OK, you’ve set up your Etsy storefront. Great job! Now those witty newborn onesies you’ve been working so hard on will just fly off the shelves, right?

Well, not exactly.

Etsy, like the rest of the internet, is rife with competition. Those other Etsy sellers slinging wry baby singlets pose a problem to your otherwise obvious success.

When the curious parent or baby shower gifter stumbles upon the homepage of Etsy and types in “funny baby onesie”, your listings will be in direct competition with all the other stores selling comedic babywear.

To best compete with these other jokers, you need to wield the powerful metaphoric saber of SEO. Like any online database of searchable things, Etsy has its own particular algorithm by which it determines what a search will return.

Let’s dig into how it works and how you can make it work for you.

Etsy Search Algorithm

Etsy target search algorithm

To work the Etsy algorithm, you have to understand it. What happens when future Aunt Carol searches for “funny baby shower gifts”?

Query matching

That search query gets matched up to the database of Etsy product listings. Keywords in the product titles, tags, categories, and attributes that match up with the query are pulled out to then be ranked for relevance.

Ranking factors

With the list of query matched listings, Etsy ranks them based on a number of factors. Quality and relevance are judged through several indicators to give you the final (and ever-changing) results.

Below you can find all the factors that affect rankings.


Obviously, customers want their search to pull up relevant products. That’s the whole point. By looking at how closely the keywords in titles, tags, categories, and attributes match the search query, the algorithm can start determining rankings.

Listing quality score

If it were only up to keywords, many undeserving listings might pop up toward the top of the results, punishing stores that really put in the work.

The listing quality score is based on how shoppers engage with listings. So, when customers click, favorite, or purchase a product, the quality score goes up. Keep up the conversion rate to keep up this quality score.

Note: While on vacation mode, your listing quality score will stay the same as other listings move. Once back in action with customers engaging with your listings again, your rankings will come back up with the increase in traffic.


Etsy provides newly listed products an opportunity to perform by temporarily boosting their rankings. This bump can last a few days or just a few hours. But, it’s a bump nonetheless. To bank off of this feature, you can make it a practice to regularly add new products and renew existing products.

While there is a listing fee of 20 cents per renewal, the boost in rankings is more than worth it. Just make sure you renew at your peak traffic times to get the most out of the bump (check your Etsy stats to find your peak search times).

Customer and market experience score

Ah, yes, another score. But an important score that rewards stores that present as professional and established as well as for having great customer reviews.

The pieces that help this score nudge upward are a completed About section, fleshed out store policies (for returns, exchanges, shipping, privacy, payment, etc.), and a multitude of adoring customer reviews.

To garner those positive reviews, focus on the post-purchase customer experience—send follow-up emails, provide great support as they need it, package shipments well, ship quickly, and provide a card in each package asking for their review. For policies, Etsy provides handy templates for each so that it is a breeze to put together.

Cost of shipping

A more recent ranking factor, Etsy now pushes listings with the lowest shipping costs to the top. The lowest shipping cost? You guessed it—free.

Etsy knows what customers want—the peace of mind of knowing that their totally unique baby shower gifts will be shipped free of charge. Priority search placement is the reward for sellers who provide free shipping. This includes free shipping for minimum order amounts. Following that are low-cost shipping options with the most expensive pulling up the rear.

So, do what you can to offer up free shipping while not breaking the bank? Add some cushion to your prices. Require a minimum order to qualify. However you make it work, the increased rankings will spell better sales.

Language and translations

Whatever language you choose as your official store language, that’s the language you want to use. Translations are automatically provided by Etsy, so no worries about that.

So, keep it consistent across your tags and titles, all the way through to your About section. Beyond that, you can get a local boost for where you set your store location.

Shopper habits

Etsy shoppers’ search results are not created equal, by design. There is no absolute number 1 result for any particular search.

Based on your shopping history, Etsy serves up personalized results, boosting some results and burying others. Being that as it is, just keep an eye on your backend to see what keywords are driving sales and which should be mothballed.


While not an official ranking factor, all websites enjoy extra backlinks and further referral traffic. Be the store that garners awesome backlinks from quality blogs in your niche. You should be rewarded with higher search placements. If nothing else, you will have more intent-based traffic funneling straight into your store.

Keyword research

Search engine

Many Etsy shoppers start by clicking into the search bar and typing some very specific words. Like, “leather cat shoes” or “bespoke chainmail”. You know, normal stuff.

These searches are then query matched with listings that are most relevant. In particular, the keywords used in titles, tags, categories, and attributes are mined for similarities to the search. Then, listings are presented to the shopper, ranked by the Etsy algorithm to include those most relevant to their search first.

So, how do you find the best keywords for your listings? You do the research. There are many ways to go about it. Here are some tools that will help in your research adventure.

Etsy SEO tools

Etsy keyword tools look a bit like the tools you’d use to optimize for the big search engines, but there are some unique attributes to Etsy that don’t quite apply to the Googles of the world. Let’s dig in.

