How Etsy’s New “Search by Relevancy” Will Affect You

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When I was at CCE last week, I sat in on a panel that Danielle from Etsy was heading up and one of the things she mentioned that was of interest to me was the sort by relevancy search, which would be the new default for searches. I was excited about the change, as a shopper, but I am certain that Etsy shop owners were even more excited by the news.

At the time of her presentation, Danielle mentioned that the new search function hadn’t been released yet, so I didn’t say anything, but as of Tuesday, August 9th it is live on Etsy.com. And I am really curious to know your opinion as a shop owner and/or a buyer. As you may have guessed, the new search default is seeing positive results so far. Β Here’s a quote from a recent article released on Etsy’s blog from CEO Chad Dickerson…

As I write this, search sorted by relevancy has been the default for less than 48 hours, but were pleased to share some early data that supports what we learned in testing.

  • The total number of shops with a sale was higher in the past two days than any other days this year.
  • The past two days saw more favoriting activity than any other other days this year. Β More individual sellers had an item favorited and more individual items were favorited than any other days in 2011.
  • Two of the four biggest overall sales days on Etsy in 2011 were the past two days.
  • Two of the four days with most individual items sold in 2011 were the past two days

Switching to relevancy as the default search sort was a necessary step in our continued effort to improve the search experience on Etsy. The “search results sorted by relevancy” approach gives us more options to continually improve the overall search experience as the marketplace continues to grow.

Those stats are pretty great. And as a buyer, I am enjoying the new search.

BUT, in the past, many Etsy shop owners have relied heavily on constantly re-listing products in order to show up at the top of search results. Now that things have changed, simply re-listing an item to appear higher in the search ranking isn’t going to work.

And that means you will have to change your strategy. Here are my suggestions…

Instead of constantly re-listing items, utilize other avenues. Make good use of what you still have and recharge your marketing strategy while you are at it. Time to roll up your sleeves to do some research…

Think long and hard about what your keywords should be and use them in these four places:

  1. product title
  2. tags (use all 13 tags you have to describe each product in your shop + make sure your keywords are a part of those tags you choose)
  3. the first line of your product description (believe it or not, straight from the horses mouth, the first line in your item description is the most important for your potential customers and for SEO).
  4. your profile page

Β Start marketing your work outside of Etsy if you are not already.

  1. Make a list of sites and blogs that you believe your work would appeal to.
  2. Contact one blog each week to start (so you don’t feel overwhelmed) and introduce yourself and ask if the editor might be interested in featuring your work in the future.
  3. Think about alternative ways you can get your shop noticed (facebook, twitter, your own blog, advertising, giveaways, promos, etc) and get to work.

There are plenty of other ways to accommodate this change and continue on that road to success with more sales, but for now, I’ll leave you with those short and actionable tips.

I’d love for you to chime in with your own thoughts though, so let me know in the comments below what you think of the new search by relevancy default. Or if you’d prefer, you can answer this question…

How has the new way to search on Etsy changed your marketing and sales strategy so far?

Looking forward to reading and responding to your thoughts.

34 comments | Click here to reply

I already see a difference – a positive one. My little shop is getting many more views than before, and I no longer feel like I have to get into the “relisting wars.” In fact, I’d let my shop go dormant because I was frustrated that I wouldn’t have a fighting chance, but now I feel like I do. I’m very excited about this, its rejuvinated my interest in etsy!
-Annacreates
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Anna | August 15th, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Glad to hear that the change has been a positive one for you Anna. I think many Etsy shop owners are feeling like the playing field has been leveled a bit, which is a good thing in my mind. Thanks for stopping by!
-Brittni

papernstitch | August 15th, 2011 at 1:31 pm

I’m not sure yet how this will affect me. It certainly didn’t do anything positive, so far, as I’ve had no new sales.

but i will definitely go back and make sure all of my tags ar 100% relevant. πŸ™
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Tsuki aka LittleGrayFox | August 15th, 2011 at 1:43 pm

I love seeing how a few of my knitting patterns that place highly in relevancy results are now selling very consistently. I’m really love not *having* to continually renew in order to *maybe* sell that same pattern. As a buyer, I super love finding what I was actually looking for. You’re totally on the mark, Brittni, with keywords specific to your target market. I’m slowly but steadily doing this with each and every listing.

