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Etsy Ads or Etsy SEO: Which is More Effective?

Updated: Jun 21, 2021


How do Etsy ads work?

Etsy is inundated with a variety shops, some of the most popular being jewelry shops, drinkware, apparel, and party & paper supplies. To break it down a bit more for you, there are:

- 22 million search results for "Jewelry"

- 7.4 million results for "Women's Clothing"

- 7 million for "Party Supplies"

- 2.3 million for "Drinkware"

So how can you possibly compete?


With Etsy ads you can place your listings in a better position in the search system, even when there's high competition level. Etsy likes to refer to their paid ads system as an "auction system", meaning that you're competing against other shops on a few different factors. These factors are: listing quality (how likely a shopper is to click on your particular listings), likelihood of making a sale, relevance to the shoppers search, and bid amount. I'm going to break each down for you below.


- Listing quality: Etsy gives every listing a quality score (which is unbeknownst to you), that reflects how likely a customer is to purchase that listing. Etsy wants to make money, and they're going to prioritize listings that give them a better chance at doing so. This listing quality is based on listing and shop history (good reviews, if you've made prior sales, getting your orders out on time), and strong listing titles and tags.

- Likelihood of making a sale: Etsy also looks at factors about the shopper that may increase the likelihood of a sale for your listings, like their search query, the time of day, and even the device that they’re using. This is benefitting you because this ensures that you're spending your money in the right place - Etsy is going to try to only show your listing to someone with a high likelihood of making a purchase.

- Relevance to shopper's search: Etsy will look at how closely your listing’s title or tags match the shopper’s search terms. They also take into account any filters they've applied, so if your listing doesn't ship to the shopper’s location or fall in their selected price range, they won't show it. Again, this is a huge benefit to you and your advertising budget.


Last but not least, the big one - The bid amount:

The bid amount is important because, again, Etsy wants to make money. The bid amount is the highest that you'll pay to get your listing seen by shoppers. So while the above factors are important, if your bid amount isn't high enough, there's still a chance you won't get seen.


To start using ads on Etsy, or increase/decrease your current spending, you can follow these steps:

- Sign into your Etsy Shop

- Click Shop Manager

- Click Marketing

- Click Etsy ads

- Click "Get Started"


You don't have to "go big or go home" in this situation. If you feel ready to do so, start with a small advertising budget of $3-$5 per day, and potentially increase your spending from there. Keep a close eye on your ads, and make sure that you're getting a return on your money at the end of the month or quarter.

So what about SEO?

Even with ads, you'll need to make your listing desirable in order to get the clicks (this goes back to "Listing Quality" above). First and foremost, this means making your listing photography eye-catching and professional looking. Ultimately, the photos are going to be the fist thing that attracts a customer, even above listing titles. Try to use natural lighting, a high quality camera or phone, and make sure the spacing is appropriate. You can also check out my blog post on flat-lays here to learn more!


SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”. SEO is how you’re going to link up with the shoppers who are looking for listings just like yours. By using the perfect combination of keywords for each of your listings, you’re going to see drastic changes in traffic and sales in your shop.


When you create a listing title, start off by thinking: "If I was shopping on Etsy and wanted to buy this exact item, what would I search for?". Limit that to a combination of four keywords, for example: "Custom Gold Bar Necklace" - and viola, you have the first set of keywords for your title!


Don't forget - tags and descriptions are part of SEO too! Make sure that your descriptions are packed with keywords, are an appropriate length, and accurately describe your products. When developing your tags, be sure to use all 13 and begin by working off of your titles and then diversifying from there. All of this will help with the "Relevance to a shopper search" section mentioned above.


The bottom line:

The bottom line is, Etsy ads will not work as effectively unless your SEO is already appropriately figured. Paying for ads without perfecting your SEO is akin to putting a band-aid over your SEO injury instead of taking the time to get the surgery. The surgery, in this case, is mastering SEO and having that reflect in your shop. Nothing is worse than spending money that isn't working for you! It's worth it to take the time to learn more about SEO, update your listings, and then move on to experimenting with ad spending and see how they can compliment your edits. If you'd like to learn more about SEO you can always consider signing up for one of my collaborative partnerships, or sign up for my SEO re-work.

All content is created by Bella Consulting Studio, LLC. Any reproduction or copying of this content is strictly prohibited.


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