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.
(The category will appear in the search bar on full-width desktop browsers)
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.
** means plural form only
These are the broad category keywords, that will apply a filter to bring up a range of products.
Clothing / Clothes / Garment(s) / Apparel
This brings up t-shirts, tank tops, sweatshirts, hoodies, miniskirts, leggings and dresses.
This brings up Samsung and iPhone cases.
This brings up art prints, art board prints, canvas prints, framed prints, metal prints, mounted prints, photographic prints and posters.
Home Decor / Decor
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.
Doesn’t work if you manually type in home & living, home and living, home-and-living, etc. despite that being the label on the main Redbubble navigation bar
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. Filter not triggered by the phrase Kids & Babies.
Accessory / Accessories
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.
This brings up greeting cards, hardcover journals, pencil cases [AKA zipper pouches], postcards and spiral notebooks.
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
Displays all images tagged as ‘Digital Art’
Displays all images tagged as ‘Design and Illustration’
Displays all images tagged as ‘Drawing’
Painting, Mixed Media
Displays all images tagged as ‘Painting and Mixed Media’
Photo, Photograph, Photography, Photographic
Displays all images tagged as ‘Photography’
The word “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.
- Leggings** / tights**
- Tshirt / t-shirt / tee / shirt
- Bag [for drawstring and tote bags]
- Duffle bags** / duffel bags**
- Face mask / mask
- Pin / button / badge
- Tote / totebag
- Bat mat
- Comforter / throw
- Jigsaw puzzle / puzzle
- Journal / diary / notebook
- Car sticker
- Window sticker
- Car window sticker – selects transparent sticker finish
Gift-related keywords will also disappear when included in search results. This includes the words “gift(s)” and “present(s)“.
Keywords with No Filter
- Short sleeve
- Tank / tanktop
- Duffle / dufflebag / duffel
- Pencil / Pencilcase
- Long sleeve
- Frame / framed
Other safe keywords include:
- Keywords relating to who a gift is for:
- for him, for her, for friends, for teens, for them,
- Keywords relating to cheapness:
- budget, affordable, cheap, expensive
Unique Case: Duplicated Keyword Search
A flagged keyword can be seen and 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.
‘Jigsaw puzzle’ is the first tag, that’s why this method works.
It’s a bit redundant to use this method 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:
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.
In this “Don’t Stop” design by barlena, the artist has put the artwork’s title into their tags. But, the apostrophe they presumably typed in the phrase ‘don’t stop’ got stripped out and replaced with a space.
- the apostrophe’d version “don’t” (which will match the product title, more on that in the next section) or
- the spaced “don t” (which will match the product tags).
Or, to be covered in all situations, include all versions – spaced, hyphenated, and no space
Now, let’s say I wanted to search for fan art for the show Bob’s Burgers. With what we know about appostrophes, the search phrase will become “bobs burgers”.
What is really interesting is that typing in “bob’s burgers” and “bobs burgers” those two phrases produced two different result sets.
Despite both searches showing ‘Bobs Burgers’ with no appostrophe in the page heading, we are getting a different number of results.
So that means the heading is not the actual text 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.
So your text in the search box is what is being searched still, regardless of how it appears in the heading.
Next, let’s see what happens if we type in a word that appears in an artwork’s Title but not their tags.
I found this uniquely titled artwork, Mongoo$e 2 by an artist named tttrickyyy
This artwork has several tags, including ‘mongoose’, but not ‘mongoo$e’ the way its spelled in the artwork’s title.
So I did a Redbubble search for the word ‘mongoo$e’.
Even though ‘mongoo$e’ is not a tag on the artwork the artwork still appeared!
That means that title text is searchable, not just tags.
And it also means that if you want a word with valid punctuation to be searchable, you need to include that version in your artwork’s title.
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 Case: Asterix and 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.
This would be amazing if true, because that means your product competititiveness just improved. By using even one tag, 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? Pop it into the comments section below.
Peace, love and sunshine,