As you know, I have a craft shop on Etsy called CalliesCraftCottage. Recently, Etsy has changed how they do their default search. To really understand why this is such a big deal, you need to understand how searches used to work.
The Old Search
The old search default used something called "Most Recent", meaning most recently listed. If I searched for the terms "pink glass", for example, at the top of the list I would find the item that was most recently listed, or relisted, that was made from pink glass. This wasn't a bad way to run the search, but it assumed that the most important item to you, the buyer, was the one most recently listed. When putting together a treasury, sometimes I would scroll through pages and pages of items just to find something that wasn't listed "today" because I purposely wanted to find something that had been listed a little longer. I suppose I'm just contrary that way sometimes.
Having come from an accounting background, that type of search makes me think of a LIFO, or "last in, first out" type of inventory management, which from a search standpoint makes no sense at all. It only makes any sense whatsoever if all inventory items are indistinguishable from each other. In the handmade craft world, it is totally senseless, and I for one am very glad that Etsy has changed for the better.
The "Most Recent" type of default search contributed to "renew fever", that contagious little bug that made us all want to keep our products at the top of the lists, rather than buried down in the pages and pages of stuff. A listing stays active for four months before it dissappears or must be renewed, but you can renew at any time. To stay at the top of the searches, sellers would renew often, sometimes daily.
The New Search
The new default search uses something called "Most Relevant". Relevancy is defined as the relation of something to the matter at hand. So, today I searched for "pink glass" and search returned 65,272 items. The first ten things shown all said "pink glass" somewhere in their titles, but their listings were really varied in age: 8/5/11, 8/16/11, 8/21/11, 8/24,11/ 7/25/11, 8/10/11, 7 hours ago, 8/1/11, 57 minutes ago, 8/7/11, respectively. As a seller, I find that very encouraging. It means I don't have to renew my listings before they are due to be renewed, just to get them seen. I just have to title and tag them with words that are meaningful to a buyer.
Is "relevancy", therefore, a new strategy? I think not. We should have been using titles and tags that were relevant to start with. Does it mean sellers need to do business differently? Maybe. We need to look at our marketing strategies with new eyes. Those who were relying heavily on renewing daily to be seen can save their pennies to be used in different ways for their businesses. Those who, like me, didn't feel successful enough to waste our pennies on renewing, just might be seeing an increase in shop traffic, I know I am. Is it because of "relevancy", or because I joined a new team, or because I started a blog? I won't ever have the answer to that question, but I'm just grateful that for whatever serendipitous reason, my shop has more traffic. Now I just hope that traffic will translate that into more sales.