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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. 

 

Filtering by Tag: small business

Etsy's Free Shipping Announcement - What We Know So Far

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Above is a screenshot of the top 2 rows of a search for “kids” on Etsy in Canada as of July 12, 2019. All of the listings ship for free in Canada. You will be seeing something similar in the US as of July 30th.

Above is a screenshot of the top 2 rows of a search for “kids” on Etsy in Canada as of July 12, 2019. All of the listings ship for free in Canada. You will be seeing something similar in the US as of July 30th.

Etsy Will Give Items That Ship Free “Priority Placement” in US Search Results; A Lot Remains Unclear

As you have probably already heard, Etsy announced that as of July 30, 2019, items that ship for free to the United States, either by themselves or in orders over $35 USD, will get “priority placement” in US searches. This blog post is not about whether or not this is a good idea; I’ve already warned you in the past that Etsy would continue to push free shipping and that we should all expect more of this in the future. As I wrote in January, “…make your peace with free shipping now, because it isn’t going away. You don’t have to use it, but you do have to accept that Etsy will.”

Instead, I am going to get into the details that have been released so far, so that we can all be prepared for this algorithm change. Note that I can’t give much optimization advice yet, as my team and I will need to test this once it goes live on the 30th. I will write another blog post once testing is complete; sign up here to receive all of my blog posts by email so you will be up to date. 

Etsy put out a lot of information with this press release, including the video I have linked to, an updated Ultimate Guide to Shipping, which contains sections on strategies for non-US shops, and tips for businesses who offer large or heavy items. They did 3 days of questions and answers in a massive forum thread. You don’t have time to sift through all of this, so I did it for you.

What they failed to mention in the vast amount of material they put out with this announcement is that Canada has had free shipping items at the top of generic searches since the end of January 2019. Back then, I speculated that Canada might be a testing ground, or the beginning of a very slow roll out, and it turns out it may have been both. Since we haven’t noticed Etsy testing this in US searches up until now [Update (July 15): there was a small test in late May-early June, which mostly reserved the top 3 rows of US search for free shipping listings/shops, and didn’t necessarily give shoppers the most relevant results.] the Canadian data will likely be extremely useful to them. However, that does not mean that US searches will look like the Canadian ones on July 30th; we don’t know if they will use the same algorithm weights in the US. In fact, CEO Josh Silverman stated that the change “…means that shoppers in the US will primarily see items that ship free and shops that guarantee free shipping on orders of $35 or more in the top and most visible rows of search”, which could mean that there will be fewer items with free shipping on the first few pages of US generic searches than we see in Canada.

So, let’s go over the facts, keeping the speculation to a minimum.

Things we know:

  • there are two ways to make your listings eligible for “priority placement” in US searches on the 30th: you can have free shipping to the US on one or more listings, or you can use their new $35 total order shipping guarantee tool to give US buyers free shipping on all orders over $35.

  • any listing with no shipping charge for US buyers will get the search boost, regardless of what country it ships from. Sellers outside of the US are included, but buyers in other countries are not.

  • free shipping minimums must be created with their “guarantee” tool to be eligible for priority search placement. So, if you want to offer free shipping to customers who purchase at least $35 USD of goods in your shop, you will only get the search boost through the new guarantee tool, which is still rolling out. Using the old Sales and Coupons settings to offer a free shipping sale with a minimum will not work for priority search placement on July 30th .

  • the $35 order tool will only change shipping prices for American buyers; everyone else will still pay for your set shipping rates. The $35 minimum purchase is calculated before tax but after any other sales discounts or coupons. [Update (July 21, 2019): this last point is now in dispute, as Etsy Support staff are now telling sellers that the guarantee will use the original price of the item, not a sale price. Stay tuned for further updates.]

  • the $35 guarantee tool takes effect as soon as you enable it, but the search benefits do not kick in until the 30th. You are also able to turn the guarantee tool off.

  • Promoted Listings will not be included in this change; items can still appear at the very top of search ads even if they charge for shipping.

  • you can still offer a shipping upgrade for a fee; only the base shipping price must be free for your listings to be included.

  • digital downloads are eligible for priority placement, but still won’t be included in the old free shipping search filters.

  • The smart pricing tool will help people with items over $35 USD adjust listing prices to compensate for the free shipping offer, but it will not be available to non-US sellers until August. Etsy will demonstrate how to use the smart pricing tool on Facebook Live on July 16. [Update (July 18): link to demo and the question and answer thread on this tool in the forum.]

  • the other elements of Etsy’s search algorithm will remain in effect; this is just one search factor. In other words, free shipping won’t automatically guarantee you top placement. [Pro tip: if you only want to offer free shipping on some items come July 30, consider the ones that already do very well in search, as listings that get very few search hits today likely won’t magically rise to the top row by offering free shipping.] Remember that the smaller the search result, the easier it will likely be to be found if you do not have free shipping.

  • this initiative will also affect Etsy promotions. “We’ll also begin to prioritize these items wherever Etsy advertises in the US—in email marketing, social media, and television ads.” Most people seem to be ignoring this point, perhaps because they do not realize how much traffic comes from Etsy advertising. I expect, for example, that all of the search links in the US version of Editors Picks will now go to shops with the free shipping guarantee. [Update (July 18): Etsy staff have confirmed via email that “prioritize” does not mean that shops without free shipping will never be promoted in emails, social media or on television. It just means that listings that ship free to the US, & shops with the $35 free shipping “guarantee”, will be more likely to be promoted.]

Good news - you can turn it off, and it does work.

Good news - you can turn it off, and it does work.

