I know, I know. Pinterest is our escape, our happy place. So when you mention Pinterest and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) together, unless you’re an SEO pro, you’re probably cringing just a bit right now!
No worries, you won’t find any tech speak here, just tips to help you get your content found on Pinterest. In fact, it’s possible that SOMEBODY (me) spent a good many hours reading and re reading the Pinterest Engineering blog in an effort to pull out some gems and distill them down just for you. Intrigued? Good!
Is Pinterest SEO Worth My Time?
Sure is! Since Pinterest is a visual search and discovery engine, it shares a lot more in common with Google and other search engines than it does social media sites like Instagram.
For instance, like Google, Pinterest can be a powerful driver of qualified traffic. In fact, it’s long been the #2 driver of social traffic, and for many Tailwind members, it’s the number one source of website traffic – period.
BUT, If you want people to see your content on Pinterest and you want to generate more traffic from Pinterest to your site, you need to help Pinterest distribute your content to the Pinners who want it.
And while follower engagement IS a factor in the distribution of your content, Pinterest is actively seeking your help to determine where to show your content in search, the home feed, and related (or “More like this”) Pins. That’s where Pinterest SEO comes in – and that’s where there is a lot you can do to improve your content’s SEO.
What is Pinterest SEO?
Since Pinterest is at heart a search and discovery platform, optimizing your Pins, profile, and content for Pinterest is very similar to optimizing for Google. And just like with Google, the uptick in traffic from your hard work may not happen overnight, but it will happen.
Note: We’re attempting to present many of the factors shared publicly on Pinterest’s Engineering blog, but there may be others which are not publicly shared. If you stick with these suggestions and always aim to help Pinterest create a platform full of high-quality, fresh, engaging content, you’ll go far!
Here’s What You’ll Learn:
- Pinterest SEO Factor #1 – Keywords
- Pinterest SEO Factor #2 – Interests
- Pinterest SEO Factor #3 – Hashtags
- How to Check Your Own Pins for SEO
- Pinterest SEO Ranking – How to Get Your Pins at the Top
- Personalized Search Results – Why No Two Pinners See the Same Pins in Search
- How People Search on Pinterest
- How to Do Pinterest Keyword Research
- Why Your Website Matters to Pinterest Search
If you prefer to watch a lively discussion on this topic with me, Jeff Sieh, and Jennifer Priest, you’re in luck!
Pinterest SEO Factor #1 – Keywords
SEO and keywords go together like PB&J, but unlike the iconic sandwich, things can get a little overwhelming here – and fast. Not to worry! Here (not necessarily in order of importance/impact) is where Pinterest looks for your keywords in order to decide if your Pin should appear for a certain search query:
- Pin Title
- Pin Description
- Board Name
- Board Description
- Linked Page Title, Description, Main Text
- Search Queries that frequently lead to clicks on that Pin
- Name of objects detected in an image
- OCR – optical character recognition
- Lexical Expansion – similar words and phrases
1. Keywords in the Pin Title
In the example below, the Pin Title is “How to Grow Vanilla Beans: Vanilla Bean Plant Info.” The Pin Title must be set manually when you create a Pin on Pinterest. If you schedule your Pins with Tailwind, we will attempt to pull a good title from your website meta data.
We recommend you review Pin titles before you schedule to make sure they follow Pinterest’s best practices:
- Support SEO by using keywords – Pinterest uses the words in your title to determine when it appears in search.
- Don’t just repeat the description text – use the title to focus on the content of the Pin, while using the description to give MORE context and detail.
- Take care not to sound “click-baity” (in fact, don’t use the word “click”).
- Think of it as a compelling headline – encourage Pinners to click by supplying relevant details about the linked content.
- Put the most important text at the beginning – the first 30 of your 100 characters are most likely to appear in the feed.
2. Keywords in the Pin Description
In the example below, the Pin description is what you enter when you create a Pin on Pinterest or schedule with Tailwind. In this case, that’s “How to Grow Vanilla Beans #vanillabeans #gardening #plantinstructions. They’ve gotten too high, so I wanna grow my own.”
What about the paragraph, “Love the intoxicating scent…”? That comes from your website meta data if you’re using Rich Pins. They likely both play a part in keyword optimization.
Note: Some users are reporting that descriptions are no longer visible on Pins. However, it appears that the descriptions are still searchable by Pinterest.
Use your keywords here!
3. Board Names
In the example above, our Pin was saved to “gardening.” Use keywords naturally in your Board names – and save your Pins to Boards with relevant names and topics.
