Pinterest is a lifestyle searching tool for millions of people. People go on there with excited eyes to look for amazing recipes to cook for dinner that weekend, find ways to dress to the tens for a special date, or find creative educational materials to teach children with. Millions of users turn to Pinterest to enhance their lifestyle. And they are doing so by using the search function on Pinterest.
Here’s a fun fact. Did you know that Google has a search engine just for recipes? It’s been around for years, but almost nobody I know uses it. Instead, most people I know automatically go to Pinterest if they want to find recipes to try out.
That’s not the only reason Pinterest is better than Google. Here are 5 reasons why Pinterest’s search engine is better than Google.
Reason 1: Pinterest is Grooming to be a Visual Recognition Search Engine
I believe that Pinterest is in the early stages of using image recognition technology to help users find relevant pins within search results based on colors and shapes. If you’re wondering how I came to this conclusion, it was because I started seeing heart shaped pins under the search term “Pinterest infographic,” but none of those pins contained keywords in them, nor in their url name (a factor that helps in Pinterest search rankings).
The following was one of the five pins I was able to find under that specific search term. Others that didn’t fit the term had heart shapes in their pictures as well. One had two people forming a heart, and another one had a heart shape V when it spelled out the word, “Love” in the pin.
The reason why I believe those heart shaped pins showed up in the search feed is because there were other pins that have heart shapes in them, but have the word “Pinterest” in their description. I’ve seen two pins that have heart shaped cookies in them that contained the word Pinterest Infographic in their descriptions.
Mind you the results were not relevant, but I’m confident this type of keyword association with colors and shapes has an influence on search results. As Pinterest starts to cross reference more data between keywords and images, it will show more and more visuals that are related to a search term that don’t rely as heavily on keyword data.
Reason 2: Pinterest is the “Accidental Discovery” Search Engine
According to Vision Critical, 47% of people who made Pinterest purchases said that they “happened upon” an item that they pinned and purchased, while 28% responded that they were searching for the item they pinned and purchased.
Users are discovering wonderful content, products and services from pins that have been posted by strangers or friends that have similar interests to them. These accidental finds add to Pinterest’s charm and addictive properties by allowing users to experience a sense of wonder and spontaneity when they do search for pins.
Reason 3: People Engage with Pinterest’s Voting System
Google Plus has been trying to make +1 all the rage, asking Google Plus users to +1 sites so that it helps the search engine find more relevant and personalized search results. But the reality is that Google Plus is a place where social media enthusiasts do the voting. Some professional bloggers, like Darren Rowse of Problogger, don’t even have the +1 button on their blog posts.
Pinterest users like using the “Pin it” and “like” buttons for pins they enjoy. This type of voting system can help guide searchers in choosing which pins to explore further. If I see a pin that has over 100 repins and 20 likes, compared to the pin that has 15 repins and 3 likes, I’m more likely going to click on the one with 100.
But, in the case of Google Plus, it can be hard to tell how many +1s a site has received in Google’s search engines. This is why it’s important to use analytics tools, like Tailwind, to keep track of what pins are popular to help you rank higher in search results. The difference in showing up in search results can mean having a dozen repins, to having hundreds of repins.
Pins that show up on the top of search results are often there because of the number of recent repins. Repins may be a signal that this pin is highly relevant to what’s being searched.
And, in a way, Pinterest isn’t just showing me results. It’s showing me how popular a pin is.
Reason 4: Fresh Results Almost Every Day
Google loves fresh content. However, if you go back and type in the exact same search term two weeks later, you would most likely get the exact same results. With Pinterest, the content is always fresh.
I had a pin that showed in the first row of Pinterest results for the word “Japan”. The pin was repinned 51 times within a 48 hour period. After that, it remained relatively high on the search results for the word Japan. I went back the day after, and the pin was gone from the search results. It’s no longer there.
I believe this had to do with the number of recent repins that the pin received. The more “hot” a pin is, the higher it rises in the search results. Once that pin has cooled down, and no users have consistently repinned the content, then it’s dropped off the search feed or placed low in the results.
The more competitive the search word is, the harder it is for a pin to stay on top of results longer.
Reason 4 1/2: The Fresh Results are Easier and Faster to Digest
The vast majority of us are visual creatures. We LOVE seeing pictures, not reading text. This is why when a book sells a million copies worldwide it’s a big deal, but when a movie is viewed by a million people, it’s a complete flop. We love pictures, and Pinterest allows for users to visually scan for results quickly, efficiently, and find a pin that appeals to them in a matter of seconds.
Here are the search results that are side by side for the search term, “Garage Organizer.” Which one do you feel that you want to engage with more?
While Pinterest will probably not usurp Google as the all mighty ruler of search, I believe that as more users jumping on, and as more original content is shared onto the social network, it will become a discovery and search tool for hundreds of millions.
Reason 5: Pinterest Inspires Action
While Google has been successful at providing information, this information is more knowledge based. It rarely, if ever, inspires the masses to go out and become better at an activity. There’s no such thing as Google Stress, but there is something such as Pinterest stress. Pinterest stress exists because it’s inspiring people to to try out different projects and to take action in the moment. Something that Google hasn’t quite been able to achieve.
This is why more and more people are using Pinterest as a search engine. If I were Google, I would watch out.
Vincent Ng is the president and chief blogger at MCNG Marketing, He is the founder of the Pintalysis Marketing Blueprint, and the author of How to Search Optimize Your Pins for Pinterest and Search Engines”. Follow him on Twitter @VincentNg or on Google+