will ever find you.
The event was hosted by the lovely Sarah of Rock Cakes and Kev of Lomokev. They did a brilliant job of explaining the whole thing, so I think I understand it all a bit better now. And to prove it, I shall pass the knowledge on to you. 🙂
Now, there are two main things that count in SEO.
- Your own content
- Links leading to your content
And as an aside – when you search for yourself on Google, do yourself the favour of doing it properly. Google looks at your own browsing and search history to find results most likely to appeal to you, specifically, so you need to counteract that. If you’re signed in with a Google account, first of all sign out. Then, once you’ve done that, start a private browsing session. This has different names in different browsers, but what it basically does is that no one can see where you’ve been or what you’re doing. This means that if you do a Google search in a private session, it’s all based purely on ranking rather than on where you’ve been lately.
By the way, “ranking” is how the search engine decides which sites are more likely to appeal to you, or how important it is. The first result is ranked highest, and so on.
This site gives an overview over private browsing.
There are three parts of your content that come together to affect your ranking in search engines
1. Your title
This is the title of your webpage. If you have your own website, this is the stuff that goes into the <title> tag. If you’re on Etsy it’s the Shop Title in your Info & Appearance plus your shop name, or the title you give each listing. Keep in mind that on Etsy your Shop Sections also have titles, so name them something relevant.
2. The URL
The web address of your page. If it includes the same keywords as the title, this is brilliant. Etsy does this automatically for listings.
3. The description
On Etsy this is either the first 160 characters of your Shop Announcement (again under Info & Appearance) or the first 160 characters of your description in a listing. If you have your own website, it’s the stuff in the meta tags. If you don’t know what meta tags are, you should probably find out. 🙂
These three things work together to strengthen your ranking and the more you manage to repeat the keyword or keyphrase (without spamming it, of course), the higher you’ll rank.
Do not spam. I will repeat this. Do not spam keywords. Google sees right through that and will give you a lower ranking for it. And recovering from that is a lot harder than getting a good ranking in the first place. Make sure your titles and descriptions read like a human wrote it, rather than putting a million keywords in.
Ok, so I said three things, and Google doesn’t really look at your tags as I understand it, but if you’re on Etsy and want to be found in Etsy’s own search, you need to make the most of these.
Make sure your tags are:
- Not too vague
- Commonly used words or phrases
- Real words (don’t make up new words – no one is going to search for your ingenious literary creation. Sorry.)
Your tags on Etsy are 20 potential characters long each, so make use of them. Using phrases instead of words is called “longtail keywords”, and they’re very useful. So if you make jewellery, instead of tagging it “necklace”, use “silver necklace”. If you make hats, instead if putting “hat”, put “black top hat”. And so on. The more specific you are, the more likely buyers will find you when they’ve decided what they want.
If you get stuck for tags, ask family and friends. Ask people on social media. Ask team members on Etsy. Look at similar items and get inspired. Use the autofill function in the search bar. If you start typing something, it will suggest search phrases based on what’s most popular. Make use of that. Look at the trending items on Etsy. And use seasonal keywords. The same brooch can be a Christmas brooch in December and a spring brooch in April. It all depends on how you photograph it and sell it.
Most of all, though, make sure you have consistent, strong products. The products are at the foundation of the shop; without them you have nothing. Add good photography, SEO & keywords and an excellent description, and the sales will start coming in. Probably slowly at first, so don’t get discouraged.
And for the sake of all the deities you may or may not believe in, use spell check. 🙂
Read, re-read and re-re-read through your content to make sure everything looks right, and then run it through a spell checker. If you don’t have Microsoft Office, download LibreOffice – a free office suite with the same functionalities as MS Word.
There are two types of links – internal links and external links.
Internal links go within the same site. If you’re using Etsy, put a link to another listing at the bottom of each listing description. Keep people in your shop this way, and build credibility with search engines at the same time. It can be as easy as “If you like this bag/toy/illustration, you may also be interested in some of my other work: [link]”.
