Why All Etsy Shop Managers Should Be Using Google Analytics
If you’re an Etsy shop owner then my guess is the last couple of months have been difficult. While Etsy continues to piecemeal information about their new Context Specific Ranking (CSR), all shop owners have been left guessing what this means in terms of people finding their items. In addition, my guess is your views/visits are down Year-Over-Year (YOY) despite all the changes you have been grinding out the last 60+ days.
Well, it’s time someone tells you the truth – Etsy hides some of the most important information about your shop. If you’re using Etsy’s Shop manager stats (Dashboard, Stats, Listing Stats, etc.) you’re only looking at a fraction of the data possible.
See, I’m a data-driven marketer. I’ve managed websites, lead generation and e-commerce campaigns for a wide variety of clients both big and small. I love data. When a friend of mine asked me to look into his Etsy shop my first reaction was ‘is this all the data you get?’. If you’re only looking at data inside your Shop Manager dashboard, you’re only looking at a fraction of what’s possible. And let’s face it, Etsy gives you the data they want you to see. Etsy adds the ability for sellers to get more information via Google Analytics and this post will help you find the most important information from inside Google Analytics.
Setup Step 1 – Setup Google Analytics
There are many posts and videos about how to do this so I won’t bore with how to do this. If you have not made this connection I suggest checking out Etsy’s Help Center or watch this new YouTube video.
To add this, go to Shop Settings > Options > Web Analytics tab.
Setup Step 2 – Enable Site Search
This is an important step because this will capture keywords users are searching on Etsy. Some people might be seeing keywords under the Organic or Paid Search areas but these are keywords people used to find the Etsy site… not your shop. Site Search captures the keywords people search on Etsy before they came to your pages. Way more valuable.
If you already have GA connected to Etsy, make sure this step is enabled. Yes, you get information without completing this step but enabling site search makes it easier to see and cleaner to find keywords used on Etsy and I will show you how to use this later. Let’s get this enabled…
From your GA home screen click on Admin in the bottom left hand side.
Under your GA view, click on View Settings.
Once here you will need to scroll down to find the section on Site Search. Once you find this section, you will need to turn it on and give it the parameters needed. The image below shows what you need to enter, check and turn on. Make your screen look like this:
Setup Complete – Getting Started
Congratulations you’ve made it through the most technical part of this post. There are some advanced features you can add later on but for now, you have what’s needed to get started.
Before we dive in there are some terms we need to match up between Google Analytics and Etsy. In Etsy they define people visiting your site as Visits and as they view pages they call these Views. If your friend comes to your shop and looks at 10 of your items during two different times of the day, Etsy counts that as 1 visit and 10 views. GA is a little different and its important to understand the difference. They have Users, Sessions and Pageviews.
- Users – People who visit your site
- Sessions – The number of times someone comes to your site and looks at 1+ pages
- Pageviews – Yep you guessed it, the number of pages they viewed.
So going back to your friend who visited your site, Google would define that as 1 User, 2 Sessions and 10 pageviews.
A simple way to view this is – Etsy Visits = Google Users & Etsy Views = Google Pageviews.
As for Page metrics, there are a couple standard metrics Google uses and its best to understand all of them.
Pageviews – A pageview is reported when a page has been viewed by a user.
Unique Pageviews – Counts a page once even if it was viewed multiple times by a single user.
Avg Time on Page – Provides a top-level view of how long users are spending on your page.
Entrances – How many people started their session on that page.
Bounce Rate – Bounce rate is the percentage of sessions with a single pageview. This means, the user only viewed this one page then immediately left. For Etsy, this is common but its still important to look at this number per item because it can show the performance of your content (listing).
% Exit – The percentage of people who leave your store from that page. Again, high for Etsy but this is based on how Etsy and your store is setup.
Home Screen Overview
Alright, let’s get into this. If you’re new to GA, there’s a lot to digest and explain on the home page so let’s break that down for you. If you’re a GA pro, then I suggest skipping this section and going straight to the Viewing Pages section.
When you first login you will see the chart blow. The top section defaults to the last 30 days with the previous period in the background. I normally look at this to basically look at for major swings and adjustments. If there’s a big spike in either direction I want to figure out why. For me the dip below might be concerning if it wasn’t the 4th of July.
