Understanding Tags vs. Keywords on Etsy: What Sets Them Apart

Etsy, a renowned online marketplace, is a hub for creative entrepreneurs to showcase and sell their unique, handmade, and vintage items to a global audience. However, with over 4 million active sellers, making your products stand out can be a daunting task.

A key strategy to increase product visibility on Etsy is through the effective utilization of tags and keywords in your listings. While they might appear similar, tags and keywords fulfill distinct roles. Tags are part of your listing’s metadata and are used exclusively for Etsy’s search engine to identify what your product is.

Keywords, on the other hand, are crucial for query matching, which is the initial step in Etsy’s search ranking algorithm. Grasping the nuances between tags and keywords, and applying them adeptly, can significantly enhance your products’ visibility, thereby increasing the likelihood of attracting potential customers.

Introduction to the Concepts of Tags and Keywords

Tags and keywords are fundamental concepts in the organization and retrieval of information in both digital and non-digital formats. Here’s a brief introduction to each:


  1. Definition: A tag is a label or a keyword assigned to a piece of information (such as a digital file, a website, a picture, etc.). This helps in classifying and organizing data for easier retrieval.
  2. Usage:
    • In social media, tags are used for categorizing content and making it discoverable. For instance, hashtags on Twitter or Instagram.
    • In blogging or content management systems, tags help in sorting articles into related topics.
  3. Flexibility: Tags are generally informal and created by the users. They don’t adhere to a strict set of rules and are highly flexible.
  4. Examples: #Travel, #Food, #Technology in social media posts; tags like ‘politics’, ‘science’, and ‘fiction’ in blog posts.


  1. Definition: Keywords are words or phrases that describe the primary topics in a piece of content. They are often used in the context of search engine optimization (SEO).
  2. Purpose: The primary goal of keywords is to improve the visibility of content on search engines. They are used to identify and rank web pages based on their relevance to a search query.
  3. Selection: Unlike tags, keywords need to be carefully chosen. They require research to understand what terms users are searching for and how competitive those terms are.
  4. Use in SEO: In website content, keywords are strategically placed to ensure that the content ranks higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).
  5. Examples: For a blog post about healthy eating, keywords might include ‘healthy eating habits’, ‘nutrition tips’, and ‘balanced diet’.

Understanding Etsy Tags

Role of Tags in Etsy’s Search Algorithm

Etsy’s search algorithm utilizes tags to match sellers’ products with buyers’ search queries. Tags on Etsy are critical because they directly influence how easily a product can be found in search results. Here’s how they function:

  1. Matching Search Queries: Etsy’s algorithm looks for matches between the tags sellers use on their listings and the terms buyers enter into the search bar. The closer the match, the more likely the item will appear in the search results.
  2. Relevance and Specificity: The algorithm prefers tags that are both relevant and specific to the item. This means that accurate, descriptive tags can significantly improve an item’s visibility.
  3. Variety of Tags: Etsy allows up to 13 tags per item. Using a variety of tags can help capture a wide range of potential search queries, from broad to specific.
  4. Attributes as Tags: In addition to the tags, the algorithm also considers listing attributes (like color, size, and material) as additional tags, enhancing the searchability of the item.
  5. Trending Searches: Etsy’s algorithm is also responsive to trending searches and seasonal shifts, so adapting tags to current trends can boost visibility.

Tips for Selecting Effective Tags on Etsy

To optimize your Etsy listings, consider the following tips for selecting effective tags:

  1. Be Specific and Descriptive: Use tags that precisely describe your item. For example, instead of just “scarf,” use “hand-knit wool scarf.”
  2. Think Like a Buyer: Consider what potential customers might type into the search bar when looking for your product. Use common and relatable terms.
  3. Use All Available Tags: Maximize all 13 tags. This increases the chances of your item being found under various search terms.
  4. Include Long-Tail Keywords: These are longer, more specific phrases that shoppers might use when they are closer to a point of purchase. For example, “vintage brass bookends” instead of just “bookends.”
  5. Local and Cultural References: If applicable, use tags that relate to a specific locale or cultural reference, especially if your product is related to a specific geographic location or cultural tradition.
  6. Monitor and Adapt: Keep an eye on your shop’s analytics to see which tags are driving traffic to your listings and adapt your strategy accordingly.