Things we want to know but don’t know (yet):

  • what does “priority placement” really mean? They’ve said it is different than the normal shipping boost that has supposedly been part of the algorithm since last year, but have not given more detail, other than the quote about “the top and most visible rows of search”.

  • why won’t the “smart pricing” tool be available outside of the United States until August?  Since Etsy has also announced that they will be introducing country-specific sales options and will be doing more promotion and ads in non-US countries in the fall, and admits that we may need more tools for offering different prices in different countries, it does look like they fully expect that at least some non-American shops will suffer once this search change takes place. Shops outside of the United States have always had a disadvantage compared to US sellers, and Etsy is intentionally compounding it by transforming the algorithm before giving all of their tool solutions to all sellers.

  • why can’t sellers use the free shipping sale option we already have in the Sales & Coupons section of the shop manager to give US buyers free shipping on orders over $35? Possibly because we can’t use it to set a sale for just one country other than your own, so that would only work for shops that want to give every other country they sell to a free shipping deal as well.

  • does the statement about advertising include the Google and Google Shopping ads Etsy pays for? They did not mention search ads in their statement about promotions, and they ignored my question on this point in the Q&A thread. [Update (July 18): in an email to me, Etsy staff stated that the Google Shopping ads that Etsy buys for us are not affected by this change.] If it does, that likely means they will end up spending more than they used to on ads for those shops with free shipping in the US, since many of us who received traffic from Google Shopping ads would be removed as of July 30. Etsy has stated that those ads are their best performers, so they will have to feel very secure that the free shipping shops will be able to pick up the slack after removing so many other listings. Then again, they said “prioritize”, which does not necessarily mean that they will only promote listings with free shipping.

  • is it against the law in any jurisdictions to follow Etsy’s advice of combining shipping prices into the item price? Maybe, although I don’t necessarily agree it is in Canada, depending on how you do it. France’s law only applies to books, and only those shipped within France. I strongly suggest anyone worried about this consult legal advice in your jurisdiction. Note that Etsy’s solution for any illegality is to come up with another way to offer free shipping, which in essence means eating the cost and reducing your profit.

Things To Watch For:

  • an Etsy staffer has told me that more search changes are coming by the end of the summer; they will possibly include photo quality and more personalized results than we have seen across the board up until now. This free shipping prioritization might end up rolling out all at the same time as those changes, or at least as tests for those changes, making it more difficult to separate out the true effect of this free shipping prioritization.

  • Etsy said they will start increasing promotion and advertising in non-US countries in September, at the same time they start promoting the free shipping deals to American buyers. They’ve also previously said they want to give us more advertising and promotion opportunities, so I will not be surprised if increased Etsy ads involve increased ads that sellers pay for at the same time.


My Advice:

  • Don’t panic! While we do not know exactly how this is going to work, Etsy cannot afford to completely hide shops without free shipping to the US, so listings that have mailing costs will still be found in search. They want you to have shipping included in all of your listing prices, so they will really be pushy about this, but they also know that can’t happen, for a variety of reasons. For example, if you can’t ship free because your items cost $40 to ship within the US, then your competition will be in the same situation, and free shipping getting priority ranking will not matter.
    Canadian searches have shown free shipping items for more than the first 25 pages of big, competitive searches since the end of January, yet a shop like mine, with only 6% of listings shipping to Canada for free (many as tests), has had no loss of Canadian sales.

  • Test this for yourselves, but also watch for people like myself to do testing and report in after this goes live on July 30. I have assembled a special team of sellers from around the world, and we will be designing a variety of tests, including both listings with and without free shipping, from US and non-US sellers. I will blog once we have full results, but will also update this post a bit, so keep checking in.

  • wait for the bugs to be worked out of the tools before using them, if at all possible. There is no benefit to using them before July 30th, as you can use the existing sales and coupons function to do a free shipping sale today if you want.

  • Remember the things I always say: 1) don’t rely on Etsy alone for your business income; 2) don’t rely on Etsy search alone for your Etsy income; and most importantly 3) don’t rely on ranking in the big, general searches for the bulk of your Etsy search sales. Make sure you are optimized for lots of niche (aka long tail) searches, as they constitute the majority of ecommerce sales. The sellers this will hurt the most are folks who can’t ship for free (including many sellers outside of the US) but who still think that the most common searches are the ones that will work best for them.
    I’ve had sales in the past 30 days from searches with as few as 24 results. In examples like this, ranking by free shipping will not matter much. On that note, my goal in the next few weeks is to release my long-promised guide on keyword research (with a focus on niche keywords), and a new basic post on the other search algorithm elements.

  • We all knew this was coming, and it is not the end. Accept that this is how Etsy functions now, and make your business plans accordingly.




    Updated July 21st, 2019

Canada Post Alternatives: Other Shipping Companies in Canada

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There Are Many Different Ways To Ship Into And From Canada Without Using Canada Post, Including Options For Small Businesses

Worried about backlogs at Canada Post after the strikes (get updates here), but you don't know any other affordable shipping companies to fill the gap for your small business?

Need a cheaper way to ship within Canada or to the US?

Need an alternative for shipping into Canada from other countries?

Fortunately, there are many established options out there, including several services that will truck packages across the American border to ship via the United States Postal Service, incoming and outgoing.

Note: The following lists do not mean I am endorsing any of these companies, and I have not received any compensation to link to any of them. I am sharing this list because I spent some time compiling it for Canadian Etsy sellers I know, and thought it might be useful to others too. 

