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Jewellery and accessories with a natural look; genuine fossils, shells & stones, with some authentic sea glass thrown in for good measure. Handmade in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 

My Blog about SEO & eCommerce, Mitochondrial Disease & Disability, & the Good Life

Blog posts from Cindy Lou Who 2 - a little eCommerce & SEO, some discussion of disability issues (including mitochondrial disease), some jewellery info, & the expected topics of beer, travel & recipes. 

 

Etsy Search May-June 2017: Few Algorithm Changes, But Lots of Tests

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The Etsy jewellery filter test originally wasn't using the colour attributes we have been painstakingly applying - makes perfect sense, right? 

The Etsy jewellery filter test originally wasn't using the colour attributes we have been painstakingly applying - makes perfect sense, right? 

 

Everything You Need to Know About the Last Few Months in Etsy Search

If you are like most people, you are having a bit of trouble keeping up with everything on Etsy these days, with both big changes and small dominating sellers’ focus in the Etsy forum and on social media. So, out of all of the recent developments, what do you need to know about search?

While there is a lot going on with Etsy search right now, there have been very few permanent changes made, so I have avoided drawing up a summary until now, but there is just so much happening that I thought people might appreciate the highlights in one place.

 

Regionalization/Localization: Two More Countries Added

This is the only area where Etsy has made an official and permanent change in the past few months, adding Canada and the Netherlands to the short list of countries that have localized search, meaning that people with their search filters set to “ship to” those countries will see items that ship from those countries rank higher in searches, especially in large searches.  

During the testing in March and April, I also saw tests for Italy and Spain, but at the moment, those countries are not localized, nor have I seen any reports of any further testing in other areas. Only four other countries are currently localized: Australia, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. See more about how regionalization works in my older blog post from when they first started doing this.

Note that Etsy did not announce this change, but instead simply buried it in their Help file as if it had always been true. This change also applies to categories, and I recently noticed that Market pages - collections of "popular" items you see when you click on a tag - are localized now as well. Since those pages rank well on Google, a large chunk of Etsy's search engine traffic comes through Market pages. Clearly, Etsy feels they will get more sales overall if new customers land on pages featuring items that ship from their country.

What you need to know - This may be a small help to sellers in those countries, as they will gain move visibility in searches within their country. The continued expansion of this program is problematic for all sellers, though, as it does limit their visibility in large searches in the six affected countries. (Note that search ads are not localized, however, and US search is not localized, so any drop in sales from search ads or the US must be due to other factors.)

This will likely only have a large effect on sellers in other places if they usually get a lot of sales from a regionalized countries. Remember, the key to getting around this is to make sure you are optimized for many smaller, niche searches, where this factor has a negligible effect. If your SEO strategy is to rank in big generic searches, this could hurt you more than the average seller. 

 

Attributes on Etsy: Still Partially in Limbo

At this time, only the Colour & Occasion attributes are fully searchable on the main site, with some of the Holiday attributes also included. 

At this time, only the Colour & Occasion attributes are fully searchable on the main site, with some of the Holiday attributes also included. 

As of this writing, only some of the standardized attributes - Occasion, Holiday & Colour - are searchable on Etsy, and none are filterable yet. All pre-set Colour attributes, and all Occasion attributes are showing up in search on PC and mobile, but not on the Etsy app. Only some of the Holiday attributes are currently searchable, including Christmas, but certain ones such as Father's Day and Valentine's Day are not yet included across the site. I am still waiting to hear back from Etsy on why this is happening. (It is possible some are included in tests at this time, but I haven't seen any.) Custom colours and other custom variations are not yet searchable across the site. 

The attributes that are currently searchable are getting very little weight in the algorithm. While removing them does drop some of my listings a bit in searches where the attribute is included in the keywords entered, other searches show no changes at all. This is markedly different from the early testing, where attributes received a lot of weight, even more than tags in some cases. Their main effect at the moment will be to add keywords that were not already in the titles and tags, but that weighting may change in the future, of course. 

Etsy staff have stated that these attributes will also be used as filters, but at this time, only a few tests are making use of attributes. See below for more details on the various filter tests Etsy is doing at the moment. 

