Sellers discussed their frustration with Etsy’s search engine in a recent thread, and a seller shared their theory as to why searching for a specific item shows irrelevant ads in the results.

The original poster stated that finding a specific sewing pattern – including name and number – would result in listings for other pattern numbers.

Another salesperson described her recent experience: “If I search for ‘silver plated bee bracelet” it’s been 2 pages before I get anything with all of these real words. I also get “B” instead of ” bee “and I’m sorry but” sterling cat earrings “why?”

We did the same search for “silver plated bee bracelet” to see what Etsy would display. The first row of results had ads, and they matched exactly – all four were bee bracelets. But the rest of the page featured a mix of bee bracelets, bee-free bracelets, and even other types of items. But it was not the same experience I had on new research. The relevance level of the ads has changed.

However, I did notice that when searching for “silver plated bee bracelet”, many bracelets on the first page of search results that did not match the search term were labeled “Best Seller”, “Popular Now” or “Free shipping.”

A salesperson had a theory that might explain why. PenelopeStayedHome wrote:

Etsy created a search designed to make a purchase easier on browsers. In fact, they like it! They’ve decided (presumably on the basis of the data and tests they obsess over) that most people who come here don’t know exactly what they want but will be influenced by popular choices and “hey look at that.” The site has been hammered into marketing as a special place for unique giveaways. That’s fine in a way – right now, I search “wax bottoms” and have seen some made to look like miniature donuts. I never thought to look for something like this. There is no shortage of people on Etsy selling unique things that no one would think of researching and in that sense research like this is helpful. “

She went on to explain what this means for people who are laser-focused in their search for a particular item, and said it leads to a ‘thunderdome’ situation for salespeople, who “have to go above and beyond just for the sake of it. be visible ”.

“Relevant no longer means specific to search, but rather what is most likely to end in a sale when that search term is used,” she wrote.

Does it make sense for a marketplace like Etsy to show items in the search results that don’t exactly match the search term, but have proven to be popular and ended in a sale? And how can sellers try to optimize such a system, if so?