What are Etsy Attributes?
Etsy has developed 'attributes', an additional listing tool for sellers that will help shoppers find relevant results in search. When listing an item, you can now select extra details such as colours, dimensions, an occasion, and/or a celebration from dropdown menus that are used along with keywords in item tags and titles. Etsy says: "Adding this specific information will make your items more relevant in search results, so buyers can find them more easily."
There are a variety of ways to shop on Etsy. Shoppers can browse the categories, the suggested listings/shops on their home page, utilise the search bar, and/or filter by location, price, or colour in the sidebar. Soon there will also be filters to narrow down searches by way of attributes.
Etsy suggests you "use a combination of item tags and attributes to help show your items in a variety of searches."
How do I add attributes?
When listing an item, simply select as many relevant attributes as possible to maximise your item’s reach in search results.
Use the 'add attributes' tool in your Listings Manager to edit your listing attributes consecutively without having to open and edit each listing in full. It also keeps track of listings that haven't been edited for attributes yet. See screenshot below:
How will using Etsy's Attributes impact the discovery of my items in search?
From an Etsy admin discussion post recently: "Think of your attribute as an additional keyword. In the future, the attributes will help you appear in filtered results. But starting March 27, they'll act as keywords in text searches."
If you select an attribute, you don't need that keyword as a listing tag as well. "If you simply use "birthday" as a tag, you can definitely remove it if you have selected the matching attribute. Because exact-phrase matches perform best, I recommend keeping complex phrases like "birthday soap set" should you have them." (Source.)
In my opinion it's important to add attributes to your listings now to stay ahead of the game in search. Attributes provide extra opportunities for your listings to be found - as every tag helps! Once the attribute filters are ready, even more opportunities will open up - provided that shoppers actually use the filters.
Admin quote from a discussion: "In the future, we will build search filter options based on information provided through attributes. At that time, selecting an attribute option will ensure that your item appears in at least one filtered set of results for that attribute (or filter set)."
If you haven't added attributes when the search filters are live, your listings won't be found when shoppers filter their searches. Your listings will still appear in general text searches as previously.
Will shoppers use the forthcoming attribute filters? The popularity of the filters cannot be known until the feature is launched. When I worked at Etsy a few years ago, many people were using the search term 'uk' when there was a perfectly functional location filter in the sidebar, so I guess the impact of new filters will depend on how obvious they are to shoppers, and how well they work, etc.
Custom variations will also be considered in search. "Each option you offer in your item variations is an individual attribute that will be factored into search in the future. For example, if you offer 5 different necklace lengths, your listing will appear in results for each individual search of those measurements, assuming you have stock for each. However, adding these variations won't create additional listings so the listing will only appear once in results for relevant searches." (Source.)
Some sellers are disappointed by the lack of attribute options relevant to their items. Hopefully this shortfall in options will be remedied in future:
"Over time, we’ll introduce more and more relevant attributes to each item category to help you describe your item and connect it to buyers looking for it." Quote from a recent Etsy admin announcement.
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Etsy Help article explaining attributes