4. Board Descriptions
Use keywords naturally in your Board titles to help Pinterest get more context about the Pins you save there.
5. Linked Page Title, Description, and Text
Pinterest is looking at the content to which each Pin links to get more keyword signals. When Pinterest sees this Pin,
Those clever Pinterest bots go to the linked page and look for meta information on the page. This is what you enter on your blog as SEO title and description.
They also scan the main text on the page, looking for keywords.
6. Search Queries for That Pin
Even if you don’t use a certain keyword anywhere, if your Pin gets clicks from certain search queries, your Pin may be tagged with that keyword. How would that happen in the first place? The key lies with Interests, and we’ll cover how Interests influence Pinterest SEO in a moment.
7. Keywords of Objects IN the Pin Image
Woah. Pinterest can “see” our images? Yeah, they sure can. And they identify items in our Pins – which is why they suggest we feature our products prominently in our images wherever possible.
Here’s a cool image from the Pinterest Engineering blog which shows how they identify objects in a Pin image:
Pretty amazing, isn’t it? What if you can’t picture your product or service on Pinterest? Is all lost? Are you doomed to be a Pinterest SEO nobody!?! NO! Keep going…
8. The Text ON Your Pin
I know, this one amazes me as well. Pinterest calls it “Optical Character Recognition,” and it’s exactly that. They read the text on your Pins. Here’s another image from that same post illustrating the incredibly ability they have to “read” our text on images.
THIS is why text on Pins can be very helpful to improving your Pinterest SEO.
9. Similar Words and Phases
This is why we don’t need to worry about using plurals or every possible iteration of a key phrase to cover our Pinterest keyword bases. Pinterest handles it for us. Some examples might include:
- Gardening tips – might also appear for “Gardening ideas”
- Garden tool – Garden tools
- Tools garden – garden tool
How smart is that?
Pinterest SEO Factor #2 – Interests
Every Pin on Pinterest is mapped to several Interests. There are tens of thousands of Interests organized to 10 levels of specificity (?!) and they’re used to remove unsafe content, provide personalized recommendations, target ads, and as a ranking factor in search results.
Pinterest shared a peak at how they map Pins to Interests:
What does this mean for YOUR Pinterest SEO? Beyond trying to picture your product or services in the image and employing good use of keywords, there doesn’t seem to be much you can do to influence Interest mapping. But it is important to know how it works when we get to ranking (soon!).
Pinterest SEO Factor #3 – Hashtags
Hashtags are useful for surfacing newer Pins in searches – you’ll see them all displayed in order of newest to oldest in the feed. Since the results here are chronological, you can’t do anything to STAY in the rankings other than to save new Pins, but you should use hashtags on Pinterest Pins to help new content surface more quickly.
This search for #afternoonsnack served up (get it?) Pins saved from 14 hours to several days ago:
Pinterest SEO Check – How to Tell if Pinterest is “Seeing” Your Pin as Intended.
This is a fun one. Do a closeup on your Pin on Pinterest and scroll down to the “More like this” Pins. Are they similar to your Pin and would you be happy to have your Pins search results like this? If so, great! If not, review your keywords in all 9 spots above and see if you can clarify your keywords for Pinterest.
Here’s an example of a Tailwind Pin
And here are the related or “More like this Pins,” showing how Pinterest is categorizing our image and assigning keywords and Interests:
Would you look at that!?! Looks like Pinterest knows exactly what I’m trying to say with that Pin.
Here’s a video illustrating a tip from Jennifer Priest of SmartCreativeSocial.com showing how to get Pinterest to analyze your image for you before you save it publicly. Thank you, Jennifer!
Pinterest SEO Ranking – How to Get Your Pins at the Top
This is what we all want – to get our Pins to the very top of the search query results on Pinterest! Ranking all comes down to – which Pins are most likely to delight and inspire Pinners and create the best user experience? Those are the ones that will show up first. Here are some of the things that impact general ranking (according to the Pinterest Engineering blog):
- Text Relatedness – is the text found in multiple places (1-9 above!)
- Consistency – Is the Pin and are all its elements related to the linked content?
- Pin engagement/popularity
1. Pinterest Ranking Factor – Text Relatedness
Text relatedness is simple – are the same keywords and phrases found in all the keyword spots we discussed above? This is why it’s so important to save your Pins to the most relevant Board first – Pinterest wants to see that the Pin belongs on that Board and will connect the two.
