Posts tagged “Etsy”.

Welcome To The New PayPal

On November 1st 2010 PayPal’s newly renamed Purchase Protection policy expanded to putatively ‘cover’ buyers no matter where they shop. PayPal is not just for eBay anymore. You can enjoy the protection of the “faster safer way to buy” anywhere PayPal is accepted, from Auntie Zuleika’s tiny website to venues like Etsy or Bonanza.

As you can see, two scenarios are covered, an item is not received or the item bought is ’significantly not as described’, known as SNAD on eBay.

Sounds wonderful!

Buyers can sleep better at night cradled in the beneficent arms of PayPal the Protector (insert superhero background music here.) Sellers everywhere will undoubtedly reap the blessings of increased sales volume from confident and secure buyers. PayPal, aw shucks, will just be happy doing a better job all around.

How can this be a bad thing?

Primarily because for small sellers PayPal functions as prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. For example, the old empty box scam lovingly detailed below, in which PayPal is unwaveringly likely to decide in favor of the zero feedback buyer while ignoring all evidence to the contrary and an impeccable multi year sales record from the seller.

Add a beautifully written primer (def.#2) on how to scam the system for neophytes (def.#3) to the great game of get something for nothing and a door into a world of grief is opening for sellers on all the venues they fled to from eBay’s punitive policies, exorbitant fees and ham handed micro-management.

The fly in the ointment for buyers, ‘putatively’ explained

It should be noted that these protections do not apply when shopping with the big boys, who would not tolerate this nonsense for a New York minute.

Real buyers, as opposed to crooks, are unlikely to know how to differentiate between the protected transaction and the unprotected. We wonder if they would even know where to find the eligibility requirements. (Look for section 13.2) The crooks already know exactly what they are doing.

For a seller overview or comparison of the three versions of Payflow which are exempted from the Purchase Protection Plan see this Red Ink link. Note that all the exempt payment channels are a la carte subscription models; generally inferior in fraud protection (that is another post) to comparable commercial merchant processing products; but cunningly (def.#1,2,4) priced to entice the unsophisticated entrepreneur.

By an amazing co-incidence, increased merchant movement (where possible) to their a la carte payment processing system will substantially increase revenue for PayPal.  Just multiply a fraction of the number of sellers currently using PayPal by $30 per month ($360 a year), whooo-eee!

In summary
Only you, dear seller, can assess the degree of attractiveness your merchandise has for crooks and only you know the amount of dollar loss you can afford or are willing to tolerate. Other factors for consideration are the alternatives available to you and the cost of those alternatives.

This year we expanded and upgraded our product line and the PayPal loss potential has, I believe, increased in a direct ratio to the increase in ASP.

As a low volume seller on Bonanzle Bonanza and my own website the cost of a standard Merchant Payment Processor is not yet a viable option, nor are they all totally problem free.

I have removed PayPal as an option on Bonanza and will find the money somewhere to have someone install Google Checkout on my Zen Cart. I have been ‘going to do it’ for years, it is time to stop procrastinating and just do it.

Y’all come back!

Etsy Responds to Seller SEO Concerns

On June 15th I wrote:

There are limits to how long sellers can survive without sales. How long can Etsy continue these unethical practices before permanent irreversible damage is done to their previously excellent reputation?

Etsy responded to their sellers very fast and took care of it.

A brief announcement was made June 17th and on the 18th a longer explanation and an apology. To me, as an ex-eBay seller this is quite astonishing, I realize that Etsy is different but seeing it is quite amazing.

Etsy has changed the page title format from “Handmade [Category] on Etsy - [Item Title] by [username]” to “[Item Title] by [username] on Etsy” This was rolled out the same day.

A brief quote from the announcement (bolding is mine)

We have learned two important lessons from this experience:

1. Our approach to SEO needs to be more sophisticated and nuanced for different categories, sellers, etc. We will be focusing in the coming weeks and months on giving sellers more control of SEO for their item listing and shop pages. In addition, we will increasingly focus on providing more educational resources to the community.

2. Communication, communication, communication: We understand that you need to hear from us and that we’re listening. I can assure you we are, but can do a better job of letting you know.