What you need to know - Everything is still being tested or still hasn't rolled out, so I can't make many recommendations here. Colours, holidays and occasions can add additional search terms to your listing right now, so I still suggest using them where they apply. Also, beware that Etsy is still adding them to some listings, especially for sellers who have not started adding attributes at all, and sometimes they are not correct. So check your listings! 

 

Etsy Studio Search: Dead on Arrival?

Etsy Studio launched at the end of April, with very few changes from the sneak preview; I haven't seen many changes since, either. Search is still not localized, even though the Help file says it is. Most attributes are used as filters but are not included in the search; custom variations are not included at all, other than on the listing itself.  

Recent Etsy cutbacks have put the long term plans for Studio in limbo, it would appear; while CEO Josh Silverman said the "the craft marketplace is a great marketplace for us", Etsy has recalled staff from this project to work on the main site at this time. Etsy will assess all branches of the company in the coming months; it is unclear if any new Studio development will happen in that time frame. 

What you need to know - Nothing at the moment, but stay tuned for further developments. You may end up reading them on the financial pages first. 

 

Jewellery Filter Test: More Work To Do, More Nonsensical Results

In late April, some shoppers were greeted with multiple additional filters down the left side of the page (as shown in the screenshot at the top of this post). Options include colour, material, and gemstone type. The announcement stated:

"Our goal is to learn more about the types of filters that are most useful to shoppers so that they can easily find the items they’re looking for and ultimately make more purchases. We also want to ensure that we’re creating the most relevant attributes for your items to save you time."
No one has any clue what Etsy is doing with these search filters. 

No one has any clue what Etsy is doing with these search filters. 

However, initially Etsy was not using attributes to populate these filters (that changed at the end of last week), and many listings that have relevant terms in their titles and/or tags are also excluded from the filtered results. Having the filtered term in title or tags can help you show up in these filtered searches, but it is not guaranteed. This led to a lot of confusion from members, some of whom took these search results as proof that adding attributes was an exercise in futility. So why was Etsy not using the attributes that they insisted we spend hours applying (without a bulk editor) so that we could show up in filtered searches in the future? An even better question - why not run this test before introducing attributes for us to add to our items? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe they only recently noticed that sellers' time is valuable to us. 

But my best guess is that there are multiple factions within Etsy working on search, and there is no one game plan guiding everyone right now. The purchase of the search firm Blackbird Technologies may have led to this problem, at least in part, as it occurred more than a month after Etsy began testing the new attributes on a prototype team. They seem to have developed most of the categories and options for filters before Blackbird's machine learning/artificial intelligence (AI) was available to start trying to make sense of the 45+ million listings on Etsy. I can't think of any other reason they would not run this jewellery test first, to better determine what filters might work, before we did all of the work applying them one by one. 

Part of the problem might be that most sellers have not applied attributes to their listings, and Etsy therefore needs another way to make sure that the majority of listings will be included in any filters it sets up in the future. That problem likely would not exist if we had a bulk editor to apply attributes and variations! But it appears they are also trying to let the AI learn from the search, which probably means they would also need to look beyond attributes for data to feed the AI, even if everyone updated their attributes. So far, I haven't seen any evidence the AI has learned much. 

Also, there is another significant problem with these filters - they are sticky if you try to narrow down your search further, and you can't always remove them. That's another issue I am waiting for Etsy to address. [UPDATE: this does appear to be fixed now.]

What you need to know - We don't know what we need to know here. This test has been going on for two months now, which is a long time for an Etsy experiment. It may be more about getting data for the AI than it is about finding out what will make searchers buy more. Whatever happens, expect this to change in some way before the holiday season. Either they will be adding more filters permanently, or they will at least make the existing attributes more prominent in search. Or not. 

 

The optional attributes for lamps, in the new Home and Living Category filter test

The optional attributes for lamps, in the new Home and Living Category filter test

Home and Living Test: Even More Work 

Disappointed that jewellery sellers are getting to have all the attribute fun? No worries - Etsy has started another filter test, this one using the Home and Living category. In this experiment, not only are they drawing on titles and tags to populate the attributes, they are also asking sellers to add new attributes to their listings - right after most just got finished adding the first set. The screenshot on the right shows the new options for lamps, but many different sub-categories also have the recently-added attributes. Most items will at least have the Room option, for example, if it is not already evident from the sub-category. Style, Material, and Recipient are other common fields. Most items also have the standard Colour, Occasion and Holiday drop downs available on almost all other types of listings. 

