Saturday , 27 February 2021
Understanding Etsy Traffic Sources

Understanding Etsy Traffic Sources

Guest Post by:  Matthew Deal of MRKT

Etsy Shops, as a rule, like visitors. The idea behind this is simple and effortless: more traffic equals more sales.

I make that statement with a caveat: the type of audience that reaches your Shop in relation to what you sell matters immensely. Think about owning an Etsy Shop that sells bacon candies, but targets traffic from blogs about becoming vegan.

Just guessing, I’d bet that sales wouldn’t be too impressive because of the mismatch between audience and product.  Put plainly, certain audiences have a relative quality in relation to your Shop and your products.  I’ve picked-up a few rules of thumb along the way to help track, recruit, and focus on good, relevant traffic as it pertains to Etsy shops.

Google Analytics Is Required

I have one minor prerequisite: you must have set-up Google Analytics for any of this article to make any sense. Google Analytics is a ubiquitous tool used to track and analyze the way visitors behave on a site and is, for our purposes, vastly superior to the Etsy Shop Stats.

There are a boatload of reasons I’ve come to this conclusion, but one supremely big one: Shop Stats and Google Analytics calculate traffic sources in a completely different way.

Let’s say we wanted to see the visitors that came from Facebook to our site. Maybe we have a page we keep updated there or are running some promoted posts to draw in new visitors. If someone clicks a link from Facebook and arrives at our Shop, both Etsy and Google Analytics record this, correctly, as a visitor that came from Facebook to our Shop.



However, if that visitor clicks on any other item or portion of your Shop, Etsy records this as a referral from Etsy. Etsy seems to forget that this person would have never arrived if not for the initial referral source. Google Analytics does not make this mistake and treats referrals in a way that’s useful for figuring out what types of traffic result in sales.

Traffic Sources are ultimately audiences and the “right” type of audience to your site determines the success of your Etsy Shop.

Traffic Sources: Medium

My approach to understanding traffic sources isn’t exhaustive or nuanced but designed to be a quick-and-dirty approach to understanding how you should be thinking of traffic in the context of your Shop.

A quick nomenclature check before we really dive in. I’ve discussed traffic “sources” in a general way to describe basically any traffic from another website, but Google Analytics makes a distinction between Traffic “Sources” and “Mediums.”

Sources are typically individual sites (e.g.,,, etc), while mediums are a type of traffic comprised of several different sources. For example, you may have 200 visitors from organic traffic, but those visitors could have come from searches on Google, Yahoo!, and Duck Duck Go.

The types of traffic we’ll be discussing are considered a Medium, which is a great starting point for traffic analysis of your Shop or site, and to me, a little easier to understand.

Etsy Traffic-Source-vs-Medium-Example

Direct Traffic

Direct Traffic visitors are my favorite type. These are your most loyal of loyal customers and they’re likely the people buying most of your products. How do I know this? It’s because direct traffic visitor directly went to your site without visiting any other.

For this visitor to arrive at your site we know that two things have to be true:

  1. They either directly type in your address into their browser or had you saved as a bookmark.
  2. The already knew you existed (which is how they knew to type in your address).

This second point is really important. It’s highly unlikely, unless you’re generally well known, that someone typed in the name of your business by address. For example, if I make up a company tomorrow called “Matt’s Great Pies,” and my address for this new site is, it’s unlikely that anyone would randomly type that in without already knowing I had a pie business to begin with.

A better way to think about direct traffic visitors is that these folks are the results of good marketing. If you’ve worked to improve your SEO or used paid ads to drive traffic to your site, then your reward is clean, unfiltered direct traffic.

Moreover, these visitors are so compelled by what you offer that they travel, probably with some frequency, directly to your Shop.


Referral Traffic

Referral Traffic is traffic that comes from another website that is not a search engine (more about this later). We’re talking about traffic that comes from social media, blogs, news websites — basically any other site that has a link to your Shop.

Referral traffic is often the result of link building — that is, an active campaign to build links with other websites that refer back to your site. Links, as a concept, are a whole separate article, and if it’s something that interests you, I highly recommend reading Moz’s Beginner’s Guide To Link Building.

Links are the basis of two things you want: traffic and SEO. At one level, links represent figurative doors, each opening to introduce more people to your website, of which there is obvious value. On another level, links also affect your Shop’s SEO. Google regards links (also called backlinks) as a measure of how many other good or popular websites like your Shop. The better quality of your links and the more links you have, the better your SEO profile will be.

Generally speaking, referral traffic can be seen as a source of growth for your site.

This is where, honestly, my reductive approach to traffic analysis gets a little dicey. Referral traffic can be both good and bad and is highly dependent upon the quality of the referring site. Quality, well, that’s a funny word since it can have a double meaning here.