National Courier Companies

Most large courier companies in Canada have locations in most provinces, and provide national and international services. However, coverage can be minimal to nonexistent in many remote or rural areas, and prices are all over the map. One company may be cheaper for mailing between points A and B, while another company gives the best rates between cities C and D. Also, courier prices are often more in line with Canada Post rates for a larger package, but small items are several times the cost of regular mail, so this is not a viable option for many of us.  

The following list shows the cost to ship a small bubble envelope with a $50 value from Calgary to St. John's, Newfoundland on October 19th, 2018 (tax not included, cheapest/slowest rate selected, no customer discounts applied):

Signing up for an account may make you eligible for discounts (e.g., UPS gives me a small business rate of 20% off the price listed above), as can a high volume of packages. Note, however, that couriers will sometimes limit their services to existing customers for the duration of any Canada Post disruptions and during the busy holiday season, so you will need to contact these companies to make sure they will be able to cover your needs.

There are also numerous companies which offer access to better rates at couriers and for Canada Post than many of us can get on our own, including Chit Chats. Their prices, reliability and customer service can vary, so check reviews carefully before signing up for their services.

Regional Shipping Services That Deliver Outside of Canada

There are many businesses that provide shipping and freight services within a city or region; therefore, I have restricted this list to those who ship outside of Canada (although some also provide in-Canada service as well). Do check with each company for more details on their current service levels and time frames, and other details regarding requirements, as some request a spreadsheet detailing each of your parcels being shipped. 

(If you are a high-volume seller but don’t live near one of these options, consider couriering your packages to the closest office; contact the company you wish to use to get their recommendations on the cheapest way to reach them.)

Chit Chats Express: the most national and established alternative that ships via the United States Postal Service (USPS). Opened in 2001, they now have multiple offices in Ontario, BC, Quebec, Alberta and Nova Scotia. Fees are 65 cents to $2 per package, plus the US postage cost. They also have courier arrangements to ship within Canada and internationally. Print US postage at home or in their offices; check with your nearest location for details, as services vary by city. (Note: they did not reply when I emailed a few questions, which is a bit of a red flag for me)

DYK Post: shipping via USPS from their offices in Calgary and Edmonton, with drop off locations in Edmonton North, Red Deer, Innisfail and Lethbridge; they also offer pickups in Calgary and Edmonton. Costs $1 and up per package to ship via USPS through their location in Montana. Print your own USPS postage or do it at their office. They also offer discounted DHL and other services to ship around the world.

Parcel for Less: southern Ontario shipper with main offices in Hamilton and Mississauga, with some services in other surrounding cities. Their fees start at 60 cents per package for shipping to the US and other countries. Print USPS postage labels online or at their offices. 

Runnin’ Red: based in Winnipeg, they ship with USPS and UPS from North Dakota, starting $1 per package. You buy labels online yourself then drop your packages off.

Do It Yourself Shipping from the United States

Live close to the border? You may want to try shipping via USPS (or other American service providers) on your own. Make sure you do your research first, including contacting your closest border crossing to get their advice on the quickest legal way to bring your packages into the US. There is a per-crossing fee (or you can pay for a yearly pass), and border agents generally prefer any parcels remain unsealed so they can be inspected if necessary. While many USPS offices allow you to use a Canadian return address on their packages, some online merchants prefer to set up a PO box in the US to avoid any issues. An American address is also necessary to use some online label services. 

Services That Ship Into Canada

Outside of Canada and want to ship things to your loyal customers here? If you don’t want to use the courier companies listed above for shipping into Canada due to the high brokerage fees, there are other options for your Canadian customers. Most common are cross-border services that allow Canadians to receive mail at a US address, and then have it brought across the border for local pickup or delivery. DYK Post, Runnin’ Red and Cross Border PIckups are three companies that offer US PO boxes to Canadians, and bring the mail back over the border for pick up in their respective cities.

Other companies such as My US Address will let Canadians pick up their mail in the US, or will reship it in Canada for them. Some businesses such as Kinek have multiple US locations that their customers can drive to for package retrieval. Note that the prices on these services vary, and may not always be cheaper than using conventional couriers, so it is best to ask your customer what they want to pay when giving them these options.

If I have missed any useful tips, or if you know of any other companies that should be included here, please send me a message or leave a note in the comments. This post will be updated as required. 

For media enquiries, please email me by clicking the envelope icon on the top, or contact me on Twitter. I will get back to you as quickly as possible.

UPDATED: November 27, 2018

Canada Post 2017 Suggested Holiday Mailing Dates and Deadlines

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Don't worry, you don't have to wrap anything quite yet ...  (Photo on  Visualhunt )

Don't worry, you don't have to wrap anything quite yet ...  (Photo on Visualhunt)

Yes, it is that time of year again - we are getting close to the suggested holiday shipping cutoffs for Canada Post for some countries. Whether you are a customer or a Canadian ecommerce business owner, please take note of the following suggested shipping deadlines for delivery by December 24th. (These are not guarantees, and I highly recommend ordering well before these dates, or upgrading to faster shipping, if you need your purchases to arrive by Christmas.)

Suggested Dates for Regular Shipping from Canada

  • Africa - November 25
  • Asia/Australia/New Zealand - December 1
  • Central/South America/Caribbean - December 1
  • Europe - December 1
  • Middle East - December 1
  • United States - December 11
  • Canada - December 11

Express Shipping

  • United States - December 16
  • Canada - December 20

Priority Shipping

  • United States - December 20
  • Canada - December 21

* Express and Priority service is available for other countries as well; please contact me if you would like me to set it up for you. 

