As many of you may know, after some prototype testing, Etsy has released new category pages today. The new taxonomy will also be used when listing a new item, & eventually, all of your old items will be converted to these new Categories. While I am sure that there will be some minor changes in the coming weeks, & that sharp-eyed sellers will likely find even more problems than those that have been raised today, I thought a brief summary would be useful
First off, DO NOT PANIC. Most shops do not get many views directly from Categories any more, & most searchers do not use the Categories to drill down after a search. At the moment, this is unlikely to have a major effect on your views, even if you choose to do nothing to your listings. (Yes, I know - I drill down too, but apparently most people do not). However, you obviously don't want to miss out when people do use Categories in some way when shopping, so eventually every seller will need to look at this.
In many cases, Etsy will have tried to add your listings to the new Categories, but depending on what you sell, they might not have done a good job of this. In extreme cases, sellers are finding that every item in their shop is currently without a category.
WHAT HAS CHANGED?
The biggest change is that Vintage & Supplies no longer have their own Categories - they are mixed in with Handmade items. So if you have a vintage necklace to list, you now list it under "Jewelry", while indicating it is vintage at the first stage of listing through the date it was made.
However, all searchers can filter their searches to view only vintage or only handmade items - see the screenshot on the right.
The next change is that almost all of the top level Categories have transformed - "Jewelry" is one of the few that has kept the same name. Even when a top-level name did not change, the choices underneath it usually have. Some items that used to be found under "Accessories" have now moved to "Bags & Purses". "Paper & Party Supplies" now includes such diverse items as vintage post cards, origami (both finished & kits), pinatas, and personalized glassware.
Although the changes were in part designed to eliminate overlap between various Categories, where you could often list an item in several places, a good deal of overlap still exists, but at least Etsy is now automatically cross-categorizing some items listed in particular subsections. For example, a necklace listed under Weddings-->Jewelry will be cross-listed under "Necklace" in the Jewelry category, & this is done automatically without any extra effort by the seller during the listing process.
Largely, Etsy has chosen to group products by how they are used, & not how you made them or what material they are made of. Apparently filters for materials & styles are coming in the future, date unspecified. In the meantime, titling & tagging correctly will still get you found for all sorts of phrases in both search & Browse.
WHO GOT ANGRY?
It's Etsy, so of course many sellers are furious, quite often with ample justification. Some of the issues raised today have been hashed out over the years, but it seems Etsy has no corporate memory of these past discussions, of why some of the choices are at best, a bad idea, & at worst, against the law.
For example, it is is prohibited in some jurisdictions to offer art dolls & miniatures intended for adults in the same area as toys designed & tested for children. Despite this, Etsy scrapped the "Dolls & Miniatures" Category & has now shoved all of those items under Toys & Games.
Rosaries are now found under the sub-category of Religious Jewelry, an offensive spot for an item that many Catholics will not ever consider jewellery. By the way, spiritual items are now found under "Home & Living". (I did not know that funerals & cemeteries could only be spiritual; the things I learn on Etsy!)
It is impossible to cover all of the odd classifications here, but some other highlights include the vintage post cards being lumped with party supplies, collectibles as a subsection of Art, and kettles going under "Tea Makers". Does no one use a kettle to heat water for plunger pot coffee any more? What about the really ironic hipsters who drink decaf coffee - how can they make hot water?
HOW DO I ADAPT?
Many people are choosing to wait & see if Etsy fixes some of the most egregious examples mentioned above, & so are doing nothing at the moment. But in some cases there is probably no reason (other than lack of free time) to not go ahead & start adapting your listings to the new regime.
First, check a few of your listings to see if Etsy has categorized them correctly for you. If you are one of the unlucky people who has a lot of items that are no longer in Categories, or your listings have been inappropriately placed, go the to the Categories page and look for the best area to add your goods. If you can't figure it out, ask here
Then, you have the choice of individually editing each listing page, or sorting your items through the old or new listings manager & then batch editing them. Be aware, however, that batch editing is not taking immediate effect at the moment - many of the items I batch edited this afternoon still have not shown up, over eight hours later [UPDATE - batch editing now seems to be working as of Thurs. Feb 19th, more than 48 hours later].
In some cases, you may previously have relied on a phrase from the old categories when optimizing for Etsy search - remember that you may need to alter your tags to replace that now-vanished phrase. That alone makes bulk editing tricky for a lot of items.
I will do my best to write a more detailed post in the coming weeks, once the dust settles. Stay tuned! Sign up here to get all of my new blog posts via email.