Are you struggling to get views to your Etsy shop? Spending money on ads? Promoting the heck out of Instagram? Are you spinning your wheels but not getting sales?

Maybe you’re thinking:

“This Etsy thing isn’t for me.”


“I’ll try Shopify.”

Well, fellow Etsy biz owner, I’m here to tell you that you can get those views, and you can crush those sales. In today’s post, I’ll show you how to dominate Etsy’s search algorithm by strategically using long tail keywords in your Etsy listings.

What are Long Tail Keywords?

eRank, an Etsy SEO and market research tool, defines long tail keywords as “keywords or key phrases that are more specific than more commonly searched for keywords. Long Tail keywords get less search traffic, but will usually have a higher conversion value, as they are more specific.”

“Head” keywords are words or phrases that are popular but vague. These attract buyers at the browsing stages of online shopping (they are “window shopping,” if you will). They have a vague idea of what they want but aren’t yet ready to make a purchase. The competition for these keywords is high, but the conversion rate is low.

Long tail keywords are more specific keywords that are searched less but have a higher conversion rate. These attract committed buyers: they know what they want, are ready to buy, and are using specific phrases to find what it is they are looking for. Long tail keywords ensure that your listings reach committed buyers!

Example of a “head” keyword

“Toy Story”

The search term “Toy Story” is  a head keyword with a high amount of searches, higher engagement, and moderately high competition. You can make sales using head keywords, but your chances of getting ranked high for this search phrase are low. For this reason,  you should focus on less popular, long tail keywords due to their higher conversion rate!

Example of a (good) long tail keyword

“Stim Toy”

I don’t exactly know what a stim toy is, but if you sell toys on Etsy, get on this keyword!** With a moderate number of searches but high engagement and LOW competition, this is an excellent example of a long tail keyword.

**Only if you sell stim toys. Don’t use keywords that aren’t relevant to what you are selling!

Check out the expected engagement for “Stim Toy” in April! 

“Stim Toy” is a perfect example of a good, long tail keyword!

Example of a bad keyword

“Handmade Toy”

“Handmade Toy” is not a head keyword or a long tail keyword. With a low amount of searches, even lower engagement, and high competition, “handmade toy” is a good example of a very bad keyword. There are over 50,000 listings related to handmade toys, but not a lot of people are searching for the keyword “handmade toy” on Etsy. People are searching for handmade toys, but they aren’t searching for this particular phrase!


Grab this free Etsy keyword brainstorming worksheet!


    How to find the perfect long-tail keywords for your Etsy listings

    1. Brainstorm phrases to describe what you are selling

    Think of (ideally) three-word phrases to describe what you are selling. Consider the item category, type, colour, occasion, pattern, etc. Brainstorm as many phrases as possible, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box!


    • Destination wedding invitation
    • Game of Thrones candle
    • Funny Mother’s Day card

    2. Test your phrases with an SEO tool

    Test out your phrases using an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tool. There are two SEO tools built specifically for Etsy: Marmalead and eRank.  I highly recommend you use one of them to do Etsy keyword testing!

    In my opinion, Marmalead ($20USD/month) is much much better, but twice the monthly price of eRank’s paid version (eRank does have a free version with 50 daily searches).

    If you can’t invest in an Etsy SEO tool at the moment, take a look at your data in Search Analytics on Etsy (Shop Manager>Marketing>Search Analytics) and see what keywords are converting well.

    That said, if there is one investment to make in your Etsy business, Marmalead should be it. Every major Etsy shop I know uses Marmalead to optimize listings. It’s worth it!

    Look for keywords with:

    ✔️ A low-moderate amount of searches

    ✔️ High engagement (visits)

    ✔️ A moderate amount of competition (you want enough to keep buyers engaged but low enough to be found in results)

    They don’t have to be all of these things, but the keywords that meet all three criteria will be your best keywords!