I also recommend testing the changes you make! Make one or two changes, then recheck how your listing places the next day, and make one or two more changes. If the listing places higher, keep building on those changes. If lower, scrap those changes and try new keywords. Just make sure the keywords are accurate and really really target your ideal customer for that listing.
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brenda | August 15th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Let me know your results Tsuki. Tweaking those keywords might help you.

Hey Brenda! Thanks for the recommendation to Etsy sellers. I absolutely agree with you. Testing is of vital importance. What works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for the next, so testing and following up are key.

-Brittni

papernstitch | August 15th, 2011 at 2:19 pm

I was hoping relevancy would improve searches for my items, but it’s actually much worse. My items are very specific and when I search for them only one item shows up in the first page (with search results of only 5 pages or so). I have over 60 items all in the same theme, so I dont know why the majority of my items would appear at the tail end of the search. My analytics are showing that my main keywords are not helping visitors find me in the search, anymore. My keywords are already in my titles, tags, and item descriptions. However, I didn’t know the first line of the product description was so important – I will definitely be updating those with my keywords. I suppose I need to keep reading up on the topic and try to improve my listings, but I’m a little confused about where to go from here.

Thanks so much for the article, Brittni.
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Casey | August 15th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Hey Casey. Hmm, sounds like a curious situation. I would imagine that the kinks are still being figured out, but I am not sure what makes things show up at the beginning of the results or the end? That could have something to do with when the items were listed, if all else is equal, but that is just a guess on my end. I don’t have an answer for that one. And as for the first line in product descriptions… Yes, Danielle (from Etsy) did mention in her presentation that the first line in the product description was important, and its something that many sellers overlook because they just don’t know about it. So, you are ahead of the game if you put that into place. Hope this helps.
-Brittni

papernstitch | August 15th, 2011 at 3:25 pm

hi brittni!
i spent a bit of time today reworking some of my titles, tags, etc…. I am anxious to see if it helps. Thanks for all the advice. πŸ™‚

Patty S | August 15th, 2011 at 4:56 pm

I haven’t noticed any big changes yet, although I’m still trying to get used to the shop stats being available (which is AWESOME). Maybe I will notice more in the coming weeks? I do know that every time I see a post about it in the forums, I see nothing but a lot of aggravated people complaining about the changes, but I used to see posts all the time of people complaining that they WANTED relevancy, that having to relist all the time just wasn’t fair. So, we’ll see what happens. πŸ™‚
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Shannon Marie | August 15th, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Cool Patty. Yes, definitely let me know if you see any change.

Hi Shannon. Yes! That is one thing that I didn’t mention in this post that I thought sellers would be excited about: shop stats. The top keywords and top traffic sources in particular can give you tremendous insight on how people are finding you and what they are looking for when they get to your shop.
-Brittni

papernstitch | August 15th, 2011 at 5:29 pm

I really do like the fact that search results are by relevancy instead of recently listed, because it eases a lot of pressure I felt to constantly re-list. It costs money to re-list, and that takes away time from creating.

I do like how at the top of the search results, it shows a few recently listed items. This way, you can still see those just added listings. It’s the best of both worlds.

However, I do wonder how the results arrive after relevancy. Are they relevant and then the most recently added??
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Kasey | August 16th, 2011 at 9:24 am

That’s a good question Kasey. Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for you, but if I find out, I’ll let you know.

-Brittni

papernstitch | August 16th, 2011 at 11:20 am

At first I was skeptical that the relevancy change was going to help me. I actually thought it was hurting me as I noticed my item views were getting fewer and far between. However, I have to say within the last two weeks I have had double the amount of sales from last year at this same time. I am getting an average of one to two sales a week. Since I haven’t changed much in my shop, I have to assume that the relevancy is working for me. When I search for an item from my shop now, it shows up within a page or two, sometimes on the first page, whereas before I would just get lost or not show up at all. For once I am happy with an Etsy change.
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Jodi | August 16th, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Thank you for the great advice. I went and re-vamped my shop just this morning after reading this and I have already seen a big increase in traffic, without having to relist! Thanks again!

