This topic has come up quite often on the Sac Etsy Team's Yahoo Group discussion, so it seemed like something worth writing about! Completing these tasks may help improve your rankings in Google and other search engines!
1. Be Sure Your Shop Policies are Complete: It is important to let shoppers know your Shop Policies.
a. What form of payment do you accept?
b. How do you ship?
c. Do you ship internationally?
d. Will you accept returns and will you give a refund or are you willing to let the customer exchange their purchase for a different item? Who pays the return shipping? If it is an exchange, who pays the shipping for the replacement item?
beneath your Shop Name (see 2nd line in the circled area above). Compare my Shop Title to the Google search results shown in #3 below. Many Etsy sellers make the mistake of repeating the name of their shop here. This would result in having a Google listing which reads "Prairie Primitives by PrairiePrimitives on Etsy." Probably not what you had in mind, right? Use words here which shoppers might use to find the type of products you're selling.
3. Your Shop Announcement: Your Shop Announcement is the text below your banner and Shop Title.
The first 160 characters of your shop announcement will be used by search engines as the description, so be sure to use words which describe your shop and merchandise rather than something like "Hi, Welcome to my shop! It's so nice to have you visit today!" which would tell someone browsing the search results absolutely nothing about your shop and why they should click on that particular link.
See how my Shop Announcement shows up in Google? (Ok, so I'm waiting for Google to catch up with my recent edit and then I'll replace this image!).
4. Be Sure to Have a Banner: Having a banner gives your shop a finished and more professional appearance. The banner is a rectangular graphic at the top of your Etsy shop. It should measure 760px by 100px, and the file size should be 2mb or less. If you don't have the skills to create your own, Etsy offers an online banner generator to create a generic banner, or you can hire someone with appropriate skills to design a banner for you. It's a good idea to include your business name on your banner; this helps with name recognition because shoppers may not otherwise pay attention to the shop's name. I prefer to use Irfanview to add text to my images; many other image editing programs can be used to add text too.
6. Consider Your Item Title: Etsy allows 140 characters for the title of your listing, although search engines will only show about 66 characters. Many sellers err on the side of too lengthy a title, while others err on the side of a less-than-descriptive title. If you are selling a handbag, for example featuring a hand painted iris, using "Purple Iris" as the entire title doesn't tell the shopper what the item is. Etsy search uses a "relevancy" algorithm (see more info on this in #9 below). Ensuring that your entire listing, including the title, is relevant should get your item more views! For relevancy purposes, be sure that "handbag" (or whatever the noun is in your title) is one of the first 3 words, and that the other 2 of the first 3 words are good, searchable words and, better yet, an entire phrase that a shopper might search for when looking for your item.
7. Item Description: Be sure to write an adequate description, including as much information about your item as possible. Include details about the materials used and the size in both American ("Imperial") and metric measurements. Providing information about what inspired you to create the item can be a good selling point.
8. Work Those Tags: Etsy gives you space to include 13 tags. Tags are phrases which shoppers might use when searching for your item. Keep an eye on Etsy's Merchandising Desk articles and incorporate key words and phrases based on what the Etsy merchandisers will be searching for could help your items land on the front page or be featured elsewhere on the Etsy web site! If you're a member of any Etsy teams, include their team tag on at least some of your items. I always include my shop name as one of my tags, and lately I've been including my city as well ... especially if I run out of ideas for Really Good tags.
9. Optimize Your Shop for Relevancy: In 2011, Etsy changed from showing search results based on recency to showing them based on relevancy. Important things to be aware of include using multiple-word tags, rather than the single-word tags which Etsy pretty much insisted on for many years. Now your tags should be phrases which shoppers are likely to use when searching for your type of items, such as "primitive doll" (rather than "primitive" and "doll" as separate tags) or "blue dress" (rather than "blue" and "dress" as separate tags), and so on. Unfortunately, sellers are still limited to just 20 characters for each tag, which can make this somewhat challenging. Your title should have the noun ("what it is") near the beginning of the title, in the first 2 or 3 words if not the very first word. And I've been hearing and reading that the first 3 words of your description should be a phrase from the title which is also used in the tags; I handle this by copying most of the title to the first line of the description. :-)
10. Photographing Your Item: Because you are selling online, your photographs have to tell the whole story. Shoppers aren't able to touch, feel, or smell your product, so you'll need to do it for them through your photographs. When photographing your items, think how they would be portrayed in a magazine; consider what type of props, if any, would be appropriate for your item. Etsy provides 5 slots for photos; show your item from different angles, or in different positions, or with different backgrounds.
a. Be sure your photographs are in focus; of course "creative" out-of-focus backgrounds are fine, as long as the item you're selling is plainly visible.
b. Think about how you "style" your photos. Read this article from the Etsy blog for some tips.
c. Be mindful about undesired shadows in your photos. There are times when a bit of shadow can be a good thing, but this isn't always the case.
d. Using a pure white background will often make your item appear much sharper and crisper, as if it's in an art gallery setting. This can be a nice effect (and may help your item to be featured by Etsy), however it's not always the best choice for all items. I feel it is more important to present a consistent image. Right now, nearly all of my photos are taken with an antique chippy green shutter for the background.
11. List More Items: If you just have a handful of items listed (less than one page), list more items! For the last couple of years, I have attempted to keep 50 items listed in my Etsy shop. Having more items, as well as a wider variety of items, will enable more shoppers to find your shop. A few years ago, a friend of mine was doing quite well with her product on eBay, however she was getting very fed up with the high fees on that site. I talked her into opening an Etsy shop. She listed about half a dozen items. When she didn't have any sales in a week or so, she became frustrated. I asked if she could list two dozen items. She said yes and got them listed and the sales started rolling in almost immediately. She has since had more than 200 items listed on a fairly regular basis, and has sold more than 3000 items, and there have even been several days when she has sold more than 20 items in a day!