Thursday, October 15, 2009

Etsy SEO Cheat Sheet

Okay, since I guess a lot of people are confused by Etsy's SEO guide I've decided to do this quick and dirty cheat sheet. The guide is still a much better resource so I hope this post will make the guide easier to understand. You can download the full guide here: along with a video and other information. If you've had trouble downloading the Guide as a .pdf file try viewing it online in Google Documents.

What you are optimizing
This guide is to show you how to use the text you can edit in your Etsy shop to improve how search engines rank your shop. We're going to start with your main page and then move on to the item listings.

Introduction to Keywords
Think of keywords as important words and phrases that you want people to use to find your shop. To start targeting the keywords you want think of the best words to describe your product. We'll use mine as an example, a few obvious keywords are:
  • cuttlefish
  • squid
  • octopus
  • polymer clay
  • handmade jewelry
Now if I plug some of those into a keyword tool I'll get suggestions for other phrases I might not have thought of like:
  • deep sea octopus
  • giant squid
  • polymer clay beads
Not all the suggestions will be perfect so make a list of these keywords and select only those you think are best for your shop. You want to work these keywords into the text you write. You want to spread your keywords out among your shop, one or two per sentence. Hopefully these keywords (or a combination of them) will be what people will type into Google to find your shop. You won't always rank highly for all of them no matter how good your SEO is.

Shop Title
Your shop title is that bit of bold text right under your shop banner and search engines will consider it the most important piece of text on the page. This text will also show up in the title bar of the browser as "your shop title" by "your username". It has to be short and sweet, only the first 30 characters that you type into your title will be displayed in the title bar and in search engine results.

You want to write a title that says what you sell with some of your keywords. "Welcome to my shop" is not going to be helpful, tell us what you sell.

Shop Announcement
Your shop announcement lets you introduce your shop and what you sell. The most important part of your announcement is the first 160 characters because that section will get used by some search engines as the piece of text they show in search results like this:

That screenshot was made using a new tool Etsy has given us when we edit our shop appearance. If you click the link that says "View a preview of how your shop homepage will appear in Google search results" on the shop appearance editing page it will display how your search results for your page will look. This is a really valuable tool to make sure your title and announcement fit all the important stuff into the character limits.

The beginning of your shop announcement should be describing what you sell using some of your keywords. Leave any announcements of sales, how long you've been creating, etc. for after that introduction paragraph.

Section Titles
Sections are best created to better organize your shop however you can do a little SEO optimizing of the titles by using some of your keywords in them.

Item Titles
This is the most important thing to write about your product. This text is the most prominent, and goes in the page title and the alt tag for the image (another bit of text that search engines view). You have a total limit of 42 characters before the title gets cut off in the top of the browser and for search engines (however the total title will display on the page above your photos).

Again Etsy has a new tool for use to help see how much of our item title and description will get displayed in search results. Right below the text box for your item description when you create or edit an item is a link that says "View a preview of how your item will appear in Google search results" clicking it will display a preview of a google search result like this

It will update live as you edit your item titles if you need to work them shorter to fit the limit. You want to work in as many of your keywords as you can while still making the title make sense and sound like it was written by a person. A list of keywords is a bad idea, google is wise to that sort of thing and it will hurt you.

For items I also consider the colors or other major characteristic of the item as a keyword just for that item and make sure to use it. Descriptive names are going to be better for SEO than a cute name like "The Lulu dress" so it you want to name your products like that you need to put more description after the name like "Lulu, a knee length blue jersey dress".

Item Descriptions
Like with your shop announcement the first 160 characters of your item title are the most important. This is where you should describe your item. Leave any technical specifications like length, size, etc. until after you introduce us to your item. Again you need to use your keywords.

Tags and Materials
These are first and foremost the keywords you want to use to get found using Etsy's internal search so worry more about that than google when writing them. They will help but only a minor factor for google and in any case your Etsy tags likely already contain keywords you would be using for your items anyway.

These are simply links to your shop or items from other sites. Blogs, directories, other shops, etc. Google uses backlinks to help determine how good your shop is and more and better backlinks will help you rise in the search results. Some you can create yourself by writing a blog or submitting to directories but most shoudl come from other people writing about you. Don't be afraid to submit your items to blog writers and ask them to feature you.

I hope you've found this barebones desciption useful and it helps you understand the full guide better. Please let me know in the comments if you have questions and I'll try to answer them.
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