Candace Rasmussen | August 16th, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I didn’t notice a tremendous change in either views or sales in my shop. Overall I like the change but I had to do a lot of research for myself before I felt comfortable with changing every title in my shop and tweeking all my tags. I thought I would share what I learned about SEO and the new Etsy search so I wrote this: http://brittanysbest.com/2011/08/etsy-relevancy-search-explained/. Hope once people have time to adjust to the change, it will be a positive experience. Change is hard however and that is just the plain truth.

Brittany | August 16th, 2011 at 6:31 pm

This relevancy thing isn’t working for me it all.. I just don’t have any luck. I have been adding “kawaii” to all my jewelry so I thought I would search my relevancy. I couldn’t find any of my jewelry in local Items for Canada or even Toronto. πŸ™ Maybe I’m not doing it right. Can anyone help. πŸ™
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Candice Ware | August 17th, 2011 at 10:53 am

I’m happy to read about the search changes and hope that over time it helps all of us. Like many other sellers, I do not want to spend the extra time and money renewing items just to be near the top. However, I haven’t seen a marked difference in my shop since the change. I will look through my listings and see what I can improve upon concerning titles, tags, etc.
As for relevency, I typed in the word valentine and the very first item on the list was a pair of blue earrings. I don’t think relevency will work until sellers tag correctly.
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Lana | August 17th, 2011 at 11:08 am

Oops! That should be “relevancy”. Sorry about the typos. πŸ™‚
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Lana | August 17th, 2011 at 11:10 am

The big sellers are complaining about the change. I do not think that Etsy has sold over these last days, because they themselves were saying in the forums, vendors complaining that August is always a month that everything is going very slow, so that’s a contradiction.

On my own experience, I’ve been on Etsy two years and I have not worked as expected. In June I started to sell a little more and that same month suddenly everything stopped and of course no visitors or sales.

I’ve changed the titles of articles, tags, description several times in one way or another and nothing, in the end I think it’s best to do nothing, do not waste time changing anything because I have seen items that did not fulfill is giving advice that Etsy and were ahead of mine in searches, my firts items appeared out on page 7 , 32..

I understand that now with this change is more fair to all, why, I do not I used this trick, relist products were not sold, as I learned last week that people were using this trick, so I was disadvantage, but anyway, I also served the new change, not if will serve me or my patience ran out before.
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Ana Gonzalez | August 17th, 2011 at 11:34 am

I have not noticed any changes so far. I am glad that relisting is not a big factor, now I guess I need to do some more research on SEO. I am hopeful that this is a positive change for us all. It will be appositive change on my Etsy bill.
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Gabrielle @bstrung | August 17th, 2011 at 10:24 pm

I used to sell on Etsy years ago but found it a lot of hard work with little payoff, but lately I’d been considering getting back on the horse. Now that I know this I’m definitely going to go ahead. Thanks for the news and tips!

Indie Thrifter | August 18th, 2011 at 1:00 am

Well, I had a big long comment written, and lost it…so this is the abbreviated version. The relevancy change has only affected my shop in a negative way. I went from 5 sales a week to nothing, and very few views. I’m thinking that this is because jewelry is probably the biggest category on Etsy. My question is: If this is a relevancy search, why are so many listings ahead of me that do not even have the relevant search term listed in their title? That is frustrating and makes me think that Etsy may be playing favorites. I’m giving it a couple of weeks before I close my shop and move on to greener pastures. I see no reason to stay with etsy if I’m not making any sales or even getting views. It saddens me because I have really enjoyed being on Etsy, and have had good success with both of my shops prior to the relevancy change. I wish everyone the best of luck and am happy for those who are experiencing a positive change…

Vickie | August 20th, 2011 at 8:24 pm

I have been at a HUGE disadvantage with this change. I viewed re-listing my items often as being an investment that definitely paid off for me. Now I can’t even find myself on the list.. I wish there was a bit more warning or clearer instruction before-hand. Thankfully your post here gave me great advise that I will try out. All in all, this is one working mama that is pretty sad.

Danielle | August 21st, 2011 at 1:05 am

I run a higher end wearable art,re;OOAK shop that was plugging along nicely.My sales had gotten regular and then Wham! Gone.Most of my buyers came from Google and signed up on Etsy to purchase from me (and then went on to purchase from others) and now everything has come to a screeching halt!

