Selling your art online can be an incredibly daunting task, especially when there is a sea of other makers out there who are all vying for the attention of buyers. Making your work stand out from the crowd is sometimes not just about the work itself, but also about how the online listing is worded to maximize the possibility that it is served to the right buyers. That’s where search engine optimization, or SEO, comes in.
SEO is in itself a massive topic with hundreds of factors that can be tweaked and twisted to optimize a listing or website (some more credible than others), but there are some tried-and-true ways to set your online art listing up for success. In this article I’ll share three really important places you can optimize your listings for SEO to get them found by more potential customers!
Product titles are the number one way to optimize your listings for SEO! How you name your product online is a major factor in who a product is served to and when. Search engines like Google and Etsy (yes, Etsy is technically a search engine!) rely on keywords to generate results for any given search query. They crawl the internet (or listings on their platform) to find hundreds of results within milliseconds. Product titles are front and center on a listing page, so they are an important source of keywords for these search engines to pick up. This is true whether you’re searching for a new jacket, a phone case, or your next big art purchase. Product titles are what gets items found on the internet, and what people read when they’re searching for something too!
Let’s say you have a beautiful acrylic painting you just finished and want to list online. We’ll imagine it’s a painting of fluffy pink and blue clouds at sunset, and you titled it “Dreamscape.” In the product title box you simply type in “Dreamscape” since that is the work’s title and hit submit. Now “Dreamscape” is a fine title for a painting, but according to search engines, “Dreamscape” is the only thing that people could search for that would pull your listing out from the millions of other listings they are crawling for a search query. If someone searches “acrylic painting with clouds,” your painting will be buried under the thousands of other works that have the keywords “acrylic,” “painting,” or “clouds” in the product titles. Search engines may be powerful, but they cannot read minds. You have to give them clues as to what this piece is and what it’s about.
In my own work, I use a [Title][Medium][Size] | [Colors][Keywords] formula. So instead of “Dreamscape,” my product title would become “‘Dreamscape’ Acrylic Painting 9x12” | Pink and Blue Cloud Painting on Canvas.” This makes it more likely that if anyone searches any combination of those keywords, my listing will make it to the top. Don’t sleep on product titles for SEO success!
“Search engines may be powerful, but they cannot read minds. You have to give them clues as to what [your art] is and what it’s about.”
Product descriptions are another important way to insert keywords into your listing. Potential customers are looking to your product descriptions to provide extra context into your item that they can use to make their decision. You should answer any potential questions someone might have in a description, such as:
- What’s the story behind this piece? Why did you make it?
- How big is the item?
- What materials were used to create it?
- What should I know about caring for this item once I buy it?
- What happens if I need to return an item?
Answering these questions will also give you an opportunity to inject more keywords into your listing. However, don’t just pack keywords into a description willy-nilly for the sake of having them in there, use them with intention. For example, if “birthday card” is a keyword you’d like to use, don’t string “birthday card, cards for birthdays, birthday party cards,” etc. all together or your listing will look like spam. Use one keyword per sentence as a rule unless you’re listing different occasions or locations something can be used for/in (i.e. “for home, office, or on the go”).
“Potential customers are looking to your product descriptions to provide extra context into your item that they can use to make their decision.”
Image Alt Text
Providing alt text for images isn’t just the right thing to do from an accessibility standpoint, it can be a valuable SEO tool as well. Alt text should be an accurate description of what is in each photo, and keywords can absolutely be a part of that description if done with intention.
My mini linocut print, “Tulip”
For the image above, an alt text description might be “A 4x4” linocut print of a tulip printed in black ink on white paper. The linocut is laying on a wood surface with a eucalyptus branch to the left of the linocut.”
In that description, I have not only accurately described the image for people that use screen readers or have visual impairments, but I’ve also injected quite a few keywords into the alt text as well.
“A 4x4” linocut print of a tulip printed in black ink on white paper. The linocut is laying on a wood surface with a eucalyptus branch to the left of the linocut.”
These keywords are used by search engines that have image-based results, such as Google Images, and also provide another secondary source of keywords for your listing similar to product descriptions. Alt text also helps out by boosting the accessibility of the listing, which in turn makes it available to more potential customers (it’s rumored that using accessibility features like alt text also prioritizes your listing in search engines as a way to encourage people to make the internet more accessible, which I think is a win-win).
Making your product titles, product descriptions, and image alt text SEO-friendly are three major ways to up your SEO game and get your listings found by more potential customers. I’d love to see which of these SEO ideas you try - let me know how it goes in the comments!