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CustomPortraitArt
Community Member

What we mean by "shop rotation"

I can't find the discussion that described the cloud and shop rotation.  But anyway, I don't understand the technical behind the scenes stuff.  I don't know the "why" or the "how", I just know what I and others have experienced here that is routinely discounted and even mocked when we share it.  It's not the discounters' fault though, I think it's ours for failing to properly describe it.

Those of us who have experienced "shop rotation" in our shops aren't using the correct description.  What we call "shop rotation" isn't an on/off switch.  Yes, our items are there in search results.  A better description would be "shop suppression" in search.

It's real and I'm a little tired of being told it isn't.

People discount our experience and claim they have proven we are wrong because they can search for a specific item and find it. Again  I think that's our fault for describing it as rotation,on and off, a light switch.  Rather, it's more like the stars in the sky.  They are still there during the day, but we can't see them, and neither can anyone else.  Your best seller on page 50, behind items with fewer sales, favorites and reviews with SEO that is identical, is virtually invisible to buyers, but technically not, it's there.  But for the purpose of sales, it's "off".

I've also seen people blaming sellers .... long time, successful sellers ... for:

1.  Having unsalable things.  Which makes no sense since those things sell on the rare occasion they are shown and sell elsewhere.

2. Not having effective SEO, which also makes no sense since the very same items that "go dark" are the ones that sell robustly here when they are shown toward the front of the pack.

3. Complaining about it from those who have not experienced it.  

Whatever you want to call  it, it exists.  And the clumping, the nod to inexpensive items and lack of diversity on the first pages doesn't help either.  

We who experience it know that our items are buried in the back of the pack, and only surface toward the front on odd occasions.  Sometimes for a day, sometimes for an hour.  It's why we get a flurry of sales in an hour from one item, then crickets again here.  We also know when it started, and that there is nothing we can do from our end to trigger the items moving up to where shoppers actually can see them.

We also have seen strange things during the good hours.  I have seen geographic boosts.  I have had a flurry of favorites and sales to one county in America in half a day, where I never sold before, and haven't sold since.  Others report seeing the same flurry with all alphabetical activity.   And I'm not alone.

So I just really don't think it's helpful for those who haven't been so affected to claim that those of us who have been are wrong.  I have never gotten an ear infection, but I don't disbelieve others who have. 

 

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BigDogLadysJools
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

So I just really don't think it's helpful for those who haven't been so affected to claim that those of us who have been are wrong.  I have never gotten an ear infection, but I don't disbelieve others who have. 

I agree 100%.

Best wishes,

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maydaylabels
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

If what you're claiming is a matter of absolute fact, right or wrong, then I'd be wrong to claim people can't get ear infections (the facts show that they can) and right to claim that there isn't a purple unicorn standing in the middle of Times Square (the facts show that there isn't).

Similarly, people are not rotated in and out of Etsy's search servers due to capacity issues; every time I search for anyone's things who claims they are missing, they exist.  (with the exception of people who are de-indexed via a bug and get re-indexed, but that is a separate argument)

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ChelleBullington
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

Of course those things exists, but sometimes they are suppressed, as the OP said. I can do an incognito search on my computer and get one set of results, another set of results from my son's computer, and a third set of results on my husband's. Some days I will have excellent placement of my best sellers on the first 2 pages on all three computers. Other days, I am lucky to see one item on the first 3 pages on either. Looking at my stats for the last 6 months is like looking at plans for a roller coaster. Normal views for 2-3 days, then down by 300-500% the next 2-3 days, then back up for 2-3 days, and the ups and downs are constant and consistent over the course of the 6 months. This is not the case of other venues, and it is most definitely not normal. There is absolutely no explanation other than Etsy manipulating search in some way. 

