New Etsy Relevancy Search Tips

Some of you are already aware of Etsy’s new Relevancy Search and how it might change the way you need to list your items.  I will honestly tell you that I’m not always that keen on changes, but I usually adapt.  Here’s a bit of information to help bring you up to speed and help your shop be successful…

  • Etsy has changed their default search from Recently Listed to Most Relevant.
  • Etsy believes this will help shoppers find exactly what they are searching for and you should think like a shopper as you title and tag you items.
  • Put the most important keywords and phrases at the front of your titles.
  • Use a variety of strong keywords and phrases in your titles and tags, and vary what is at the front of the title (be sure to always use the most important keywords and phrases, though). Don’t name everything the same thing! Each listing is a chance for a buyer to find you, if you diversify your keywords you’ll be found by lots of different searches. For example, you might start off a few listing titles with each of your strong keywords or phrases, then use other great terms on other similar items in your shop. Eg:
    Girls Dress – etc etc
    Children’s Dress – etc etc
    Toddler Dress – etc etc  {From}
  • Recently Listed items do play some role in search results sorted by relevancy.  They want to keep it fresh.   Shoppers can still choose to shop by recently listed.
  • The top of the search page will show the last four Recently Listed items.
  • Use all your tags keeping in mind what a buyer might type in the search box.  Tags and titles will help determine your relevancy.
  • All tags will have equal value so it does not matter what order they are listed.
  • Recently listed items will also continue to appear at the bottom of the Etsy homepage, and the category pages will continue to be sorted by most recent.
  • You can find more information about this here.  I’m sure there will be slight changes as they receive feedback from sellers.

What are your thoughts about the new Relevancy Search? If you have found any ideas that have helped your shop, please share it in the comments.

I realize this might be a touchy subject, so please try to keep your comments kind, objective and relevant.  Thanks!



  1. says

    I love the new relevancy. It took them too long to start it. With newly listed you often get a lot of items that aren’t what you were looking for. Hopefully this is help us search for what we actually want.

  2. says

    I like the change to relevancy, however it might take a while to see how it works as a seller, especially as to how it works with relisting.

    I did notice that some of the results didn’t seem to make sense based on the search words I used, e.g. I searched for “denim dress” and my dress listing (which has “denim dress” as the first two words) came after several dresses which had the words “denim dress” further down in the description than mine. I thought it was firstly searching on the words in the description and then the tags, but maybe there is more to the algorithm than this??
    .-= Claire´s last blog ..After the holiday =-.

  3. says

    Re-posting what I wrote on an Etsy Team:

    I’m confused. I had thought, I was always being relevant? For the first 48 hours of Etsy’s search change, my robots appeared on the first page of a search. HAPPINESS! (Did have a sale on Wed, yay!)

    Thursday while watching the live chat with the techs, I searched again and found only one of my listings displays on the front page of a search. CONFUSED?

    I hadn’t made any changes to my listings. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong and where to being with changes. Or just go mad with relisting? SAD.

    .-= HerArtSheLoves´s last blog ..Stoneware Style Blue Red Robot Head Magnets Miniature (set of 4) – Clay, Wire, Paint =-.

    • says

      HerArtSheLoves – I get the feeling they’re going to be adjusting this for the next month or so. Until they work out all the bugs it seems like some searches will be a little off. I know Etsy is working hard on making it work for everyone because the better we do, the better they do. :)

  4. Jennie says

    So far I’m liking the change. As a buyer, I’m finding it’s easier to locate an array of choices of the item I’m looking for. As a seller, well, my shop views are up but I think it will be an on-going process of updating listings as we all get used to relevancy.

  5. says

    I think it will give shoppers an overall better experience with Etsy.

    HerArtSheLoves, I don’t know if I responded to you in the team thread or not but keep in mind others are trying to optimize their own listings this paired with new listings (remember recency does play into this to some degree) could very well explain why you’re results are jumping around.

  6. says

    Thanks for the tips. I have been at work on tweaking my shop, but you know how slow that goes. I checked my stats though today and I am up 20% more views since the change, so that’s good!

