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This week we’re talking about how to sell more art on Etsy. The secret is to invest some time improving your Etsy SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. There are millions of listings on Etsy, so the question is how can you stand out? I’m sharing my practical tips for improving the reach of your Etsy shop. This episode applies to all artists, painters, and creatives who want to be selling their art on Etsy (or who want to sell more art on Etsy). 

Episode Transcript

Hello, and welcome back to the Self Taught Artist Podcast. I’m Lauren, Kristine, your host. First, I am putting out an open call to my listeners because I want to create a new episode that features one of you. Are you facing a challenge right now in your art practice or your art business? If so, I encourage you to volunteer. I will offer you a free coaching session where we will work together through your creative challenge. I will record it and edit it down into a podcast episode. I’m calling it Creative Coaching. And I think this new episode type will help our entire audience because they’ll get to hear firsthand some of the challenges that arise with making art or selling art, or whatever your creative challenge is right now. We can keep your identity anonymous or share it with our listeners. I don’t care. So send me an email if you’re interested. I’d encourage you to briefly tell me about yourself and what your challenge is that you want coaching on. It’s going to be an experiment, so stay tuned. I’ve mentioned it a few times on the show before that my job is actually as an executive coach. And I work with entrepreneurs and executives to help them grow their careers. My dream would be to combine my coaching and my passion for art somehow. So I’m really looking forward to this new creative coaching episode. You’ll hear it soon right here on the Self Taught Artist Podcast. So let me know if you want that creative coaching session.

Alright, what is new in my world this week? Well, this week I sold another painting, which was very exciting. I also created some new little botanical works that I’ll be sharing on my Instagram this week. They’re minimal but lovely line drawings. And I just really love them. Sunday is not over yet, so I’m hoping to get a nice burst of painting in this afternoon. Also, I spent a lot of time this weekend outdoors soaking up some vitamin D since the weather was so lovely here in Texas. It’s not too hot yet and the flowers are blooming like crazy. So it’s a good time to get outside and just spend some time in nature recharging for the week ahead.

For this week’s episode on the podcast, I thought it would be great to go into more detail about selling on Etsy. If you have not already listened to episode seven, where I talk about the basics of selling your art online, I highly recommend that you go do that. I mentioned in that episode that I think Etsy is a great place to start selling your art. However, the downside is it’s also a huge marketplace, and it can be really easy to get lost in the shuffle. I think Etsy works the best if you have your own buyers that you can direct to your Etsy page. For example, if you have an Instagram following, or a Facebook following, or even just friends and family that you can point there. Like on Instagram if you post a photo of art that is for sale, you can direct your followers to your Etsy page to buy it and Etsy handles all the payment and the collection of sales tax for you. And they even simplify the shipping process by offering you printable shipping labels at a discount to the post office rates.

Getting found in searches on Etsy is difficult but not impossible. Today I’m going to talk about a few ways to make your Etsy listing stand out and improve your SEO on the Etsy platform. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Essentially, that means that you are trying to make it so that when people search for an item like yours, your art shows up high in the rankings so you can get more traffic to your page. People are unlikely to go through tons and tons of pages of search results to find what they’re looking for. It’s more realistic that they’re going to click on the first thing that catches their eye. So your goal should be to appear on the first few pages of search results, so you can maximize the chances of being discovered.

SEO is really a beast of a topic. It’s super complex, and it’s always changing, which makes it particularly tough. The algorithms are always being updated, and they’re getting smarter. But it’s also important to note that what works for one person is not guaranteed to work for another person. There are so many different variables that go into a great Etsy listing. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see really quick success on the platform. As with all things it takes time and consistent effort. I have a promo code for 40 free listings. You can try out Etsy risk free with no investment upfront to see if you like the platform. Again, click my special link in the show notes for those 40 free listings. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

First, I want you to understand some of the inputs in the Etsy search engine optimization equation. Some of these are within your control directly, and some aren’t. So to start, let’s talk about the user experience. Keep in mind that Etsy users are essentially voting through their actions on which Etsy listings and shops are most useful and most relevant to their searches. That means that the following components are important to Etsy SEO, and play a role in whether or not your listing will appear in the top results. First: reviews. The more positive reviews that buyers give a shop, the more confidence that Etsy will have in that shop. The algorithm thinks that there’s a better chance that users will be happy with that shop if there’s a lot of positive reviews. So don’t forget to ask your buyers to leave a review for you. I actually do this in my thank you cards. And I’d encourage you to go listen to episode number 12 on finishing touches when you sell art. In that episode, I talk in detail about my thank you card strategy. It has really helped me to get more users to leave me reviews after they buy.