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maydaylabels
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

search standing in broad searches is not constant and has not been for years.  Search is also personalized, so you do get different results logged in and out and from different devices and browsers; some of this is testing and some of it is just natural variation.  My standing in the broad searches I follow (10k results, about 2k optimised results) is not constant throughout the day.  If I were just relying on one or two listings to be on the first page of those  searches I'd be off and on, but I have maybe 5-7 listings that rotate through being in the top few pages.

If you are super reliant on standing in broad searches instead of niche searches, you need a new SEO plan.

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BlueBirdPrettyGifts
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

@BigDogLadysJools  Well said. One does not need to have experienced the same fate in order to feel EMPATHETIC (and not be pathetic) with someone who did. Sadly, in our times, the phenomenon of empathy is becoming more and more rare. Have a nice day! BB

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BigDogLadysJools
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

Thanks, Blue Bird.  I have experienced some odd shifts in my shop recently, whether due to rotation or other Etsy testing, it's probably impossible to say, but I don't believe empathy is ever misplaced.

Best wishes,

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IVANandLUCY
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

I think of shop rotation as Etsy being a giant racetrack with the buyers in a grandstand at one end of the track, and all the sellers going around the track. When your shop is in front of the grandstand you are clearly visible, and as you move away, you are still visible but other shops have taken your place in front of the buyers. Eventually you will come back around, but it's frustrating to experience this. That's what it feels like to me anyway!

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BigDogLadysJools
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

This is exactly how I view this as well, not invisible but hidden back enough pages to cause a definite lack of visibility for buyers who don't have the time to click through x number of pages, (most people in this currently busy world).  

Best wishes,

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RarePaperDetective
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

I don't like to weigh in too many times about this because it seems so much like a conspiracy theory. I see an absolute pattern of extremely high numbers and extremely low (or no) sales. I have been doing this on etsy for 10 years with 8000+ sales and 20 years overall. So, I kinda know what I'm doing and what to expect. Research if you want, but virtually every historical model to sales, whether your shop is seasonal, growing, in it's prime or even in decline, and you will not find a model that corresponds to the pattern many see here. I don't see it in my other 2 platforms I sell on. But, I also allow for the saying: Anything is possible.

I will say though that your analogy of the stars is spot on. They are always there. During the day they are obscured and by night shine brightly (never mind clouds which is kinda funny since the etsy servers are "in the cloud")...

Good for you in explaining it so well though. I fear you will not persuade the de-bunkers though.

 

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Runependants
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

Interesting word, "conspiracy theory".

It was introduced by the CIA back in the sixties as a handy tool to ridicule unwanted opinions and/or well argumented deviant reports from the people. Originally meant to discredit UFO sightings and everything that went with it, "conspiracy theory" quickly grew in like a toe nail and became a fast way of labelling something as untrue.
And yet:  Adding this label does not make something less true.

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maydaylabels
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

My impression has been that people think their items, due to server capacity, are literally not included in search, or are not included in search for certain regions.

If you're just saying that your search standing for large (broad) searches isn't always good, well, I agree!  Not everyone can be consistently in the top few pages for searches with 10k+ results.  Even for a narrower search with say 2,000 results (and most searches that people are talking about being "rotated out of" are much broader), the first two pages are maybe 1% of those results.  If you're upset about not being in the top 1% of listings for a certain search, I feel your pain - I'm also overly reliant on broad searches - but I can't see how it's all that surprising that some people just won't be there, or will be there and then will fall out of those results and not recover because of increased competition or changing trends or the free shipping prioritization thing or a million other things

My top performers 3-4 years ago are no longer doing well in broad searches.  If I had to rely on them I'd be down 50% over the past few years.

But my newer listings (about 1 1/2 or 2 years old, or a bit older) are doing well and have replaced the previous listings in broad search results.

For niche searches, which even for a shop like mine which relies on broad search term standing still drive maybe 50% of my traffic, I'm still fine.  I've followed Cindy's advice as well as I can since about the beginning and targeted the long tail, which has carried me through rough times.