As with most Etsy tests, not every visitor will see these filter options when searching. Similar to the jewellery test, items are showing up in filtered results somewhat randomly, with many items being excluded from the search once filters are applied. Part of the problem is that Etsy's software is not yet sophisticated enough to pull accurate information from each listing to fill out the attributes, or trigger the filters. Shop owners reported multiple instances of Etsy automatically filling out the attributes for sellers, and doing it incorrectly. Etsy needs to find other ways to use machine learning in search; altering sellers' listings without our permission should not be an option. 

What you need to know - This test can be affecting your visibility at the moment, even though not all visitors will see it, so I suggest adding attributes where they apply, but don't spend hours doing this and nothing else, because who knows what Etsy will change next? I fear this is all going to get worse before it gets better. They don't seem to be anywhere close to done with attribute development, so I would not be surprised to see several more tests, and more sets of attributes added to the listing process. We can only hope that they are working on a bulk editing tool for attributes as well. 

 

Similar Items in Search Results - Another Type of Filter

When the "See Similar Items" link is combined with the review rating & totals on the search results page, it is far less noticeable

When the "See Similar Items" link is combined with the review rating & totals on the search results page, it is far less noticeable

One of the latest search experiments is the addition of a "similar items" link under each listing shown. The screenshot on the left shows this test combined with a different search experiment where a shop's review rating and feedback total is shown, so the link is quite small and not very prominent. If you have the regular search layout, the "similar items" link there is a bit larger and is much more likely to be clicked, in my opinion. 

If you click on the "see" link, you get the page shown below: the original product you clicked on is off to the left, with 5 pages of new items mostly not included in the original search filling the rest of the page. Note that there are no ads on the page, and no review ratings. 

My example used the query "coprolite pendant", and many of the products on page one do include coprolite, but those quickly dwindle as more related products are shown: other fossils, dinosaur items that are not jewellery, dung items that are not fossilized, etc., right down to a vintage science textbook that seems to have been selected because it could be a science-themed gift. Of the 40 items on page one, only seven (17.5%) are coprolite pendants or necklaces, and that percentage decreases on subsequent pages. For a less niche search, however, the algorithm can show more items that are a direct match. 

The "similar items" page includes very few items from the original search, and rarely includes many items from the original seller.

The "similar items" page includes very few items from the original search, and rarely includes many items from the original seller.

This is the same similar items algorithm that picks some personalized listings on your account home page, as well as similar items in Etsy Finds emails, and on the top of listing pages clicked from off site. It was previously used to show similar items on the old Browse and Trending pages. In fact, the layout of the "similar items" page shown above has not been changed for years, which makes me think it will change in the future - perhaps to include ads? - if this test becomes permanent. Note also that the similar items will be the same if you look up that listing using a different search, so they are generated by the listing itself, not the search query. 

When it started, this test link was also shown on promoted listings, but Etsy removed it after numerous complaints. 

What you need to know - There is not much you can do about this particular experiment, other than the usual: list great items with awesome photos. I expect that this algorithm will change as Etsy continues to let machine learning processes make decisions about search; this exercise is probably testing the layout more than it is assessing the quality of the similar items.  

 

Auto-Correct - Causing More Confusion Than Typos

Finally, you may already be aware of a series of search changes and some tests first announced last fall: automatic correction of typos and misspellings in search queries. While in most cases customers will still see a link to their original search if Etsy does not display it initially, there have been examples of results reverting to Etsy's auto-corrected version on page 2, and many issues with words being changed in the search bar with no ability to keep the initial entry. These test bugs are being reported, but most take an inordinate amount of time to be solved, if that even happens. 

What you need to know - Be aware that some users may not be able to find your niche items, if they involve unusual words that could be auto-corrected by Etsy by mistake. There is not much you can do to counter this beyond filing frequent and persistent Bugs reports when you encounter these problems.  

 

What's Next for Etsy Search? 

Wouldn't we all like to know? If they decide to continue with attributes, we should expect more categories to get new options, but I otherwise can't predict much here. It may be several months before we know more about how Etsy's new direction will affect search. With the change in leadership and massive layoffs (22% of staff are being cut), any and all plans seem to be up for possible cancellation at this time. We've been expecting major search changes this year, based on the plans for attributes and filters as well as the comment last fall that Etsy would like to make the average listing title more Google-friendly, but Etsy's current focus is a rapid improvement in the main site's sales as well as in company profit. This could mean more short-term initiatives instead of major retooling - it is very hard to predict the next move. And if the swirling rumours about an imminent sale come true, new owners could again transform the company game plan. 

