SEO for Etsy: Getting Listing Titles Right

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Confused about SEO for Etsy? The forums are rife with conflicting tips. Etsy shop owners are told to put their shop name in their titles, use an adjective first, a noun first, use commas, don’t use commas, or to stuff their titles with as many descriptive keywords as they can. None of these are rules to good SEO, yet these myths prevail.

In this article, I’ll address some common SEO myths on Etsy and talk about how search engines function.

SEO tips for Etsy sellers

NOTE: While I talk about Etsy specifically, these tips can be applied to other online marketplaces and websites.

Stop keyword stuffing

Stop keyword stuffing

You’ve just finished a beautiful handcrafted bag and are ready to list it on Etsy. You want it to show up on as many search results as possible so you spam the title with as many adjectives as you can. All the things a buyer might use to find it.

You come up with something like this: “Handmade bright blue baby pink silk lining neon purse bag hobo tote canvas cotton cloth double straps shoulder cool casual.”

Now imagine yourself as a prospective buyer. You see the same title as a link on Google. There’s no picture. What’s the seller actually selling? A handmade purse? A bright blue baby? Some silk to line your purse with?

Buyers aren’t going to click those listings and Google doesn’t like what their users won’t click on. It’s all about user experience.

Google is evolving: future-proof your SEO

Google is constantly changing the way search results are handled- about 500 updates are made to its algorithm every year. That averages at around 2 per day.

In the early days of the internet, software was very simple. All a search program did was look for the exact same words it was told to. If someone typed in “handmade soap,” it’d look for every page with those words in the title, giving little consideration to anything else.

Computers are much more sophisticated now. Their behavior is getting more and more organic, and they’ll continue to evolve in ways that mimic human behavior.

Google is evolving

Search engines currently use complex mathmathetical algorithms to judge a site’s ranking. Many factors are considered- everything from the way the language flows to the amount of links the page is getting matters. There are enough variables at play to fill an entire book.

Search engines order sites very similar to how a person would rate them, by trusting those recommended by authoritative sites and prioritizing descriptive page titles.

The average person is inclined to buy something recommended by the New York Times as opposed to the local tabloid. And they’re more likely to click on a title that makes sense rather than one with a string of random words. Google does the same.

Future-proof your listing tiles by writing them for people, not dated machines. Make your language as natural as possible. For example: “Hand stitched summer dress for children, available in pink and ivory.” It doesn’t matter if the first word is a noun or an adjective; use punctuation if will help a person understand your title better.

Google is smarter than you think

While the right keywords are important, they don’t even have to be in your title for you to rank for them. Here’s why:

Dior customers don’t need the company to have the words lipstick or luxury clothing in its boutique signs to know they can shop there for those products. Google doesn’t either- it can tell what your shop is selling by reading about you on the web, like a real consumer would.

SEO for Etsy: what’s set in stone

The only “rules” are to stay within the 70 character limit for titles if you want Google to show the entire thing, and to put the most important keywords first.

Keep in mind that Etsy will add ” by *your Etsy shop name*” at the end of all your titles, which counts in the 70 character limit.

SEO for Etsy for beginners – PDF guide

BUT! In the event you’ve got a long title: just because Google is only showing the first half doesn’t mean the rest isn’t being considered, it’s just being given lower importance.

REMEMBER: Etsy likes to remove special characters in your listing titles when sending them to Google, so be careful if you decide to use hyphens or commas.

Selling on Etsy: Vary your titles

You’re looking for a handmade necklace, so you type it into the search bar. The first page is full of links to the exact same necklace, from the same store, just different color variations. The next 3 pages are the same necklace on other stores. And it happens for every handmade necklace afterwards.

Annoying isn’t it? If only the search engine you chose was smart enough to know there’s only 1 unique necklace every 3 pages.

When there are a lot of very similar listings, Google will choose the highest ranked one and discard the rest as spam. This holds true for both listing titles and descriptions.

Use different keywords in each of your listing titles on Etsy to help your store get indexed for a variety of search terms. This is what you should be doing instead putting every single related keyword on every listing. For example, use “6oz Handcrafted bath bomb – natural lavender fragrance” on the first and “Lavender scented bath fizz, handmade with natural ingredients” on the second one.

Getting SEO keywords right: choose wisely

go for long string keywords

When it comes to choosing keywords for your Etsy listing title, be as specific as possible.