It stands to reason that if the keywords are the same across multiple sources, your Pin is likely a good match for that keyword query!
2. Pinterest Ranking Factor – Consistency
Consistency (Pinterest calls it “cohesion”) between the a Pin and the content it links to is essential. Make sure you are using the same keywords in your Pin description as you’re using on your blog post. And make sure the image you are Pinning, or something similar in style, are on the page that Pin links to.
3. Pinterest Ranking Factor – Pin Engagement and Popularity
Repins, clicks, closeups, saves, comments, photos – all these engagements have an impact on your Pinterest SEO and ranking in search results. Pinterest has mentioned that they serve up your Pins to your followers first, so use Pinterest Audience Insights to find out what YOUR audience is interested in.
Pinterest Personalized Ranking
While text relatedness, cohesion, and engagement return a great selection of Pins of interest to a search for any given keyword, Pinterest takes it a step (or more) further. They want to show you what YOU want to see. With that in mind, Pinterest looks at several signals to rank your personal results. Here are a few of them.
Pinterest Personalized “SEO” Considerations:
- Are the Interests this Pin is mapped to the same Interests that YOU tend to engage with?
- Are people like you apt to be interested in one Pin over another (based on identifiers such as gender, etc.)?
- Do you tend to engage with this type of Pin?
- Pin type – static, video, carousel, etc.
- Visual style of the Pin
- Country of origin of the Pin
This is the “magic” part of Pinterest SEO. You can (and should) follow best practices for design, consistency, and skillful use of keywords, but in the end, Pinterest is a search AND DISCOVERY network and they’re constantly working to create a better, more personalized experience for all of us.
The more you pay attention to the engagement on your Pins and run tests with different images and keywords, the better you’ll be able to tell which of these “magic” factors helps move the needle in terms of traffic and conversions on your site.
How People Search on Pinterest
Since 98% of searches on Pinterest are unbranded, it’s clear that people are open to discovery and inspiration. Rather than searching terms such as “best running shoes” as one might on Google, a person on Pinterest is more likely to search something such as “beginner running tips.”
With that in mind, you’l want to expand your keywords beyond your product or service to attract people before they even know they need you.
How to Do Keyword Research on Pinterest
Pinterest keyword research is fairly simple. You can use the auto-complete search feature, or go down a rabbit trail with guided search. First, auto-complete…
Start typing in one of your relevant key words and Pinterest will give you a few suggestions. Write these down.
Next, hit enter and you’ll see Pinterest’s guided search boxes appear below the search box. This is Pinterest telling you that people who searched your original keyword search are also looking for these terms – or might be happy to discover them. Click each box to get more and more specific recommendations.
That’s it! Rinse and repeat until you have a good list to work from. Remember to use them in all the places we talked about above.
Pinterest Distribution and Your Website
Pinterest wants to serve up Pins that lead to quality content. Aside from the obvious must haves of useful content, well, written, it also needs to be engaging and inspiring. You should also make sure you verify your site with Pinterest. That allows Pinterest to see that YOU are the owner of the content you share from your site.
Make sure you use Rich Pins on your site to give more context to your Pins.
Pinterest wants to send traffic to quality sites that provide a great user experience. In fact, they won’t even take your money to send ad traffic to pages that are full of pop ups and ads, so it seems likely that sites like that will see their content suffer in search.
Then there’s quantity. Pinterest wants you to Pin consistently – and they want your fresh content. So, try to create new content on your site at least weekly – and make sure there is a Pinnable image on every post! If you don’t have time for that, make new images for existing content – that works great, too!
Need help being more consistent on Pinterest? Schedule all your Pins for the week in minutes with Tailwind! Try a free (no credit card required) trial. Sign up with Pinterest.
Pinterest SEO Wrap Up
While all search engines keep some secrets, Pinterest has shared with all of us many details about how SEO works and how we can get our Pins ranking higher.
Seven steps to Pinterest SEO success:
- Make good use of keywords in 9 important spots.
- Understand Interests
- Use hashtags
- Learn the Pinterest ranking factors to get your Pins at the top
- Understand personalized search
- Perform keyword research
- Make sure your website is Pinterest worthy!
Feeling ready to give Pinterest SEO a try? REALLY give it a try? Combine what you’ve learned here with a commitment to creating new content every week and your Pinterest traffic WILL increase. Let us know how it goes!
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 Pepe the couch potato Cavapoo, and more cats than she’d like to admit to.