The blue section off to the right shows real-time stats. As in, who is on your site right now. If you’re a high volume seller, this might be valuable to see how people move through your site but for most people with small shops, this might be 0 most of the time.
The second section is a little deceiving because it’s titled ‘How do you acquire users’. This is partially true. This shows how the user found Etsy, which may or may not be your site. As a user comes to the site, Google Analytics stores how they entered within the session regardless of what store they visited. Don’t get me wrong, this is kind of interesting but please don’t look at this and think – this is how people find me – because that’s not entirely true.
Section three starts with an Active User trend-line for Monthly, Weekly and Daily. This basically shows a daily rollup of how many users have been to my site the last 30 days, 7 days and 1 day. This is another section to look at for upward or downward trends.
The second chart shows a cohort analysis. This is a more advanced metric that shows when people revisit your site. The first column will always have 100% because its the initial visit. The subsequent columns shows when they were last to your site. In the image below 2.7% of people who visited my site this week, were also on my site last week (Week 1). And .5% of visitors this week were on my site 4 weeks ago (week 4). Frankly, we’re talking about a low return rate (or retention) given my volume but some higher volume sellers might find this interesting.
Finally, we’re getting to some good stuff in the forth section of the main dashboard. When do your users visit your site? This chart shows a color gradient based on the time of day your users visit your shop. This is a valuable view to a couple different types of users.
- Frequent Re-listers – you will want to reference this chart and re-list at these times because this shows when people are most active with your items.
- Promoted Listing Users – Reference this chart to make sure you’re promoted listings are active during the times people visit your site. If you’re hitting your daily budget at 1pm but people are most active at 7pm, you may want to adjust your timing or budget.
The middle chart looks at sessions by country. I don’t think I need to explain this.
The chart to the right looks at sessions by device. Likely nothing surprising here. Just a friendly reminder here to make sure you’re previewing your items on the most popular device type.
Bottom chart looks at pages but it pulls in the entire query which isn’t very valuable in this view. We will go more in detail next. For now, I only suggesting referring to this chart for the Pages report link at the bottom and will explain why later.
In my opinion, the Pages view is hands down the most valuable view to Etsy Sellers. The reason being, Etsy stuffs the query with all kinds of valuable data. The problem is, most sellers don’t know how to find it or what the different parameters mean. I’ll be honest, I don’t either. But, my guess is, I will teach you a couple things in this post.
First of all you might be wondering, what is a query? A query is something at the end of a URL and it contains parameters and values about the user, the page, the sessions, well, practically anything the website owner wants. Here’s a way to break apart a pageview with query’s attached:
It’s important to understand this because Etsy uses query’s everywhere on the site and Google Analytics, looks at every page as a unique page. This is why when you go to the Pageviews you see thousands of pages when you have maybe a 100 listings. Google is recording EVERY. SINGLE. PAGE.
Now, let’s take a look at an example Page View in Google Analytics. You can get here by clicking on the Pages report link from the home screen or click Behavior > Site Content >All Pages in the left Nav below.
Note, As mentioned before, I am not a seller so I am protecting my seller stats by blurring out their item_ids and titles. Once you click the All pages, you should see a view like the one below.
Now you’ll notice how many times I replaced the shop name above. This is because of those parameters Etsy stuffs in the URL. If you’re a shop owner only looking at line 2 of the image above of /shop/shopname/ (with 124 page views ) that’s a fraction of the actual visits because there are dozens of pages with different queries added. There are actually 742 pageviews to the shop during the same timeframe which means looking at just line 2 represents 15% of the actual pageviews. To get at all views, to your shop, click on Page Titles as the Primary Dimension (below the line chart) and this will summarize the pages by title.
This method works for your shops but I don’t recommend using this method to look at items because items titles can change. As you change titles in Etsy, Google Analytics will capture the updated page titles and store that so if you’re optimizing titles you will have multiple titles per listing.
While shop pages are important, item pages are the most important to me. To view the all the item pages I will stay in the All Pages section under Site Content in GA and just below the graph I will search for “/listing/“ shown below.
My guess is you had a facepalm moment. Yes, look at all those pages that come back. I know we have about 120 items currently posted but it brings back 2,000+ pages? Yes. This is an example of how Google Analytics captures Every. Single. Page. Here is were we can find some gold.
To dig deeper, let’s grab the listing id of your most viewed item and put just that into the search bar. Now, I know I blur mine out but you can see I am searching just numerical values here. No slashes or anything and I will explain why later.
