To make sales through your online store, you first need traffic.
Most of us have found out the hard way that you can’t set up a website or Etsy shop, list a few products, and automatically have Google or Etsy bring shoppers to you.
You have to work for those shoppers.
When you’re trying to attract shoppers to your online store, there’s one thing that impacts everything.
Every online shopping venture starts with a keyword, or a string of keywords.
Your future customers are typing words into search bars and discovering new businesses.
You must figure out what those keywords are so your website/online shop, product names, product descriptions, tags, etc. can also use those keywords and appear in shopper’s search results.
HOW KEYWORDS ARE BEING USED BY YOUR SHOPPERS
Unless someone knows the URL of your website or Etsy shop (e.g. www.etsy.com/yourshopname), and they jump directly to your online shop, they’re using keywords when shopping online.
People who enter your website’s URL are familiar with your business.
We do want repeat visitors, but we also want your shop to attract new visitors; ones who have never heard of your business.
People discover new businesses when they’re shopping for an item but aren’t quite sure what they want yet.
>> Maybe they know they want a piece of art for their mid-century modern home but aren’t sure who makes mid-century modern art or what kind of options are out there. They may type in the keywords: mid-century modern art
>> Or perhaps someone is searching for a black and white polka dot scarf because they saw a photo of their favorite celebrity, Ariana Grande, wearing one in her hair. They don’t know who makes polka dot scarves, but they’re on the hunt for one similar to Ariana’s. They may type in the keywords: black and white polka dot headscarf
>> Or maybe someone is going to their nephew’s birthday party, who’s 2, and they need to find a gift, but they have no idea what that gift is yet. They may search: toys to buy for a 2-year-old boy
Their searches always start with keywords.
Consumer searches may be:
- For a specific product (e.g. toys for toddlers)
- Under a specific category (e.g. Toys -> Baby & Toddler Toys)
- To gather more information (e.g. what are the best educational toys for a toddler)
The closer the keywords in your content match the keywords used in shoppers’ searches, the more likely your online shop and its products are to show up.
HOW SEARCH ENGINES MATCH SEARCHED KEYWORDS TO ONLINE CONTENT
*Online content refers to any words you put online. That may be product titles, product descriptions, shop descriptions, categories, blog articles, etc.
It may seem as simple as: if someone searches a set of keywords, and my online shop uses those keywords, it will show up as a result.
However, there are thousands, maybe even millions of businesses using the same keywords as your business. So it requires more than the keyword or keywords showing up occasionally in your online content.
The more the content of your online shop matches or relates to the keywords a consumer is searching, the more likely your online shop is to show up in the top search results.
Which is what you want.
If I create a product and title it “toy for toddler”, it may appear on Etsy when someone searches “toys for toddlers”, or when they look under the subcategory of Toys -> Baby & Toddler, but I want my listing to appear on the first page, not page 219.
The same applies to Google. 75% of people won’t look past the first page of Google results (source) so you need to work to get your online shop as high up in search results as possible.
When someone searches “toys for toddlers” on Google, I want my website, product listing, blog article that features my products, etc. to appear on the first page of results.
Your Etsy listing/shop may also be discovered through Google if Etsy appears in Google’s search results, like this:
If the shopper clicks the Etsy link, they’re brought to Etsy’s search results. So again, I want my Etsy listing to appear at the top of those results.
A Google user may also be brought directly to your listing if your listing’s title matches exactly, or very close to a user’s search phrase.
For example, if I search “wooden balancing stones for babies”, a specific listing on Etsy appears in the search results:
If I click the link, I’m taken directly to that seller’s listing, as opposed to Etsy’s search results page showing all sellers that use similar keywords in their listings.
Getting an Etsy listing to appear in Google search results is a big incentive to get to know your target market and the keywords they use (a point we’ll get to in a minute).
There’s a lot that’s involved in improving your SEO (search engine optimization…i.e. appearing in the top spots of search results), but keywords play a very important role.
The more focused you are with the keywords you use, the more likely your content is to be matched with focused searches.
Consumers don’t search for “toys”. They search for: baby toys, or wooden balancing stones for babies, or educational toys for toddlers, or activity toys for 3-year-old girls, etc.
They use specific search terms.
On the other side, search engines (whether that be Google or the search engine built into Etsy) don’t like vague content.
Content should be specifically described so the search engine is able to correctly identify what you’re offering.
Search engines want to show users the best results. So if someone searches “educational toys for toddlers”, the websites, shops, product listings/descriptions that are full of the keywords:
And other related keywords (e.g. learning, developmental, etc.) are going to be placed the highest in search results.
An online shop that offers educational toys for toddlers but also includes keywords that aren’t related to “educational toys for toddlers”, will confuse a search engine.
This is why small businesses that carry a wide range of products have a hard time appearing in search results.
If my shop listed a wide range of toys for a wide range of ages makes it would be hard enough for it to rank high in a search engine; because I’m competing with too many other big companies, such as Toys R Us, Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, etc. Those are BIG competitors.
