Blue stripes stud earrings, originally uploaded by KooKooCraft.

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Search Ads on Etsy started this morning. The grand experiment has begun and I hope it's a grand success as well.

I've put together a tutorial lens on Squidoo all about Search Ads including a lot of how to set them up and my personal thoughts on choosing keywords and evaluating your ad results (seriously, I put a lot of thought into the evaluation section and I think it's a good method for a more objective evaluation).

Since Search Ads have only begun this is a work in progress and it will be refined over the coming weeks.

Note: I was hoping so be busy evaluating the first day and posting live updated on @HandmadeBizBlog and @Noadi on Twitter but I've had a minor emergency involving a smoking light socket and will be dealing with repairs going on in my living room today. Updates will be sporadic.

It's an unpleasant fact of life that things aren't always fair. As a small handmade business you have to compete with bigger businesses with bigger budgets and lower prices, more successful and experienced small businesses, and sheer diversity of products available on the market. It can be frustrating and depressing at times.

There's also nothing you can do about it.

What you can do something about is your own business. You can take better photos, write better descriptions, promote your business more, write a blog, build a fanbase on facebook, and all the other things I've written blog posts about. You can only control you. As we get closer to the busy holiday shopping season it's important to remember this and to focus on those things we can do instead of getting sidetracked by the things we have no control over.

When I first posted about looking at Etsy Relevancy objectively it was about a week later. It's now 45 days out and how is my shop doing? Well sales are up over this time period last year but there were things going on last year that affected my ability to make, list, and relist items so it's hard to tell how badly that affected my sales over this time frame last year. My sales are also up over the 45 days immediately prior to the relevancy switch which I think is a better gauge of how things are going. The big payoff though is looking at site search stats:
The blue line is the last 45 days since relevancy, the green line is the 45 prior to the switch.
Visits with search: +60.74%
Total Unique Searches: +59.36%
If something is hurting my sales right now it certainly isn't the new search. Of course some sellers are doing worse with this change and I am sorry this change is hard for them, anyone who wants me to help them improve their shop is welcome to contact me with any questions. However the people making sweeping statements about how Etsy is killing their business and no one is making sales or getting traffic is just outright wrong (Etsy's own statistics show sales in August were way up over both last year and July).

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Etsy is launching their new search ad program but there seems to be a lot of confusion about some basics on online advertising so here are some definitions of common ad terms. Etsy's new ad program works a lot like Google's Adwords search ads so you can apply a lot of information about Adwords to Etsy Search Ads.

Impression - When your ad is seen. So 5,000 impressions means your ad is seen 5,000 times.
Click - When someone clicks on your ad. 5 clicks means 5 people have clicked on your ad and viewed the page it is linked to. Etsy uses the term view for this on your shop stats page.
CTR - This stands for Click Through Rate it's a percentage arrived by dividing the number of ad clicks by the number of impressions. If an ad is clicked 8 times and has 300 impressions it has a CTR of 2.6%. Generally a CTR of >1% is considered good.

How Search Ads Work
When someone searches using a keyword (say "silver necklace") ads using that term are displayed. The price of that ad depends on several factors: frequency it is searched and competition for the search term. So a term that is searched 500 times a day and is being bid on by 30 ads will have a higher price than a term with 1000 searches and 30 bidders. Likewise a a term that is searched 500 times with 5 bidders is going to be less than a term with 1000 searches and 50 bidders. Thus a popular term can actually be quite cheap because it searched thousands of times a day and even though it has a lot of bidders there's enough rotation for everyone.

Etsy has a list of estimated prices per 1000 impressions for keyword on this page but expect it to change once the ads go live based on demand for keywords and changes in what people are searching for.

Etsy Ads or Google Adwords
This isn't an either/or question, nor should it be. The fact is that Etsy Search Ads, Google Adwords, and Project Wonderful (another fantastic ad network) all serve different audiences and can all be part of an overall advertising plan. Adding a new advertising option may require that you shift your advertising budget around a little bit to make room for the new expense (though if you were a frequent relister on Etsy you can put some of the money you are now saving on listing fees towards advertising now that relisting isn't as useful a strategy). If you don't currently have an advertising budget you really should have one, marketing is a vital part of business and as much as I'm a fan of marketing that costs time not money (blogging, social media, etc) traditional advertising is still important.

The helpful folks at Handmadeology (another great resource for handmade business owners) have ut together a free report on Etsy Relevancy. You do need to give them your email address for their mailing list but you can unsubscribe after getting the report if you really don't want it.

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