Evolution of Etsy Search, November 2017: Context Is Key, "Clumping" is Back

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Etsy used the example of a search for "laundry basket" to show how the new "context specific search ranking" should work. The results I see are only that good for the first two rows, however. Source: Etsy 3rd Q 2017 Financial Results,  slide #5 . 

Etsy used the example of a search for "laundry basket" to show how the new "context specific search ranking" should work. The results I see are only that good for the first two rows, however. Source: Etsy 3rd Q 2017 Financial Results, slide #5

Contextualization, Localization & Searchable Attributes All Contribute to Changed Search Rankings

 

The question on everyone's mind these days is "What is going on with Etsy search?" On any given day, your guess might be as good as anyone else's, since it seems like they are changing elements weekly or even daily. Well, I am about to tell you all the messy details we know so far, but beware - this is not short. So grab a coffee (or a survival pack) and hunker down for a long read about Etsy's latest algorithm changes. 

I also need to warn you: if you are reading this because your goal is to get all of your items on page 1 for generic searches, you are going to be disappointed. Not only because that will be impossible for everyone eventually (I can't say that in regards to your shop right now), but also because the rapid pace of changes right now means that even if you "crack the code" tonight, your methods could be obsolete tomorrow. Things are fluctuating that much! And that is what Etsy is aiming for. The same listings coming up on page 1 day after day appears to be a thing of the past.

[I will do my best to update this post with new developments as things change over the holiday shopping season. All updates will be marked as such.]

 

"Context Specific Search Ranking" - Narrowing Down Searcher Intent

 

While many of us could see that search results looked different, we didn't have confirmation of a key change until Etsy's 3rd Quarter Earnings conference call on November 6. CEO Josh Silverman stated the following:

In September, we introduced a major search improvement called the context specific search ranking, or CSR. CSR uses query and user-level information to rank results in real time. As a first step, we are leveraging transaction data to fuel our machine-learning technology to create more relevant search results. To give you a better sense of the difference, Slide 5 includes some before-and-after images to illustrate how this technology can deliver a better search experience for our buyers.

But what exactly does that techno-babble mean, you ask? The idea is actually pretty simple: Etsy wants to show searchers items that match their search intent as closely as possible. Take the example given, shown at the top of this blog post. When a buyer entered "laundry basket" into the search bar, they used to get a lot of planner stickers, as well as actual laundry baskets. Those sticker listings had "laundry basket" in their titles and tags, and are popular items, so the basic search rules ranked them well. But the results weren't what the buyer was really looking for; they likely would use the words "planner stickers" or something similar if that is what they truly wanted. Most buyers who entered "laundry basket" are probably looking for something to store their dirty clothes in; their "search intent" is actual laundry baskets. But the search algorithm can't understand these things the way a human would. 

All of us who do much searching on Etsy can think of other good examples: if you search "dress", you don't want a pin with a woman wearing a dress, and "earrings" doesn't usually mean you are looking for supplies to make earrings. So fixing this problem sounds great, right? The second screenshot shows much better search results for these buyers. The problem is, how do you get the algorithm to understand this, for millions of different searches, and even for different languages? Enter the machine learning technology from Blackbird Technologies, which Etsy bought in 2016. Often called "artificial intelligence" (AI), this type of program absorbs large amounts of data, then makes connections between words, ideas and situations that might not be obvious to the program at first, or to humans at all. When used in search, an AI ideally "learns" from how well searchers respond to sets of results, so it can show better results the next time. In some ways, it is continually testing and refining what the best rankings should be. (Yes, you read that correctly - the AI will never be finished changing things. I am sorry to be the one to break the news to you.)

The AI started this current project using only some of the information available, namely the sales made on these items, likely made directly from these searches. If people who search "laundry basket" are more likely to buy laundry baskets than planning stickers or art work, then the AI learns that it will get better sales if it shows more laundry baskets for that search. The more sales patterns that are observed, the more distinctions that can be made, tailoring the rankings with other criteria as well. Silverman made it clear this was just the starting point for CSR, and that sales are up because of it. 

So what other information can the AI use? The laundry basket example was straightforward to the average human being, but what if a word or phrase could mean two or more different things, depending on the context? A classic example is sports team names, and that is how I stumbled upon another apparent example of CSR several weeks before Etsy announced this program: Etsy is delivering a different set of results to European Union than to the rest of the world, and you can see distinct preferences in searches where the words may have more than one meaning. They are either testing or permanently allowing the ranking scores to develop differently in the EU from the previous algorithmic ranking. This is not regionalized search, which is controlled by the "ship to" filter. (I have more on search regionalization later in this blog post, but want to be clear: what I am showing you in the next few screenshots is completely different than that.) [UPDATE March 2018 - Etsy appears to have ended this practice for the moment, but seems to have rolled the ranking change into their normal regionalized search.]

The two screenshots below are of the search "blue jays", one with country settings (at the bottom of the page) on United States and one with United Kingdom. Note that I changed the "ship to" filter to the US on the UK version to avoid Etsy regionalizing the second search and showing me mostly UK items.

The search "blue jays", done with country settings for the United States, shipping to the United States (sellers' countries in pink).

The search "blue jays", done with country settings for the United States, shipping to the United States (sellers' countries in pink).

The search "blue jays", done with country settings for the United Kingdom, shipping to the United States (sellers' countries in pink).

The search "blue jays", done with country settings for the United Kingdom, shipping to the United States (sellers' countries in pink).