But if my online shop also carries jewelry, art, and pillows, it’s really confusing the search engines.
*One may argue that websites like Amazon or Walmart carry a wide range of products for a wide range of people and they rank in the top spots of Google. This is true, however, they’re in Google’s “good books”. They’re reputable businesses that attract millions of online users who typically find what they’re looking for; Google trusts them. Google isn’t as familiar with a small business’s website, so its content must help Google determine what the website is about.
How users interact with your website also helps tell Google whether it should rank your site higher or lower.
If my website lists an “educational toy for toddlers” and Google shows my website when someone searches “educational toys for toddlers”, but shoppers only find one educational toy on my site, they’ll quickly leave. If several users leave my site in a matter of seconds, this tells Google my site must not be a very good match for the search “educational toys for toddlers” and that it should start dropping my website in the rankings.
A similar idea applies to how Etsy determines which listings to rank higher or lower.
For example, if I have a product listing on Etsy for “educational building blocks” and several people visit that listing but don’t buy, that behavior tells Etsy’s algorithm that my product isn’t quite what people are looking for when they search “educational building blocks”. On the other hand, if many people buy, it tells Etsy’s algorithm that my shop has just want people want and my listings will start ranking higher in the results.
Make sure the keywords used in your online content work together so you give search engines a clear idea of what your online shop has to offer.
For example, the following keywords work together to build a clear picture:
- 1 year old
- 2 year old
- 3 year old
- 12 months old
- 24 months old
- 36 months old
- Learn numbers
- Learn colors
- Learn alphabet
- Wooden block
The following keywords do not paint a clear picture:
HOW TO RISE ABOVE COMPETITORS WHO ARE USING THE SAME KEYWORDS
It’s important to remember, there are millions of shops on Etsy and billions of websites on the Internet. No matter what you sell, you have lots of competition.
Most people don’t scroll past the first page of Google search results. Even on a site like Etsy; people want to find what they’re looking for as quickly and easily as possible. So it’s important to get your online content to appear as close to the top/front of search results as possible.
On Google, you can’t compete with big corporations like Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, etc. So the way you get your website on the first page of Google results is to go niche and compete with fewer businesses.
Amazon and Walmart are serving the masses; they want a big piece of a big pie.
Big corporations aren’t paying attention to small pies, which creates an opening in the market for your business. Aim to get a big piece of a small pie.
On Etsy, you may be competing with smaller businesses, just like yours, but there are so many Etsy shops trying to appeal to the masses that you still have an opportunity to stand out on the platform by appealing to a niche.
There are thousands of shops selling jewelry, soap, toys, etc. trying to appeal to the masses (e.g. jewelry for all women, or soap for anyone who uses soap, or toys that appeal to all parents). If you pick a niche within those shopping categories, your listings are more like to match search queries and be seen.
>> People don’t search for “jewelry”. Instead, they search for a specific type of jewelry, such as “birthstone jewelry”.
So if you sell birthstone jewelry exclusively, your jewelry is going to appear before a jewelry business that sells birthstone jewelry, and gold jewelry, and bridal jewelry, and….
People looking for birthstone jewelry and discover your shop are also more likely to buy because you appear to be the expert in birthstone jewelry and have a wide selection of birthstone pieces to choose from.
>> People don’t search for “soap”; they can find that at the grocery store. They search for something more specific like “zero waste soap”.
>> People don’t search for “toys”, but rather a specific type of toy such as, “educational toys for a two-year-old”.
To increase your chances of your online shop or products rising to the top of search results, lower the competition by getting specific.
WHICH KEYWORDS ARE YOUR POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS USING?
There are many keywords a shopper could enter to find a product. And there are many keywords a business could use to describe their products, business, categories, etc.
You want to get specific with your keywords, but not so specific that you’re the only one using them.
For example, I would want to get more specific than describing my products as “toys” or my online store as a “toy shop”. However, I don’t want to go overboard by getting too descriptive.
There are many words I could use to describe my products based on their purpose, the materials they’re made with, their color, their finish, their size, etc.
The words that matter most, are the ones my target market is using.
To use keywords effectively and drive traffic to your online shop, you MUST know your target market.
Let’s take a look at how choosing the right keywords starts with knowing who you’re selling to and who exactly (not vaguely) you want to find your products online. It involves being able to answer the following 3 questions:
1 – who is your target market?
2 – which products/product features are they looking for?
3 – which keywords do they use in relation to those products?
My ebook HOW TO FIND A GOLDMINE OF CUSTOMERS – Defining a Target Market for your Handmade Business will help you choose a profitable target market and teach you where to look to uncover valuable information about them (such as keywords they use). Learn more or download it here.
1 – who is your target market?
If I make toys, I need to know who’s buying those toys; that’s my target market.
If I haven’t thought about who my target market is, I may make teething toys for babies, educational toys for toddlers, activity toys for 4-year-old girls, outdoor toys for 5-year-olds, Barbie playhouses, and much more.
That opens up a wide range of keywords I could use.