Remember, increasing sales across the site does not usually mean that everyone's sales will improve. Generally, any change will have some winners and some losers, and Etsy won't play favourites if it sees a way to boost Etsy revenue. So while my blog posts tend to focus on Etsy search topics, this would be a good time to keep an eye on all Etsy developments, including testing other items at the top of your listing page when found outside Etsy, making purchases look less risky, and highlighting estimated delivery times, among many other experiments. Expect more of the same in the next few months.

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Have any questions on this latest update, or any tests you have noticed that you would like to share? Please add a comment below, or send me an email! You can also contact me at my SEO shop on Etsy.

Updated July 20, 2017

Etsy Studio Sneak Peek - What the New Supply Site Will Look Like

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A screenshot of the drop down menu on every page; note that DIY tutorials are included on the right. 

A screenshot of the drop down menu on every page; note that DIY tutorials are included on the right. 

On Thursday, supply sellers finally got to look at Etsy's new DIY and supply website, Etsy Studio. The site will not be live until late April, but Etsy sent out invitation emails to anyone who has sold a supply item in 2017, giving them a chance to look at the whole venture. While there are likely to be several changes before launch, and (everyone hopes) the bugs will be ironed out by then, I thought I would do a quick overview now, especially for those of you who don't have access yet. If I don't cover what you want to know, please leave a question in the comments, or send me a message. 

Not familiar with Etsy Studio yet? Check out the FAQs, and my previous blog post

Etsy Studio's Search Seems To Be the Same Algorithm as Etsy's

For the moment anyway, the search results seem to be ranked the same on both sites, with the usual slight shuffling by a row or two. Etsy even states that the basic rules are mostly the same. (Find out more about how regular Etsy search works here.) I tested both small and large search results by comparing Studio to the same query on Etsy, filtered by the Craft Supply category. In a few cases, there seem to be a small number of listings missing from Studio, possibly because the results on Studio are not completely up to date. (There are some indications that very recent changes to listings are not always included on Studio, which may be a glitch, as they are still in beta.)

13 different filter choices for a "sterling silver chain" search, including "chain style" and "theme". 

13 different filter choices for a "sterling silver chain" search, including "chain style" and "theme". 

Although ranking is mostly the same now, the Studio algorithm will diverge from the main Etsy one eventually. Reviews for individual listings will be a factor for Studio's search (unlike on Etsy where only the overall shop review score is used), and the lack of ability to favourite an item will also change rankings between the two sites. It also is unlikely that listings on both sites will have the same quality scores when the two venues will have different search filters and top-level drop down categories. But at the moment, we just don't know how much rankings will change over time. 

All of the new attributes are available as search filters on the left of the search results page, meaning that buyers can limit their results to items with specific attributes selected by the seller. Some of these will be added to listings by Etsy automatically, but there have been many errors, so make sure to check all of your listings for attribute accuracy as soon as you can. And yes, that is a filter for free shipping, right at the top. 

Studio search results do not show shop names under the items, and you cannot search for a shop on Studio the same way you can on Etsy. The exception is people who have tagged their shop names, which is a wasted tag on Etsy but works on Studio. It does appear that Etsy is de-branding individual sellers on the Studio platform (see more analysis below). 

Note that search ads are included on Studio, and as on Etsy, they don't get filtered out by a buyer's choices. So listings without free shipping will be shown as ads in a "free shipping" search, and listings that only ship to the US will be shown as ads when a customer only wants to see things that ship to Australia. Etsy says that search on Studio will be localized for the same four countries as on Etsy, but this time, I could not find any regionalized searches by changing the "ships to" filter. It is possible that shoppers in Australia, Germany, France and the UK will see different rankings on Studio by Etsy applying these changes directly instead of letting us control them through filters, meaning that all people in those countries will only be able to see regionalized results. (Currently, you can change results for those countries on Etsy by changing the "ships to" filter.) That will be another interesting area to watch once the new site launches. 

Shop Home Page On Studio

The new shop home page layouts are sparse, but do include many elements from Etsy shops, as well as some new twists just for Studio. In general, shops look less individual, although shop icon and feedback ratings will appear on the new site.  

