A lot of resources tend to share tips on how to improve your Etsy SEO. Many tell you very few things, like: upload better photos, describe your product more and use keywords in your titles and tags.

These tips leave me feeling more confused when it came to our Etsy shop, Boldlie & Co. I mean, I know that better lighting in photos makes our images look nicer, but why does that result in more sales? I get that your listing title should match what people are typing into their search bars. But, if every seller is thinking the same thing, won’t our products get drowned out anyway?

This week we decided to do something different when it came to optimizing our shop SEO. Here’s what we did:

  1. We experimented with ways to improve our click through rate. How do we encourage shoppers to click our listing when they see our products in search results?
  2. We looked at how we could improve our listing rank. How do we get a listing to appear on the first page of a relevant search results page?

On to how we did it…


Improve Etsy traffic to your listings by making your photos stand out

We started the week setting up our camera gear and getting ready to take photos of our prints inside frames. The idea sounded good to us at first: we get authentic looking photos and our photos won’t have that stylized mock-up vibe to them. When we got to the actual photo taking part, we failed… pretty miserably. Our shots looked horrible. There was a glossy glare on every single print from our window reflections and the glass frame. We aren’t professional photographers, after all.

Things might’ve been different if our product was something else. Items like jewelry or pottery may have been easier to capture using DIY lightboxes.

I decided to stick with our current mockups and think of slightly unconventional ways to attract more traffic to our listings.


Conventional lesson

Use natural lighting, take your product shots with white or neutral backgrounds and add props to make it realistic.


Step 1: Analyze the search feed in Etsy for your product

We did a quick search using the term “dog print” on Etsy. A quick scan of the feed, and these are the listings that appeared on the first page. I left out promoted (paid) listings because I wanted to see what factors will bump listings organically.



The things that popped out to me the most were:

  • 5 of the top 12 listings were styled photos while the remaining were simply the print in a frame on a neutral background.
  • I’d say only about 4 out of 12 listings are quite vibrant in color, which catches my eye.

Try it yourself! Search for a keyword that you’re trying to rank for. Analyze the general themes of the listings and see if you can find any patterns emerging.


Step 2: Edit your listing’s first photo

Usually, the Etsy SEO mantra is to replicate what works. In our case, my goal is to ATTRACT clicks to our prints with an interesting first photo. Let’s go against the grain and do something different.

Essentially, I want searchers to look at our print first, for longer and come back to it as they scan other listings. When people notice your work more, they’re more likely to click on it. The more they click on it, the more sales you can convert. In the design world, this is called creating contrast to attract attention.

Now, I’m not saying that you need to take horrible photos and use chaotic backgrounds in your photos. Instead, here’s what we did to make our photos stand out:

  • We continued to use mockup and pre-styled photos
  • We made the prints more vibrant by adding a splash color

We added a sticker to each image with a brief description written on top of it. We noticed that there were a lot of instant downloadable prints mixed in with fine art prints. We added the words “fine art print” to make it obvious and attract the right customer.

This feeds into another strategy that we’re working on this week that I can’t wait to talk about next week!

Check it out when you search for “whippet print” on Etsy!

I’d love to experiment with a really bright background sometime soon, too, to see if it brings in more traffic.


Unconventional lesson

Target a feed that you want to rank well for, and make sure that your listing photo contrasts against that feed. Attract more conversions (clicks!) and sales as a result. Basically, do what people aren’t.


Improve your listing rank by copying what works

We’re still trying to master the art of getting our products to the top of well searched Etsy pages.


Conventional lesson

Do your customer research and figure out what kinds of keywords they are using in their searches. Use these phrases for your titles and tags.

That strategy definitely works and we rank well for niche search pages like “whippet print” and “greyhound print”. But it was very much guesswork and luck that it worked.

When I look for “llama print” or “nursery print”, I couldn’t even find our listings in the first 10 pages. And, if I’m not bothered looking after the tenth page, what Etsy shopper will?? Getting your listings closer to the first page directly correlates with how much traffic your listing will receive. With more traffic, the chances of orders and sales will be much higher.

I decided to try out a new experiment when it comes to optimizing the titles and tags for our listings…


Step 1: Analyze the top listings in the Etsy search feed, again

Like last time, type in a keyword that you want to rank for and analyze it. This time, take note of the titles, tags and other features of the product. Here, I searched for “fine art print”.

Some things that I noticed from the top listings:

  • 4 out of the 12 of the top listings offered free shipping
  • Every listing had reviews with 7 out of 12 shops bringing in 100+ reviews
  • Every single listing had 5 star reviews
  • 2 out of 12 listings were from local shops based in Australia

On the side of your search results, you can also filter the listings.

I was particulaly interested in “Special offers” and the “Shipping” filters. These elements don’t seem to affect how well you rank for search terms. But, your listings will be more visible if you put your products on sale and include free shipping for shoppers who use these filters.

Next, I looked at the titles and tags of the top 5 organic listings in “fine art print”. Here’s what I noticed:

  • 5 out of 5 listings had the exact keyword search term in their listing title, “fine art print”.
  • 4 out of 5 listings had the exact keyword search term, “fine art print” as one of their tags. This suggests that titles have more weight when it comes to Etsy SEO ranking over tags. However, a combination of tags and title matching the exact keyword search term is a good bet to make.


Step 2: Update your pricing strategy

We updated our prices to be slightly higher so that we can offer free shipping for all orders, globally.

We also kept our prices a bit higher so that we can offer our items on sale on a more regular basis. Our opening sale of 20% storewide ends at the end of February. We’re extending this another month to monitor if this strategy actually works.


Step 3: Tweak your titles and tags to match each other exactly

The last thing that I did to our listings was changing up the titles and tags. Before, I kind of just guessed based on what people would search for when it came to titles. With tags, I used a mix of combination-word tags and one-word-only tags. I’m going to change this up to match the title exactly and use more combination-word tags.

Here’s our before:


And our after…

I couldn’t fit all potential keyword combinations into the title, so there’s a few extra mixes in our tags.


Unconventional lesson

Target a feed that you want to rank well for. Make sure that your listing’s title and tags match each other exactly. Calculate features like free shipping and discounts into your pricing strategy. Basically, do what the top dogs are.


Monitor your changes

We realize there are other ranking factors that we can’t control, like: the number of reviews and the location of our shoppers. I’ve dived into the deep end and zoned into a few levers that we can play with. But, experimenting with Etsy SEO strategies only works if you monitor and measure your results. Here’s how we’ll keep track of everything:

  • Searching for our keywords and tracking the movement of our shop listings. Ideally, we want to see them get closer to the first page. You can automate the tracking process by using a tool like Etsyrank.
  • Review our promoted listings to compare the impressions vs clicks on our products. We want to see if our first cover photos are gaining more clicks, which translate into more sales.

We’ll keep you updated on our results!