Target your buyers by going for longer, more descriptive phrases like “handmade soap for sensitive skin.” Put yourself in your customers shoes and ask yourself what a person who’ll buy your products is looking for. Use Google for inspiration by typing phrases into the search bar. A dropdown list will appear, listing the most common related searches.

The Google Adwords keyword tool is helpful in finding keywords that aren’t commonly used. It’s far better to be listed first for 100 searches a month, rather than being buried on page 50 for terms that are Googled millions of times a week.

Try not to split phrases. If your target buyers are more likely to use “handmade ceramic plate,” don’t split it by writing “handmade blue ceramic plate.” Go for “blue handmade ceramic plate” instead.

Optimising listing titles: is repetition OK?

Etsy shop owners are often told not to repeat the item’s tags in their titles. The logic is, since both tags and titles are being crawled, it’s a waste list the same word twice. This is only partially true.

The Etsy search takes tags into account when showing results, but Google doesn’t prioritize them like Etsy does. In Google’s eyes, Etsy tags are only links at the bottom of a page. More weight is given to the listing title. (But this does not mean it is the only thing that matters- Google crawls everything on a page.)

Put the phrases you want to rank for in the listing title or description and use the rest as tags.

The TL;DR version

-Don’t treat Google as a platform for you to reach a huge, general market. Think of Google as a medium that can introduce a customer to the most appropriate business.
-Don’t stuff your titles with keywords. Vary them across listings instead.
-Try to limit your titles to 70 characters or less.
-Use natural language.
-The keyword doesn’t have to be in the Etsy title or description in order to rank for it.
-Stick to long-string keywords that aren’t commonly used.
-Consider prospective buyers.
-Get your SEO facts from the right people.

In-depth Guide

For more details on Etsy SEO and a PDF guide that walks you through each step, check out SEO For Etsy: The ULTIMATE Guide


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  28. Rita

    Great article! Was using to play with my listings.
    Thank you so much for your time !

    • Blaire

      You’re welcome, Rita! Thanks for reading.

  29. Arieh

    Great article.. It is a very complex thing to do and can mean the difference between a successful or unsuccessful shop. Do you know anybody who can do the seo or key tabs for my Etsy shop?

    • Blaire

      Thanks Arieh! I just responded to your e-mail.

  30. Majilly

    Great article, I’ve been a lot of contradicting things in ‘teams’ , this has made seo a lot clearer for me.

    • Blaire

      Glad you found this helpful, Majilly! Most of the information is contradictory since Google and Etsy’s search don’t work the same way; and a lot of the myths being spread used to work years ago.

  31. Leslie

    Really helpful side-by-side comparison of Etsy & Google. Thank you!

    • Blaire

      Thanks for commenting, Leslie, I’m glad you find it helpful!

  32. Sherry

    Thankyou for this article. I always wondered how to list the same item but in a different way. You are right it is extremely annoying to type in a specific item and most of the items come from the same shop.

    • Blaire

      I’m glad this article helped, Sherry!

      The funny thing is that the sellers who try to get lots of items on one page are probably thinking that it increases the chances of clicks. But it just ends up frustrating buyers and turns them off using search.

    • Janine Davis

      You can also list similar items in the same listing and use the drop down menus to let buyers choose various options. I use this for a lot of my listings.

  33. Great article! Thanks for sharing these tips and insights. I should probably do tag “check ups” on a regular basis….

    • Blaire

      Robyn, it’s definitely a good idea since search trends change all the time.

  34. Janine Davis

    This is great advice. I just finished changing the word “knit” to “handknit” for my listings. I do have a question though. How should I handle items with lots of color options? The titles for my items are already a bit long, and some of my items come in a large variety of colors. For example the flower hat has 10 color options. I have the colors listed in the description, but should I indicate this in the title as well?

    • Blaire

      Thanks for commenting, Janine.

      Color isn’t that important since people usually don’t get that specific (the only people I can think of are those making treasuries and they’re not going to use Google).

      It’s much better to go for other kinds of descriptive phrases than color and listing options in the description. The Adwords tool I linked in the article can help you choose.

      If color must be stated, I’d list the most popular ones or say there are options. For example, “baby flower hat available in pink, blue, red” or “baby hat with flowers – 10 colors.”

      Another way of going about it is to use the color people will search for the most. For example, treasury makers often look for red items during Christmas time so that’s the one I’d suggest putting in the title in December.

      Hope this helps.

    • Blaire

      Thanks for your comment, Paula! I’m glad you found the article helpful.

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