Your Etsy Studio Shop Home Page - banner free, and sorted by relevance. 

Your Etsy Studio Shop Home Page - banner free, and sorted by relevance. 

Experienced members will immediately notice the lack of a banner or cover photo on the shop home page. There is a fair amount of white space up top, with the shop icon, location, review average and total sales figure all pushed to the far left. The shop's About Page and Policies do stay the same as on Etsy, although Etsy's cookie-cutter policies are showing up in some shops at the moment; admin reassured sellers that this is a bug

Clicking on each row shows all of the reviews with that star rating

Clicking on each row shows all of the reviews with that star rating

There are no shop sections written by the seller; instead, the left side shows all of the site categories the shop's items are found in, as well several filters one can use to narrow down the shop: price, free shipping and "themes" included. Also missing is any way for the seller to arrange their products. The default appearance is "relevance", based on the search algorithm, but shoppers can also choose most recent and high or low prices as the order. 

Clicking on both the review stars and the "Reviews" link on the top menu is a surprise: it reveals the shop's most recent feedback, as well as the percentage of reviews for each star rating. Buyers can click on "1 star" and see all of the one-star reviews, similar to the set up on eBay. Seller replies are not included on Studio, meaning there is no context for bad reviews, which is frustrating for many shop owners. Only 10 reviews are shown per page (same as on Etsy), making it tedious for a customer to read all of the low-star feedback comments. That might be a good thing for any sellers hoping to keep old and bad feedback buried, however. 

Listings for Sale: More Homogenization 

Sellers unhappy about the de-branding of their shops on Etsy Studio will also be dismayed to see numerous other items for sale from other sellers on each listing. The top of each product page shows the title and photos, with the first part of the description visible on desktop, and variations (where applicable) on the right. Immediately under the partial description is a row of items "You might also like", with 6 items showing, and quite a few more available when you scroll to the side. Here, the similar items algorithm is working poorly (as it usually is, in my opinion) - on a listing for a finished sterling silver chain, this well-positioned row of products is offering unfinished chain, connectors and jump rings. A sterling clasp shows shoppers a choice of henna cones, a wooden storage box, and loom parts. Other articles show almost identical products on the same page, though, so this is something I hope they can figure out in the next month, as it almost seems random for some listings.  

Using Etsy's prewritten policies adds this message to each listing

Using Etsy's prewritten policies adds this message to each listing

Below that, a Studio product page shows up to five separate reviews for that particular item, with a link to see every review ever left for that item. Unlike Etsy, a Studio page will show reviews older than 12 months old on the product. Beneath come more articles from that shop, the shipping profile, and the shop's policies. Then Studio displays another row of items from other sellers, this one entitled "You might also need", once again fairly random things (on the various pages I checked). There is no indication that all of these items come from other sellers. 

While some of this cross-marketing is similar to the items shown on mobile when browsing Etsy, this goes much further, and is also visible on desktop. It is quite likely that Etsy intends to move further in this direction on the main site, possibly sooner rather than later. That is, if it leads to better sales per visitor on Studio.

One other note: sellers who use Etsy's canned policies will have "Returns and exchanges accepted; See this seller's return policy" on the right of each listing if they accept returns. Shop owners who have written their own policies will not see this notice on their items, even if they do take returns. 

The DIY Tutorials: Featured Items Sometimes not Available for Sale 

Do it yourself craft tutorials are a main selling point of Etsy Studio. Instead of being hidden on the blog, as they are on Etsy, these tutorials are featured in the drop down menu on each page, and the section also has its own link on the right end of the drop downs (see "Projects" in the first screenshot). They are not currently shown directly in shops or on search pages. Each Project features a difficulty rating, and many step-by-step photographs of the process. 

Etsy staff have made a big deal out of the fact you can buy the materials and tools needed for each tutorial by clicking just once to add everything to your basket (cart). Sounds great to some people, but in practice, this is kind of a mess right now. I tried this with a few different Projects, and found articles that were sold out, didn't ship to Canada, or were showing as unavailable because the seller updated variations on the listing after Etsy added the item to the tutorial. While there are supposed to be several alternative items for each product that is added to your basket, some listings shown are not a good match, and in a few instances, the area was blank. If Etsy expects buyers to use this feature, it is going to need massive improvement. 

