It wasn’t long ago that the answer to “How do I use hashtags on Pinterest?” was, “Don’t!” Pinterest told us that hashtags didn’t work the way people expected, they could be confusing, and using them may even harm your reach.
But in September 2017, all that changed. Hashtags on Pinterest are now a must!
How Hashtags Work on Pinterest
Hashtags provide a whole new way to search on Pinterest. A typical search in Pinterest returns results populated by a complicated algorithm, meaning, your Pins might not appear in the feed or search results as soon as they’re Pinned.
A hashtag search occurs when a Pinner searches for a hashtag in the search bar or clicks on a hashtag in a Pin description. Pinterest will then return the freshest Pins using that hashtag.
How to Use Hashtags on Pinterest
Pinterest’s help files suggest using no more than 20 “specific and descriptive” hashtags per Pin. Hashtags will only function in Pin descriptions, so don’t use them anywhere else.
Because hashtag searches are looking for the freshest Pins, you should use a mix of evergreen and time-sensitive hashtags. For instance, if your Pin features a healthy Christmas treat recipe, use time-sensitive hashtags such as: #christmastreats #christmasrecipes AND some timeless tags such as: #healthysnacks #healthydesserts.
Do not sacrifice relevance for the sake of using all 20 hashtags.
Remember that you’re trying to help people who are interested in your content find your content. You’re not trying to hijack a popular hashtag to trick people into finding your content.
How to Choose the Right Hashtags for Pinterest
Hashtag strategy is important for any social channel. And while we’ve published extensively about ways to find the best Instagram hashtags, the truth is, for Pinterest, we’re all figuring it out together!
Fortunately, Pinterest does help us out with hashtag suggestions. When editing your Pin description, start typing in a hashtag that makes sense for the Pin. You’ll see suggestions for similar hashtags along with the number of Pins already using that hashtag.
Note: Based on my own (albeit limited) use of hashtags on Pinterest and the fluctuation in numbers and results I’ve seen, this count doesn’t appear to be a total of all Pins that EVER used that hashtag. It could be that this is a count of all the “fresh” Pins using that hashtag or perhaps all the Pins that will show up in search results. Regardless, it will give you some idea of the popularity of the hashtag.
As with Instagram hashtags, you should use a mix of popular and more niche hashtags to increase your chances of discovery. Don’t go too broad (“#pinterest,” and “#blogging” for example, are a mess). Instead get more specific and relevant (#pinterestmarketing”, or “#bloggingtips”).When choosing hashtags for Pinterest, think like a Pinner and ask yourself, 'Would I be happy seeing this Pin in the results for that hashtag search?
Ask yourself, too,“What hashtags might I search if I wanted to find a Pin like this one?”
Where Should I Put my Hashtags on Pinterest?
Hashtags only function within your Pins’ descriptions. But, should hashtags be scattered throughout your Pin description, or be placed at the end of your description?
The location of your hashtags inside the Pin description appears to have no impact on their functionality. So, it’s a matter of personal preference. But, when people are reading MY description, I don’t want them to click away!
For that reason, I’ll put the hashtags at the bottom of my description. I want them to make me appear in search, but not distract my viewers!
It’s always a good idea to write for humans first and search engines second. Pinterest Pins are no exception.
Should I Add Hashtags to Old Pins?
Some bloggers who have been using Pinterest for years worry that they’re not at a disadvantage for having followed Pinterest’s advice NOT to use hashtags. But by surfacing only the FRESHEST hashtagged Pins in search, Pinterest has our backs!
So, there’s no need to go back over all 20 thousand of your Pins, or even the Pins that lead back to your own content. Those old Pins would likely not surface in a hashtag search anyway since it’s looking for the “freshest” Pins.
Instead, use hashtags from now on. And go back and Pin your own content to your boards and to any Group Boards you might belong to again with hashtagged descriptions. Tailwind’s Interval Pinning can save you hours of time in this process!
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What About Hashtags and Promoted Pins (Pinterest ads)?
Hashtags do not help or hurt Promoted Pins. Promoted Pins don’t appear in hashtag search results. At least, not yet.
The only change in relation to Promoted Pins is that you are no longer limited to one hashtag.
However, one of the great things about Promoted Pins is that people tend to Save (repin) them. So, to get those repins into hashtag search, use hashtags in your Promoted Pins.
So, if you want to be found on Pinterest, start using hashtags now and keep using them to surface your freshest Pins in hashtag results!
What’s your take on hashtags on Pinterest? Are you excited about them? Have you started using them?
Alisa Meredith is the Content Marketing Manager at Tailwind – a Pinterest and Instagram scheduler and analytics platform. She is a sought-after speaker and teacher on Pinterest and Promoted Pins in particular, having spoken at Social Media Marketing World, Agents of Change and appearing on The Art of Paid Traffic and Social Pros podcasts. Alisa has invested heavily in becoming an expert in her craft – realizing (and loving) the fact that the learning never ends! She lives in coastal North Carolina with her pampered pets Spike (who only eats eggs and Spam), Pepe the couchpotato Cavapoo, and more cats than she’d like to admit to.