We apologize again for the concern this has raised, that we were unclear in the communication of this matter, and for our initial “one size fits many” approach. Thank you for selling on Etsy and participating in the Etsy community. We’re committed to ongoing improvements to our SEO efforts and, as always, appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

Words to the wise

Those Etsy sellers who have never sold anywhere else probably have no clue how lucky they are. Get down on your knees and give thanks that you fit into the Etsy niche.

The largest venue does not listen at all, their management know that they are not only better but smarter and richer than you are and they know what buyers and sellers want, even though they have never sold anything other than themselves, but I digress.


As I was checking to see what had changed with the meta tags on Etsy I noticed many titles that will not search well on Google. Here are a few tips; these would apply anywhere that search is used, not just on Etsy.

Google suggests that in your titles you

  • Do not use exclamation points.
  • In your title, description and keywords only use words that apply, do not say like a diamond unless it is a diamond.
  • Avoid any repeated and unnecessary use of punctuation, capitalization or symbols.
  • The use of symbols, numbers, and letters should adhere to the true meaning of the symbol.

Cutesy things like titles which have little asterisks, hyphens, or slashes between all the words will be read as a single ginormous word. Not many buyers are searching for BUY-MY-*CUTE*-RETRO-THINGAMAJIG-GROOVY-AWESOME-LOOK!!!! This also applies to “pink/mauve”, which will only return the searcher who uses that exact phrase, better to use pink mauve and get all the searchers for both colors.

There are words that search engines ignore. Do not waste keyword space on them, they include best, better, look, new, old, see, value, and all numbers spelled out (four, six etc.)

Your titles should not be so optimized for search engines that they have no people appeal, after all search engines do not buy your product, people do!

Y’all come back!


SEO Playing With Matches

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist the title, y’all know I have a warped sense of humor, right?

Can of Worms

Doing research for my article on Etsy’s SEO problems led me to thinking about an SEO can of worms that affects multi-channel sellers. This is a largely unpublicized SEO problem, and many sellers may be unaware that there is a problem. I should point out right now that I am not an expert, just an old gal who has been around the retail block a few times

The straw that broke the camel’s back

Events on eBay the last three years led many sellers to the realization that they needed to diversify their sales venues. Many of us left eBay in 2008, some moved to their own website, and others used the tools so thoughtfully provided by other venues to transport our listings in bulk.

I know sellers who are ultra diversified, selling on four and five, or more sites. I fell into that trap myself for a while, more is better, right? As my life grew ever more complex, without a corresponding increase in sales, I began to wonder.

Was I competing against myself?

By the fall of 2008 I was convinced that I was in fact competing against myself.  I should point out that this was more a strong hunch (def.#5) than fact based.  I made the decision to withdraw my listings from the sites which generated the least sales.  iOffer was not a good fit for my product, their visitor demographics did not match my buyer demographics and I had no sales despite using Google Base, that was an easy decision.  Two sales in ten months on eCrater, despite Google Base made that an easy decision too.  LoudFrog disappeared one night, the decision was made for me, although it was tiny I had made sales there, buyers found my product through Google Base.  Are you beginning to see a pattern here?  I had signed up for Bonanzle in July and had good sales, that became my alternate venue because I will never have all my eggs in one basket again.

Sales on my website ticked up following my withdrawal from the three venues.  On advice from Scott Pooler I moved Red Ink Diary from Blogger and on to WordPress hosted at 200WestMain. Now my website was benefiting from all the traffic I had been giving to Blogger (he’s a smart fella). I spent time redesigning my website and rewriting my product descriptions, sales ticked up again, a much bigger jump this time.

What you don’t know can hurt you!

In Google Base Program Policies it states clearly

“We do not permit duplicate content in the same account or between multiple accounts. If content is available on multiple sites under the same ownership, one site must be chosen to exclusively submit that content. For example, if you own two websites that sell the same item, you may not submit that item for both sites.”

Sellers who use a bulk uploader to clone their listings from one site to another may well be in violation with Google. If for example you have vendor “Cool Tees” on several venues, with the same inventory, same templates, and same language within the listings, clearly you are duplicating and presumably the bots will report it.

On Bonanzle, because problems with individual booth feeds frequently caused problems with the whole site feed, management created individual feeds for each booth. Each booth feed submitted by the owner is regarded as a ’site’. An infraction or error in one booth does not bring the entire site down.

What I see on Bonanzle are many sellers who say they do not have time to perform substantial editing on their listings, despite the fact that bulk editors can not and do not perform perfect transitions between different platforms. In effect would these listings be exact duplicates of the listings on the other venue?

