Friday, September 9, 2011

The Art Of Tags And Keywords

I have been asked by a few people to try and explain tagging a little better, so here goes. Lets try to think of tags as search terms. Try to get the idea that a single word is a poor search term. If you are looking for an item like a "purple beaded chunky bracelet for a woman" would you try and look for it by typing "woman" into Google? Probably not. Depending on your search filter you may not like what you find.

The same thing goes for typing the word "purple" into Google. You are not going to find what you are looking for if you are not specific when you are searching. "Beaded bracelet" might get you a little closer, but it still does not say what you are looking for. When you search for something on the Internet you want to find it as quickly as possible and avoid as many unrelated items as you can.

Etsy allows you 20 characters to tag your item. That really is not a lot but it is plenty if you break up your tags. With relevancy, the Etsy search algorithm looks for exact keyword matches in exact orders. So, if you cannot fit all the words into one tag, break them up: "purple beaded chunky" and "bracelet for a woman" would work to get the exact keyword phrases listed. To me "purple beaded chunky" sounds a bit like tag stuffing so that isn't the best example, but I hope that helps a little.

Another question that has come up recently is repeating the same word in multiple tag phrases. Here is an example: "Steampunk Jewelry" and "Steampunk Necklace" and "Steampunk Choker" are all three different terms. Since the Etsy search is looking for exact matches, this is a good way to tag the item as long as it is relevant to the item. Each tag is treated individually. It would also be good to describe the item with all three terms in the description so that you are also making it easier for other search engines to pick up these terms. Some search engines do not put any weight on the tags you are using.

If you get stuck, take out a piece of paper or open a text editor and start entering all the words you can to describe the item you are tagging. Does a color describe it? Is it round? Does it fit into a holiday? Is it seasonal? What kind of person wears it? How was it made? Is there a special material involved? Is there a certain type of process used in the making? Though you may not use all of these for tags you may be surprised at how many ways there really are to describe it. You may even rewrite your descriptions because of it.

Try not to make tagging any harder than it has to be. Instead of not having enough ideas to fill the 13 slots, you should be looking at the way too many ideas and putting the best ones into the 13 slots. I hope this helps to clear a little bit more up on tagging. As always, I am here to answer your questions so keep them coming.


  1. Do you know if there's any validity to the plural of tags? For instance "messenger bag" and "messenger bags" Is it worth using a tab to address the plural? It's come up on my shop stats from time to time. Not sure how the search algorithm addresses this. Thanks Eric! Great post.

  2. Crooked, According to the information I have read it is probably better to use the plural if it is at the end of a tag like "messenger bags" because that works for bot "messenger bag" and "messenger bags." If the plural is in the beginning it may be better to create two different tags and if the plural changes spelling completely it is probably better to do different tags.

  3. Thanks for those tips. It can be difficult to think up tags for my products sometimes - stuffed animal toys can be somewhat limited in how to describe them in attracting ways!

  4. Thank you for this!It's really helpful. I was wondering, does the order of the tags matter? Should I put the key words first or it doesn't matter what order they are in as long as I include them in the 13 tags. Sorry, hope my question makes sense! :)


  5. Kristina, The order of tags does not make a difference.

  6. Thanks for info. It was very helpful.

  7. Wow - thanks for clearing up a confusing subject. I've seen so much conflicting advice on Etsy Teams, but this really does shed some light on the subject. I have a lot of work ahead of me retagging my items!