  7. says

    Thanks for the tips! My views have been down slightly since the change to relevancy searches — but I was out of state and not able to stay “tuned in” to do as many re-listings or new listings. But my sales were up! So I think even though I might get fewer views, I get views from people who are really interested in what I have in my shop.
    .-= LeAnn´s last blog ..Leavin’ on a Jet Plane =-.

  8. says

    I love it. It’s great for small or new shop owners who need their stuff seen without having to renew items all the time. It will make making a treasury easy for me too because I can find exactly what I’m looking for.

  9. says

    Just when I thought I might have a handle on things Etsy makes a change, lol. Well, keeping your brain active and learning keeps you young, right?!

    Came home yesterday after work and started tweeking titles and some tags, and I did notice a huge increase in views to my shop yesterday!

    I think in the long run it will be a good thing, I know that when I am buying and my search comes-up with tons of irrelevant stuff it can be overwhelming.
    .-= Alyssabeths´s last blog ..Queen of Hearts Black Rose & Red Charm Bracelet Elegant Vintage Style Jewelry by AlyssabethsFrom Alyssabeths =-.

  10. says

    To be as nice about it as possible…I HATE it! With that being said, I am normally not a negative person at all so when I do dislike something that means I REALLY don’t like it.

    Here are a few reasons why:

    -If I am paying 20 cents a listing for each renewal and not even seeing it on the first 10 pages of the relevancy listings afterwards when my first words within the listing are “Rag Quilt” and I am searching with the exact wording Rag Quilt…that’s a problem. Esecially when there are multiple listing on the front page with Rag Quilt much further down in their title.

    – Now the two “Big” sellers in my catagory who have hundreds of listing that they mass produce (like a sweat factory) are now the primary shops being shown within the first 4 pages! So now I am still paying the same amount per listing for renewals that they are but they are now monopolizing the front pages…because they have more items AND because they’ve figured out the magically phrases that work.

    – I feel like if you are going to pay for the renewal…you should get the exposure for the payment! It’s called advertising…hmmm!

    – I don’t want to spend the majority of my day trying to figure out how to get my stuff closer to the front instead of creating…that’s what I pay Etsy to do.

    I have a very sour taste in my mouth over this whole relevancy thing. Yes, they should have relevancy as an alternative way to shop but I feel like the default should be at Most Recent…it’s what we sellers pay for! Okay, I’m sure many of you will not agree with me on this but just wait until someone else in your catagory figures out those magical words and takes over your listings and reaps the benefits. Not so cool! I have literally spent the last 6 days trying to figure out what will work…I have not sat at my sewing machine since the change. I’ve lost my desire to create for me store! :-(

    Sorry for the super long comment…and I really tried to be as nice about it as possible! I am just so frustrated!
    .-= Mary Carole Dolce´s last blog ..A Little Annoyed but Ruby Sure is Making Me Smile! =-.

  11. says

    I haven’t noticed a huge change either way in my shop. I was really glad that I had started tweeking my titles before the change however so I was not crazed on the day of the change. I read a lot about it and did research on SEO.

  12. says

    I’m not crazy about the change. I haven’t noticed a difference in views but I have to work a lot harder to keep my items on the first three pages. I’ve also noticed a huge decrease in items sold. I’m getting a few hearts here and there but not selling nearly as well as I was before. I wish they would go back to the way it was before. If it doesn’t get better, I will have to look at other options for selling.

  13. Erin says

    I am with you Mary Carole. I am loathing the change. My views, hearts, and most importantly sales have dropped dramatically. I have spent countless hours in the past week updating and reupdating my tags and titles to no avail. I am beyond frustrated. I can’t help but feel a little angry that people who don’t put the same time and effort into their shops (ie listings that are 3-4 months old) as I do are ahead of mine, even with the exact same words in the title. Etsy has become my full-time job, and now I’m struggling because I can’t find the elusive correct word for the algorithim to get me to the front, plus my competition has quintupled.
    I would love to know if there is a tool or application that can give me data on individual listings (what search terms people used, etc). I know I can use the Shop Stats, but I want something to help me stand out among the thousands of “big brother shirts” and “girl’s dresses”.

