Battle of the Engines: Google vs. Pinterest Search

With the arrival of Pinterest, a new player joined the competitive search engine landscape. As time passed, social-savvy journalists began noting the rising power of the plucky image-sharing website. Even so, Google has apparently been unfazed by the rapidly advancing Pinterest search engine. In this blog post we set out to compare the two search engines in an effort to find out what this all means for small business. Google vs Pinterest Search This new bit of bloggy goodness started out with a seemingly simple concept. Here at Tailwind, we see Pinterest as a mishmash of social media platform and search engine powerhouse. But what happens if we compare Pinterest to Google, everyone’s favorite search engine? My search-happy adventure actually started with Google. I typed in ‘Pinterest vs. Google,’ ready for an onslaught of useful information. Said onslaught never occurred. My efforts essentially resulted in a grand total of two articles: one on Buzzfeed, and another on Searchengineland.com. It’s worth noting that the second article was written to refute the former.  Let’s begin with a quick look at each of these articles, shall we?

Let’s start with the Buzzfeed article. Although the author is full of Pin-happy zeal, there are more than a few issues. Essentially, she decided to conduct a small experiment- she ran a few searches through each platform, and then showed the results side by side.  In every single instance, she declared Pinterest search the winner. However, the searches she conducted, along with her personal evaluation of the results, were a bit biased. She decided that more interesting results (interesting being entirely subjective) were ‘better.’ But this isn’t always the case, given that not every person that is searching for these terms will be looking for the same results.

So then, does this mean that Pinterest is in fact a worse search engine than Google? Not at all. As Danny Sullivan notes in his Searchengineland article, the two websites are simply used in different ways. As Mr. Sullivan states, Pinterest has a unique “search voice.” Essentially, Pinterest is perfect for finding artistically beautiful images with relatively simple keywords. Google, on the other hand, is ideal for getting exactly what you search for. There is very little room for interpretation. I’m basically in agreement with the Searchengineland article, although this is mostly due to the Buzzfeed article being a bit too click-baity for my tastes.

Pinterest search often begins with no clear goal. You aren’t looking for a particular picture or a certain event. You search for things you love, your hobbies and interests. And then you spend the next several hours scrolling through adorable puppies or super expensive gowns you’ll never be able to afford. Stuff that makes you happy. Or you search for what essentially amounts to brand qualities. Love, hope, anger, etc. Pinterest is amazing in that it’s engine turns abstract concepts into real, tangible images. Images that truly embody what those qualities are. This is one fairly unorthodox way that Pinterest can be used for small businesses. Get out that list of corporate values. Put each one into Pinterest. Start a board titled Corporate Values, or something fun like ‘What We Are.’ Fill it with these images. A picture is worth more than a thousand words, right?

But Pinterest isn’t just about the touchy-feely stuff. It also makes for an incredible research tool. Why, you ask? One word: infographics. Complex theories, how-to guides, life hacks- all made easily digestible with attractive images. Although Google can find infographics as well, they aren’t as focused, and come with a good amount of clutter.

Google, on the other hand, is unrivaled in connecting you with stuff, period. You will probably find exactly what you are looking for, in the most literal way possible. Look up cheese, you’ll get cheese. Blocks of cheddar and swiss. Want to find images of the latest news stories? You’ll find them. But these images are going to be a bit lacking in artistic cohesion and personality. You probably won’t spend oodles of time looking at Google images. But small businesses need to know that Google is how customers are going to find out about what you are, rather than what you’re about. Essentially, the Who, What, Where, When, and Why of your business. And that’s pretty much it.

Each platform is attractive in its own right, complete with its own strengths and weaknesses. Do I prefer Pinterest? Definitely. But this doesn’t mean that one site is better than the other. They’re just different.

Have any personal search preferences? Let us know in the comments!