20 April 2020: Some words like 'photo', which I previously stated did not apply a filter, now do, so I've changed that info.
8 May 2020: Added info on button pins and masks.
10 August 2020: Added info on broad category filters, masks, backpacks, duffle bags, puzzles
What do you mean, filters out?
If you type a product keyword into a Redbubble search, it will trigger a product category search, only showing products of that category.
For example, if I type in "journal positive aspects", the word "journal" will apply a filter to show only hardcover journals with "positive aspects" in the tags. Also, sometimes the product word itself will disappear from the search bar, as it has below.
What types of keywords does Redbubble filter?
So, what keywords do Redbubble filter out when customers perform a search? Mainly, ones that relate to products they offer. This is done to make the customer experience better: instead of getting every person who puts art on a t-shirt to add "t-shirt" to their tags, it's added automatically!
However, this can have a negative impact on artists who are trying to use as many relevant tags as possible - some keywords you want to use will get filtered out, making it harder to get views and sales.
For example, let's say you have designed an artwork that actually has a t-shirt on it, like this:
How will people be able to find it? If they search "t-shirt", only actual t-shirts will appear.
We'd have to use non-filtered keywords that are synonyms to "t-shirt", like "top" in this situation.
Just to be clear, I'm pretty sure most clothing sites and search engines have this problem. That's why I had to make a mockup design - I could not find a genuine *t-shirt on a t-shirt* image because its so hard to search for!
The following are product-related words that Redbubble filters when doing a search on their website. Using one of these words will trigger a relevant product category search.
Broad Category Keywords
There are broad category keywords too, that will apply a filter and bring up a range of products.
Clothing brings up t-shirts, tank tops, sweatshirts, hoodies, miniskirts, leggings and dresses.
Also works with word clothes, garment, apparel.
Stickers brings up all the types of stickers: matte, glossy and transparent.
Phone Cases brings up Samsung and iPhone cases.
Wall Art brings up art prints, art board prints, canvas prints, framed prints, metal prints, mounted prints, photographic prints and posters.
Home and Living.
Uses the phrase home decor, despite that phrase not being used in Redbubble's navigation menu. Just using the word decor will trigger this filter too.
Doesn't work if you manually type in home & living, home and living, home-and-living, etc.
The filter will bring up the following products: Acrylic blocks, aprons, bath mats, bedding, clocks, coasters, jigsaw puzzles, magnets, mugs, pillows and cushions, shower curtains and tapestries.
Kids & Babies
Triggered using the phrase kids clothes.
This phrase will bring up the following products: baby and kids t-shirts, toddler and kids pullover hoodies, long sleeve and short sleeve baby one-pieces, and kids masks.
This word will bring up the following products: Backpacks, drawstring bags, duffle bags, masks, pins, scarves, socks, tech accessories [iPad cases and skins, iPhone wallets, laptop skins and laptop sleeves], tote bags, water bottles and zipper pouches.
Stationery brings up greeting cards, hardcover journals, pencil cases [AKA zipper pouches], postcards and spiral notebooks.
These are keywords that appear in the titles of various Redbubble products, but have been tested and shown to not have a product filter applied to them. So they are safe and good to use in your product tags.
Other safe keywords include:
When uploading art, you can select up to two mediums. These mediums will also apply a filter if used in the search bar. For example, typing "digital portrait" will apply the Digital Art filter, and within that, search for anything tagged with the word "portrait".
"Digital" > Digital Art
"Digital Art" > Digital Art
"Design" > Design and Illustration
"Illustration" > Design and Illustration
"Drawing" > Drawing
"Painting" > Painting and Mixed Media
"Mixed Media" > Painting and Mixed Media
"Photo" > Photography
"Photograph" > Photography
"Photography" > Photography
"Photographic" > Photography
"Mixed" on its own is unfiltered, as is "media" and "art".
Filters are also dependent on what language you are viewing the site in. For example, the Spanish word for photography, fotografía, does not trigger the Photography filter when used on the English version of Redbubble.
Gift-related keywords will also disappear when included in search results. This includes the words "gift" and "present".
Unique Case: Duplicated Keyword Search
Using a flagged keyword can be used in rare cases where the person conducting a product search types the flagged keyword twice.