The second element I want to talk about is disputes. If you have any disputes that have been opened against your shop. Which I understand, sometimes these are out of your control and unwarranted. But do know that that can hurt your Etsy ranking.

Third is the number of sales that you have. Sales mean that shoppers actually found what they were searching for and they bought from you. And that put money in Etsy’s bank account. Sales prove to the Etsy algorithm that you should be ranked higher, because it’s proof that you and your shop can help Etsy make money. And that’s their overall goal.

If you have low conversion rates, it means that a lot of shoppers are seeing your products, but they’re not interested in buying. Etsy views, clicks, favorites, and purchases as very important. And the more your listings have, the better Etsy and the Etsy algorithm is going to rank them.

The last item in this list that really isn’t under your direct control is location. Etsy has listened to some buyers’ preferences to purchase within their own country. So oftentimes, Etsy will actually prioritize showing products from sellers within the same country as the person is searching from. This is ultimately out of your control, but I just want you to know about it as it is one of the factors in the search engine equation.

So next let’s talk about seller action, because a lot of these things I just talked about aren’t really within your control, yet they are things that do factor in. But these upcoming things I’m talking about are direct actions that you can take that have an impact on how Etsy ranks, your listings and your shop.

First, is your customer experience. It’s important to create a good customer experience for your buyers and potential buyers. I want you to answer their messages and fulfill orders in a timely manner. And it’s important to mark orders as shipped and completed within the system when they are actually shipped. So your customers stay up to date. Etsy loves sellers that check in frequently, answer their messages very promptly, and ship orders when they say they’re going to ship them.

The second factor under your control is shop completion. Now setting up an Etsy store takes some time. And I’m personally always shocked at how long it takes me to list an item on Etsy to begin with. There are a lot of fields to fill out. And it takes time, but it’s worth it because Etsy will prioritize people who have completed more sections. So don’t skip over things like the about me section, go ahead and fill it out.

The next factor under your control is recency. Etsy wants to show shoppers up to date results. So they take recency into account. What this means is when your listing was posted, or when it was updated. A new listing or a renewed listing will actually get a short boost in visibility. And you can also give your listings a boost by updating them regularly. It’s not that hard, just change a few words here and there to show Etsy that you are keeping your shop up to date and that you are still there and are an active seller.

That’s a lot of different factors that I just went over really quickly. But the next one is probably the most important piece of SEO, and that is your keywords. Keywords are words that you use throughout your listing that you try to match up to what your buyers are searching for. So to uncover the best keywords for your shop, I want you to think like a buyer. What would your target customer search for on Etsy? What terms do you think they would be most likely to key into that search bar? Write those down, actually make a list whether it’s on your phone or paper on your computer, whatever, just write them down. Another way to get started is just to go more broad and imagine you’re searching on Google. If you wanted to find your item, what would you search for on Google?

Now it’s important not to include any names that are personal to you. So for instance, if you have called your painting something like “walking in the meadow,” don’t include this in your Etsy title. No one is searching for your specific painting name. Instead, what they might be searching for is something like “meadow painting, meadow print, meadow, wildflowers, nature inspired art, meadow landscape painting.” I would recommend using them as keywords, instead of using that really valuable real estate on your listing with something very specific like the title of your painting that nobody’s going to be searching for.

After you identify keywords by putting yourself in the shoes of your target buyer, I want you next to explore the Etsy platform for keyword inspiration. Try and find some of your direct competitors and look at their keywords, read their listings and see what keywords they use in really important places like the title. Do this and write down any keywords that you see that look like they could be a good fit for your listings or your shop as well. Do this and write everything down to make sure that you are using all the relevant search terms that you can. Once you have a list of all of these potential keywords, go ahead and prioritize them by ones that you think would be more searched than others, and then spread them throughout your shop.

It’s important to use keywords and keyword phrases that you want to rank for in more places than just one. So for instance, you could use your keywords in your listing titles, your listing descriptions, your tags on each listing, your shop title, your shop About Me section… there are so many places where you can stick these keywords.

However, I do want to warn you, you don’t actually want to overdo it and put too many keywords in there. And this is called keyword stuffing or keyword jamming. And you don’t want to do that because you can actually be penalised by the algorithm, because when they look at too many keywords all put together in a way that doesn’t seem to make sense they think that you’re just trying to spam and take advantage of the algorithm.

Etsy is also supposedly actively working on reducing the visibility of titles that are stuffed with too many keywords, or less relevant keywords, so be strategic. Make sure you are using the highest value keywords and prioritizing the ones that you think that your ideal buyer is going to be searching for. I know this is hard and striking the right balance is tough, but just start experimenting and you will find what works.