How are these featured listings chosen? No one is sure, but I was surprised to see items with low quantities (some things had only one available), sold by shops that had relatively few sales, featured on some Projects. I am not sure if staff will be contacting shops to let them know about the features before Studio goes live, or if they will require higher quantities available on simple beginner projects that could potentially have more demand. Other featured products came from very large shops with tens of thousands of sales and had a large number for sale, so there doesn't seem to be many rules as to whose shop can appear on a Project.  

Final Thoughts - What Does Etsy's Future Look Like Now? 

Like many observers, I am speculating that some of the more controversial aspects (to sellers, anyway) of Studio will be popping up on the main site in the near future. We know they plan on adding more filters using the new attribute system, but I will not be surprised if more changes, such as more listings from other shops on product pages, and a removal of seller names from search, are right around the bend. I am fully convinced we should consider Etsy Studio as a test zone for Etsy proper, at least in part. That doesn't mean everything from Studio will show up on Etsy later, though. 

If Studio is a success, Etsy may decide to remove all supplies from the main site at some point; even though they say they have no immediate plans to do this, it is clear that the option is on the table. It is hard to predict how well this option could work, since many of us have mixed shops with some supplies and some finished products, or some pure vintage. I don't feel this is automatically what the future holds for supply sellers. However, I do expect Etsy will do no promotion, & perhaps no advertising, for supply items on Etsy proper in the future, once Studio is running smoothly; funnelling that effort to the separate site makes more business sense for them. Therefore, Studio could dramatically change sales for some supply shops, with the featured items, free shipping filters and less-branded home pages. Many supply shops rely on a large number of repeat buyers, but it may be harder to keep your own buyers with so many generic features. So if you make a living on supplies, make sure you are funnelling your repeat customers to your own website. Do not rely on your Etsy traffic to stay consistent. 

***UPDATED: May 20th, 2017

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Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, summer 2016

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, summer 2016

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Etsy Announces Major Changes - What Sellers Need to Know, February 2017

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New Listing Attributes and Etsy Studio Mean Lots of Changes to Search Optimization on the Horizon

Etsy announced a new website for craft supplies and DIY tutorials this week, but everything there will also be for sale on Etsy. What's the difference? 

Etsy announced a new website for craft supplies and DIY tutorials this week, but everything there will also be for sale on Etsy. What's the difference? 

Sellers on Etsy, the ecommerce site for handmade, vintage and supply items, were hit with a flood of announcements about upcoming changes on Tuesday. Many details are still uncertain, but I am going to lay out what we know so far in regards to search changes, and will update this post with new information as it becomes available. 

Don't panic: it will be at least a few weeks, and perhaps a few months, before search changes take effect [UPDATE: Etsy has begun testing the attributes in search as of March 27, and so far, none are permanent for everyone, although some attributes are searchable for most people as of the week of July 20th], and the filters will not be added until after that point. It's always best to gather information before changing all of your listings. These new options are being rolled out slowly, so you may not even have them available yet. Also, Etsy is working on a tool to speed up the editing process when adding these new attributes, so editing may become easier very soon. [UPDATE: the tool is now live as of March 9, although not everyone will have it immediately]

screenshot Etsy listing attributes

New Item Attributes - More options to categorize products

Etsy has been developing new attributes for listings for a few months now; I was lucky to be on the prototype team since November, giving me a bit more insight into how they will work. We can divide them up into three different areas: pre-set occasion and holiday attributes, primary and secondary colour options (involving both pre-set and customizable slots) and item-specific attributes such as pendant height, clothing size and pillow length and width. 

The pre-set list of colour options that will eventually be available as search filters. 

The pre-set list of colour options that will eventually be available as search filters. 

As you can see on the left, all of these fields are optional, but Etsy staff have stated that these fields will be searchable, and will also eventually be used as search filters, so it is best to fill them out whenever they apply to your items. For colours, choose the closest option possible (then tag and title your item with your preferred colour word/phrase, if it is different). 

Have variations that are long lists of colour options? No problem! Etsy offers 19 different pre-set colours (including "rainbow"), plus the option to add your own custom hues. If Etsy does not import your existing variations into the new format, choose "I offer more than one" at the bottom of the colour drop-down, then select or enter each colour in the variations section of your listing page. Both pre-set and custom colours will be searchable once Etsy activates those functions, but only the pre-set choices will be available as search filters when they are introduced later in the year. 

