The Ultimate Guide to Pinterest SEO

Pinterest is a huge source of traffic, often out ranking Google as the number one traffic source for many websites. But optimizing for Pinterest search isn’t a topic that’s much talked about and general SEO advice isn’t exactly the best fit for Pinterest SEO.

When it comes to optimizing your content for Pinterest search, there are different ranking factors to understand and focus on than when you’re trying to rank well in Google. Pinterest SEO deserves its own attention outside of search engine optimization. 

In this Ultimate Guide to Pinterest SEO, you’ll find everything you need to know about Pinterest and optimizing your content for Pinterest search.

The Idea Behind Pinterest Search

Pinterest users aren’t searching for the same things on Pinterest as they might be on Google. Searcher intent the most important thing to understand about how Pinterest works and how that impacts Pinterest search—and therefore Pinterest SEO.

The CEO of Tailwind, Daniel Mahoney, put it best when explaining what Pinterest really is:

Pinterest is about who I want to be.

People use Pinterest not only aspirationally but also to make plans on how to achieve that lifestyle with content that helps them get there. Think about it from Pinterest’s perspective: they want users to buy or click on pins with the intent to take an action because that means effective ad dollar spend for Pinterest’s advertisers.

Pinterest has gone beyond simply evoking aspiration as in its early days and moved towards provoking action.

You’re able to use your Pinterest content to instruct, engage, and even sell your products to help your target market live the life your brand embodies on a platform that promotes and rewards content that creates action.

Navigating Pinterest wasn’t always easy and Pinterest has made significant changes to their platform to encourage discovery through a number of Pinterest-only search and algorithm tools, including Guided Search and SmartFeed.

Today, Pinterest search helps users find who they want to be & helps them get there. Pinterest SEO makes your content the path forward.

The idea behind Pinterest search is to deliver content, images, ideas, and products that help Pinterest users imagine a future possibility and then take action towards that future. The best performing content on Pinterest almost always urges users to take an action, whether it’s making a new recipe, buying the perfect lipstick, or learning how to do something new. Just take a look at just about anything in Pinterest search. What is on top? Almost all of it is actionable pins that link to content or products.

The idea of Pinterest search is to help users explore ideas and gather together information that helps turn imagination into reality.

Guided Search’s Impact on Pinterest SEO

In April 2014, Pinterest added a new feature to help users better navigate and explore ideas: Guided Search. Guided Search has dramatically changed the way people use Pinterest search and how users navigate through search results.

Guided Search essentially adds keywords to search queries to produce different search result pages. However, keep in mind that Guided Search changes depending on location and there’s also indication that it might change depending on individual user experiences too (Pinterest already changes search results for gender).

Guided Search plays on Pinterest’s goal of driving discovery by helping users topically navigate content, rather than find for specific information as a traditional search engine search might. Pinterest detailed how they envision their users taking advantage of Guided Search at its release, stating Guided Search is:

a search engine that’s more about exploration, that’s more about discovery, that’s more about teaching about your tastes and giving you options to explore than it is about giving you an ordered list.

Overall, Guided Search is about finding possibilities. You’ll often find that search results don’t refresh themselves very often especially during one user session so this is one downside to Guided Search.

It’s important that your content ranks well for Guided Search terms to perform in Pinterest search. If not, your pin might not show up as often as you’d like or in the right places to be found.

Pinterest also notes that “Guides change based on engagement, so the more people search and Pin, the better the experience gets.” Like most SEO, Pinterest SEO is a constantly moving target. Guided Search changes dynamically based on popularity and engagement so it’s constantly changing to suit Pinterest users’ needs.

When you’re optimizing for Pinterest SEO, it’s important to understand the impact of Guided Search on how Pinterest searchers find pins. With more than 75% of Pinterest use on mobile devices, Guided Search use has been increasing likely due to it’s ability to make searching easier with less typing.

How to Use Guided Search to Optimize Content

Guided Search is also a great tool for finding keywords and topics to create content around. One Pinterest marketer summed it up the usefulness of Guided Search for marketing pretty succinctly:

Now you can create boards and pins around those specific topics and keywords. You don’t have to guess what people want. Guided Search will tell you what people want.