  • Etsy. Start from the source. Just enter in some seed keywords into the search bar—like “onesie”—and you’ll get served a whole host of suggestions. Start writing them down in a spreadsheet, because all the best keyword research begins with a blank spreadsheet.
  • Keywords Everywhere. This formerly free browser extension is still a fabulous and low cost way to easily find great keyword information. Once installed on your Chrome or Firefox browser, it can show you monthly search volumes, CPC numbers, and competition metrics directly in the Etsy search bar. Using volume as your guide, you can start picking out the best keywords for your listings.
  • Google Keyword Planner. If you have a Google Ads account—which you probably should—you can use Google Keyword Planner. It’s free so why not. While great for suggestions, this tool really helps in finding out how your competitors’ listings are optimized. Just copy their URL, enter it into the field under “Your landing page” and click “Get ideas”. Pop those ideas in the spreadsheet!
  • Google Trends. While we’re still in the Googlesphere, let’s visit the treasure trove that is Trends. Just add your seed keyword (either as a Topic or a Search Term) and you’ll see its interest over time as well as related topics and queries that are trending up in search. (note: at the time of writing, one of the major trending related queries for “baby onesie” is “baby onesie with tattoo sleeves”).
  • Marmalead. Easily one of the top paid tools for Etsy SEO, Marmalead costs $19 per month and provides comprehensive tools to find and compare high performing keywords on Etsy. Since it is solely focused on Etsy, you might find it more useful than many other tools that are more general.
  • eRank (formerly EtsyRank). This free service has a ton of tools from keyword research with unique information (like average number of views, average price of items, and engagement scores) to a rank checker and a listing comparison tool. They also have a paid version that opens up even greater depths of comparative listing information.
  • Etsy Finds newsletter. Being on Etsy, you have the opportunity to get the Etsy Finds newsletter directly in your inbox. Don’t go tossing it too quickly! Within it you will find trending items. While it all might not apply to your listings, it’s good to keep your finger on the pulse of Etsy. When it does apply, it will be invaluable.

What to do with your keywords

Optimize keywords searches

OK, now you have been fully equipped with your SEO toolset, you’ve taken a bare spreadsheet and made it whole with a host of keyword data, and you are ready to optimize your listings to grab rankings and the shoppers that go with them.

Where do you put those keywords you’ve worked so hard to curate?


The first words any shopper will see from your listing are in the title. You want the title to attract not only your ideal shopper but also the algorithm that got your listing in front of them.

While it is wonderful and all that you have precious names for each of your products, they will not help drive customers to your listings. Instead, use descriptive keywords for your title, broken up by separators (like a / or a |) for easy reading.

It is said that the first 40 characters are the most important. While this may or may not be true, using your best keywords in the beginning will help your listings get noticed by customers scrolling through the results. A good enough reason to do it.

As for that product name you created, throw it into the description section instead. Shoppers can read it as they dig deeper into your listing, fully appreciating its creativity in isolation.


Now on to Etsy tags! There are 13 available for you to use and use them all you should. The order in which you use them does not matter, but variety very much does.

Use keywords in your tags that match those in your title. As you’ve already done the research, you should know the keywords that are most often used to search for your type of product. Plug them in.

Tags should be 2-3 words (medium tail keywords) that encapsulate what the product is and how the right people might search to find it. Like, for instance, some tags for a baby onesie (funny or not) could be “baby shower gift”, “unisex baby clothing”, “baby boy gift”, etc.

Some more general rules: Don’t repeat tags. Using the plural is not necessary. Don’t use tags that are the same as the categories or attributes for your product. Finally, whatever language your store is set to, keep your tags in that language.


The backbone of Etsy’s navigational infrastructure, categories slot products into what they essentially are. That funny onesie you’re slinging essentially is “Kid’s & Baby Clothing” and may also be more specifically “Baby Girls’ Clothing” (a subcategory of the former).

Where you choose a subcategory, you will automatically be included in the main category as well. Furthermore, categories are just one way that shoppers can find you. If they opt for search over navigating categories, their search queries will match with titles, tags, attributes, and categories to get them to your amazing listing.

To find your right category, you’ll enter some descriptive keywords and Etsy will return category suggestions to fit your product.


When someone is shopping on Etsy—perusing a selection of decorative pillows in the Home & Living category, for instance—the results page gives them attributes by which they can narrow down their search.

Attributes depend on the category of item you are listing, covering things like Material, Occasion, Shape, Color, and more. So, coming back to the little baby bodysuits, the attributes could be Occasion (such as 1st birthday or Baptism), Size (Preemie, 0-3 months, and so on), Color, and more.

Choosing accurate attributes for your product widens your keyword footprint and helps shoppers find your listing when they are looking for something specific.

Your tags should not be the same as your attributes. The keywords covered in attributes can free up even further possibilities in your tags.

Your Etsy SEO takeaway

Putting in the work to improve your listings with high-performing keywords and the help of amazing SEO tools will go a long way to increasing your Etsy store traffic and conversion rates.

It takes some time to fully see your changes bear fruit, so don’t expect it to explode overnight. Make your changes and track your successes over time. Keep an eye on it and experiment where things seem stagnant.

Now excuse me while I try to find the perfect witty onesie for my child.

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