    3. Make a list of your top 13 keywords

    Choose your best 13 keywords (long tail and a few head keywords) and rank them from best>worst. The worksheet I linked higher in this post will help you with this! Choose your best keyword as your focus keyword

    Focus keyword

    Your focus keyword will be the top, long tail keyword you want to rank for. Only use your focus keyword for one listing; you don’t want your items to compete against each other!

    Use your focus keyword at the beginning of your listing title and as one of your tags. Note that Etsy doesn’t currently analyze listing descriptions for SEO ranking, but it doesn’t hurt to include your focus keword once in there too!

    Use your keywords:

    1. In your title (Marmalead recommends including four tags in your title).

    2. Several times throughout your description (including the first sentence).

    3. In your tags (use all 13!!!).

    Why keyword variations are important

    Etsy says that “items in Etsy’s search results must match the buyer’s search word or phrase. Items that do not match a buyer’s search won’t be included in results.” They also say that “exact phrase matches are stronger than matches on individual words.”

    Two things to unpack here:

    1. If you use the longtail keyword “Silver Mood Ring,” Etsy will match your listing to buyers’ who include the words “silver” or “mood” or “ring” in their search BUT

    2. If you use the phrase “Silver Mood Ring,” and a buyer searches for “Silver Mood Ring,” the match will be stronger!

    Buyers can search for the same item with different phrasing, which is why you need to use a variety of keywords in your listings!

    How to know if your keywords are effective

    Once you’ve got at least 30 days of data, go to Search Analytics on Etsy (Shop Manager>Marketing>Search Analytics) to check out the queries (phrases) customers are searching for to find your listings.

    These are the top three searches that shoppers used to get to my listings in the past 30 days. “Iron on patch,” a head keyword, got 32,768 impressions with a low, 1.49% conversion rate.

    Gold letter bead,” a long tail keyword, was searched 291 but had a 0% conversion rate:

    “Gold alphabet bead,” a much better long tail heyword, had a much lower search query but a very high conversion rate at 18.18%!

    Using Etsy Search Analytics is the best way to see if the keywords you are using are effective!

    Some mistakes to avoid with long tail keywords:

    ❌ Copying other sellers’ tags

    Do not do this! A competitor may sell similar items to yours and have more sales than you, but that doesn’t mean their sales are coming from tags! You can’t see their behind-the-scenes, and you can’t view their Stats.

    They may bring most of their sellers in externally from social media or their email list.

    Do your research and test out tags that will work for you!

    ❌ Using the same keywords/tags for similar items

    Change up your keywords for each of your listings, even for similar items. You don’t want them to “compete” against each other!

    ❌ “Keyword stuffing”

    As the name suggests, keyword stuffing means adding your keyword or keyword variations to as many places as possible, even when it doesn’t make sense to the structure of your sentence. Don’t use “scented bath bomb” 30 times in an attempt to trick the algorithm. The algorithm is very smart and will rank you lower for doing this!

    Use your keyword strategically in your listings, but don’t overdo it.

    ❌ Not keeping up with trends and changes

    Trends come and go, some items perform better seasonally, and on top of all of that, the algorithm is continually changing. Monitor search terms on your Stats page frequently, and adjust accordingly!

    ❌ Changing listings that are performing well

    Don’t change your listings if they are getting lots of views and sales (even if they aren’t “perfect”). Doing this could mess up your ranking! It takes up to 90 days for SEO to work its magic.

    “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” as the saying goes. Adjust your keywords if/when they aren’t effective anymore.

    To recap what we’ve learned…

    Committed buyers are buyers that are ready to make the sale. They know what they want, so their search phrases are more specific. You want to target committed buyers by using specific phrases, called long tail keywords.

    An Etsy SEO tool like Marmalead or eRank will help you find the perfect long tail keywords for each of your listings.

    Use your long tail keywords and variations in your title and tags to increase your visibility.

    Add a few popular, head keywords to the mix, but focus on long tail keywords.

    Choose one focus keyword to use strategically throughout your listing: once in your title, description, and as a tag.

    Learning how to use long tail keywords effectively takes time and patience, but the payoff is worth it!