  14. says

    Well, I came to everything etsy today to try and see this whole new idea that etsy is trying from a different perspective. The only thing I can say, which is good for some of us, is that August is the slowest retail month, everywhere! lol. However, I don’t know if that’s the case here too. I’m sure to an extent. I have seen a significant decrease in my views, sales and in everything. I don’t know what the magical keyword is to get myself to the top. I try too, very hard, because I’ve been trying to make etsy my full time job. And I could’ve the way it was going but now it’s come to a dead halt. I check my shop stats and alot of people are putting my shop name in (direct link). Also girls, I have noticed that I get alot of traffic to my shop from StumbleUpon. ALOT. That I have gone back to using that a little more than I was. I will figure this all out again, soon, it’s just learning a whole new process. And it doesn’t hurt to see what everyone else is doing. Don’t copy their work, lol, just copy the concept, for SEO. What I mean is, what kind of word are they using for their first word? or first tag? that is making them number 1 and how would that pertain to your items. I mean, I can’t get anymore obvious than “hang tag” but maybe you can :) Good luck everyone and I’ll be back to see where we are with everything!

  15. says

    I also am loathing the change…the only sale I’ve had since the change is one that I was working with a lady on before the change. I used to get 50 views almost right away when I listed my best seller, now maybe 5….it’s very frustrating. No sells, no favorites. Items that haven’t been relisted have been at the top since the change began, and their titles are NOT at all relevant. As a lady stated before….there are items under wedding Jewelry that don’t even have those words in their title that are ahead of my listing. It makes no sense at all. I’m about to be tired of dealing with it and am considering other online market sites. It’s just hard to go from 5 sales a week to not even getting many views. I’ll give it another week or two, and then I’m on to greener pastures :) I do wish all of you the best o luck though!

  16. says

    Not to happy about the change. I get a different search result each time and my items are listed with items that don’t even have the search terms that I listed. Confused and very disappointed. Really hard to go from a sale every day to none. I think I will be looking else where even though my heart loves etsy.

  17. says

    Yes, I love Etsy too Sarah, and I’ll be sad to leave…maybe it will get a little more positive in the next couple of weeks…I did have a lot of views today, so we shall see :)

  18. Carol says

    I don’t like much of “the new” Etsy at all except maybe the circles. If it wasn’t for circles and Tweeting, I don’t think I would get any traffic at all to my shop. Something is not right with this newest “idea” but I can’t really tell you what it is. Most of the other posters have said it all so no point in repeating. I say to just put Etsy back the way it was when I joined over two years ago. If it’s not broken, DON”T fix it !!

  19. Vickie says

    Carol…I think it’s funny that they have just introduced a new advertising gimmick…you pay to get your listings seen more. I just think this whole change was implemented to introduce the new “pay to have your listing seen first” gimmick…..

  20. Judi, JudisLamps says

    Have you all read charleshayworth post from a couple days ago on Etsy?

    “(Background: I’ve been in advertising offline and online for 13 years. I’ve spent millions on ad spend on my career and actively use every major and minor ad platform out there now. I’ve sold a crazy amount of products and services for both myself and my clients using every advertising trick in the book. Not here to toot my own horn – just to say I know what I’m talking about in the wacky world of advertising

    Posting this while on a business trip from a client’s network. My wife has an Etsy account and told me about the ad platform – I immediately told her not to spend a dime on it. This is why.)

    REASON #1: CPM – In the world of Internet advertising there are 2 primary ways to by ads: Cost Per Thousand or Cost Per Click.

    Etsy is using CPM but should be using CPC. Why? Because you as an Etsy seller are looking for a direct financial return on your ad dollars. Either you make a profit on your ads or you don’t. There is nothing else that matters.