External links are trickier. The easiest way to create some is to post links on social media. However, don’t overdo this, as people quickly get sick of spammy accounts and unfollow you. And then you’re left with no followers. And no one will see your links anyway.
There are a few different, good ways to create external links:
- Social media
- Big media
Things like Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr are really good social media to use, because what you say can be retweeted/re-pinned/reblogged. This means that you only have to say something once, but if it’s good then people will take it and run with it, creating many more links and much more attention for you to bask in. It’s all good though – Facebook, Youtube, etc.
Instagram is also a useful social medium, but it doesn’t have clickable links. If you want to use it to point people to your site, you either need a memorable web address or a link shortener. You’ve probably encountered link shorteners even if you’re not aware of it – every time you see a link starting with bit.ly it’s been shortened. In fact, Bitly is a very good one to use. Try it out, I’ll wait. It even has a specific Etsy url if you want to shorten down your listing urls.
There are a lot of bloggers out there. Some are higher ranked than others, and Google has a funny thing where if the site that links to yours is highly ranked, it boosts your site’s ranking more than if the other site is considered less important. If you can get a highly ranked blog to link to you, your rank will shoot up! In theory, anyway.
You can contact bloggers you respect, and bloggers that write about similar stuff to what you’re all about, and ask them to write about you and/or your stuff. If you make summer dresses, find a fashion blog. If you make soaps, then a health & beauty blog would probably be a great fit. Perhaps even offer them a discount or a freebie in exchange for a feature.
I won’t go too far into this, but if you can get the Guardian to link to you, you’re set. Brighton Etsy had a previous talk about how to do PR and press releases, and rather than try to rehash all of that, I’ll just link to the Brighton Etsy Blog where you can find most of the information.
Ok, so you’ve done all of the above. How do you know if it worked? Well, you signed up for Google Analytics, of course. For that, you need a Google account. Once you’ve signed up, you go to http://www.google.com/analytics/ and sign in. I’m too lazy to walk you through the whole process, and there are loads of articles out there on how to get the most out of it, but I will point Etsy users to this article, which explains how you set up an account for your Etsy shop.
Within Etsy there is also a very useful tool – your Shop Stats. You can access them from the side bar of e.g. your Listings Manager, or you can do the hover thing and click it right from the pop-up menu.
On the Shop Stats page the main thing you’ll see is a graph. If you hover over the points on this graph, you can see how many views you had on any individual day. While you’re hovering, there’s also a little bit directly below which tracks “events” on that day. Events are things like new items listed, items relisted or listings shared on social media.
What you need to do is keep track of this graph as you’re making the SEO changes to your shop. When you’re improving your tags, see if your views go up over the following weeks. Same with optimising titles and descriptions.
Below the graph, you have the traffic sources. This shows how many hits you’ve had from different sites. Etsy is probably going to be on top, but you can use this to see if your Facebook campaign is working, if people are clicking through from Pinterest, or if being featured on that blog actually did anything.
Next, you have the keywords that led people to your shop. Here you can see what’s working and what’s not working. If you click to the last page of the recorded keywords, you can see which ones are getting the least hits. If you have any tags that aren’t getting hits at all, consider swapping them out for something else. Remember to always keep the changes for at least a few weeks before you decide it’s not working. Sometimes it takes a while for search to catch up.
Below this again you have the list of which products are getting the most hits. Again, go to the last page. The products that are getting the least views are the ones you need to work on. Perhaps the title isn’t great, or the photos need updating. Then keep track to see if you’re getting more views on that item.
And that’s mostly it.
A couple of tips Sarah gave at the end – first, if you ever find yourself featured on the Front Page of Etsy and you only have one in stock, find out if you can make more and up your stock levels! Because once it sells, if you only had one in stock, you’re off the front page and you won’t get any more exposure from it.
Second, keep the products coming. The more stock you have the more likely you are to be found in search, and the more often you update, the more likely people will keep coming back to see what new things you have.
Phew, that was a long post. I think I’ve summed up most of what was said, but if you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll see if I can answer. 🙂