See how the search done with the UK setting shows more actual birds, while the US search shows mostly items from the Toronto Blue Jays professional baseball team? Sure, both searches show some of both, but the far more of the top-ranking items outside of the EU are baseball-related. The distinction continues as you scroll further down page 1 of each search. Note that in both cases, you see a mix of different countries' items, so this is not about showing the searcher things from their own country. In fact, you can change the countries and get the same results, as long as one country is in the EU and one isn't. So Canada and China will produce the same result (as long as the ships to filter is on the same country), as will France and Germany. (European countries that are not part of the European Union are grouped with the rest of the world.) 

Not convinced? Another good example is the search "football". At the time I am writing this, the first few rows of the US search show American football results, while the UK search shows mostly what Americans call soccer. (Remember, by "US" & "UK" searches, I mean with the account set on those countries, but with the ship to filter set to a non-regionalized country.) 

If you know what the word "football' usually means in the UK, you will immediately know which of the above screenshots is from the UK and which is not.   (for non-sports fans, the one on the right is in the UK)

If you know what the word "football' usually means in the UK, you will immediately know which of the above screenshots is from the UK and which is not. 

(for non-sports fans, the one on the right is in the UK)

So, how are they doing this? I am not entirely sure what data they are sampling to create these distinctions. It could be through the sales data alone, as with the "laundry basket" example, or it could be that search is only using clicks, sales and favourites from the EU to decide the EU ranking, excluding non-EU information that shapes the quality score in the rest of the world. My best guess is the latter, but I could be wrong. Whichever answer is correct, this still appears to be a test or at best a limited rollout, as it doesn't make much sense to have China, Australia, Finland and the US in one group, and the entire EU in the other. I expect that if they are happy with the results, they will break this down much further, perhaps separating it out by each country at least in part. [UPDATE: this example has now changed; see discussion in my latest post]

So those are two existing examples of context specific search ranking. Personalization (results tailored to what you search for, click on, favourite and purchase) could be another, although at the moment I am seeing very little of this happening, compared to the other recent changes. Several people have been insisting in the Etsy forum that CSR is about personalization, but really, you can have CSR without considering an individual shopper's search and purchase history at all, as the above examples show. Since many buyers land on Etsy for the very first time every day, you cannot base search improvements on personalization alone, and Etsy knows that. So they aren't. 

 

The End of Diversity - "Clumping" Makes a Comeback

 

When more than one item from a shop shows up on the same search page, Etsy forum posters have nicknamed it "clumping". Since Etsy made the relevancy search the default in 2011, they have always tried to limit the number of items from any one shop on the top pages of the search, known as the "diversity" rule. While this rule has had many variations over the years, since late 2014 only very small searches showed more than one item from each shop on the first few pages. The Etsy search help files explained diversity as follows:

Shop diversity - Buyers on Etsy are looking to explore a marketplace of unique items. In order to meet this expectation, Etsy’s search algorithm works to show results from a variety of shops, when available.

In August, sellers began noticing that the first pages of major searches had begun displaying multiple items from the same shop again. Etsy admin confirmed it was a test, but then in late October, the above definition disappeared from the help files. Staff have since told some sellers via email that sometimes "clumping" will show up now, although they have not made an official public statement. 

So, it seems clumping is here to stay for the moment. I know that some of you are hoping it is still a test, but all signs point to the decision being made to keep it. In most cases, it isn't as damaging to non-clumped shops as it might appear, although I realize people feel it is unfair. Other recent changes are more likely to have had a larger effect on your rankings. I know some people hate this, but I can't see it completely tanking anyone's rankings, and I can't see Etsy getting rid of it entirely unless it starts making less money for Etsy. 

 

Localized/Regionalized search - the European Union is now one region

 

As mentioned above, search localization or regionalization means that users with their "ship to" filters set to certain countries will see items that ship from those countries rank higher in large, generic searches. In smaller, more specific searches, it has less impact, and I am seeing that continue lately. So, aiming for more specific searches, as I always recommend anyway, is your best approach to combatting any loss of views from regionalized countries. You can test what people in regionalized countries see by changing your country settings and "ship to" filter to that country. 

If you want to see how searches look in regionalized countries, just change the "ship to" filter to that country. 

If you want to see how searches look in regionalized countries, just change the "ship to" filter to that country. 

Within the past few months, Etsy regionalized the entire European Union. Yet again, Etsy made no official announcement about this change - they simply rewrote the help files to add the whole EU, replacing France, Germany, the UK and the Netherlands, which were previously explicitly mentioned. While I detected Etsy testing regionalization in Italy and Spain, among others, earlier this year, this update was a fairly large shift all at once, adding several new countries. (Note that European countries that have not joined the EU are not regionalized.)

Regionalization now works slightly different in the EU than it works in Canada and Australia, the only other two countries included. Let's use Germany as an example. A person in Germany will see German items rank fairly high in really large general searches, but will also see items from elsewhere in the EU near the top. Shops from Canada, the US, New Zealand etc. will start appearing lower down. In contrast, when my country settings are on Canada, I see Canadian items at the top, followed by a mix of everyone else. Someone in the US, which is not a regionalized country, will see a mix of all countries from the very first row. 

Being in a regionalized country does not mean that buyers in other countries will not see your items. If their country is regionalized, shoppers will see more items from that country at the top of larger searches (not the smaller ones), but remember, most online searches are niche searches. If you optimize properly for many niche searches, you can be found in all countries you ship to, including those that are regionalized.

 

So many new options for shoppers who want Etsy to be Amazon!

So many new options for shoppers who want Etsy to be Amazon!