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CustomPortraitArt
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

I'd disagree that "not everyone can be consistently in the top few pages...".

The inexpensive, the Clumping shops and others on the first pages are there all the time.  I've looked from different servers, sign in and out, had friends who have never been on Etsy send me their screen shops, etc.  It's the older, established shops that are suppressed.  SOME of them.  We get a brief, shining moment or two and then back to darkness.

Yes, we should all strive for niche searches as well as the ones that everyone searches for.  That doesn't resolve the problem of Etsy pushing us to the back of the pack even then until it's "our turn" again.

It used to be that a sale for me would move that item up dramatically.  Now it doesn't.

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CustomPortraitArt
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

If what you're claiming is a matter of absolute fact, right or wrong, then I'd be wrong to claim people can't get ear infections (the facts show that they can) and right to claim that there isn't a purple unicorn standing in the middle of Times Square (the facts show that there isn't).

Similarly, people are not rotated in and out of Etsy's search servers due to capacity issues; every time I search for anyone's things who claims they are missing, they exist.  (with the exception of people who are de-indexed via a bug and get re-indexed, but that is a separate argument)

--------

That's exactly what I said.  It's not that they are missing. They are suppressed.  

6 Likes
maydaylabels
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

no, I don't have the dominance in search that I used to either.  It's much more fluid (much!  I used to be the number one result, ALL THE TIME, for years, for broad searches in my category).  Now I'm just holding steady with a couple of listings on the first page.

I agree, if Etsy wanted to give everyone say 20 minutes a day on the first page of a broad result, that would spread it out by a factor of 100. But somehow I don't think this would be good for sales overall.

 

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CustomShowerCurtains
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

"It used to be that a sale for me would move that item up dramatically. Now it doesn't."

You are voicing what those of us who are affected are also seeing in our shops.  Some of us feel like we're in the FAIL/SQUEEZE bucket!

Yes, why do my items FALL BACK in search when they sell once or twice in a row?   Aren't we told that search ranking works on the more you sell the higher you rank??

Yes, it seems like certain (newer but not always) shops work like that, but the rest of us are in an opposite bizzaro Etsyland.

There's ABSOLUTELY no REASON for this if Etsy wants to make money off my sales!   The ONLY LOGICAL REASON is SUPPRESSION on PURPOSE.  But why???  To give other shops a chance/spread the wealth/the meaningful income..... etc....???

Can someone find a different reason for this?

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maydaylabels
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

I either don't track searches with slow enough sales (for the search, if that makes sense) to notice this, or it doesn't happen in my category, not sure.  All of my items and my main competitors' items with good search standing (top 1-2 pages) in the broad searches in our category (which have about 1k-10k results, on the whole) sell daily.

In these searches, there are some shops and items that are also consistently on the first page or two of search that not only am I certain don't sell multiple times daily, but I am certain that some of my items that are lower in search sell more often than these.  If you listed all clothing labels shops' items by frequency of sales I'd have a lot better search standing than I do across all searches. (ETA and so would my competitors with strong daily sales, maybe 5-7 other shops who do a lot of volume.  The first page would be only 3-5 sellers, the second page would have a couple more sellers, and it would be a very boring search)

I think part of this is other search factors - not tags and titles (as I'm as optimised as can be for these broad searches), but maybe favorites and clicks in search.  Maybe some of it is a newness factor, or a photo quality factor, or who knows what else.  People putting things in their cart?  Not sure.

But at any rate, I haven't been able to detect a sale as moving my item up in search in a direct way in some time.

 

The only thing I've noticed recently is generally better search standing on the first page of broad searches - where I used to have 2 items on the first page of these searches, I now have sometimes 7-10.  I suspect part of that is the free shipping guarantee (although not much since pretty much my whole category went to free shipping when Etsy made the search change), part of it is that the AI seems to allow more listings per shop to appear early in searches than it used to, and part is that, to be completely honest, my order fulfillment process has gotten better and I have had neither a case nor a string of negative feedbacks in some time.  In 2018 I think I had (I'll check to make sure) 21 cases; so far this year I've had 4.  Negative feedback is in a similar trajectory; we're just getting orders out on time more often and keeping up with conversations better.  Some of my competitors with decent search standing have 4.5 stars, though, so on the whole search is still a bit of a mystery to me. 

