I am writing this here as opposed to, say, as a Facebook status, because I feel like it's important, but I hate hijacking Facebook with long drawn out blurbs about stuff only a handfull of people are going to find relevant.
I've been working today (on both my Etsy shops) and browsing my favorite shops, and some of my friend's shops, and I just have to get this tagging/SEO elephant off my chest. (I don't claim to be an expert by any means; but as I've said before, I have made Etsy work for me and get (mostly) steady sales, so I think my tagging is working....but I'm NOT an SEO expert whatsoever.)
Here's the thing.
Search engines are the tool by which shoppers are going to find your items, whether it's on your website, or on Etsy, or eBay, or Artfire, or whatever. But for what I am talking about here, we're just going to be discussing Etsy listings. Mk?
Search engines use an algorithm that "scans" the first several words of the title of your listing for keywords that help "catalog" the item you're selling.
Words like "multi", "double", "tri", "versatile", "blue and yellow", "adorable", "gorgeous", "pink" etc.are not good keywords. They're good words to use in your product descriptions, but not for titles and tagging. (On Etsy.)
Nor are words/phrases like "The Colette Bracelet"; or "The Edna Necklace". (I think naming items like this is cute as all get out, but it doesn't work if you're going for good SEO.)
The first several (3-5 ish) word of your Etsy listing title have got to be the keywords that describe your item.
When I took my SEO course, one of the things I did (upon the prompting of the instructor) was sit down and brainstorm about every single possible word and combination of words that people might possibly use to describe what it is they are looking for when they use a search engine such as Bing or Google, as well as the Etsy search tool. And then, use them - in Etsy's case, as titles, descriptions, and tags.
When a buyer sits down at their computer and decides to look for a vintage hat, they're going to type in something pretty basic like "vintage hat". Or, if they're looking for a specific color of hat, they'll narrow it down: "black vintage hat". Or if they're really narrowing it down to specifics, "vintage black velvet hat".
So, if the first word of my title is "cute", or "blue", this algorithm is going to pass right over you and you're never going to be seen in searches. And algorithms are constantly scanning the web for info and categorizing listings and websites, etc. etc. according to keywords used in tags.
SO: for me, the first three (or four) words of my title are usually the first words that one would use to describe that item: for my vintage listings, it's "VINTAGE". For my burlap banners, it's "BURLAP". Or, if it's a holiday specific item, I'll often use the holiday as my first keyword: "CHRISTMAS". "VALENTINES DAY".
Next I get into a little bit more detail, but not anything too vague or irrelevant. Next would be words like "Dress". "Hat". "Purse". "Banner".
After that, other words can come in like "Gunne Sax", "Novelty Print", "Glass Beaded", "Wedding Decor", "Rustic Wedding Decor"; and following that other relevant descriptors like size, color, etc.
Basically, arrange keywords in your title from most important to least important. It can make your titles look kind of absurd; and read like this "Vintage Hat, Floral Hat, 1950s Floral Easter Hat". But you're speaking the language of the algorithm; which is what is going to bring in your lookers... and hopefully, buyers.
But wait, there's more!
The first words of your description should match the words of your title. The algorithm also scans the first part of your descriptions for additional information, and if these words all match or are in some similar sequence, this boosts your SEO.
So, if your title is "Vintage hat, floral hat, 1950s floral Easter hat", your description should read the same way. Or at least, mostly. This is why, if you browse my Etsy shop, you'll read some weird looking titles and odd looking opening sentences of descriptions; but to me it's not about looking like a catalog, but getting top results in search results, so I write my stuff this way.
And last, but not least: On Etsy, you get 13 tags. Or is it 15? I forget. It's something like that, though. Use these tags to add phrases that shoppers might use to search for or describe what it is they're looking for in a search engine or in the Etsy search tool. "Victorian style", "glass bead necklace", "upcycled earrings", "size small vintage", "long beaded necklace", "Purple Easter hat", etc. etc. Phrases are best. I think you have something like 20 spaces to two or three word combos are great.
I feel better. I had to get that out in black and white. :) If you're interested in reading some more about this subject, I highly recommend this blog post: http://ogcontent.com/etsy-seo/
Also: another quick tip for ya.
If you're not including international shipping options, you're shooting yourself in the foot as far as sales go.
Etsy is a wiiiiiide internaitonal market. Tap it. It's easy; all you need is a scale to calculate the shipping price on the USPS website.
I use 2 options for international shipping: to Canada, and "Everywhere Else". You don't have to list every single place you'll ship to.
It's very. very.very easy, and gets you more sales in the long run.
Happy selling, everyone! :)