Again quoting from Google

“- we’ll also make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking of the sites involved. As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.”

What should you do?

Clearly differentiate between your feeds. Altering titles, descriptions, and possibly price, while removing all references to the previous venue should do it.

Y’all come back!


Etsy Sellers Sing SEO Blues

Please note that this post was written June 15th 2009. Things have changed since that date!

Etsy is an online marketplace launched in 2005 for buying & selling all things handmade, vintage items, art and supplies were added later. Etsy was a pioneer in sustainable social marketing concepts. To quote CEO Maria Thomas

“(We) wanted to go back to a time when markets meant personal interaction — when you knew who you were buying from.”

Etsy now counts 1.8 million members in 150 countries, and 2 million listings.

Sometime in mid April Etsy upgraded Search Engine Optimization site wide. The process was explained in this Storque article. Unfortunately, either a bug, glitch or human error added a ‘handmade’ tag to all Etsy shops home page meta keyword data.

All Shops

Not just the shops which sell handmade items. Sellers of Vintage items had the word handmade inserted in their metatags as did sellers of Art (who searches for handmade art?) and supplies.

The inevitable result; meta tags like these

<meta name=”keywords” content=”handmade vintage dresses, handmade vintage jackets coats, handmade vintage suits, handmade vintage sweaters tops, handmade vintage skirts pants, handmade vintage lingerie, handmade vintage shoes, handmade vintage accessories, handmade gift certificates”>

<meta name=”keywords” content=”handmade vintage shaving vanity, handmade vintage jelly jars, handmade vintage snuff jars, handmade vintage coffee jars, handmade vintage canning jars, handmade vintage destash, handmade vintage” >

generated charges of keyword stuffing in shops’ home page meta data from search engines and consequent exclusion from search results.

Sellers have also reported noticing a sharp drop in views and sales following each bi-monthly scheduled site maintenance. This is not normal and suggests Etsy may be on a suspended or watch list with the search engines.

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword Stuffing is repeated use of the same word or use of irrelevant words in the Meta Tags data line, it produces inaccurate search results and is both forbidden and penalized by major search engines. Google’s guidelines suggest no more than three repetitions of a word.

Etsy sellers say views and sales are down, by as much as 75% and still declining despite Etsy management’s statement June 11th

“The tech team has released a fix that resolves this issue. As I stated before, this was a flaw in the logic specified to generate meta keywords for shop pages from shop Section Titles. The word “handmade” was being appended in a way that did not make sense. It was inaccurate for Vintage or Supply shops, and was overzealously being used on each meta keyword.

With this fix, no longer will “handmade” be appended to meta keywords for shop pages. Your shop Section Titles will still be used to generate the meta keywords for your shop pages, so you still retain some control over this aspect of your shop’s SEO.”

Ongoing issues with SEO

Despite all assurances to the contrary on June 11th somebody in Etsy’s SEO department who does not know what they are doing is still pfaffing with the SEO!

Just go to Etsy and look at the titles. Any title! Wonder why they are all truncated? If sellers have 60 or so characters and spaces for a title why would they be using titles like “100 Year Old Antiqu”? Here is a screen shot of my good friend Sparkklejar’s listings. Her title is actually “100 year old Antique Cottage Chic Light Green Mason Jar Shabby Roses”.

The meta tag for the title is “Handmade Glass on Etsy - 100 year old Antique Cottage Chic Light Green Mason Jar Shabby Roses by sparkklejar”

By inserting 25 letters and spaces in front of the seller’s title Etsy has left the seller 19 searchable characters to sell the item and corrupted the whole listing. This is not handmade glass. Etsy also stuffed the words handmade glass in the keywords for this item together with many other keywords which do not even appear in the listing and have absolutely no relevance to it.

Hopefully Etsy will fix this, soon. Etsy needs to admit that their wonderful idea to load every listing with site promotional keywords in every meta tag is regarded by search engines as blackhat SEO and the outcome is penalization by exclusion from search.

Auntie May says “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and it sounds like Etsy needs to listen to her!

There are limits to how long sellers can survive without sales. How long can Etsy continue these unethical practices before permanent irreversible damage is done to their previously excellent reputation?

Y’all come back!


Related posts: 6/22/2009  -  Etsy Responds to Seller SEO Concerns