Recently, I received a question from a Thrive Member in the private Thrive Facebook group about how the color filter on the sidebar of Etsy works.


filter by color


The original question:  Does the “Filter by Color” function sort by the 1st photo’s primary color or color-words (green, red, yellow, etc) in the title, tags & descriptions?


filter by red


The answer:  Etsy sorts by the primary color in the photograph.


etsy admin color filter


It’s also important to note that Etsy does NOT take into consideration any color variations you might include when you are listing your item in the search results.


Color variations are not in search


That’s what Etsy “says”, but what do they really do?


By now, you realize that I always try to verify what Etsy says is true instead of just trusting what they say.  Things change with time – there can be disconnections between programmers and communicators, etc.  When possible, I like to see the “proof”.


For example, when performing my detailed analysis on Etsy SEO, I found statistical trends from real Etsy search results that did not follow the “letter and verse” of many Etsy admin, Etsy forum tips, and Etsy “guru” SEO articles that keep getting recycled over and over again with incomplete Etsy SEO tips . . . I like to test variables and see data for “tips you can rely upon”.


Here was my simple & quick test:


not about color words - it is about green


When I filtered for a green purse, I saw this purse on a green background, but the purse was not green.


no green in description, title or materials


When looking closely at the title, materials, and description – I didn’t see the word “green” anywhere.


no green tags


“Green” wasn’t in the tags either.


I wasn’t able to test the variations, because those are behind the scenes and not an observable variable . . . so for now, I generally accept their statement as fact.


Etsy appears to indeed filter by color and not words when using those 8 color filter buttons.


4 Color Filtering Etsy Tips!


After thinking about this simple search functionality on Etsy, I identified 3 color tips that you might consider with regards to improving your Etsy shop.


Tip 1:  Avoid backgrounds that confuse Etsy’s color filter algorithm.


red unhappy search color filtering


Here are 4 products that showed up within the first 2 pages of search results that were filtered by the color red!  A black purse, a purple purse, brass colored purse charms, and another black purse.


There is no doubt that Etsy’s color filter doesn’t work perfectly.  We see that happening above.  Ok – now that we realized that Etsy isn’t perfect (big surprise). . . how can we use this knowledge to help our Etsy shop?


Prominently colored backgrounds can show up incorrectly – confusing Etsy’s color algorithm & subliminally confusing customers, too.


Note that the wood grain background was captured as red.  Many Etsy sellers have wood-grained backgrounds, but are you sure you know how Etsy views your background as a color?


color averaging admin


Also, Etsy admin have admitted that “color averaging” is taking place and it isn’t perfect.


When customers are searching for a product by a color and Etsy serves up your wrong colored product, but correct colored background.  Those customers are less likely to click on your product. Etsy likely sees that impression not receiving a click and it generates a low click to impression ratio and might be hurting the long-term search results and product metrics that Etsy ties to that product.


In a few minutes of searching, I couldn’t find a wrong colored product on a white background.  They probably exist, but they appear to be “rare”.


White backgrounds appear to help Etsy’s color identifying algorithm and keep potential customers more likely to click on your products when filtered by color.


Tip 2:  Find less competitive color niches.

  Etsy purse search results


There are over 1.3 million Etsy products that show up when you type in the phrase “purse”.


Here’s the breakout when you filter by each of the 8 colors:


Color chart


Uh oh, Etsy seller!  Only about 22% of the total “purse” search results showed up within one of the color filters (about 300,000 out of 1,300,000 purses).


If your customers are filtering by color using this functionality, you better make sure your products are showing up here or you are part of the 1 million plus mystery “colorless” purses.  It might also be purses that have no dominant color.  I did see some mixed colored products in the filtered results.


You can also find under serviced color niches using this information.


Making your 1 purse out of 1, 300,000 purses stand out takes a lot of work, but if your customer is looking for a specific colored purse, it gets a bit easier.


For example, Etsy shows under 3,000 black purses, but a whopping 57,000 blue purses on Etsy.


I’m no color purse expert, but are blue purses really 19 times more popular than black purses?  This is a potential supply and demand mismatch that can be taken advantage of by eagle-eyed Etsy sellers.


In ultra-competitive niches on Etsy – this “color supply shortage” technique could be an advantage for your Etsy shop.


Tip 3:  Experiment with Color Product on the Same Color Background


This last tip is more innovative and generally untested at this point, but I wanted to include it in case any of you adventurous (aka successful) Etsy sellers want to try it out.


PLEASE READ:  If you rarely find yourself trying something new in your Etsy shop, you’re probably not thriving.  If you only implement tips when EVERYONE is regurgitating the same tip, you’re probably not thriving.  If you think “color tips” are just something small that can be ignored, you’re probably not thriving . . . many small tips accumulate upon each other.  It’s in the small details and tips that Etsy sellers differentiate themselves from the masses and build thriving businesses with lots of time & intelligent work tasks.


green on green idea


When I filtered by “green purses”, I saw these 4 results near the top of the color filtered search results.  Two of them were ads and two of them were products.


All 4 had grass or plants behind them (the one on the top right is hard to see, but there is a green plant behind it).


Is it possible that somehow products that are the same color as the background are getting some “extra credit” when the color filter is used – boosting it higher in the color filter search results?


It’s possible.  I didn’t take the time to create a sample, run it through a spreadsheet, and test the results, but I wanted to show it to you for your consideration.


Tip 4:  Experiment with Color Product on a Different Color Background


Remember that mismatched “red/pink” background with metal colored purse charms that showed up when I was sorting by red?




Well, I took a look at their shop and had another possible “color idea” you might consider for your Etsy shop:


background colors as a technique


She sells charms.  Many are “purse charms”.  She puts them on different color backgrounds.  I saw these coming up in the results when filtered by many of the colors for the word “purse”.


While I admit the product is not quite as relevant as I believe a customer would hope for – various colored backgrounds might be a technique worth trying if your products are a neutral color and might relate to a color filtered search term and you are looking to increase the breadth of search traffic with more curious browsers.


Is it possible that Etsy sorts all these colors into the 8 color families?  Is Etsy providing a diversity of colors within that primary color (neon, dull, muted, bright, various shades)?


I hope this gives you some ideas about how you might think about colors with regards to your Etsy products in a new way.  Is there an under-supplied color that you could fill a need?


Do you filter by color or search by color words when shopping on Etsy?


I posed these questions to you on Facebook and here is what you had to say:





Is it possible that filtering by color is a shopper signifying “higher user intent” to find and purchase an item?  The more specific the search – the more they know what they are looking for and the closer their hands are to pulling out their wallets…and a SALE!




So do you think color search words are more important to focus on or the color filter?  Or should you be optimizing your Etsy shop for both color and color-words?


Etsy is A Gold-Mine of Opportunity


Just open your eyes and see the colors of the rainbow!


Final Thoughts From Jason:


When it comes to using colors to your advantage on Etsy, this article really has barely scratched the surface.  Pay attention to details and look for opportunities everywhere.  There are even more color advantages to be had and I’ll add it to the list of topics for Thrive Members to benefit from.  Each month, my best tips, tools, and know-how goes to Thrive Members.  If you aren’t currently a Thrive Member, I invite you to join us.  Regards, Jason




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