Improving your listing’s SEO for personalised Etsy search

In this article, we’ll be reviewing how you can use SEO to increase your listing conversion rate when dealing with personalised search. While it is impossible to reach everyone with your SEO, it is still possible to cast a wide net.

NOTE: SEO is far from an exact science. There is no “do this and it will work”. It requires trial & error followed by refinement.

Sometime ago, Etsy followed the search engine trend of introducing personal searching for its users (buyers). This was done in the hopes that sellers would see increased sales (and by extension, Etsy would see increased fee revenue).

While the tech involved in producing search results can be quite complex, in material terms, all this change really meant is that you would (in theory) receive results which are more tailored to what Etsy believes are your buying habits, or what you are really looking for.

Yes and no. It really depends on which camp you belong to. For buyers it, in theory, means a better shopping experience. However, many Etsy sellers were understandably upset with this change.

Why? Because they had spent many hours tuning their SEO to ensure that (for a particular set of search queries) their listings appeared on page 1 for all of the Etsy customer base… with this change, that was no longer the case.

If a buyer used a relevant search query, the seller’s listing might appear on page 1. If another buyer used the exact same query, the seller’s listing might be on page 7. As a seller, this is very worrying.

Things became even more problematic for sellers when the search algorithm began to take the buyer’s location into account. In some cases, sellers that weren’t operating in the same country as the buyer would appear so far down the list that their chance of being seen was practically zero.

In many cases, sadly, Etsy sellers fell back on old “blanket” tactics that lead to generic listings that appealed to almost nobody. In other words, they made a bad situation even worse for themselves.

While it is true that there is no going back… you can never again ensure that your listings will appear on page 1 for everyone, there are still things you can do to fortify and improve your activity (views, likes and sales).

The first thing to keep in mind is that “personalisation” is only one part of the algorithm that Etsy uses to find and display what it believes are the relevant search results for a particular query.

While your ability to influence personalisation isn’t huge, you have a much greater influence when it comes to other areas of the algorithm. Following modern SEO practices can help to offset the personalisation issue e.g.

  1. Include a decent amount of long-tail keywords.
  2. Ensure your listing is clear and concise.
  3. Provide high-quality, vibrant and focused images.
  4. Follow trends and update your keywords to take advantage of them.

Ticking these boxes will hopefully increase your listing’s rating to such an extent that it will offset the drop caused by personalisation.

Using Crest’s reporting features, it is possible to further refine your SEO to make greater inroads when it comes to personalisation. Specifically, we can use the popular and location reports to identify markets and adjust the titles and tags that we use for our listings to make them more appealing.

As a setup, let’s assume we are an American shop that sells stylish clothes.

Let’s begin with the location report. As we might expect, our biggest market is the United States, however recent data shows that we are making a big splash in the United Kingdom. Great! We’ve identified a new market.

Next, we can click on the “view sold listings” link to jump through to the popular report. We’re now seeing which of our listings have sold the most in the United Kingdom (note that we could be more specific and dropdown to a sub-nation e.g. England, and even a city e.g. London, if we wanted to).

The data shows that while we have sold a range of goods, the most popular items are our modified jeans. Okay, so how can we take advantage of that?

Let’s take a look at the title… we make reference to jeans, but also to pants. That’s fine for the American market, but in the UK, the word “pants” refers to underwear. Since we want to appeal to both markets, we might also want to include the word “trousers”.

This is, of course, a trivial example, but it should serve to highlight that when using Crest’s reporting tools, you can easily identify location statistics that can then point you in the right direction for adding regional SEO to your listings. Combined with other SEO improvements, these will give your listings an edge over similar, unoptimised listings.

While personalised search has definitely made it more difficult to create a balanced SEO strategy for your listings, modern techniques such as the use of long-tail keywords and regional optimisation spurred by tools like Crest can help to make things a little easier.

If you don’t have a Crest account, now is an excellent time to sign up for one. It offers location-aware customer analytics, real-time SEO editing and advice, goal & forecast reporting, keyword search, and more.

Thanks for reading!

Software developer. Most of the time, I’m working with PHP, Laravel, Vue and TailwindCSS.