Because of Guided Search’s nature of dynamically changing based on trends and engagement, creating content based on Guided Search results is a great way to target Pinterest specific trends and capture new traffic.

You can find SEO keywords for Pinterest from Guided Search by using this technique. Once you’ve collected new keyword ideas from Pinterest, you can use them to optimize your pins, boards, and profile as well as other content across your own website and social media channels.

The Impact of SmartFeed on Pinterest SEO

SmartFeed was added to Pinterest in August 2014 and changed Pinterest’s home feed from chronological order to algorithmically based. Engineers at Pinterest explain that SmartFeed is a reflection of what each user cares about, curated based on what might be considered the “best” pins for that user. SmartFeed also allows more pins than just those of who the user follows to appear in the home feed and provides an advantage to marketers to get their pins seen by more Pinterest users.

Although Pinterest search is the main focus for Pinterest SEO, Pinterest SEO also needs to focus on SmartFeed and getting pins to appear in more users’ home feeds.

The SmartFeed pool that produces the home feed includes related pins and interest pins, both of which are opportunities for you to get pins in front of people who don’t follow you. SmartFeed is constructed based on a quality and value to the receiving user so it is important for your pins to provide quality and value to as many people as possible to take advance of SmartFeed.

Looking to better understand SmartFeed? Watch this explanation video.

For some more information on SmartFeed and optimizing your content, this is a great read.

Pinterest Ranking Factors

Pinterest, like Google, cares about certain factors when ranking content in search results. In traditional SEO, ranking factors include things like links, keywords, post titles, and over 200 other factors. But of Pinterest? These ranking factors aren’t the same.

Pinterest SEO focuses on Pinterest-specific ranking factors instead of applying general SEO factors. 

Pinterest’s ranking factors are unique to their platform, although there is some obvious intersection with other search engines. While we don’t know all the ranking factors that go into Pinterest’s algorithm just like all the other search engines, we know some of them and other Pinterest marketers and I have made educated guesses on others.

The most important things to understand when it comes to Pinterest, ranking factors actually have to do with how people use Pinterest.

Here’s what you need to focus on when it comes to Pinterest ranking factors for individual pins and most are places where you should consider putting keywords:

  • Image Name – The file name of your image should include keywords.
  • Pin Description – The description of the pin should incorporate keywords and be around two sentences long.
  • Board Name – The name of the board where your pin appears should be keyword rich and topically relevant.
  • Board Description – The description of the board where your pin appears needs to incorporate keywords. I generally recommend writing a sentence rather than keyword-stuffing style list descriptions.
  • Board Value –  This is a Pinterest-specific analysis of the value of a board. It’s likely based on engagement rates and the number of likes, comments, and repins, the number of followers, the board owner’s profile value, and number of pins.
  • Board Owner’s Profile Value – Pinterest places value on board owners who are engaged in the community and have community authority on Pinterest. Factors are likely to include the number of followers, the profile’s overall engagement rate or likes, comments, and repins, and other similar factors.
  • Pinner’s Profile Value -If on a group board when the pinner is different from the board owner
  • Pinner’s Community Involvement – The more community involvement a pinner has, the better pins tend to perform. Your pins and engagement matters when it comes to your own pins doing well.
  • Engagement Rate – How many other users engage with the pin versus the number of times it was seen.
  • Repins – The number of repins can influence a pin’s ability to rank well.
  • Likes – The number of likes influences pin rank.
  • Freshness – Pinterest seems to place less priority on freshness than other search engine platforms but it still seems to impact rankings in search. Freshness impacts SmartFeed significantly.
  • Website Pin Origination – Pinterest gives priority to pins from domains that are often pinned from.
  • Content URL – Pinterest identifies pins overall from an individual URL as one collective identity.
  • Location – Searchers in different countries see different content and focusing on country specific content can be useful depending on your content niche.
  • Pin Relevancy – Pinterest judges relevancy of pins based on pin content, board content, and category.
  • Visual Analysis – Pinterest likely uses visual analysis to determine a pin’s relevancy. Reference
  • Searcher Gender  – Pins shown in search are gender specific, especially when it comes to fashion niches. Reference
  • Rich Pins – Pinterest has stated that websites with Rich Pins enabled perform better in search. Reference

Pinterest’s blog has a great post on how to start optimizing your Pinterest for better SEO but here’s how to optimize each part of your Pinterest account for better ranking.