Common Mistakes to Avoid with Tags on Etsy

Avoiding certain pitfalls can significantly improve your Etsy shop’s performance:

  1. Being Too Generic: Avoid tags that are too broad or vague. Tags like “gift” or “nice” are too general and unlikely to match specific search queries.
  2. Keyword Stuffing: Don’t cram multiple keywords into one tag. This can confuse the algorithm and dilute the effectiveness of your tags.
  3. Irrelevant Tags: Using tags that aren’t directly related to your item can lead to poor

Understanding Etsy Keywords

How Keywords Boosting Search Rank and Match on Etsy

Keywords play a pivotal role in search engine optimization (SEO) and are fundamental in determining a website’s search ranking and its ability to match with user queries. Here’s how they work:

  1. Search Engine Algorithms: Search engines like Google use complex algorithms to determine the relevance of a webpage to a user’s search query. Keywords in a website’s content, titles, meta tags, and URLs signal to these algorithms what the site is about.
  2. Relevance: When a user types a query into a search engine, the engine scans millions of web pages to find content that most closely matches the query. Websites that contain the same or similar keywords to the search query are more likely to be deemed relevant.
  3. Keyword Density: This refers to the frequency of a keyword appearing on a webpage. While it’s important to include keywords, overuse (keyword stuffing) can be penalized by search engines, leading to lower rankings.
  4. Context and Quality of Content: Modern search algorithms are sophisticated enough to understand the context around keywords. They prioritize content that is informative, well-written, and user-friendly.
  5. Search Intent: Keywords help search engines discern the intent behind a query, whether it’s informational, navigational, or transactional. Matching content to the user’s intent is key to higher rankings.

Strategies for Identifying and Using Potent Keywords

To effectively harness the power of keywords, consider the following strategies:

  1. Keyword Research: Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Ahrefs to find keywords relevant to your content. Look for keywords that have a high search volume but moderate to low competition.
  2. Long-Tail Keywords: These are longer and more specific keyword phrases. They often have a lower search volume but can attract more targeted traffic and have less competition.
  3. Analyze Competitors: Look at the keywords your competitors are ranking for. This can provide insights into what might work for your content.
  4. Search Intent: Align your keywords with the search intent. Differentiate between users looking for information, those looking to make a purchase, etc., and tailor your keywords accordingly.
  5. Regular Updates: Keyword trends can change over time. Regularly update your keyword strategy to adapt to new search trends and patterns.
  6. Natural Integration: Incorporate keywords naturally into your content. They should fit seamlessly into the text, titles, headers, and meta descriptions.

Differences Between General and Niche Keywords

  1. General Keywords:
    • Definition: Broad terms that cover a wide topic area.
    • Search Volume: Usually have a high search volume.
    • Competition: Highly competitive, making it hard to rank.
    • Examples: “Shoes”, “Coffee”, “Books”.
  2. Niche Keywords:
    • Definition: More specific, targeted terms related to a particular segment within a broader market.
    • Search Volume: Lower compared to general keywords, but the traffic is more targeted.
    • Competition: Less competitive, offering better chances to rank.
    • Relevance: Higher relevance to a specific audience, leading to better conversion rates.
    • Examples: “Vegan running shoes”, “Organic Ethiopian coffee beans”, and “Science fiction books for teens”.

Best Practices for Using Tags and Keywords for Etsy

Using tags and keywords effectively in your listings is essential for improving visibility and reaching your target audience. Here are some best practices:

Integrating Tags and Keywords in Your Listings

Tags and keywords serve different but complementary purposes. Keywords are often specific phrases that potential customers might use when searching for products or services. Tags, on the other hand, are more about categorization and can be broader. When integrating both, ensure your keywords are naturally embedded in the listing’s text, titles, and meta descriptions. Tags should be used to categorize the listing in broader terms. For instance, if you’re selling handmade candles, your keywords might be “handmade scented candles,” while your tags could include “home decor,” “handmade,” and “gift ideas.”

Balancing Broad Appeal and Niche Targeting

It’s crucial to strike a balance between appealing to a broad audience and targeting a niche. Broad keywords and tags can attract a larger audience, but they might be highly competitive and less effective in reaching interested buyers. Niche keywords and tags, while attracting fewer searches, can lead to higher conversion rates as they target a more specific audience. Using a mix of both broad and niche tags and keywords can create a balanced strategy. Continuing with the candle example, broad tags could be “candles,” while niche tags could be “eco-friendly soy candles.”

Regularly Updating Tags and Keywords Based on Trends and Analytics

The digital landscape is dynamic, and so are search trends. Regularly review your listings’ performance using analytics tools to understand which keywords and tags are driving traffic and conversions. Keep an eye on seasonal trends, industry shifts, and changes in consumer behavior. Updating your tags and keywords accordingly ensures your listings remain relevant and visible. For example, if analytics show an increased interest in “aromatherapy candles,” consider adding these terms to your listings.

Remember, the goal is to ensure that your listings are easily discoverable by the right audience while also providing clear and accurate information about your products or services. Regular analysis and adjustments based on performance data are key to maintaining an effective online presence.