    CPM is best used in two cases:

    A: you’ve got giant companies buying your ad space and don’t care about returns or conversions. Think about Johnson and Johnson buying banner ads all over the Internet to promote a new baby wipe they made. If they spend $4 million on advertising a month for it they don’t care about the cost. They want to get people aware of the product. This is called ‘branding’ and CPM and branding go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly.

    B: you have an advanced bidding system in place that allows bidders to control every single aspect of the ad buying. Ad sizes, locations, bid prices, time of day, re-targetting, destinations, etc, etc, etc.

    It’s like guys who LOVE cars: they want a manual transmission to have full control, not the automatic shifter on your sedan.

    Etsy’s CPM *could* be useful, but for reasons I’ll talk about soon, it’s not the right choice because it does not fulfill the “advertising nerd” requirements I just mentioned.

    As a side note – ad platforms that run CPM almost always offer CPC as well. CPM only networks often bite the dust because of disuse and fraud.

    REASON #2: no bidding on individual keywords via CPM

    Ok. So if I *have* to use CPM, at least let me bid on each keyword with a different cost I want. For example, the word ‘red’ is not going to be worth much to me but ‘red bird sweater’ is.

    Etsy has decided though that across the entire site certain keywords have a cost, and there is no changing it. If I want to bid on ‘red’ I pay the same price everyone else does. I cannot pay or less depending on my products.

    The system is called ‘bidding’ when I can set my price. Even basic CPC networks offer the advertiser the ability to enter a bidding marketplace. In fact, I have never seen an advertising platform that does not offer the ability to bid on each inventory item. It is such a basic part of advertising I can’t believe it’s missing.

    Etsy’s bidding only allows you to set your bid based on your entire targeting universe.

    Used up all your impressions on ‘red’ ‘blue’ and ‘love’? Too bad.

    REASON #3: max of 2 keyword sets

    So I’m having to bid CPM and keyword sets you choose – let’s pretend this is going to work, and keep going, and look the words Etsy is using.

    Notice they are all 1 or 2 word sets. These are called ‘short tails’ whereas something like ‘red bird sweater with tassels’ is a ‘longtail’ keyword. There’s an interesting story behind the names that we won’t get into. All you need to know is that longtail keywords are where the money is at.

    Pretend you a buyer: if you are searching for something soooo specific like ‘pink unicorn with a flaming horn’ or ‘blue kitchen table with tiles’ you know EXACTLY what you want. In fact, if you see my unicorn with flaming horn there is a high chance of you buying it. So this is where to target your ada, right?

    Well – Etsy won’t let you. Why? I don’t know. I think it has something to do with their systems not being able to handle a true inventory of keywords “on the fly.” Instead they create a list of keywords, all limited to at most 2 words, and let you choose from there.

    This is kind of like offering all 6 billion people in the world 30 types of clothing. Doesn’t fit you? Too bad kid. Or if Google only let you search for things no longer than 2 words. It’s just an arbitrary limit and simply wouldn’t work. But Etsy is going to take your money anyway.

    REASON #4: floor of 10 keywords

    Ok, ok. So we’re bidding CPM on shorttails based on what Etsy says to pay. Well, then I’ll just remove ‘red’ ‘blue’ and ‘love’ from my targets. Right?


    You must bid on 10 keywords.

    Without an ability to add your own keywords, you are going to forced to bid on shorttail keywords that are straight up money wasters.

    Enforcing arbitrary minimums is called ‘flooring.’ For example, the MySpace ad platform had a price floor of 25cents to bid. You could not bid less than that. I have used several ad platforms with price floors before, but never one with a keyword floor.

    It’s exceptionally strange to do this if you’re creating a system that is good for the advertiser. It only benefits the ad network owner to enforce floors. In this case, this only benefits Etsy because you are forced to bid and spend money on useless keywords.

    In general price floors are signs of manipulated economics and have no place in a true advertising marketplace. Keyword flooring is so strange it’s a sure sign that Etsy did not hire anyone with experience to make this platform. In fact I can’t think of ever running across this.