Note that if your listing is in the Weddings category, the "Wedding" attribute will be pre-selected for you under Occasion. If one of the attributes, for example necklace length, is something that you already offer as a variation, Etsy *may* convert your previous options into their permanent ones, as they did with many of my old "necklace length" variations. But pay attention - sometimes they are getting it wrong. You may need to do some editing if they don't fix these issues quickly. And unfortunately, that doesn't mean you will get an extra variation; we are still limited to two per listing. 

If these attributes do not apply to your item, then don't use them. No listings will be directly penalized in search for not using attributes; there is no extra bonus in search for using them, unlike the search benefit from renew sold, for example. I have seen a lot of people misunderstanding some admin responses and thinking that custom colour and other variations will not be searchable, but that is not true; any custom colour or other variation you type in yourself will be included in search in the near future once these changes roll out. [UPDATE: custom variations still aren't searchable as of July 20th]  This will be a big improvement for people with lengthy variation lists, as it is currently impossible to fit all those options into tags. 

However, if someone searches for an "aqua doll dress", then filters that search using the "blue" colour option from Etsy's filters, your item will only show up if you have selected "blue" from Etsy's colour choices. That is not a penalty; it is just common sense, as they can't filter search by every colour word 1 million shop owners come up with. (Too many options is worse than having no options at all, from a buyer standpoint.) So if the attributes do make some sense for your shop, make sure you start updating your listings soon. If more than one option could apply, use different options on different products, so that you maximize your exposure. 

Admin on the prototype team told us that Etsy will eventually be converting between metric and imperial measurements for these attributes, a long-overdue tool on an international site. Problem is, they haven't done that yet, and the dimension attribute fields will not accept characters other than numbers, so you cannot add both systems to each variation option (as I have been doing up until now). You can still set up new custom variations instead, but they will not be included in Etsy's search filters, once those become available. 

materials and attributes display

Bonus of this new addition: more details about your products will now be visible on mobile and the Etsy app, as shown on the left. For those who are tired of answering questions that are covered in your item descriptions (which are hidden on mobile), this is a welcome improvement. 

However, these changes will be very onerous for large shops, and already some sellers are bitterly protesting the work required, especially since there are no bulk editing tools, and Etsy has removed the ability to enter all variations at the same time separated by commas. If Etsy rushes the search changes before people have had a chance to edit everything, expect a huge outcry. 

How will this affect search? 

As mentioned above, the new attributes will be used as filters in the future, so buyers will be able to narrow down selection. The attributes, both pre-set and custom, will also now be searchable, just like titles and tags. It is impossible to predict how that change will alter search rankings, because we don't know whether the attributes will get the same weight as tags, or if repeating words will be necessary in all 3 places (title, tags, and attributes). Etsy will announce when the new fields are an active part of the search algorithm [UPDATE: attributes will begin testing as of March 27], but they will not announce any of the testing that may give us some clues. [UPDATE: it looks like attributes might have about the same weight as tags, as admin says you can get rid of any tags that are exactly the same as an attribute, but my testing as of July 20 is giving them very little weight (after initially giving them extra weight), meaning you might not need attributes in addition to tags and titles for search alone. We don't know if Etsy will keep it this way, however]. 

The truth is, no one knows how Etsy's search results will change, not even the search engineers at this point. When you introduce a major new element, an algorithm isn't usually predictable. Until a significant number of shops are using attributes, and Etsy actually releases the search changes for everyone, we won't be able to say how important these changes will be to the existing rankings. Keep checking back for an updated post on these issues! [UPDATE: recent developments can be found here, but nothing is finished yet]

Etsy Studio - Etsy's New Website marketplace for DIY

The announcement about a new crafting website, coming in April, took a lot of people by surprise, but it is a natural expansion of Etsy's long term business plan, which goes well beyond the main website. I expect there may be more such announcements in the next few years.