On one hand, we still have that whole targeting thing to worry about. If the traffic referred to us doesn’t gel with our product we would say they are of “poor quality” in relation to the goals of our Shop.

There’s also a much more sinister type of quality that refers to the reputation of the referring site. Typically, we’re talking about spammers, fake websites created by robots, and all types in between. There’s not explicit danger in referring “bad” traffic to your site — it’s not as if these visitors are harming anything in not purchasing from your site.

However, there is a risk of harming your SEO in terms of poor quality backlinks. If you end up with poor backlinks, Google offers a Disavow Backlinks Tool that will basically let you tell Google “Hey, don’t count these awful backlinks against me.”

Search Traffic

Search Traffic (also known as organic traffic) includes all visitors from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo!.  Simply put, this is the result of people searching on Google or something similar and coming to your Shop.

This traffic is the result of a close match between what you sell and what people are searching for. Unlike the other mediums mentioned here, search traffic is a great opportunity to grow your overall audience and customer base.

Low levels of search traffic indicate a site with poor SEO prospects. There are too many factors to list why this could be the case, but the biggest takeaway from this medium is that search traffic gives you the opportunity to directly show your products to people, literally, looking for those products. This is the basic thesis of all advertising — showing relevant advertising to customers that would be interested in buying that product.

I don’t want to say that other ways of targeting customers aren’t as effective, but this ranks up in terms of finding your target audience.

The Recap

As a big recap, let’s go over the basics of traffic sources:

  1. Direct – The result of good marketing. Bread-and-butter customers. Your goal should be to get all the traffic that ever visited your site to eventually become direct visitors.
  2. Referrals – The result of good link building and relationship building with other sites. You want “good” referral traffic, both for the sake of a new visitor as well as help to your SEO. Not an easy task to build this medium.
  3. Organic - The result of good search engine optimization. A great avenue for building traffic and exposing new customers to your product. Does require some time and effort to build organic traffic in a way that is effective.

“Matthew Deal is a digital marketing consultant that loves to create brands like @androidstatic and @wearepine. He writes about design, marketing and data at his blog MRKT.”


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  1. Thank you for the info. I had sort of figured out that Etsy didn’t really have very specific analytics, and you just confirmed it. It showed too many things visitors as being either from Etsy or direct visitors.

  2. my shop views are way low, only really coming from etsy teamies whenever I post in a team thread.
    this is a really effective article in terms of letting a minor league shop owner understand how SEO is calculated by google.
    I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong – just not enough of the right stuff! thanks xxx Lisa x

  3. Thanks for all the detailed information! I’ll see what I can do to improve my shops. Over a year ago the views for all my shops and products bottomed out. I’m not sure what happened… I didn’t change how I list and tag items… I wonder if it’s something Etsy changed?

  4. I thought it seemed odd that I never see Twitter or Facebook as referrers in my stats, even when I can pinpoint a small jump in traffic after posting something there. It’s almost like they don’t want us to know our stats, and I can’t fathom why that might be.

    Thanks for the analysis, I will definitely dust off my Google Analytics account and start referring to it more often.

  5. I have an Etsy shop. I’m not a big seller. I have experienced a huge, near dead silent, stand still in Etsy shop traffic, along with many other sellers there. The forums are busy with sellers, some are successful, Etsy veterans, asking why are their shops so slow? what happened to the shop views/favorites and sales? It seems rather sudden. Etsy had not released a statement about this matter. Any input on what’s up?

    Thank you.

  6. Do you have any insights into the new Promoted Listings program with Etsy??? I am a bit unsure as to a nuts and bolts approach to it.



  7. Hey guys, post author here, you’ll still have big downtimes in seasonality of your products. While Etsy is a little funny on somethings (e.g. Analytics), you’ll still have ups and downs without some consistent traffic source.

  8. A major difference between Shop Stats and Google Analytics is that Shop Stats only breaks it down to individual views. One person looks at 10 items = 10 views counted. Each view has its own “view source”, which is the problem Matthew explains here. On Analytics, you get a source per *visitor*, not per *view*.

    But Analytics has its own problem, in that the source it gives you is how your visitor found Etsy, not your shop. Until I figure out how to fix this in Analytics (and I’m working on it!), Shop Stats will give you the most accurate traffic sources, if you just ignore sources from “Your shop” or “Your listings”.

  9. Thanks for the detailed information. Really helpful for new sellers

  10. This makes sense as my referral numbers are quite high but when I compare to pre-social media days and now the numbers don’t really add up to more sales. Will keep searching for a better way.

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