biz ladies: understanding search engine optimization

i am happy to introduce you to danielle maveal, aka daniellexo, etsy’s education coordinator. danielle works to help artists, crafters and makers make a creative living selling their work.  she shares tips on etsy’s blog, in etsy success (a biweekly newsletter), and hosts live workshops through etsy’s online classrooms, the virtual labs. she started making and selling her etched jewelry on etsy four years ago and since then she’s been featured in magazines, shopping blogs, and her work has been carried by over 50 galleries and boutiques worldwide.

today danielle is helping us to fully understand search engine optimization and utilize it to our advantage. thanks danielle for the very informative and helpful advice!-stephanie

CLICK HERE for the full post after the jump!

SEO stands for search engine optimization, which means getting found by Google. So you’ve poured your heart and soul into your craft, art or design, but what good is all that work if you aren’t getting found; and not just getting found, but getting found by the right people? Presenting yourself to the world wide web in the right way is imperative. You need to optimize. I’ve seen the power of Google, and it is a force to be reckoned with, that’s for sure. Let’s not forget about Google’s fast growing siblings, Yahoo! and Bing. How do you attract and tame those search engine’s web crawlers? I’m here, like an SEO cowgirl, to help you wrangle your way into the top echelon of search engine results.

Never write your item or work descriptions or blog posts online. Instead, open up a text editor, and write your first drafts here. This will encourage you to go through and edit your copy before uploading it to the internet. Not only will this help with SEO (I’ll give you some tips in this article) but you’ll also cut back on typos!

Cut The Fat
“Welcome to my little corner of the web. I hope you enjoy your stay. Put your feet up and have a sip of tea!” Sure, sounds cute, but in terms of SEO this is a deadly waste of an introduction to your little corner. The first sentence of your Etsy shop announcement, or the first line of text on your website, is shown in a search result, so make it count.

The Inverted Triangle
Now that you’ve removed the superfluous language, it’s time to organize your copy.  The most important keywords and intriguing information about your product should be first.  The first part of a title or description carries the most weight in the eyes of those search engine crawlers. So instead of titling a fine art print, “Rosanne’s First Crush – Limited Edition Silk Screen Print”, you’d want to trim the fat and reverse that (and I’m going to add a style keyword), “Modern Silk Screen Print – Rosanne’s First Crush”.

Offer an Alternative
Anytime you insert an image in a blog post or on your website use the alt text option to add a description of that image. Alt text is what shows up when you hover over an image.  Use the right keywords and you’ll gain some more SEO traction. uses quirky comments as their alt text, just hover over a few images to see what I mean.  This is not great for their SEO, but they are usually incredibly funny, and I think they have the cute animal market covered anyway!

Build Links
Keep in mind that even if you are doing everything you can to optimize your shop, search engines also look at the “interestingness” factor of your website or online shop.  Inbound links are any links directing traffic back to your website and can help search engines deem your site “interesting”. Here are a few ideas to build inbound links:

  • Be a guest contributor for a popular blog
  • Share a How-To on (or a similar site)
  • Collaborate on a project with another artist and link to each other’s websites
  • Make sure you are linking back to your website in your social media profiles (Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Kaboodle, etc)

Make a Statement
Have you ever noticed a quirky or amazing Etsy item become viral (a.k.a. a popular Internet phenomenon)? (Here’s an example.) I bet there’s something you’ve wanted to create (or have already created but haven’t yet put it out there), but you haven’t because you thought — it’s too much. No one will buy it. Whether “too much” means too wild, too bright, too weird, too expensive, too large, I would say, just go for it! Even if that item doesn’t fly out of your shop, it may bring in a ton of visitors who are just curious about this amazing item. I know the first thing I do when I find something completely out-of-the-ordinary is share it with my Internet friends, and this creates inbound links to that interesting item. Check out Etsy Blog’s Keep It Weird series for inspiration.

A Few No No’s
Yeah, a lot of people are searching for Justin Bieber, but adding Justin Bieber as a meta tag or keyword isn’t going to get you very far.  Google is pretty smart; it knows when it’s getting played and it doesn’t like it.  Even if you do slip by and manage to get your handmade tote bags into a Justin Bieber search result, what a waste!  Justin Bieber fans just want to see photos of the doe-eyed pop star and aren’t looking to spend their allowance on intricate handmade tote bags.  (Ok, so I’m using Justin Bieber as an amusing example, same goes for adding keywords like “backpack” to your tote bags.)

Lastly, don’t get too artsy fartsy. Instead of whimiscal item titles that don’t describe your work (like “Lola Daydreams”), make sure to have a descriptive title that uses a few keywords shoppers might search (like “Large Modern Lola Daydreams Oil Painting”).