The site will focus on people interested in do-it-yourself projects, providing detailed tutorials with various levels of difficulty. Staff will curate lists of all supplies needed for each creation, which can be purchased with just one click. Unlike most new websites, Etsy Studio will be populated with all supply products for sale on the existing site, and staff have stated there will be no extra cost to sellers for all of their supply listings to appear in both places. Many expect that that setup will change within a year or two if things go smoothly, however. Note that any listings which do not take Paypal or Etsy's Direct Checkout will not be shown on Studio

Supply listings will get a special set of new attributes, which Etsy has not yet released [UPDATE: the new categories and attributes for supplies have been released as of March 9]. You can get a sneak preview in the video on the right at about the 16:35 mark, where they show searching and shopping on the new site. Buyers will be able to filter items by such qualities as "recycled" and "free shipping", as well as item-specific attributes. For example, the search shown is for yarn, so filters for both fiber type and yarn weight are available. UPDATE: supply sellers now have early access to all of Etsy Studio, as of March 23. Read my review, including search testing, here

Etsy has not released much information on these new supply attributes, except that they are coming soon, and that they will affect search on both sites, as both searchable terms and as filters, eventually.

UPDATE: in addition to the new attributes, the supply listing categories will also be getting an overhaul, on both sites. This includes adding commercial party supplies to the supply category. Many other items are moving into the supply category for the first time, such as baking pans and finished picture frames. The full list of new categories across the site is here. These changes are so extensive that I will be doing a separate blog post on them soon. 

Some are concerned that having listings on both websites will be a problem for Google SEO, which doesn't like duplicate content. Etsy claims everything will be fine. While it is true that altering the title tag codes and adding different elements to each page can help avoid Google issues, repeating product descriptions on different websites was a large reason that some sites were heavily affected by the Panda algorithm a few years back. Furthermore, no one knows when Google could tighten up their definition, so what works today may not work in a few months. Fortunately for sellers on the main Etsy marketplace, the site that would be penalized would likely be Etsy Studio, not the existing site. Established individual listings would probably still get better weight than Etsy Studio copies, although it is hard to say what would happen with new listings.

Sellers do not need to do anything to make sure their supply items are included on Etsy Studio - the process is automatic. Do check to make sure that all of your supplies are properly categorized as supplies so that everything eligible will get this extra exposure. 

Will Etsy Studio Affect Etsy Search? 

Yes, search on the existing Etsy marketplace will be affected by the introduction of Studio. First, selling something on Studio will give a listing a renew-sold bump on Etsy, since the listing exists in both places. This works the same as items that sell off of Pattern sites or in person using the card reader, but is likely to be a much larger number of sales once Studio gets going. Second, Etsy will be using the new supply categories and attributes on both sites, meaning any listing that uses them might gain additional search terms, and will have the ability to be found in searches filtered by these attributes and categories. As with the other new attributes, everyone should do their best to make sure that all eligible listings have the correct variations and sub-categories chosen, if any apply. 

 

I will update this post with any new announcements or clarifications, and will write more about the search algorithm changes once they are live for everyone [UPDATE: that update is here]. Sign up here to get all of my new blog posts via email. If I have missed anything, or you have a question, please leave a comment, send me an email, or contact me at my SEO shop, and I will be happy to update the information! 

***Last Updated July 20th, 2017

Canada Post Holiday Season Shipping Deadlines, 2016

Cindy Lou Who 2

Photo Credit: Christmas Poinsettia, Staplehurst, by H Matthew Howarth; Creative Commons License

Photo Credit: Christmas Poinsettia, Staplehurst, by H Matthew Howarth; Creative Commons License

Just a quick reminder that shipping from Canada to pretty much anywhere - including Canada - can be slower than you might hope, so if you want to receive your order by December 24th (which is a Saturday this year), here are Canada Post's suggested Christmas shipping deadlines for 2016:

  • Canada - packages December 12 (Xpresspost is December 21); lettermail Dec. 19 (my items ship lettermail)
  • United States - December 12 (Xpresspost is December 16)
  • Africa - November 25
  • Asia - December 2
  • Australia - December 2
  • Caribbean - December 2
  • Central America - December 2
  • Europe - December 2
  • Middle East - December 2
  • New Zealand - December 2
  • South America - December 2

I am unable to offer the faster Xpresspost option automatically on this website for countries other than the US and Canada, but just let me know if you are interested, and I will be happy to calculate it for your location and send you an invoice. 

Since these are only "suggested" guidelines, I strongly recommend buying your gifts before the date listed for your region, given the known delays at this time of year. 

You can check out Canada Post's detailed recommendations here