Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Optimizing Tags and Titles for Relevancy Searches

Photo by CatnipStudioToo

Getting found in Etsy searches can be a frustrating experience for many sellers. If you have great items but just aren't getting views from Etsy, then it might be time to take a look at your tags and titles.

The default search method on Etsy is a relevancy search, meaning that Etsy looks at a variety of factors to determine how to rank items. While no one knows the exact algorithm that the powers that be at Etsy use to determine relevancy, they have given us some hints. We know that titles and tags are the two factors that are definitely at play that we, as sellers, have direct control over. Recency is another element of relevancy and there is evidence that views and hearts are factored in as well. Item attributes are not currently taken into account, but Etsy says they will be soon, so you might want to go ahead and start filling those out for new items.

First of all, let's take a look at how to improve titles for relevancy searches. Etsy weights words in your title according to their place in the title. Thus, the words at the beginning of the title are more important for searches than those at the end. So it's a good idea to get the most important words as close to the beginning as possible while still making sense. A good exercise is to try to think of three words that your potential customers might type into search if they were looking for your item. Let's take a look at these earrings from my shop.
The main attributes of these earrings are that they're stud or post earrings, they have birds on them, and they're green and pink. I think that people looking for earrings with a design like this would be more interested in the fact that they have birds on them than the colors. I also think the style of earring backing is important, so I started the title with Bird Stud Earrings. How did I decide between using stud or post? I went to the Seller Opportunity Tools prototype and went to compare idea to see which would be better. The tool has some definite limitations, but it's great for figuring out which broad term to use. I still wanted to include post earring in the title as well as the colors, so the next bit reads Green Post Earrings. Since it's springtime (or almost) and these really fit nicely into the spring theme, I decided to make the last part Pink Spring Jewelry.

Now let's look at the tags for the same pair of earrings. Since I brainstormed about the important attributes for the title, I had a good idea for some tags. Tags work best when they're short phrases that are exact matches for what someone is searching. For instance, if someone searches for pink bird earrings then a listing with that exact phrase is going to appear ahead of one with each word as a separate tag (of course, there are other factors in relevancy, but let's assume all other things are equal here). Of course, you can't know exactly what every potential customer is going to search for, but you can make some educated guesses about likely searches. Don't forget that your categories are already tags, so you don't need to repeat them by themselves. However, repeating them in phrases can be very useful. My earrings are categorized as jewelry, earrings, post. First of all, repeat the first few words of you title as a tag or at least as much as can fit if the words are long. So Bird Stud Earrings are one tag for me. Then I went with bird earrings, stud earrings, post earrings, green post earrings, pink earrings, and pink bird earrings.
Seasonal or holiday related tags are very useful, so keep in mind what holidays are coming up as well. I added spring earrings and mothers day earrings to my list. Since earrings are also jewelry, I replaced earrings with jewelry for a few tags - spring jewelry and bird jewelry. I decided to use one tag to call them accessories, so I used spring accessories. I had one tag left, so I used it for my shop name, Haus of Ariella. You don't need to do that for every item, but it's good to have at least one or two items that are tagged with your shop just in case someone doesn't realize that there's a separate search for shops. 

Always use all 13 tags! Every tag is an opportunity for people to find your item, so take advantage of that. If you get stuck or can't decide which tag is better, the Seller Opportunity Tools prototype  can be useful for coming up with ideas for tags as well, especially the find inspiration tool. Using team names can be helpful for difficult listings as well, but please only use team tags of teams that you are actually a member of.

Tags and titles are not an exact science, so experiment! Vary them for each listing, even if the items are almost identical. And don't forget to check your shop stats to see what search terms people are using to find you. It's also a good idea to keep your shop fresh and relevant by changing tags and sometimes titles to fit current or upcoming seasons and holidays.

One very useful tool I've found for quickly editing titles and tags is Betsi. Betsi Lite is free, but it doesn't let you edit tags. However, I've been so happy with the paid version that I think it's worth every penny (currently about $72AUD for the entire year). If you want to give it a test drive, you can get the trial version for 7 days or 20 actions, whichever comes first. It also lets you bulk edit far more than titles and tags, so it's also really useful for updating descriptions, processing times, sections, etc.

Made by BlueGrin, this App is available on Etsy


  1. What a wealth of helpful info ... many thanks!

  2. I do have a question here... I know that the search combines tags, so I thought it was redundant to use the same word in more that one tag.

    For instance, if you had bird earrings, stud post, green and pink as tags, and a seller searched green bird post ...they would still find you.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on this???

    1. My impression from what I have read and researched is that with the new relevancy search it actually helps to repeat the same word. For example, I think it is promoted to things like this:
      Post earrings
      Stud Post
      Bird Earrings
      Green Earrings
      Pink earrings

      Because the more words that are an exact match to what a person puts into the search bar the more relevant you become. So being specific helps.
      Also, those main tags should be in the title and the description too to help relevancy.

      I hope I explained that so that it makes sense but with the new relevancy search they want multi-word keywords and some repetition.

  3. WOW, I need to take a good look @ my tags after this helpful article.
    Thanks great info!

  4. Great article! Super informative, and really helpful info!

  5. Great article, if I can add also, if you are not sure about what tags or titles to use, you can also go to Etsy and start to type in your title or tags in the search bar, as you type it will start to show relevant other terms, These terms are what others are or have typed into the search, if they apply to your item use them! I started to this and am seeing my items start to show up more in Etsy searches. :) hope this helps some of you :)

  6. Wow is right! Everything always changes! No time to sit back and think I have it figured out.

  7. Great article. I have one other suggestion to add, it is important to get found through Etsy but we also want to be found via major search engines like Google. Search Engines like Google hate duplicate content so you really have to get creative to use your keywords in the title for Etsy Searches but to mix up the order of those keywords in order to get exposure via other search engines. It gets complicated trying to please them all :)))

  8. So much to learn and work with... but so important if you are going to be selling online. Thanks for all the great useful information... need to put alot of this to work for me.

  9. Excellent information in both the post and comments! Very, very helpful. Thank you!

  10. Oh no i have lots of work to do :) this is very helpful

  11. Wow... lots of fab information here. I think I have some work to do

  12. Great information, I also have a lot of work to get done.

  13. My tags are more accurate than they used to be but I've let my titles slip. Sometimes I feel as though a robot has created them and the first line of my description when I focus on using specific words without flow. Ugh. Need to find a happy medium.

  14. I loved this article. I haven't been selling online a year yet, so all the info I can get helps. Sometimes I feel I am way behind in the learning process, but I'm working on it. Thanks!

  15. Great article! I haven't heard about that Seller tool before and will definitely check it out too!

  16. Really fantastic tips and thanks for the tag tool suggestions... I have bookmarked this!

  17. I guess it's time to change my tags again :p Thanks for the great info!

  18. Thank you for the information! I also use Google AdWords to help me with tags when I get stumped.

  19. I have been trying to use tags and titles like suggested in the post, and all the comments, and I have defiantly noticed an increase in "stranger" sales in the last few months. So if I use that as a gauge, its working!

    And another suggestion- dont be afraid to ask for help!!! Sometimes it takes fresh eyes to see the obvious things you have missed!

  20. Oh to think that I almost missed this blog! Such relevant information , Thank You Ariella and also thanks for the updates to comments Janet!

  21. Second entry


  22. Such great information! Thanks for putting this together.