I have purchased Tim Adams(Handmadeoly) e book and tried the things suggested including the keywords tool etc.Now the only time I have activity is when I list/relist other wise nothing.And more importantly-NO SALES.Maybe it is because it is August.Don’t know.

In theory this sounds like a good plan but I can’t help wondering if you have an uber niche shop if you will be hurt.I changed titles to reach a wider audience and now they are meaning less.At this point I am going to follow my own instincts more,take some of these suggestions and discard others as not relevant for my shop.

Casting a wider net can work for some shops but those of us doing something that is so specialized need to connect with those people-they are our buyers.We need to speak to them,and those keywords may not be “the most trafficked”.

A work in progress though I wish someone would address concerns specifically from a shop like mine.Anyone?
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Delight | August 23rd, 2011 at 7:26 am

I find it really too bad that for most this isn`t working. But I have to agree that its not. I`m lucky if I get a sale every 2 to 3 weeks :S
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Candice Ware | August 23rd, 2011 at 11:14 am

It’s unfortunate that the new relevancy is not working for most. I have to say it does appear to be working for me. I have always had my titles in the way they say to do it for relevancy. ie, Beaded Necklace Red, White and Blue Pearls for example. Before relevancy, I got tons of views from twitter but not a lot of sales. Since the Etsy change. I really don’t see near as many views as before, but I do see a lot more activity, such as items being favorited and shop hearts… and a ton more sales. I thought at first it was a fluke, but I’m still seeing a sale or two a couple times a week. I have to say however, I have been listing a lot more vintage items and that is the majority of my latest sales. So maybe that’s it and not the relevancy at all?? Well, see how it goes in the next few months.
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Jodi | August 23rd, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I really appreciate all the feedback and comments that each of you have poured out. It seems to be more of a mixed bag than I thought it would be- with about just as many people liking the new relevancy search as not liking it. If you haven’t shared your thoughts here yet, I’d love to hear your opinion.
-Brittni

papernstitch | August 23rd, 2011 at 12:18 pm

I run an art print shop at Etsy. I do find out search by relevancy din’t really help to increase my page view, instead it drop. But I do get more peoples to like and favorite my items and shop, from there I actually get new sales. Thus fine tuning the keywords and tag do help to stay close to the correct customers crowd that you need. Thanks for the article sharing here ^^

Cheers,

Lonelypeopleart | September 11th, 2011 at 12:01 am

Well, my last comment was August 23rd and at that time, I was getting lots of sales. It is now Sept 11 and I’ve not had one sale this month. Don’t know what happened, I’m still listing new items and renewing everyday. I’m really confused on what to do now…
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Jodi | September 11th, 2011 at 12:17 pm

You can open up several shops and create a monopoly like some sellers are doing

maria | October 10th, 2011 at 6:33 pm

I have two shops on Etsy, one for jewelry and the other is for my graphic design work. I have enough trouble keeping up with them, lol Don’t really think I can handle additional shops.
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Jodi | October 10th, 2011 at 6:55 pm

I’ve gone from doing several hundred dollars a day to no sales in the last 4 days. This is my income and I’m freaking out. I’ve retooled descriptions and followed your advice, but still not much action. Favorites don’t necessarily translate to sales. Etsy may have put me out of business, so far, not a fan.

Cindy | October 14th, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Oh no Cindy. I’m sorry to hear that. Etsy is constantly changing how things are done and this post is from a year ago, so there most likely have been some changes to how things are done since I wrote this. I do agree with you though – favorites don’t necessarily translate to sales. Have you been reaching out to bloggers, magazine editors, etc to build buzz for your shop? You will most likely need to look outside of Etsy to get the traffic you need to maintain the sales that you want.
-Brittni

papernstitch | October 15th, 2012 at 11:12 am

Hello:

You mentioned that the keywords have to be in the the
in the 4 places including in your profile page. Where on the profile page does it have to be? Are you referring to the Public Profile which has several different areas. I am aware of the other areas to include the keywords but this is the first time I heard that it has to be in the profile page as well.

Please kindly let me know.

Sophie | December 18th, 2012 at 7:06 pm
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