New Filters - Sales, Free Shipping, and Fast Processing

 

I wrote about the new search filter that limits results to items on sale back in August; it has now become permanent. Since then Etsy has added a filter to show all items that have shipping included (AKA free shipping), and have recently started testing two more filters which limit search results to items with very short processing times. It is impossible to say how many shoppers are using these options, as Etsy has not added the necessary reference values for sellers to track clicks in Google Analytics. 

Historically, customers do not use filters very often on Etsy, so these may not be getting much of a workout at the moment. I am not seeing any of those filters on the app, but they do appear using mobile browsers (once you click on the filter button), as well as on desktop computers. During the site-promoted holiday sale, however, Etsy has moved the "on sale" filter all the way up to the top of the list, above the main category links, and has highlighted it in orange. (By the way, you can track clicks from Etsy's Cyber Week sales page in Google Analytics, as they include the reference value "cyber_category" - just search for it under Behaviour-->Site Content-->All Pages.)

Some people must be using them, or Etsy would not keep these filters. That means that you could be excluded from some searches at some times, if you have longer processing times or don't offer free shipping or Etsy discounts. While some sellers are worried that this means successful shops will need to change their business practices to show up in more searches, in some ways these options can help us avoid the buyers we didn't really want, like the ones who are last-minute shopping and might be angry if their order does not arrive in one business day as it does with Amazon Prime. As with any change to Etsy search, it will likely take a while for the effects to become more evident. If your sales have suddenly dropped in the past few months, do not assume this is the only cause, but presume it could be a factor. 

 

Many Attributes Now Searchable; a few filters have been added

 

When Etsy introduced listing attributes back at the beginning of the year, we were told they would eventually be added to the search as both searchable terms (just like tags and titles) and as filters. In general, the Etsy-provided colour attributes have been searchable for several months now, along with the holiday and occasion options. We're still waiting for them to finish, but more and more of the other terms are (finally!) searchable.  Some were added within the past few weeks while I have been writing this blog post, so be aware that more examples could be included or removed without any notice from Etsy.

I am not seeing any obvious logic as to which attributes can be found through Etsy search and which cannot. Some may still be added in the future, of course, and some might only be used as filters, eventually. Unfortunately, since Etsy has removed many of them from the overview section on the listing, I cannot even tell which attributes other sellers have used, so for the most part I can only test my own. For example, for the "Recipient" attribute on jewellery items, "Men", "Boys", "Girls" and "Women" are searchable terms, but "Unisex Adult" is not, either as a phrase or as individual words. 

"Style" is a searchable jewellery attribute, but "Theme" is not. Even within some options, only some words can be found through search. 

"Style" is a searchable jewellery attribute, but "Theme" is not. Even within some options, only some words can be found through search. 

Some other jewellery attributes that are searchable at this time: ring size, earring location, chain style, gemstone, the new materials, and pendant shape. Examples of jewellery attributes that are not yet searchable (and may never be, I suppose): bracelet length and width, bracelet closure, earring closure, necklace length, and pendant size. Remember, however, that the AI could be using these to categorize items in the future, although I am not seeing any evidence of that now. They were also originally intended as search filters, which may still happen in the future. 

Many items have different attribute options than jewellery, and even if I could test them all, the list would be far too long to include here. If you want to know whether an attribute element is included in Etsy search currently, test it, by searching very specifically for a listing where you know you haven't included that word or phrase in the title or tags. (Descriptions are still not searchable within Etsy.) 

All of this means that some sellers now have more keywords that buyers can use to find them. While attribute words do not get much weight, they can be a crucial addition for those niche (a.k.a. long tail) search phrases you want to be found under. For example, I rarely add the word "women" to my jewellery titles and tags, but I am now getting a few more search hits that include it, since I have selected the recipient attributes where applicable. I cannot stress enough that this can be changing the search competition and rankings overall, especially for sellers who rarely added these types of words before and are now reaping the benefits of keyword diversification. I know a lot of sellers fee that attributes do not apply to their items (and in some cases, they are correct), but if your sales are dropping lately, you need to look at this as one possible cause. 

Some of the search filter options for rugs - many options here to exclude items from results.

Some of the search filter options for rugs - many options here to exclude items from results.

Filters: most attributes have not yet been added as filters, which are found on the left of the search page on desktop computers, and through a button at the top of search results on mobile browsers and on the Etsy app. (Examples of the colour filters are included in the "blue jays" screenshots above.) Active filters include the colour attributes, and a sometimes lengthy list of options for various housewares from mugs to rugs. For many items listed under the "Home and Living" category, shoppers have the option of narrowing down their results by occasion and holiday, as well as a diverse set of choices including materials, patterns, size, shape and recipients. For example, items such as glassware have several different attribute filters visible in the search results, including "material". (Remember, that includes both vintage and handmade listings.) Objects such as rugs and decorative pillows have search filters for “design”, which involves a lengthy list of most common patterns, as well as some uncommon ones. 

Strangely, though, you don't always need to have attributes applied to your listing to show up when shoppers narrow down the results through filters. Back when I could still see attributes in the listing overview area, I found many products in filtered searches that didn't use attributes, but showed up due to their titles and tags. (Lately, I am seeing less of that, however.)  I am not sure what to think about this. Are sellers not using enough attributes, so that Etsy is forced to make guesses so that there are enough items in the final results? Or is this one of the ways they are training the AI?  It's difficult to say. As one seller pointed out, some of the options available for buyers aren't actual listing attributes, so in at least some cases right now, you won't need to use attributes to show up in filtered searches. Don't assume that will continue, however.  

