Monday, January 4, 2010

Year in Review: Part 4, Search Engine Optimization

SEO, or search engine optimization, with all its talk of keywords and their relevance can at least be daunting and at most feel like the emperor's new clothes with what it can promise. For Etsy shops, the veil was lifted a bit last year with the release of an in-depth guide to how the bits of our listings relate to what shows up specifically on Google, http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/etsy-guide-to-seo-5224/. Be sure to download the PDF guide from the link about halfway down the page.

Traffic from search engines is consistently number three for me beyond direct Etsy traffic and social media sites (Twitter and Facebook). It is an ongoing project to tweak my shop and listings so that I'm compliant with the current best practices in this area but I consider it worth it for the exposure in search engines. Googling information has become commonplace and a verb to most people.

At a minimum you should set your shop up to use Google Analytics so you can monitor your shop traffic, referring sites, keywords and more. This tool can track more than just your Etsy shop (I use it for my blog and regular site) and is it's own beast that I won't cover here. Click here to view a video from Handmadeology.com on setting up Google Analytics in your Etsy shop.

Using the info gleaned from Google analytics can help determine shop weak points or trends to products you hadn't considered. The other thing it helps with is figuring out how real world people look for your products. I hadn't considered this when I was listing my chainmaille jewelry pieces because as someone who crafts, I have a different vocabulary then someone who is looking for the same thing (unless they are also someone who crafts). Click here to read an article on Handmade Marketing about how to get more out of your Google Analytic reports.

My hubby pointed this out when he said, "why do you call it chainmaille with the extra letters at the end? If I was looking for the same thing I wouldn't call it that." Keyword searches confirmed that.

After thoroughly reviewing the Etsy SEO guide, the first listing I experimented with for a variety of keywords was for a chainmaille keychain. In the title I gave it a few common synonyms such as keyfob and I also just called it chain mail in addition to the particular chain weave I used. I may have gone a bit overboard with the length of the title but I immediately started to see traffic using some of the keywords I had put into the title and description.



In the past I had just been putting fun names in the title and giving whimsical descriptions. I still name quite a few of my creations and enjoy spicing up my descriptions but in order to maximize how people can find me through search engines I do the regular details first.

One thing I am working on is finding a good balance to the length of my descriptions. I know from reading in the Etsy forums that many people find very lengthy titles a turn off. Apart from Etsy sellers who for the most part aren't the folks buying my jewelry, the only technical reason to keep titles fairly short is that after a certain character description they don't show up in search results. Click here to read more on Etsy's The Storque blog about tags, titles and relevant search.

While you are making a listing Etsy has provided a tool to show you how your title and the first part of your description will show up in search results. I use this to make sure that what I've put in doesn't look odd and gets the most important information first.

An area that Etsy is in the process of opening up to all sellers is inclusion in the Google Product Search Syndication. There are very specific guidelines about how products can be inserted (see more at http://www.etsy.com/storque/etsy-news/tech-update-google-product-search-syndication-6258/ and
http://www.gotogreatpanes.com/blog/2009/12/06/faqs-about-the-etsy-gm-feed/
. I had been putting the phrase 'Free Shipping to the US' in my titles but will be taking this out and just putting it in my policies and shop appearance information so that my listings won't be excluded.

Making some simple changes to listings as you move forward can make a big difference without overwhelming you to what you already have listed. If you decide to renew or relist an item that is a good time to review the information you have and how it might affect search engine results if you don't want to do a massive overhaul at once.

Not sure what "regular" people are calling what you create? Give Google AdWords: Keyword Tool a try or ask your friends or Facebook fans for some feedback.

2 comments:

Lisa said...

Thanks for these great posts, especially the one about searches. I actually posted a question on an Etsy forum today asking about the meaning of the "relevance" sort.

-Lisa, Speranza Jewelry

seedlingsjewelry said...

I stumbled across that link when doing a search on if there were some technical limitations to titles. I know they (Etsy) are trying to make some of these things more transparent for sellers which is great and can only help everyone in the end!