Etsy is changing its search algorithm by adding new factors that will affect the ranking of listings that come back in search results. It's always touchy when a marketplace like Etsy or eBay or a search engine like Google make changes, and such changes can have an enormous impact on a merchant's visibility and sales.
Etsy Senior Product Manager for Search Jaime DeLanghe announced the changes on the Etsy announcement board
on Wednesday. Here's an excerpt:
"We're making some adjustments to search that better reflect our goals by taking into account customer and marketplace experience. Buying products online can feel anonymous and impersonal. By telling the story behind your shop and being clear about your processes and Policies, you help build a genuine human connection - and trust - with your buyers. That, in turn, helps create rewarding buyer experiences.
"With that in mind, we will now include customer experience as a factor in search placement, in addition to whether a shop is in good standing based on Etsy's policies. Now, positive reviews, completed About pages and completed shop Policies can help your placement in search. On the other hand, recent cases and intellectual property-infringement issues can result in lower placement. New shops without reviews can improve their ranking by filling out their About page and Policies."
We had an opportunity to ask Jaime about the changes - we were particularly interested in the fact Etsy would be adding recency and reviews.
Clarification: Recency has always been a factor in Etsy's search algorithm (it's now being more open about what all those factors are); the new factors now being considered are the customer experience ones, which includes positive reviews.
Shops with few or no positive reviews could be worried about being pushed down in search results - therefore making it more difficult to get sales, a chicken and egg dilemma.
Jaime said, "if you don't have any reviews, it's not going to do anything to affect your score."
"You can do a lot of other things as a new shop to help improve your score in search," including adding an About page, have policies, and optimize titles and tags. And, she said, "then once you do start getting reviews, then we'll start to count the reviews as one of the many factors in the search ranking algorithm."
Etsy's search algorithm will also review how recently an item was listed or relisted. (Please note: As we clarified above, this is not a new factor in the search algorithm.)
So might some sellers think Etsy is encouraging sellers to spend more money to relist their items in order to rank higher in search?
"That's not the behavior that we would like to encourage," Jaime said. "We use recency to make sure that the results stay fresh. People don't want to see the same thing all the time. We have people listing new things all the time, and we want to make sure that we're continuing to show how the marketplace is changing over time."
She also said the recency factor is just one of many factors, and recommended new shops fill out their About page and policies. And, she said, "the relevance of your titles and tags is still an important factor in search, as it's always been."
Jaime said Etsy is trying to design a system that rewards great behavior, and welcomes the opportunity to be more open about the changes Etsy makes to improve search.
Look for more details in Etsy's announcement and new guide to search, as well as in Thursday's Newsflash (available now
); in the meantime, let us know what you think.