Here is an example: Searching for the words puzzle jigsaw puzzle will bring up all the jigsaw puzzles that also have the word 'puzzle' in their tags.
Here is what the tags look like for the first artwork seen here, Tiger Cubs Watercolor.
It's a bit redundant to do this on a normal artwork, since the puzzle filter is already getting activated by the first instance of 'jigsaw puzzle'. The only reason I can forsee of needing to include 'jigsaw puzzle' as a tag is if your jigsaw product is a picture of a jigsaw. Like this:
Punctuation Being Stripped From Searches and Tags
Almost all punctuation gets stripped from Redbubble tags and searches. This is most likely to prevent hackers from injecting malicious code into the product database. The way the stripping affects the word is dependent on whether it is a search term or a product tag.
Punctuation in Product Tags
Punctuation gets removed from product tags. In most cases, the offending character will be replaced by a single space. Let's look at some examples.
Some phrases, fandoms, brand etc use punctuation in their names. We've already seen Bob's Burgers as an example. How about Ben & Jerry... Or Hewlett-Packard. If you plan on making art that uses words like these in the product tags, you're going to have to edit the tags, and cut out that punctuation, because those special characters are gonna get removed.
Its a safe guess that the average Redbubble customer will not know the subtleties and rules of product tagging, so they're not going to type in a strangely-spaced word like "don t". Therefore, the best thing for us artists to do is remove all the punctuation we can from our product tags. Or, if you want to galaxy-brain this situation, include both versions, so you're covered regardless of how the customer types in the keyword.
Punctuation in Search Terms
The following punctuation has been tested by me, and proven to be stripped from Redbubble searches:
Forward slash /
Round brackets ()
At Sign @
Exclamation mark !
Question Mark ?
Double Quotation " produces a 500 server error
Hyphen - produces a 500 server error
If you perform a search with one of these characters, it will be removed from the search. In most cases it will be replaced with a space. But for apostrophes, it will be removed without a space.
Here are some examples:
So "bob's burgers" will become "bobs burgers". What is really interesting is that typing in those two phrases produced two different result sets.
Weird result! It indicates that the bold text under the search bar, stating our search phrase, is not what is actually being searched for. As an amateur programmer, I can reasonably guess that the website is taking the text in the search box and using a function that strips special characters for HTML output. This is just for display. It is having no effect on the actual search results.
Next, let's see what happens if we type in a word that appears in someone's Title text but not their tags.
In the example below, I performed a search for the word "mongoo$e" after randomly seeing a product with that name- "Mongoo$e 2" by tttrickyyy [product has since been removed from tttrickyyy's Redbubble store]. This product has the word "mongoose" as a tag, but not the dollar sign variant.
The search result claims to have changed the search text to "Mongoo E", stripping the dollar sign and replacing it with a space. But, the previously mentioned product still appears. The words "mongoo e" don't appear in that products tags, yet the product shows up.
So, if you want to maximise your searchability, put the punctuated word in the title of your artwork, and unpunctuated version in your tags.
Special Cases: The Asterix and the Empty String
The asterisk * is a special character that seems to represents any tag. If entered on its own, it will produce millions of products available on Redbubble - at the time of writing, that was 7,578,312 products.
The asterisk can be used alongside other keywords, but the results are harder to understand. For example, a search of "* flower" will return 6,932,208 results, many of them not featuring flowers at all. (If you can explain what this means, please let me know!)
If you perform a search with nothing in the search box, you'll get what appears to be every product on Redbubble - 11,090,004 results.
Why is this number different to the asterisk number? My hypothesis is that the asterisk searches for products that have at least one tag, and not products without any tags. That would mean the difference between the empty string search number and the asterisk search could be a count of every product with no tags applied - approx 4 million. Amazing if true, because that means your product competititiveness just improved. By using tags, you're already doing better than 1/3 of Redbubble users!
(Can anyone else verify this?)
Now you're ready to edit all your product tags, knocking out the words that'll get filtered, and trimming those pesky punctuation marks.
Are there any tagging tips you've come across that you'd like to share? Or another filtered keyword I've missed? Hip-bump it into the comments section below.
Peace, love and sunshine,