EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2600 - August 03, 2011     2 of 5

Etsy Moves toward 'Best Match' as Search Default

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Etsy is working to improve the relevance of search results, which is currently an optional sort order on its search engine. The company said its goal was to make sorting of search results by relevancy the default site experience.

Many sellers are familiar with the challenge of optimizing their websites and product listings for relevancy algorithms on Google's search engine or on eBay's "Best Match" search. Often the seller doesn't know what factors go into the search algorithm, or don't know the importance of each factor; in addition, these algorithms change frequently, so what works well one day may not work well the next.

Etsy said it had over 10 million unique items listed on the site, and said in a blog post on Friday that search can be frustrating. "That's why improving search quality, and evolving the ways you can search, is a huge priority for Etsy. We are specifically focused on search sorted by relevancy, which we feel will be the strongest site experience and will help buyers and sellers alike."

Etsy revealed some of the recent changes it made to relevancy search:

  • Item titles are given more weight. Tags are important but your item title is even more critical. As titles are the most direct way for sellers to explain what they have, we have given them more weight in our search results. This means as a first order of business, you should make sure you have complete and descriptive titles for all the items you list.

  • Words that appear at the beginning of your title are given more weight. Translation: make sure to list the most important things about your item at the beginning of the title. For example, your item will be displayed higher in the search results when someone searches for "dress" if you list your item as "Silk Children's Dress" rather than "Homemade hand painted children's silk pink, blue and yellow dress." That doesn't mean it won't show up at all, but you will see better results if you put the most important characteristics of your item at the beginning of your title.

  • Exact word pairs are given more weight. When your search includes 2 or more words, we prioritize results that have those exact words next to each other. For example, if I search for "pink unicorn" results that contain "pink unicorn" in the title will appear higher than "pink ponies playing with a unicorn."

  • Recency factors into search sorted by relevancy. When a broad search (like "dress") returns a huge number of results, we give some priority to most recently listed items.

  • Diversity is important! Our marketplace is made vibrant by the wide range of products, sellers and styles. In a search sorted by relevancy, we divide up multiple items from the same shop, and prevent your search results from being dominated by one shop.

Etsy said it would continue to experiment with other improvements, and told sellers they needed to do their part by being as accurate and descriptive in titling and tagging their items so buyers could find their goods. Etsy said sellers could post their feedback on this online forum thread

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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