Filters provide a way for customers to sort through huge volumes of items easily, without entering additional search terms. Set up properly and displayed well, they could be a partial solution for search bloat, especially in larger, more generic searches. I don't expect Etsy to give up on this idea, so sellers may need to make peace with it if they want to be seen through search. If attributes apply to your item and you didn't use them, you could be losing views and sales. 

 

Other search News - tests, unproven and disproven theories, and what still works

 

There is only one important test I want to cover that wasn't already mentioned above, and then I want to deal with some of the smaller changes, and a few of the largest theories (or rumours) about how the algorithm is currently working.  I promise to make this as brief as possible! 

 

Guided Search Test - This began in September, which I reported here, and was more fully explained in an almost-random forum post from an admin

The colors are there to group options by 'theme' to make it easier for our buyers to visually choose the theme and then read the options. So for example: if you search for "ring"; the first few options in orange are occasion-specific, the next ones in yellow/light orange are related to the material/type.

At the moment, it seems to be visible in the United States only, but that is the biggest group of Etsy shoppers, so it could be having an impact in larger, more generic searches. (It doesn't appear in small searches.) These appear to be generated from popular keyword queries, but there may be other sources as well.  I wouldn't necessarily try to tailor your items to fit the current options, but this test is definitely useful for keyword research! These are searches Etsy thinks people want to look at, which likely means they are not only popular, but also have a good conversion rate, i.e., sellers makes sales from these searches. 

These orange boxes at the top of the search page are called "guided search", which is being tested in the US. Note they aren't all the same shade of orange.

These orange boxes at the top of the search page are called "guided search", which is being tested in the US. Note they aren't all the same shade of orange.

Etsy is now explaining some of its buyer tests on this page, but you will notice that they rarely mention algorithm tests there, at least not yet. Guided search isn't included, but the various sale and shipping filters are. Beware that you won't always learn enough by consulting that information. 

 

Seller Theories: A lot of these are based on observation only, not testing, so many are either not true or may have a different cause than the one shop owners initially come up with. I will try to tackle the major ones I have read recently. 

  • Item price is not a direct factor in search. I took several of my listings, and either increased or decreased the price, and did not see any significant changes in ranking over several days. With some listings, I first lowered the price, then raised it above the original number several days later, just to check if there was a high or low pricing threshold, but I was unable to make my listings move based on price. Larger searches where the average price has dropped noticeably over this year may be due to the context specific search ranking (CSR) change discussed above, where the AI is using sales data to figure out searcher intent. Lower priced items may sell more often, skewing this part of the algorithm for the time being. That said, I am not seeing this in a lot of searches, so it may be item-specific. 
  • Using all 10 photos is not a direct factor in search at the moment. This rumour started almost as soon as Etsy gave us 10 listing photos, but it really picked up steam after a listing critique thread by Etsy staff in which most critiques mentioned using all 10 photos. I tested this by adding and even subtracting photos from some of my listings, and it had no effect on my search ranking. However, I do expect that using more than just a few photos leads to increased sales (although not increased search ranking), and I also suspect Etsy may want us to use more photos to help with any image recognition search technology they may be developing. Blackbird (the AI company Etsy bought last year) specialized in image recognition programs, and eBay has already added an image recognition program to its app. I would be surprised if Etsy wasn't at least thinking about it. The more photos you have, the more likely it is that an algorithm can accurately match your item to a potential customer's photo. 
  • New listings do seem to be appearing around page 5 of larger searches (for shops that are used to ranking well), and on the last page of smaller searches. I will admit to not having tested this at all, since I haven't had any time to list new in the past few months, and I never used to check where my new listings turned up even when I did, so I have no idea what my shop should expect. Most top sellers report that their items move up after a few days, so it is apparently not a permanent ranking. Still, if you were one of those people who expected a new product to go to page 1, at least briefly, you should probably stop basing your search strategy on that for the moment. 

 

Search Changes: Besides the diversity rule, there are a few elements of the algorithm that have changed a bit, but they have not been removed entirely. These are both things that I expect to keep changing in the next few months, and may disappear in the long term. 

  • Having the exact phrase in both title and tags still improves your ranking in most situations, but this is in flux, especially in searches where very few items qualify. For example, at this time, I am the only seller with "Turquoise Blue Abalone Earrings" in a title, but out of 165 results for that search, I am well down page 1, behind some items that don't even have most of the words in the title. (You can tell how many other listings have the exact phrase by searching it in quotes.) It used to be that those earrings would be in the top row. However, I have tested removing exact phrases in larger searches that have more optimized items, and that absolutely does drop my search ranking every time. While there are probably some exceptions to the rule right now, I would be more worried about future changes in this area, as I think they are coming. [UPDATE (June 14): exact phrase matching is still working for large searches; I have more search updates here.]
  • Recency still affects ranking, but it is more complicated and less effective than just a few months ago. If you use a renewal strategy to get better search standings, you may want to reevaluate your approach. I have noticed, however, that it still works quite well in categories, for items that already had a good quality score. 

 

What you need to watch out for  - results without all of the search terms

 

I am saving this for last because I don't know if it is a test or a change, but it is important enough for its own section: it is now possible to rank in a search without having one of the words in your title, tags or attributes. That was never possible before this year. There aren't many results like this so far, but I expect them to grow over time. 

Please understand that I am not talking about some of the forum reports you may have seen recently, which mostly seem to involve words from attributes being included, or the periodic reports that involve stemming or other misunderstandings of how search works. (By stemming, I mean when someone searches a longer form of a word and the listing only has the root, or "stem" - that has worked for years. E.g., someone searches for "beaded" and gets listings with "bead".) It is also not caused by the word being in the description (I checked). Etsy does not currently use the description in search, and I haven't identified any examples of them testing it, either. 

