Etsy recently published a guide for sellers on optimizing listings for search
, and it's helpful to see a seller follow up and analyze the company's advice. After all, search engine optimization (SEO) requires constant research with a healthy dose of skepticism, whether you're optimizing for marketplace search or for Google.
Based in Canada, Cindy Lou sells jewelry as CindyLouWho2 on Etsy, where she also publishes her own SEO guides (CindyLouDoesStats). In a blog post
on her own website, Cindy Lou delves into the new guide from Etsy, starting out with a cautionary introduction:
"Last Wednesday, Etsy released a new and supposedly comprehensive guide to its search algorithm, and as is often the case, it created more confusion than clarity. With one bombshell surprise, a confirmation of many older factors, and some flat-out wrong statements, "The Ultimate Guide to Etsy Search" should be read very carefully, and its statements tested wherever possible."
One challenge for sellers seeking SEO advice is the number of variables that come into play. Algorithms take into account many factors, and search engines keep the exact recipe a closely guarded secret. In Cindy Lou's case, she sells jewelry, so her experience can differ from sellers listing in other categories (which she herself points out).
Nevertheless, there are commonalities, and reviewing the guide will at the very least get you thinking about how to test and optimize your own listings - including sellers on other marketplaces.
Cindy Lou discusses Etsy's efforts to get sellers to lower shipping costs, but her testing revealed some surprising results:
"Through testing, I did not find even a small effect from reducing shipping charges or offering free shipping on listings, at least in the short term. Since last fall, I have been tracking the performance of a small number of listings in my jewellery shop that offered free shipping, and at best there was a tiny uptick in search views recently, but not across all of the listings. Last week, I changed numerous other items in several ways to test various possible scenarios: raising shipping, doubling shipping, reducing shipping, and offering free shipping, both with and without raising the item price."
That kind of testing can be fruitful and requires constant monitoring. Read through Etsy's guide, and then read Cindy Lou's assessment, and then run your own tests if you can. There's a lot more to these guides than the impact of offering free shipping, and we'd love to hear your take.