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

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 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. 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. 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

 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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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…


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 ^^



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.


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.


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

Candice Ware

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?


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.


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…


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
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