As far as I know, Etsy has not commented on this situation, so all I can do is speculate. It is likely part of the AI testing, or could even be using the old "similar items" algorithm, although the examples I have found did not look like the latter to me. Right now, I am not seeing this very often, and when I do, the listings are always at the back of the search. It's unlikely to have a large impact on anyone's views or sales at this low level, unlike Google's contextual search and Hummingbird algorithm, which can easily identify synonyms and other related elements of a page, and will sometimes show you a website that doesn't have the exact words as the number one result. 

But if Etsy gets good results from this, expect the examples to increase; expect Etsy search to become more like Google's. If it works (and that is still a big "if" at the moment), it would be great for buyers. Right now if I search for "paua" and a seller only has "abalone shell" in the title and tags, I will not find their item. That's bad for a buyer, bad for the seller, and bad for Etsy, who might not make any money on the search. This is a real example, by the way. I have run into this exact issue many times while searching Etsy for paua and abalone destash (paua is a type of abalone), and have had to learn all of the alternative words people might use for it. I know that some shop owners will complain that this gives an unfair advantage to people who didn't do their homework on descriptive phrases, but heck, even after doing extensive keyword research for my creations, I sometimes run into valid search terms after the fact. So, this has the potential to help everyone, but it is important to remember, Etsy is most interested in what helps buyers first.

The items that include all of the searched words are still shown first, so using all of the synonyms and related phrases still does give your listing a large advantage. Plus, you can't show up for synonyms or related terms if you haven't used the right core terms in the first place. For the AI to understand context, it needs enough data to chew on, and titles like "paua bracelet, blue bracelet, silver bracelet, paua jewelry, blue jewelry, silver jewelry" simply don't provide it (that's only 5 different words!), and, conversely, a word salad of 140 characters with as many style keywords as possible will tend to overwhelm the algorithm, and dilute the power of the core phrases you do have. A title such as "paua bracelet, blue abalone shell jewelry, sterling silver chain and clasp" will get you a lot further, where Etsy is going. 

 

Future of search: Voice & Image Search will need to work sooner rather than later

 

The above test (or change) is one of the main reasons I believe exact phrase matching is on the way out, or will at least be far less important in the future. The increasing use of voice search, and the advent of image recognition for search purposes, are two other reasons. According to a recent US study, "...one in 5 customers (19%) have made a voice purchase through Amazon Echo or another digital home assistant, and another third (33%) plan to do so in the next year"  - and that doesn't even include all of the people searching on phones and tablets. Voice searches tend to be wordier, making it less likely that any one page will have the exact phrase the shopper entered. And, needless to say, image matching avoids language altogether. [UPDATE: see more on Etsy image recognition testing here.]

Having a search engine that only recognizes exact phrases cannot continue; Etsy knows this. And that is why getting people to start thinking about search differently is one of my biggest goals right now. 

 

 

HOW THE HECK DO I GET FOUND NOW? 

 

I know you, and I know what you are asking. I've seen it in the Etsy forum. "Search is all different now - SEO doesn't matter - how do I get to page 1?"

Here is what you need to know:

  1. SEO means optimizing for search, and the old rules still matter for Etsy search at the moment, even if they aren't the only rules any more, and even when they may get different weight than they used to. So yes, SEO matters, and keywords are still part of that. 
  2. It's time for you to stop worrying about ranking on page 1 for generic terms, and start listening to me about aiming for more niche searches.
  3. More than ever, the other factors will weigh heavily in buyer decision making, and they involve how you market your business - photos, your points of difference from the competition, general branding, and understanding customer psychology are going to drive your clicks and sales from search. What worked last year may already not be good enough. 
  4. Seriously, you need to believe #2, before it is too late.

 

Right now, you could choose spend a lot of time playing with your titles and tags and attributes, and sometimes you might get your items to rank better in large searches. I have tested this with some success. However, I am finding that the effect of most "tricks" fade quite quickly now, and the rapid rate of change means you cannot count on any rankings to continue at all. Plus, regionalization, contextual search and personalization all mean that most people may not see the same things as you do anyway. It's better to spend your time employing diverse, high-quality and relevant keywords on each listing, then stop worrying about search for a while. Leave listings a few months to see how they perform, then do more keyword research as necessary. Put your extra efforts into other ways of driving revenue. 

As always, I strongly advise people not to rely on Etsy search as their only source of sales from Etsy, and not to rely on Etsy for your only source of business income. (But Etsy search is by far the easiest and cheapest way to get traffic on Etsy, so there isn't much point in having an Etsy shop unless you pay at least some attention to search.) 

 

It appears that Etsy isn't going to announce most big search changes any more. They are apparently just going to change the help files without pointing it out, or release the details to investors, but either way, they aren't letting us in on these secrets first. That means it is up to sellers to keep up with these other sources of information about Etsy search. The next few months are going to be very busy, so I will try to keep upcoming posts short and sweet, instead of doing these huge multi-topic scroll-fests. (I hear a huge sigh of relief from everyone!) Please share this around so others do know what has happened up until now. 

For future Etsy search news, you can follow my blog by email here, as well as my Twitter account, and my Google + page for SEO and ecommerce news, including Etsy. In addition, any of my SEO shop customers can sign up for my email list on all search changes; current buyers will receive a fully updated copy of my ebooks when it is complete next year.  Finally, you can get more information on broader ecommerce and search trends such as voice search and image recognition by following this Etsy team thread. (I do all of the reading so you don't have to!)

 

Updated June 14, 2018

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

Cindy Lou Who 2

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