Sunday, January 23, 2011

Creative Use of Tagging

No, I haven't decided to spray paint my initials on the sides of buildings and boxcars. I decided it was about time to discuss the use of tags on the items in your Etsy shop. What exactly is a tag?  When you list an item to sell on Etsy, you are given the opportunity to add 14 tags to the description.  The tags are labels, keywords, or descriptions of the item - color, style, materials, etc.

Why are tags important?  In the posts for one of the Etsy Teams I'm on, someone asked, "How important is it to use all 14 tags?"  It's extremely important! Search engines and Etsy's own search feature read those tags and decide if they match what customers are searching for.  The more specific terms you use, the better match you will be for people searching for items like yours.

While coming up with tags seems like a simple thing, it's actually kind of hard. When I started my Etsy shop a year ago, most of my tags were pretty simple.  As time as passed, I learned a lot about improving those tags to bring the right kind of business to my shop.  Basically, you want to spend time thinking about the types of search terms your customers will be using. Etsy will start by having you choose a tag for the main category the item will be listed in.  It will also offer suggestions for more tags. For example, if you choose "Jewelry," Etsy will suggest things like "necklace," "bracelet," "ring," etc.

We have a lot of Native American made items in our shop. At first, I only used the term "Native American" as a tag.  Later, I realized that other people may be searching "American Indian," "Indian," or using specific tribe names. My husband made some knotted necklaces and I listed them as "knotted," "nautical," and "Celtic" to cover the possible ways people may be searching.

Colors are also an interesting challenge.  My tags just said "red" or "blue" originally, but then I learned to think harder about the colors.  Is the scarf I made red or is it brick, burgundy, maroon, rose, cherry, coral, scarlet, candy apple, ruby, crimson, or fire engine red?  Besides color, you also want to choose tags that tell what the item is made of - yarn, paper, beads, gold, etc.  It's best to be creative and specific here as well, remembering to use the types of terms people will be searching for.  "Gold" is great, but "14K gold" is better.

Is there a certain group that would like your item?  Age/Gender - men, women, girls, boys, children, infants, unisex, etc. Style - Gothic, punk, Victorian, vintage, eclectic, nautical, floral, geeky,religious, athletic, etc. Culture/Origin - African, European, southern, Indian, Latin, western, etc.  Once you get used to thinking about all the possibilities for how to tag your items, you'll be wishing Etsy allowed more than 14.

As much as I'd like to be the expert on this, I'm not even close.  Fortunately, there are other great articles and tools out there to help you.
  • Craftweasel has a Tagtastic tool that can help you figure out some ideas for tags to use. You can see how many other items use the same tag. It's better if your item stands out in a search rather than being lumped in with thousands of other people's items.
  • Etsy wrote a great article about choosing tags that will point you in the right direction.
  • Start 2011 by doing a shop makeover using this great Etsy article.
  • Handmadeology"s article on using all 14 Etsy tags is an absolute must-read.

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