And the wider range of keywords I use in my content (categories, product names, product descriptions, tags, blog articles for my website, etc.) the more I confuse search engines, and the less likely my content is to appear in top results.
I need to narrow it down a specific group of people to sell to.
It’s important to focus on the person who will be buying your products.
In my example, my products are for children but the people who are buying the toys for children may be parents, or family members, or friends of the family.
My target market must be one of those customers, not all.
If I imagine parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, high school friends, etc. buying my toys for a child, it again, makes it hard to choose the right keywords.
A mom looking for educational toys for their toddler is going to use a much different search phrase than a friend of the family who’s buying a gift might.
>> A mom knows what type of product features she’s looking for (e.g. non-toxic toys, electronic or electronic-free toys, etc.).
>> Someone who doesn’t have kids and has been invited to a toddler’s birthday party may use more vague keywords and include a budget (e.g. toys for toddlers under $50).
You must get specific about who is most likely to buy your products.
The broader you get (e.g. women, or moms) the more keyword possibilities there are and the harder time you’ll have properly matching your keywords to the keywords your customers use.
2 – which products/product features are they looking for?
There are many keywords you could use to describe one of your products.
You may use keywords that communicate their:
- Purpose (e.g. educational)
- Materials (e.g. wood)
- Production technique (e.g. hand-carved)
- Size or shape (e.g. square)
- User (e.g. toddler)
- Color (e.g. natural wood color)
- Who it’s made by (e.g. brand name)
- Quantity (e.g. 30 pieces)
- Benefits (e.g. non-toxic)
You must determine which description your target market cares about the most and is most likely to search.
It’s important to get into your customers’ heads and realize, they’re unfamiliar with your products. So you shouldn’t use words that you love or ones that are most familiar to you, the creator; think like your customers.
If I started making toys for my nieces and nephews, I may think it’s cute to name the toys after them. But no one is searching for “Jane Building Blocks” (unless my brand is popular enough that people know what “Jane building blocks” are).
As the creator, I may also be familiar with the type of wood that’s best for building blocks, but it’s unlikely my consumers are that particular about the type of wood used.
I’d mention the type of wood in my description and the benefits it provides, but I wouldn’t include it in my product name or create categories people can shop under based on type of wood.
You have to think about keywords your target market is actually searching.
Do they know the “technical name” of your product or would they be more likely to describe it in a much different way than you would?
For example, woodworkers may use the technical term “carved and polished squares of wood” to describe building blocks but my target market would never use those keywords.
Or, if I make forest-themed building blocks, I would need to consider if anyone is actually searching for “forest building blocks”. Is the product feature “forest-themed” more important to my target market than another feature, such as “non-toxic”?
The product would stay the same, but I would make its title more appealing to my target market.
If someone searches “non-toxic building blocks” and finds my non-toxic building blocks that have a forest theme, they’ll still be interested in them. But if I’ve named my non-toxic building blocks “forest building blocks”, I’ve buried the lead. (my target market cares about “non-toxic”…that’s the lead).
It’s unlikely anyone will discover them because no one is searching for “forest building blocks” and even if they show up in search results, the product title is missing the keywords that will entice them to click (non-toxic).
Once you know your target market, get to know which product features they’re most interested in and which words they most commonly use to describe your products. Those are the keywords you’ll want to put the most focus on for your online content.
3 – which keywords do they use in relation to those products?
Related keywords will not only help to strengthen your message to search engines, but also to customers.
Google gets a better understanding of which searches to match your online shop with when the majority of the keywords used in your online content are related.
>> Eco-friendly, chemical-free, environmentally friendly, natural, organic, etc. all help to strengthen the message of “non-toxic”.
>> The keywords: learning, developmental, skills, teach, etc. will help strengthen the message of “educational”.
>> The keywords: 1-year-old, 2-year-old, 3-year-old, 12 months, 24 months, 36 months, help to strengthen the message of “toddler”.
The more I use related keywords in my online content, the clearer my message will be to search engines, and the higher my content will rank.
My customers will also gain more trust in my business.
A mom looking for non-toxic educational toys for their toddler is more likely to trust a business that talks about several aspects of the chemical safety of toys and the development of toddlers and is focused solely on non-toxic educational toys.
If a mom visits a website that only carries one non-toxic educational toy and has a shop description that reads: I love to be creative and make all kinds of products! They may wonder if the shop owner really knows how to make the best non-toxic educational toy for their child.
Explore other topics and keywords related to the keywords you would use to name your products (e.g. my product name would be “non-toxic educational toy” so I would research related topics and keywords).
HOW TO FIND A GOLDMINE OF CUSTOMERS will teach you where to look for this information and how to uncover related keywords.
WHERE TO USE KEYWORDS
Once you know which keywords your target market uses in relation to your products and business, begin implementing them in your online content.
- Product names/titles
- Product descriptions
- Product options
- Image alt text
- Shopping categories/sections
- Shop description
- Shop updates
- “About Us”
- Blog articles
- Social media descriptions & posts
- Newsletter subject lines & content