Comparison Table: Etsy Tags vs. Keywords

FeatureEtsy TagsEtsy Keywords
DefinitionMetadata for listings to categorize products.Words/phrases used by shoppers in search queries.
Primary FunctionHelp Etsy’s search engine understand the product.Align listings with potential customer searches.
Impact on SearchCrucial for initial categorization.Essential for ranking in search results.
Visibility InfluenceBroad categorization for relevance.Direct impact on matching with user queries.
Selection TipsUse specific and relevant terms.Use terms that shoppers are likely to search for.
Example“Handmade silver necklace”“Affordable silver jewelry”
Update FrequencyAs needed to remain relevant.Regularly, based on trend analysis and performance.
Common MistakesOvergeneralizing or being too vague.Using irrelevant or overly broad keywords.

Tools and Resources For Etsy Keyword and Tag Research

To enhance your keyword research and analytics, as well as for continuous learning, here’s a list of useful tools and resources:

Tools for Keyword Research and Analytics

  1. Google Keyword Planner: A free tool that helps you discover keywords related to your business and see estimates of the searches they receive and the cost to target them.
  2. SEMrush: Offers an extensive suite of SEO tools including keyword research, competitor analysis, and site audits.
  3. Ahrefs: Known for its powerful backlink analysis capability, Ahrefs also offers keyword research, content analysis, and site auditing tools.
  4. Moz Pro: Provides a set of tools for keyword research, SEO audits, and link building. It’s particularly famous for its domain authority metric.
  5. Ubersuggest: Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest offers keyword suggestions, competition analysis, and insights into the strategies your competitors are using.
  6. Google Analytics: Essential for tracking website performance and understanding how users interact with your site. It can provide insights into the keywords bringing traffic to your site.
  7. Google Trends: Useful for observing keyword popularity over time and understanding seasonal trends.
  8. AnswerThePublic: Great for finding questions that people are asking in search engines, which can be a valuable source of long-tail keywords.

Resources for Continuous Learning

  1. Moz Blog: Offers a wealth of information on SEO and digital marketing. Their “Whiteboard Friday” sessions are particularly informative.
  2. Search Engine Journal: This is a great resource for the latest news and trends in SEO and digital marketing.
  3. Neil Patel’s Blog: Offers actionable digital marketing and SEO tips.
  4. HubSpot Blog: Provides a broad range of information on inbound marketing, including content strategy, SEO, and data analysis.
  5. Google’s Webmaster Central Blog: The official source for news, tips, and resources from Google on building a search-friendly website.
  6. SEMrush Academy: Offers free courses and certifications in SEO, content marketing, PPC, and more.
  7. Ahrefs Blog and YouTube Channel: Offers tutorials and case studies on SEO and content marketing.
  8. Content Marketing Institute: Provides resources and training in content strategy and content marketing.

These tools and resources can provide valuable insights into keyword trends, competition, and overall digital marketing strategies. They are not only helpful for optimizing your listings but also for staying updated with the latest trends and best practices in SEO and digital marketing.

Tips for Using Etsy Tags and Keywords Effectively

  • Use all 13 tags available to you.
  • Use a mix of single-word tags and long-tail tags.
  • Don’t repeat tags or keywords.
  • Don’t use irrelevant tags or keywords.
  • Don’t use tags or keywords that violate Etsy’s policies.
  • Update your tags and keywords regularly to stay relevant.

Adhering to these best practices can significantly enhance the visibility of your Etsy shop, drawing in more prospective customers. It’s important to ensure that your tags and keywords are both descriptive and precise, capturing the essence of your products effectively.

Additionally, regularly updating these tags and keywords is crucial for maintaining relevance and keeping pace with changing trends and consumer interests. This proactive approach can lead to better discoverability and increased engagement with your target audience on Etsy.

Final Words

In final words, the strategic use of tags and keywords is a pivotal aspect of enhancing your Etsy shop’s visibility and appeal. By carefully selecting descriptive, accurate, and trend-responsive tags and keywords, you not only improve your shop’s searchability but also connect more effectively with your target audience. Regularly updating these elements in line with evolving market trends and consumer preferences is crucial for staying relevant and competitive.

Remember, the digital marketplace is dynamic, and staying informed and adaptable is key to your success. Keep refining your strategies, and your Etsy shop is likely to thrive in this ever-changing digital landscape.


What role do keywords play in Etsy’s search ranking?

A: Keywords help determine the visibility of a product in search results. The more relevant your keywords are to a user’s search query, the higher your product is likely to rank in the search results.

How do keywords affect query matching on Etsy?

A: Keywords are essential for query matching. When a user’s search terms match the keywords in your listing, your product has a higher chance of being shown in their search results, leading to better match accuracy.

Can the right keywords improve sales on Etsy?

A: Yes, using the right keywords can significantly improve visibility and match your products with the right customers, potentially increasing sales.

Should I use general or specific keywords in my Etsy listings?

A: It’s best to use a mix of both. General keywords increase the chances of appearing in broad searches, while specific keywords target niche audiences and can drive more qualified traffic.

How often should I update my keywords on Etsy?

A: Regularly. Market trends, seasonality, and consumer behavior change over time. Updating keywords periodically helps maintain relevance and visibility in search results.

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