Monday, November 3, 2014

SEO: It's a waste of time

Of all the advice I hear on Etsy for new shops, I'm ready to declare my all time least favorite. Ready? It's this:

"You should work on your SEO."

I hate it for so many reasons. It's buzzwordy. It's an acronym. It sounds like a huge, complicated topic that you need a masters in. A newbie will ask "well what's my first step?" and get a reply like "there is no first step, no easy way to do it, it's a JOURNEY" and you imagine climbing mountains, and the poor new etsy person is just thinking "all I want is to sell a damn mug cozy!"

I feel your pain, newbie.

They do a little reading and get into even more questions and controversy - two or three word tags? What order should the words be in? Do I repeat words? It's so confusing!

I think the confusing part is that we're trying to think like search engines. Computers.

And the funny thing is, the computers are trying to think like searchers. People. Us!

Maybe the reason I hate "work on SEO" so much is that it implies there has to be this computer in between us and people. Why not just say this:

"Think like your searchers."

Searchers are people! You are a person! It's true that when we make an item, it can be hard to separate yourself from the processes. You'll want to describe it as a "carnival sky: a unique handmade multicolored knitted stocking cap" but that's not a great title for one simple reason: it's not something that people search for.

I've written before about how to type words into the etsy search to get suggestions and hints about what people search for. I still do that all the time. I also do periodic tag makeovers by comparing my shop stats to my existing tags and adding new ones to try to get views. Here's what to do:

1) Check your listing stats to see what key words and phrases have gotten it some views
2) Ditch the tags that are NOT getting it views
3) Time to brainstorm and use up your new free spots! Ask yourself... what are some things I'd search for if I was looking for an item like this?
4) Type some of those in the search box up type. See if they come up as suggestions.
5) Be sure to include any unique niche words - if your item features a fox, a pear, the color teal, you can appeal to fans!
6) Do NOT include words that could apply to almost any listing on Etsy. Everything is "unique" and "handmade". It's Etsy.
7) Use all 13 tags
8) Come back next month and repeat! Every listing is an experiment to see what key phrases will win for you.

I recently started a thread asking lots of sellers to tell us their top 5 keyphrases for catching views. They are as unique as all of Etsy! Some are simple one-word tags like "space" or "florida". Most are 2 or 3 word phrases... "steampunk hair accessories", "coconut candles", "wolf pendant". The point is that there's no magic formula to tell what will work, you've just got to keep trying different combinations of words to see what works.

SEO isn't a magic wand that you wave over a listing to get it views. No one can tell you for sure what will work best. But through brainstorming and trying everything that comes to mind, you'll get there.

Good luck!

4 comments:

  1. Absolutely agree with you! As two years on etsy... that I heard a lot! Have you work on you SEO lately?.... it is just a big weird thing which nobody really know:)

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  2. How funny! It is a confusing area and yet it's one of the most common phrases we hear. Sometimes I think some people tend to say, "you need to work on your SEO" just because they can't think of any other advice to give.

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  3. Spacefem, it is my humble opinion that SEO confusion, not a problem is two-parts. The first part is that SEO by nature is a dynamic science. The ever-changing SEO makes it virtually impossible for anyone to stay abreast of what is current to the customer or a product thus it can drive a person literally mad. The second part, in my opinion, is summed best by your own words, "Searchers are people! You are a person! It's true that when we make an item, it can be hard to separate yourself from the processes...". Searchers and yourself are two separate people what we may believe as proper or fitting for a tag/search word for our product may not be what a customer is thinking about when searching for an item and thus there begins the confusion/miscommunication. Therefore, in sum, SEO is not a definitive science and until it is, it will remain just a Buzzword, a guessing game.

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