    REASON #5: bots will kill it

    So here’s the story. You’re being forced to bid on keywords you don’t want at a rate you can’t set via CPM. Let’s talk about fraud now.

    CPM fraud is when an evil competitor uses bots or computers to view all your ads thousands of times just to waste your money. Why? Because without click tracking or CPC, CPM is a frauders paradise.

    CPM networks are rife with fraud. Sometimes I spend all day just dealing with fraudulent impressions – finding the sources and blocking them and begging for a refund.

    CPM fraud is just part of the game though – it happens, and you deal with it by viewing reports and having someone at the network monitoring too.

    But do you really think Etsy can do this? They designed the strangest ad platform I’ve ever seen – my fraud fighting ability in them is 0%. They don’t even work weekends (but you’ll be paying them on the weekend). I bet they never even thought about this until this week. Other people are already pointing this out.

    What does this mean to you? Say my wife is bidding against you for a keyword and I’m evil. I can make a bot in about 5 minutes that uses thousands (Literally, thousands) to eat your impressions. I can take all your impressions in 10minutes or do it in 6 hours to look more natural. Whatever.

    The fact is you are now competing with my deep pockets and technical skills. Or let’s say I hate unicorns and want no unicorn sellers to make sales via ads. I set my bot to wreck havoc and unicorn sellers are down for the week.

    Sound like fun? This is what happens with CPM. Should have thought about that Etsy.


    1. Move to CPC.
    2. Let people bid on as little or as many keywords as possible.
    3. Let people bid on longtails they manually enter.

    Or in briefer terms, “act like every other decent ad platform out there.”

    Look Etsy – I know how hard advertising platforms are to program. Been there, done that. It’s HARD. You made it like 70% of the way – and can be really awesome, and offer true value to your buyers and sellers.

    Right now you’re not offering anything worthwhile. Remove your arbitrary limits (and offer proof of verified anti-fraud measures) and CPM could work as a stopgap until you offer CPC as well.

    But please – pull the plug on this platform the way it is now. Please. You are going to get a bad reputation in the advertising world if you actually take people’s money with your system now, and the hit to your reputation to your seller’s would be fatal.”
    This blows me away. What is your opinion?

    • says

      Hi Judi – This forum post is well written and certainly sounds like it comes from someone with more experience and knowledge than we have. To me, that’s kind of the point. The majority of Etsy sellers are proud to be able to create a decent banner and get nice pictures online. They (we) would be totally overwhelmed trying to do the kind of professional keyword selection this writer clearly favors. I think that Etsy probably has a number of reasons for doing it the way they did, but the whole idea of keeping it simple had to be a part of it.

      The way I see it is this: If they were looking to hide anything, they wouldn’t be showing us stats which show the number of sales that come directly from the ads. Every seller will be able to make a clear financial decision. Is this for me, or not? All of the other ways that already existed to promote your items still exist. Nothing other than renewing listings, which was a gamble anyway, has been taken off the table.

      I sell some pretty inexpensive items and I’m not in a dog-eat-dog world of high stakes online selling. If someone really wants to try and cheat me out of a few bucks by using fake impressions on my ads, I’d feel sorry for them. And they won’t hit me too hard, because if I don’t see a return in a couple of weeks of advertising, I won’t keep doing it.

      Just a few thoughts. I hope they’re helpful to some.

      ~ Kim

      PS – As a general rule, a comment that included a copy of a forum post wouldn’t remain published on the blog (so as to avoid that getting out of hand), but this one was clearly written by an informed party and the points made are good. I especially agree with the minimum of ten keywords. Why is that needed?

  21. Judi, JudisLamps says

    Hi Kim,

    I really enjoyed what you wrote-very well put.
    Especially, you are positive & we need positive people 😉
    Thanks for your response! We’ll hope for the best.

  22. says

    Hi Kim,
    I really like your blog. My Boot Camp buddy put this on our Dreamers Into Doers FB page, and I’m glad I clicked on it. I like your positive attitude and l love your tips. Thank you for helping us newbies with this abundance of info.

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