We also ship more orders out on time.  I am not sure if that is part of the algorithm, or if speed in answering convos is part of the algorithm.  There is a lot that is not clear, for sure.

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JDCreativeHands
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

Okay.  I don't believe there is shop rotation.  I don't think that is the issue.

I think the points 1 and 2 are valid.  Many sellers do not change with trends. Or continue to sell the same items which can lead to buyer fatigue. Or it can be that on Etsy the market it saturated where in other spots it is not.  SEO is important still.  It's common sense for it is the way to be found.  What comes after that is photos.

E-commerce, not just Etsy, is in a state of flux.  It does not remain the same so a seller cannot remain the same.  Sellers have to move with the changes or face falling back.  There are sellers who do not embrace the changes.

Then there are businesses that have their day in the sun.  Some do for a very long time.  Others for a short time.  Does that mean a shop that lasts only a short time is a failure.  Only if you want to view it that way.

The elephant in the room is the buyer.  We can all point to reasons why shops succeed or shops falter.  We can make all sorts of announcements that it is this or that but the one thing we cannot control is the buyer.  Buyers are a fickle lot.  They change as the tide changes.  The buyers coming to Etsy now are different than the ones that came years ago.  Again that movement.  That flow where buyers go here and then they go there.  Do they stick to the first page of search?  Maybe.  Do they come in through social media? Maybe.  Are they looking for something new and edgier or different?  Maybe.  Do they want this now as opposed to that?

Mason jars were a big thing a few years back.  And while there is a good portion of buyers who still want them, the trend has died down.  Same with destination weddings.  All the rage a few years back but now the pendulum swings the other way.  Just some small examples.  But it does indicate that a seller needs to keep their fingers on the pulse of the buyer and prepare to make changes. 

Now I am speaking as one whose shop is facing a downturn.  Do I blame Etsy?  Nope.  Do I blame myself?  Some.  There are some things I've just not been attentive to.  Can my shop bounce back?  Have no idea at this time.  I'm looking to make some changes over the next few months.  For now it is just wait and see.     

    

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maydaylabels
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

Yep!  I'll speak to just one trend that I have sort of observed over the years but I don't really sell directly to, so I can talk about it as a buyer/consumer instead of a seller (but an informed one).

When the crafting resurgence movement started, back in oh the mid 2000s, the big thing was simplicity in quilting.  Modern quilts were all about simple lines, simple patterns with big pieces, often squares or versions thereof.  Sewing patterns were similar: for a while, what the whole modern sewing world was making (largely dominated by I'd say 25-35 year old women) was peasant dresses, a-line dresses, esp. for children (easier to fit).  Then as the broad user base's skills grew, by say the mid-2010s the quilting designs and clothing pattern designs became more complicated: people discovered English Paper Piecing and started making more and more complex designs, with tiny intricate pieces and a lot of hand sewing.  Sewing patterns started to be geared toward women and have more complicated finishes, and fabrics for them got away from quilting cottons and toward apparel fabrics.  I've been kind of out of sewing for the past several years so I'm not sure what the state of it is now, but I can pretty much guarantee that if you made your living in 2006 by having a modern sewing blog with simple, elegant beginner-friendly quilt patterns and tutorials, you are not making your living that way today.  You've either written books or moved to instagram or developed more complicated patterns (and for things other than quilts) or started designing fabric or a million other things.

Selling on Etsy is similar.  Buyers change.  