Now here we can see I have 24 unique pages for this one item. Take a look at the unique URLs because here’s where we want to dig in. Notice there are some pages that start differently and some with some funky parameters in the query. Here’s where I want to dig in and point out somethings.
Search by country
The reason we searched just the listing_id is because of #6 in the image above. Notice the /au/listing? That’s a listing served on their Australia site. In fact, if you scroll down to look at more pages you can see how every country performs by that item. Want to just look at that then search for /au/listing/item_id/.
Every country has a different code to start. Some, like /uk-en/ note the country and language. For a full list of country codes you can visit this site.
Search for Promoted Listing Views
The rest of these searches are in the query. Listing #1 shows “gpla=1”. By trial and error I have found out this stands for “Google Promoted Listing Ad” so, you can search all your pages for “glpa” and see all the visits from your Google Ads.
Search for Featured Listing Views
Another one I have found is “shop_home_feat”. This comes in a couple different forms “shop_home_feat_1”, “shop_home_feat_2”, etc.. That’s right, they’re recording your Featured Listing page AND the order. Just searching “shop_home_feat” will get you all visits but adding the number will show what position it was in. Here you can see Etsy is testing/optimizing which featured image to show the users because the items change depending on position.
Search for Similar Listing Views
Some listings/searches return a similar listing options for the user. You can identify these clicks by searching for “pla_similar_listing”. Again, here they store what position it was in by adding _top1, _top_2, etc.
I wish there was a way to see where they were coming from but since they were on Etsy outside your store, that isn’t possible. Bummer.
Search for Clicks to Shop Header
When you’re looking at one of your items on Etsy you know how it shows their featured items? Clicking one of these items adds a “listing-shop-header” to the query.
Find Your Position Per Search In Gallery <–GOLD
This one is HUGE and I saved the bast for last. With the introduction of CSR, many people believe they can’t see their position anymore per search. Well grab a seat because I am about to show you. If you search for “sr_gallery-“ this will bring back all visits that bring you to Search (the s) and Results (the r) in Gallery form. When you search for this, do you notice a couple numbers trailing that? The first number is the page and the second number is the listing number on that page. This means sr_gallery-1-2 is the 2nd listing on page 1. sr_gallery-3-21 is the 21st listing on page 3.
To find your most popular searches search for sr_gallery-1- because this shows your page 1 search results. Now, take a look at the searches by looking at ga_search_query=. What ever is after the = is the keyword search the user used. Pretty cool huh?
Again, Etsy stuffs all kids of parameters in the Page URL. I don’t know all of them but I try and keep my eye out for new ones as I find them.
Viewing Site Search
We’ve been spending a lot of time looking at all content mainly because there’s a ton to find here with the 1000’s of pages. But remember, we set up site search so I want to point this out to you. In the above step I mentioned you can find the keyword searched by looking at ga_search_query and remember in Setup Step 2 we added this in Site Search too? Once you have this setup for a couple of days head to Behavior > Site Search > Search Terms in left navigation.
Here’s the best way to drill into just the keywords used to find your pages. Click into the search term to see all the pages that captured that search term. Since the URL being captured is from a listing page, this shows what keyword search was used to find that item.
Another interesting section under site search is the Usage report. This shows visits with and without search. This is important to watch because as much as people want to harp on Etsy SEO, as shown above there are many way users can find your items (similar items, your store, featured, ads, etc) search isn’t the only way to get found and this report shows you that.
Ok, so this post ended up being WAY longer than I thought it would be but hopefully you are able to see THERE IS A TON of data/information hidden in Google Analytics. With Etsy focusing more on shop appearance with their new Etsy Plus offering that tells me they’re NOT working on advanced analytics for sellers, which to me is needed. There are many, many things (Conversions, Events, Activities, etc.) that Etsy could show sellers but for some reason they choose not to. As sellers, we need to let them know we want these metrics … not new shop features.
As I see it, Etsy has become very sophisticated in their search algorithms but what additional data have they passed on to the sellers? Nothing. We get the same data we’ve been getting for years. hopefully this post shows you what’s possible.
Finally, as you can see from my blog, this is my first Etsy blog. If you enjoyed this post, would like to learn more or have any questions, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear your feedback.
Thanks for spending time to read all this. I mean it.