Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Etsy SEO and Meta Tag Issues

If you're an Etsy seller, you may have noticed a decrease in views over the past month or so. Part of this is due to the changes in Etsy's way of displaying your listed items in search engines, namely the titles of our items and the meta tags.

Meta tags are used by search engines to describe a website page. The title is also very important because the better your title matches your tags (without repeating too many words), the higher it will show up in the list of search results. To see what your titles and meta tags show up as, in Internet Explorer you can go to View -> then Source. Towards the top of the text will be "title" and "meta name".

All of our item titles now begin with "Handmade XXXCategoryXX on Etsy" then your item title, then they've add "by username" to the ned. So for instance, my wedding invitations now show up as "Handmade Weddings on Etsy Wedding Invitation....... by tinybirdarts"

Why does this matter? Most search engines only look at the first 60 charachters of your item title to use in displaying search results. So the nice descriptive title you've given your item gets truncated. Also search engines will penalize you for having titles that are too long, and going over other character limits on description and meta tags.

You can check if your items are search-engine friendly buy entering the URL of your shop and items here http://www.scrubtheweb.com/abs/meta-check.html

You can also follow the advice of another Etsy seller who has been actively addressing this issue in the Etsy forums, PaperStreet:

"Make a list of key words for your entire shop and think about what people will use to search for your products.You have 10 sections to work with. You get to pick ten keywords or 2 that you use 5 times or any combo, just don't use any word more than 5 times in the whole list that include *and* because that is how the bots are.

I'll give you some tools to count letters and check to see if you exceed the limit keyword limit is about 800 characters according to some sources, but try not to go that far so use the keywords, and try not to add anything that is not relevant to most of your products because the keywords or similar related words on your home page need to be found in your product pages. For that reason, if you can use a section keyword as one of your 14 tags when you list an item into that category, the bots will find it and add it to the information they are grabbing."

You can use this free word counter tool to help as well http://www.wordcounttool.com/

It's beneficial to both Etsy and customers (buyers AND sellers) for all to be found with easy searching. People will go to whatever link comes up first in Google or other searches. If Etsy's programming forces our listing down on the list, Etsy will lose money. Sellers will lose money. Buyers will go elsewhere. Etsy's promotion of itself should be separate from my listing. Etsy should use the money I pay in listing and selling fees to pay for advertising for itself, not just piggy back on my creative wares.

When Etsy becomes a name like Ebay, people will know AUTOMATICALLY what to come to Etsy for...handmade and vintage. Etsy will not accomplish this buy spamming my item title with "Handmade on Etsy" and "Supply on Etsy" and "Everything Else on Etsy".

People on a search engine ARE NOT typing in "Handmade on Etsy". If they know Etsy AT ALL, they're searching on ETsy directly. People may type in "hanmade card", "vintage wedding", etc. HANDMADE ON ETSY is not one of them.

It's of utmost importance that your shop and items be worded with titles and descriptions in such a way that people searching on a service such as Google can find your items. Until this issue is resolved, you can help your shop by modifying your item titles with the SEO requirements in mind from http://www.scrubtheweb.com/. You should also be doing your own promotion on Twitter, Facebook, and the like.

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