The Future of SEO: Is it Going to be Irrelevant?

The Future of SEO: Is it Going to be Irrelevant?

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. How Search Engines Work at Etsy
  3. The Importance of Relevance in Search Results
  4. The Evolution of Etsy's Search Algorithm
  5. Josh's Statement: "Moving Beyond Relevance"
  6. The Role of AI in Etsy's Search Results
  7. The Impact on Keyword Strategies
  8. Personalization and User Preferences
  9. The Future of Etsy's Search Algorithm
  10. Potential Benefits and Concerns
  11. Conclusion

Article: Is SEO on Etsy Going to Become Irrelevant?


In a recent investor call, Etsy announced its plans to move beyond relevance in its search algorithm, which has sparked concerns among sellers regarding the future of SEO. Many sellers are wondering if SEO will become obsolete and what steps they can take to adapt to these changes. In this article, we will delve deeper into the issues raised and provide a comprehensive analysis of the evolving landscape of Etsy's search algorithm.

How Search Engines Work at Etsy

To understand the significance of relevance and its potential impact, it is crucial to grasp how search engines operate on Etsy. When a user performs a search, the algorithms sift through millions of listings to curate relevant results for potential buyers. This process involves multiple steps, starting with an initial algorithm that filters listings based on title tags and categories. Subsequently, a ranking algorithm determines the quality of the listings using factors such as title, tags, listing quality score, and shop standing. Furthermore, Etsy employs personalization techniques, considering factors like the user's past searches and location to fine-tune the results.

The Importance of Relevance in Search Results

Relevance has always played a critical role in Etsy's search results. It ensures that the most suitable listings are displayed to users, increasing the chances of conversion. However, there have been indications that relevance may have diminished in importance over time. The addition of personalization as a final tweak to the already ranked listings suggests that relevance is just one part of the equation in Etsy's search algorithm.

The Evolution of Etsy's Search Algorithm

Etsy's search algorithm has undergone several updates to enhance its effectiveness. The introduction of relevance in 2010 was a milestone moment, shaping the way listings were ranked based on their quality. Over the years, Etsy has continued to refine its search algorithm by incorporating additional layers of factors and personalizations. This evolution has led to improved search results, tailored to individual users' preferences and tastes.

Josh's Statement: "Moving Beyond Relevance"

Amidst concerns about the future of relevance, Etsy's representative, Josh, mentioned "moving beyond relevance" in their presentation. This statement has led to speculation that relevance is no longer a crucial aspect of Etsy's search algorithm and that artificial intelligence (AI) is taking precedence. However, a closer examination of Josh's quote indicates a different interpretation. It seems that machine learning and AI will be applied to the most relevant listings already identified by the algorithm, rather than replacing relevance entirely.

The Role of AI in Etsy's Search Results

While AI certainly plays a role in Etsy's search results, it is not the sole determinant. Etsy's recent strategy involves incorporating more human input into the algorithm. They have increased the number of humans checking listings and assigning the "Etsy Pick" badge, which helps train the AI on what constitutes a high-quality listing. Therefore, AI will rank higher those listings that align with the preferences learned from human evaluations. This approach ensures that relevance remains a key factor in Etsy's search results.

The Impact on Keyword Strategies

With Etsy's decision to move beyond relevance, sellers may wonder how this will affect their keyword strategies. Broad keywords, like "back to school," often yield search results that lack diversity, showing numerous similar items. Etsy aims to address this issue by introducing a system that provides more options and showcases a wider range of listings for broad searches. While smaller shops may struggle to rank for these broad keywords, it opens up opportunities for unique and niche items to gain visibility. Sellers focusing on high-volume, low-effort items tied to broad keywords might need to consider diversifying their products.

Personalization and User Preferences

Etsy's emphasis on personalization in the search algorithm aligns with the desire to cater to individual user preferences. By incorporating factors like past searches, location, and other user-specific information, Etsy aims to provide a tailored and enhanced search experience. This approach benefits users who seek a diverse range of options and encourages sellers to offer unique and distinct products.

The Future of Etsy's Search Algorithm

Looking ahead, it is important to acknowledge that Etsy's search algorithm will continue to evolve. The integration of machine learning and AI, combined with user feedback, will shape the future direction of Etsy's search results. While these changes might initially encounter teething troubles, Etsy's commitment to ensuring relevance and improving the search experience suggests a positive outcome in the long run.

Potential Benefits and Concerns

The new developments in Etsy's search algorithm present both opportunities and challenges for sellers. By refining the search results and promoting unique listings, smaller shops have the chance to stand out. However, relying solely on broad keywords may become more challenging. It is crucial for sellers to adapt their strategies, create distinctive products, and focus on niche markets to maintain their competitiveness.


While the announcement of moving beyond relevance in Etsy's search algorithm has raised concerns among sellers, a closer examination reveals a more nuanced picture. Relevance remains a vital aspect of Etsy's search results, and AI complements the ranking process rather than replacing it entirely. Sellers should stay informed, embrace changes, and adapt their strategies accordingly. By creating unique and niche products and capitalizing on personalized search experiences, sellers can navigate the evolving landscape and continue to thrive on Etsy's platform.


  1. Etsy's search algorithm is evolving beyond relevance.
  2. Relevance remains important in Etsy's search results.
  3. Machine learning and AI enhance the ranking process.
  4. Personalization caters to user preferences.
  5. Opportunities for unique and niche products.
  6. Challenges for sellers relying on broad keywords.


Q: Will SEO become irrelevant on Etsy? A: SEO remains significant on Etsy, although the search algorithm is evolving beyond relevance. Sellers should adapt their strategies to embrace the changes and focus on niche markets to stand out.

Q: How does Etsy's search algorithm work? A: Etsy's search algorithm utilizes multiple steps, including initial filtering based on title tags and categories, ranking listings based on quality factors, and incorporating personalization techniques to tailor results to individual users.

Q: What is the role of AI in Etsy's search results? A: AI plays a complementary role in Etsy's search results by fine-tuning the rankings of already relevant listings, incorporating preferences learned from human evaluations.

Q: How will Etsy's algorithm changes impact keyword strategies? A: Etsy's algorithm changes aim to provide more options for broad searches. While larger shops may struggle for visibility, smaller shops focusing on unique and niche items have the opportunity to stand out.

Q: What can sellers do to adapt to Etsy's evolving search algorithm? A: Sellers should create distinctive products, cater to niche markets, and stay informed about changes in the search algorithm to adapt their SEO strategies effectively.

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