How to Optimize Your Pinterest Profile

Want to optimize your Pinterest profile? Here’s the steps to take:

  1. Choose a keyword-rich username
  2. Write a keyword-rich description
  3. Include your website link
  4. Confirm your website
  5. Include your Twitter (activate sign in from Twitter to link it)
  6. Increase your followers

Your own engagement also impacts your pins’ abilities to rank well. Participate in the community by pinning, liking and commenting regularly, providing value, and being a good Pinterest user. Above all, engage with other users and pin great content!

Here’s some observations that prove pinning good content is better than pinning more from a Pinterest consultant.

How to Optimize Your Pinterest Boards

Boards should also be optimized to focus on keywords and topical niches you’d like to target. Great Pinterest boards can even allow you to “pinjack” Google search results by using Pinterest’s great SEO to get your board page to rank for a competitive keyword term.

  1. Choose a keyword-rich board name
  2. Write a keyword-rich board description

For SEO purposes, the covers of your boards don’t matter but the names of your boards do for your profile page SEO value. Remember, board covers only show on desktop and not for the app, where the majority of users access Pinterest.

Another thing to consider is the value of your boards. Each board is given a score by Pinterest, though this isn’t public, and it is used in consideration when it comes to ranking pins and SmartFeed. Here’s how to ensure your boards are valuable:

  • Make sure each board has a purpose, direction, and niche that serves your audience
  • Pin quality and valuable pins often to your boards
  • Focus on increasing engagement with your boards by increasing your engagement rate per pin
  • Pin from valuable websites other than your own to your boards

How to Optimize Your Pinterest Pins

Update for Pinterest Pin Counts: Pinterest is no longer showing how many pins an individual pin has but how many the linked URL has across the entire platform. This makes optimizing individual pins very difficult.

  1. Write a keyword-rich description for your pin (don’t use alt-text on your website!)
  2. Include the correct link to content
  3. Before pinning your own images, ensure the image name is keyword-rich
  4. Ensure the image is Pinterest proportions, is clear and easy to understand, and evokes the right emotions to create engagement
  5. A/B test pins often, pinning different versions of the same content to help you figure out what works best
  6. Delete underperforming pins (Very difficult to do with Pinterest’s update.)

Because of Pinterest’s recent aggregate pin count update, there’s no way to tell the performance of an individual pin without an third-party app, such as Tailwind. However, because pins are now aggregate of individual URLs, you can judge how well your website content is doing overall easily by comparing any pin of your content.

How to Optimize Your Website for Pinterest

Above all, optimizing your website to work well with Pinterest and be friendly to Pinterest traffic is important for your Pinterest success. Pinterest does take into account if your website plays nice with Pinterest and if your website creates a lot of pins. The more popular your website is for pin creation, the more your pins will do well in search and SmartFeed!

The ultimate guide to Pinterest SEO and optimizing your pinterest content and website for Pinterest
  1. Enable Rich Pins (don’t use alt-text for Pinterest Descriptions!)
  2. Add a Pin button to your content
  3. When uploading images to your website, use a keyword-rich image name
  4. Call on your readers to pin to increase the number of pins originated from your website
  5. Ensure your site is mobile-friendly

Final Thoughts on Pinterest SEO

Initially, you can spend a lot of time focused on cleaning up your account for Pinterest SEO but after your initial investment of time, Pinterest SEO just comes down to good Pinterest engagement practices and having your website setup correctly.

Pinterest SEO, like all other kinds of SEO, isn’t a set it and forget it type of marketing technique. Instead, it takes time and dedication—but the traffic payoffs can be well worth it!

Not sure where to start with keyword selection? My SEO 101 Course teaches you basic SEO theory, how to choose the right keywords, and then what to do with them!

Don’t forget to pin me >>>>