A ridiculously talented friend of mine has an Etsy store where he showcases his award-winning, artisan pottery. Although the store has been a success since he opened it, he recently asked me to check out a cheap marketing service that promised to increase his traffic even more.
So I checked it out. And boy was I alarmed by the potent blend of SEO snake oil that I found. I wrote back and said, “Do not move forward with this company. I’ll explain. In fact, I’m inspired to write a blog post about this.”
My initial intention was to review basic Etsy SEO tips – but I soon realized that Etsy, working together with SEOMoz, has already posted fantastic resources, left and right, to help store owners position themselves online. Seriously Etsy – I am impressed.
So while I was able to point my friend in a safer direction, I realized that there was still something that Etsiers could be confused about. Namely, what NOT to do. How can you be sure you’re engaging in ethical marketing tactics, instead of unwittingly signing yourself up for a promotional spam program?
Here’s what to watch out for when it comes to the world of SEO:
Guarantees: If you see someone splashing around the words “guaranteed” like a cheesy used-car dealer, this is a superb indicator that they are neither ethical nor knowledgable. To claim this is tacky and embarrassing – it’s essentially saying you are able to control the Google Algorithm at all times. The reality is, no one can 100% guarantee or promise a traffic increase, unless you’ve got Sergey Brin on speed dial. And even then….
- Submission to 75+ Search Engines: This tactic *might* have made sense back in 1996 when people constantly bounced back and forth between Ask Jeeves, Alta Vista, Netscape, and dozens of other engines. Fast forward to 2012: you do not need to pay for this. What a quaint idea! Chances are, your Etsy store is already being indexed JUST FINE in Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Also, Etsy themselves is doing everything they can to help engines discover pages too – just check out that robots.txt file.
- Crazy Low Price: Is the service ridiculously cheap? Say, a $40 one-time fee? Well, you get what you pay for. The ugly truth is that if someone charges an unusually low price for something, it’s probably because their services are of unusually low quality. If something really worked, they’d charge more.
- Lack of Contact Information: Be sure you know the physical address and phone number of the company you are engaging with. If the only thing you can find is an email address, that’s a red flag. Legitimate companies post legitimate, verifiable information about their business online.
- 5,000+ Backlinks, Whoo hoo! Watch out for companies that promise ridiculously inflated numbers of backlinks. Link building is good – every Etsy store needs incoming links to help boost its importance in Google. However, there’s a huge difference between ethical link building and link spamming that is against Google Guidelines.
- Linking You to a “Network” of Sites: Similar to the above, be careful of linking schemes that try to envelop you into a network of websites. These manipulative, artificial tactics are also against Webmaster Guidelines and can result in a penalty.
- Creates Additional Sites: Are you being promised other “promotional” or “mini” sites that can drive even more traffic to your Etsy Store? Again, beware. This sounds like an artificial tactic that creates unnecessary content or doorway pages designed to funnel traffic to your website in shady, unethical ways.
These are just a few examples of the types of shady tactics that SEOs might advertise. When considering whether or not to partner with someone to promote your Etsy Store, a good place to start would be asking whether or not they use the ethical tactics outlined in Etsy’s own Guide to SEO. If not, then you may want to steer clear.
Luckily for you, Etsy sincerely wants you to succeed, and has already provided a wealth of information on their site to help you do just that. Here’s wishing the best of luck to all Etsy Store owners in 2012 and beyond.
Written by Sarah Mackenzie.