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maydaylabels
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

I'd also say, just looking at logos from our customers, that it went from hand-drawn 6-7 years ago, through watercolor (which is still big), and now there is a resurgence of flat design, simple monochrome botanicals, understated typography, etc.  looking at the things our customers make I'd say there's also a resurgence of simple modern quilting, esp. with things like wholecloth quilts.

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CustomPortraitArt
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

@JDCreativeHands, no, not rotated on and off, as I explained in my first post.  And I assure you that what I sell is a saturated market everywhere.  And quite popular, a classic and an astonishing view to sale ratio.  

Your assumption that the longtime successful sellers who experience the suppression followed by a brief period of exposure on etsy are not keeping up with things is a prime example of disregarding what we have observed and shared about etsy views here.  

This blaming the seller is exactly why I wrote this post.  I'm frankly sick of it.  

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maydaylabels
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

who else is there to blame?  Etsy's not going to manipulate search so that specific sellers who request it can have optimal standing; buyers aren't going to buy out of a sense of obligation to buyer from shops that have done well in the past, and neither party is imo morally required to do those things.

the only person's behavior you can change in this situation is your own; it's possible that some things will never work - my best sellers of 5 years ago are not coming back.  I'm not selling elephant name tags again en masse, I think, at least not the elephants I currently have.  That's okay, I make space name tags and woodland ones now, and I need to get about 50 new listings up next spring because I'm falling behind the trends and I know it.  It hasn't reflected in sales yet both because there's no one else filling the gap (yet) and because it's just on the verge of change, but I can see it and I know I need to get ahead of it.

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RarePaperDetective
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

It's not about blaming or not blaming etsy. My shop, overall, is way up YOY. That does not mean there isn't a pattern. You completely discount experience by saying shoppers are a fickle lot. Of coarse they are. They always will be. I dealt with statistics for to long at a big electronics company. Trends, charts, sigma, expected results, ect. If it was a few shops it would be one thing but it's not. I guess I'll let this go because I know there are search issues and when I explained the pattern to my buddy who still works in the IT department there and deals with servers in the cloud he was of the opinion that there was almost no way NOT to have different servers prioritized at different times down stream from the access point assuming there is only a few gateways to the server group. Anyway, I'm doing good so mine isn't a complaint or passing blame off myself, just a rock hard observation.

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maydaylabels
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

It's a few shops.  There are hundreds of thousands of active shops on Etsy (I think Etsy says millions, but I suspect a lot of them opened and closed, etc.).  Even a thousand slow shops in the forums would be a small minority.  

This has been a regular cyclical complaint since literally the moment I found Etsy.  Ask anyone who's been on the forums since at least 2008.  It's like the seasons, it's a constant.  There are always slow shops, shops with lost search standing, people trying to figure out why, etc.

when I was first active on the forums, well before I started to sell things, I had friends (it was much more social then) and there was a period like this, with people thinking Etsy was messed up and something was deeply wrong and what could it be.  I thought I'd figured it out once and I was the star of the show for like 10 minutes until Cindy shot me down. I discovered suggested search, which was newish (but at least several months old), and I was sure that buyers were using suggested search all the time and thus not getting to previous searches or something, I dunno.  this was before Relevancy so it wasn't that.  anyway, Cindy came along and said no, silly, suggested search has been around for some time and (some other technical reason I don't remember) it isn't that anyway.

anyway, since then it's been a routine complaint here.

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RarePaperDetective
Community Member

Re: What we mean by "shop rotation"

I'm not trying to pick a fight but this statement is the difference in what I'm saying and what you are saying: " There are always slow shops, shops with lost search standing, people trying to figure out why, etc."

I am not talking about slow shops. Some folks have it stuck in their head that we are talking about gradual trends, whether favorable or bad. Trends can't be measured in 1 weeks time. I am trying to illustrate the pattern (NOT trend) in a weeks time. That is a completely different thing than saying "a shop is slow"... 

Anyway, no matter. It seems to all work out for me each week, regardless of the pattern. I hope it does for everyone else as well... 

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