Do remember that your title is particularly important, and you want to be most strategic about the titles for your listings. I would suggest you spend most of the time on your title keywords and just start there. I suggest you start your titles with the best, most specific keywords at the beginning. Supposedly that is emphasized by the Etsy algorithm. They look at those first keywords in the title the most and they give them more weight. Keep your titles a good length and use the majority of the characters you’re allowed if you can think of enough relevant keywords to put in there.

But don’t forget to make your title readable to the buyer. So use plain, simple, everyday words and break up your title with commas or lines to make it easier to read and easier to follow. In general, just think like a buyer. If you were scrolling through all of these listings on Etsy, what would you click? One example I’d say is, let’s assume I was trying to sell a peony watercolor print. If I were doing that, I would make a title something like this: Botanical Peony flower print, watercolor flower print, print in watercolor, art print, blue print, bathroom art, peonies print. So if you notice on that I separated all of my different keywords with a comma. I started with my most specific keyword first, which is the longtail keyword “Botanical Peony flower print.” And I used keywords that weren’t too general, I didn’t just say watercolor art, because there’s so many millions of watercolor art that is on Etsy, it would be really hard to be ranked high for that exact keyword. So perhaps you want to include that, that’s fine, but you also want some more specific keywords like what I put with “Botanical Peony flower print.”

This process does take trial and error, but I do want to remind you that the Etsy Seller Dashboard will provide you with statistics so you can track how your listings are performing.

My next big tip is to use all of the space that you have. For example, you get to put in 13 tags for every listing. So make sure you use every single one. And also for the title you get 140 characters so I’d suggest using the majority of the space that you are given. I’d aim for using more than 100 characters if you can. The exception to this is the description section. You don’t need to use up all the space as I think that would probably be impossible to do without including too much filler content. And I wouldn’t want you to be penalized by the algorithm for too much filler and spam.

My next tip is to optimize your shop sections. A lot of people forget to do this, but you can actually separate your Etsy shop into different groups that are explorable on their own. Potential sections include groupings by the subject matter, the material you use to create the art, the size, the type, the color, etc. Whatever works for your type of art. These different shops sections all appear as links on the left sidebar of your shop. In addition to helping with overall shop organization, sections can actually help to improve your Etsy SEO. Each section functions as an independent location, complete with a unique landing page and title derived from the section name. These individual landing pages supply more opportunities for you to use your keywords and to be found by the algorithm as it’s searching all of the listings on Etsy to give buyers what they are looking for. Consider using section titles that use your topic keywords again, which will help improve your shop organization and the likelihood of appearing high in searches.

My last tip for today is to update your listings often. When you list or renew existing Etsy listings, you do receive a small boost in the search rankings and your SEO. But when you update them, you also get a small boost. So although this practice isn’t necessarily sustainable in the long run, it can increase search engine visibility for more competitive keywords. And I do recommend doing it when you do have time. All you have to do is change a few words here or there.

I do want to share one specific trick that I have for updating some of my listings, and that is that I tailor my listings to upcoming holidays. For example, I made a few heart paintings before Valentine’s Day, so I tagged them as being great Valentine’s Day gifts. Now, some of those paintings did sell before Valentine’s Day, but others did not. Instead of leaving them on my site as Valentine’s Day gifts, I’ve now updated those listings to being great Mother’s Day gifts. And I created a whole separate section of my Etsy to list out Mother’s Day gifts. I find that this has increased the number of consumers who see my listings, and I even sold one of those Mother’s Day paintings last week. So at least for me, this technique has actually worked in boosting my Etsy SEO.

Alright, that is all I have time for on today’s episode. I hope you learned something new that you can apply to your Etsy shop. Of course, let me know if you want more tips like this on future episodes, I really only scratched the surface here. SEO is such a big behemoth of a topic. Before I go I do want to remind you if you want a free creative coaching session and one on one help from me, please send me an email. As I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, I’m trying to make a new episode of the Self Taught Artist Podcast that will feature one of you my lovely listeners. So just let me know what challenge you are facing with your art right now. And I will select one of you to be featured on this upcoming episode. I will coach you through your challenge and then feature it on this episode. I’m sure that the entire Self Taught Artist Podcast community can learn from you and learn from this creative coaching. All you have to do to be considered is to send me an email introducing yourself and telling me what challenge you want some coaching on my email is Lauren, Kristine Of course you can also find me on Instagram at LaurenKristineart. Alright, I look forward to hearing from you guys. If you have a minute please leave me a review on Apple podcast as well. But until next time, Happy Creating my friends!

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