A Deep Dive Into Etsy’s Content Strategy

Etsy sold $45.8 million worth of doilies and mustache-shaped phone cases in August. Since its launch in 2005, Etsy has become the premier destination for handmade good sales on the Internet. Its massive stature is due in large part to the edification of a solid brand, a brand that was developed through curated user-generated content and a solid blog.

The company capitalizes on the efforts of its sellers, offering the “Etsy Guide to SEO” with tips and tutorials for users to optimize their Etsy store, bringing in more traffic. The strategy is genius, because it places the effort in the hands of the user, strengthening the overall optimization for Etsy as a whole with minimal effort on the corporate side.

The result is a whole sub-culture of Etsy strategists, the sales force using the platform to sell their own handmade goods who relentlessly discuss and analyze ways to generate more traffic for their Etsy stores. A search on Google for “Etsy strategy” brings up hundreds of forums, discussion groups and blogs offering the latest inside techniques for building traffic on Etsy.

Easy on the Content

The term content strategy is an interesting one in relation to Etsy. Realistically, Etsy’s traffic strategy isn’t fundamentally grounded in blog content, as most major internet presences are.

Etsy has a blog, but beyond this, its content strategy primarily consists of on-site SEO, such as circular in-site links using searchable keywords to drive visitors to certain areas of the site.

The Etsy forum, another genius user-generated content strategy, houses the usual site outage reports as well as provides a built-in area for sellers to discuss sales and traffic strategies. Again, this content contributes to the overall SEO value of the Etsy website as a whole, and forum posts are generally naturally packed with relevant keywords.

Relying so heavily on forum content to drive SEO is an interesting risk in the post-PANDA web era, as little discussion has been made among industry analysts about the impact of Google’s PANDA update on forum content. That said, Etsy has plenty of other avenues through which it’s building organic inbound links: Through sellers’ blog posts on their personal blogs, aimed at driving traffic to their own Etsy stores and forums found elsewhere on the web.

The Risks Work

Risks associated with forum content include the natural tendency to write as one speaks, resulting in less “professional” content, and the collective nature of a forum as a place where hundreds — or thousands — of authors share their brief musings about a topic.

Etsy balances this well, however, with a high-quality blog periodically featuring various sellers, taking an in-depth look at some of the more unique offerings found on Etsy, and of course the crafty how-tos.

The Community Speaks

That said, Etsy’s blog is also populated with a multitude of voices, albeit moderated and professionalized by a team of editors, who also contribute regularly to balance out the cacophony. Sellers can pitch story ideas to editors, an appealing opportunity to those who are driven to attract more attention to their Etsy offerings.

The nature of Etsy’s business model is such that it allows a mass effort to contribute to the overall pie in terms of content and SEO.

Unlike a general forum, where contributors are motivated merely by the sound of their own keyboards, Etsy users have something to gain by being an active community participant on a personal and financial level.

The result is a win-win solution that has helped catapult Etsy, a site that started as something of an online flea market, to a major web enterprise. The business model allows the masses to earn recognition and profit financially in the hand-crafted goods vertical, one that otherwise has multiple barriers to entry, including high production costs.

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