As I finish up this guest blog post I have one more tip for you: Think about SEO when you write a guest post of your own or any of your own blog posts! Here’s an article by Modish Biz Tips to help: Blogging for Your Business.

  1. CassiMO says:

    Great tips; much appreciated. Thank you for sharing! I especially like the cute overload site link…a perfect way to start the work week. ;)

  2. What a great SEO starter kit! I would suggest using key word rich meta/description tags on your own website instead of using the first line of copy though – it’s much more Google friendly.

  3. Very helpful, thanks so much!


  4. This is a very helpful article with great links. Thanks so much!

  5. Great tips- I have already made some of these changes to my shop since reading your first post on Etsy and have seen results. Thank you!

  6. Andrea says:

    Thank you SO much for this insightful article! I think with SEO people are so confused on what it really is, why they should be doing it and what are the real benefits! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Amused says:

    Such helpful tips! I love getting overviews like this to remind me what I need to be doing!

  8. Jacqui says:

    I’ve slowly been transitioning over our shop titles to be more SEO friendly, but this post kicked my butt into gear, thanks Danielle!

  9. Kate says:

    Well done, Danielle! At my day job, I help small businesses all over the country with SEO. Ladies, please listen to Danielle’s advice, and beware of all the SEO scams and “black hat” SEO firms out there that promise to get you on page one of google. If a tactic doesn’t benefit your online visitors, don’t do it!

  10. I love the ‘Cut the Fat’ tip! Cutting to the chase gets you much father with SEO. Sometimes ‘fluff’ works against you. Thanks Danielle!

  11. DesertNana says:

    thanks so much for clarifying what has been a tad overwhelming!
    I’m still unclear on the photo thing. I will checkout cute overload

  12. bussbuss says:

    This is incedibly helpful. My site has been around for more than 5 years and there’s still so much I didn’t know… Thanks so much!

  13. Alicia says:

    Great tip about the picture file name. Never thought of that.

  14. Amanda says:

    Awesome tips! I love “cut the fat”. I’ll definitely be using that one from now on ;)

  15. EllieThouret says:

    Thanks for the article! I just followed the tips step-by-step to hopefully improve the SEO of my Etsy shop. One thing I found difficult was keeping short, catchy item titles that would improve SEO – hope I got it!

  16. erinsapparel says:

    I have been recently reading about SEO in various places on the web and I really like how you just some up some key points for lay people like me to understand and execute. Thank you!

  17. Luisa says:

    I have just started my Etsy shop and have been avoiding the whole SEO thing as it usually just makes my brain hurts! But this article has really easy-to-follow, useful tips I can use immediately! So, thank you!

  18. Stacey says:

    Great article – and in language I finally understand! Many thanks, Danielle :)

  19. Norma Brock says:

    Thanks for the new tips & some important reminders. Getting found is the name of the game!

  20. SoleDeVita says:

    Thank you so much! This was very helpful! :)

  21. As in any kind of writing, simplifying and paring down is the way to go. The adjectives, adverbs and flowery add-ons need to be edited very carefully! Thanks for the great information here.

  22. Lana says:

    Thanks so much for explaining all the technical tips! I’ll definitely be putting them to use.

  23. Chloe C says:

    Thank you. Simple and well written.

  24. Sherry says:

    My titles in my shop aren’t pretty any more, but simple is certainly the way to go.

    Thanks, great article, Danielle.

  25. Really helpful. I’m off to change my titles and cut out the fat!!!!

  26. Katie says:

    If you are doing SEO there is a new site, wordloo, that is really helpful for things like link building.

  27. Virginia says:

    Oh this article is super, thanks so much, Danielle!

  28. Jac7890 says:

    If you are considering making your own site, make sure you hire someone who uses web standards and good code.
    This is key to SEO.

    No flash!
    Google can’t index content within a flash website.
    (Also flash can’t be viewed on the iPad or iPhone.)

  29. Deb D says:

    Thanks for the tip about alt text on blog images! I haven’t been able to get it to work properly as yet, but at least I’m working on it now.

  30. EdgeInspired says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this information. We are trying to work on our links at the moment and this article is so useful :)

  31. Saundra says:

    Many of the web hosts offer a “SEO” option that is an extra $15 a month. Is that them just editing my content to make sure it meets these tips or is there an added advantage to it? Is it worth paying for? Thanks!

  32. Jennifer says:

    Had to comment even though it’s September now. Very useful I’m off to tweak my keywords and sort out my images. I find SEO fasinating and challenging. I love seeing the tweaks move me up the Google league!

  33. DfromM says:

    What this article leaves out is the idea that “content is king”. The more targeted content your site has the better. A good way to get more content into your site is to start a blog and discuss your inspirations, work and if it applies, your products in your Etsy Shop!


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