Last week, we shared five websites you can use to create a shop and sell your crafts online. You could also create your own website and manage the entire process by yourself.
Here, we’ll share tips on optimizing your Etsy shop – one of the most popular sites for handmade goods – to increase traffic to your store and improve sales. Much of the advice applies to shop on other sites, as well as personal websites, but we decided to start with a focus on Etsy.
“For someone trying to start a business selling [handmade] merchandise, I would definitely suggest to try Etsy first. There, you will be reaching a targeted audience that is seeking exactly what you are selling. Then, I would move on to Amazon depending on the success of Etsy and then, finally, I would suggest creating a niche website that exclusively sells crafts.”
That’s from Mario Serna, who’se run an Esty shop, Amazon store, and his own e-commerce website.
Becoming a successful Etsy seller can be difficult, but if you’re craft and want to make money Etsy is a great way to do so. Once you create your shop on Etsy, use the following tip to optimize it and increase sales.
Use Keywords to Increase Your Shop’s Search Rankings
Search engines like Google use keywords to decide which pages to show in the results. If you’re searching for “yellow four-door sedan,” for example, the search engine may assume you’re looking to buy the car and will show you sites that sell cars – ideally yellow, four-door sedans.
Etsy also has its own internal search engine, and your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts could help you appear higher in the Etsy search results. However, shops show up in Google’s search results as well, so many general SEO tips could apply to your shop.
I looked for individual Etsy shops and searched, “buy handmade wire-wrap jewelry” on Google. The first website in the search results is Etsy’s general wire wrapped jewelry section. The second result is a shop called Pillar of Salt Studio. This is great for the shop as the closer to the first result the more likely people are to click on your link.
They have a website as well, but it looks like they sell different products on their site and Etsy. Their description says they also fulfill many made-to-order products.
Although the Etsy shop doesn’t have a long description, it’s filled with relevant keywords.
The basic, short description is, “Wire wrapped jewelry, handmade pendants, rings, & more.”
In the announcement area, you’ll see:
- “Handmade wire wrapped jewelry”
- “Wire wrapped pendants, rings, and earrings”
- “Made to order”
The about section also mentions wire wrapping several times, as well as jewelry-related keywords and well-known retailers and shows where the shop’s work appeared.
Many of the items and reviews also have “wire wrapped” and “handmade” within the description and/or in the product’s tags.
Even the refund section starts with, “I love wire wrapping…”
This isn’t to say that Sara, the owner of Pillar of Salt Studio, is going out of her way to use these keywords. They come naturally and make sense in each section of the shop, which is actually the point. If you’re looking for handmade wire-wrap jewelry there are a lot of indicators that you’re going to find it in this shop.
When you create a shop, if you aren’t using every opportunity to highlight the unique attributes of your work, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Repeatedly using the proper descriptions – the same ones that people are likely to search for – both makes it clear to visitors and search engines what you sell.
With Etsy, as well as on some other online marketplaces, you may also be able to choose a category for your products. This can help the site know when to show your listing, but using relevant keywords can make your listings shoot to the top – particularly for very specific searches.
Picking a Shop Name
The shop’s name could also help search engines and people browsing the websites. Although this shop doesn’t use wire wrapping or handmade in its name, the shop’s name may still help increase sales. Pillar of Salt is a biblical reference to Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt, and the name could pique the interest of some shoppers. It’s also a play on words as the shop owner’s name is Sara Lott – she is the “wife of Lott.”
While SOE is important, pick a name that’s relevant or meaningful to you. Being proud of handing someone a business card with your shop’s name is important.
Other Indicators May Affect Ranking
In addition to the keywords, Google could be using other indicators when making the decision to show the shop in the search results. The shop has been on Etsy since 2012, has over 2,700 sales, and has a five-star rating with over 525 reviews.
Etsy also writes that their algorithm takes into account if shoppers click, favorite, or purchase an item they found in search results.
The Value of High-Quality Photographs
Search engines may not be able to tell if your photographs are good, but they may be able to tell if they’re high-quality images by looking at the file size and number of pixels. That being said, you don’t want to upload 5MB image files. The large file size can make pages load slower, a bad experience for visitors and a bad indicator to search engines.
Sites like Etsy or Amazon Handcraft may optimize images and reduce their size for you, but if you manage your own site you may need to resize the images. You can use a free image optimizer, like Kraken or Optimizilla to reduce the image’s file size – sometimes without losing any quality – before uploading it.
Back to search engines for a second. By renaming the image file to a proper description before uploading it you can help search engines “know” what’s in the image. If you can set the alt text for a picture, you can also add a description (with a few keywords). The alt text will appear if the image can’t for some reason, the search engines can read the alt text, and it may be read aloud for visually impaired visitors.
Adding image captions might not help SEO efforts, but it can capture visitors’ attention and keep them in your shop and looking at your products. Remember that perhaps more important than what the search engine sees, the visitors at your shop may rely on the images when deciding whether or not to make a purchase.
Optimization is an Ongoing Process
Unfortunately, you can’t simply get your page optimized and then leave it alone. Gloria Pearson sells handmade home decor made from upcycled books on Etsy in her shop – MyBooklandia. Pearson said, “It’s an ongoing effort that never stops because keywords change with the seasons, holidays and just depending on specifics to each of my items.”
To stay on track, she regularly checks her keyword optimization using Marmalead, an Etsy SEO tool. “Whenever I renew an item I review my titles, descriptions, and keywords to ensure they’re as effective as possible. I have a keyword list that I’m always adding and editing for each type of item (clocks vs. lamps, etc.)”
Angie Barrett, who’s Suds N Such shop features handmade soaps, scrubs, and balms, says she occasionally updates her products’ tags and titles occasionally. Sometimes the changes are based on recommendations within Etsy’s forums, but she also bases them on past search results that led people to her shop.
Marketing Your Shop Elsewhere
On-page (within your shop) SEO is also only part of the process. To get your shop in front of more people, you can also create social media accounts and promote your products there.
Erin Maassen and her father Gary make handcrafted wood gifts and decorations and run the Owen Street Studios Etsy shop. Over a year and a half, Erin says she, “learned how to take better photos, how to research key search terms, and how algorithms work within the Etsy site… but if you can drive traffic from other sources, like social media, you are infinitely more likely to be found.”
We heard from other Etsy sellers that social media helps drives sales, but taking the selling offline can be a big boost as well. Several shop owners regularly attend trade shows and crafts fairs, which can lead directly to sales. During face-to-face meetings you can also hand out business cards, or try to get people to sign up for an email newsletter – either can lead to sales or custom orders down the road.
It’s certainly true that getting a greater number of people to your shop increases the chance that you’ll make a sale. But, having a stand-out product is also important.
Work on your craft, and in addition to implementing the SEO tips above be sure to sell the value of the work and highlight its quality in your pictures. “My gut instinct when we started was to write creative titles with flowery language,” Maassen said, “I didn’t really show people HOW our items could make a difference in their lives.”
The change in focus from “this is the product” to “this is how the product helps you” can make a huge difference, and in an upcoming post we’ll explore how to write compelling product descriptions to improve sales.
This may all seem like a lot of work, but there are many Etsy-related tools and apps that can help.