Are you confused about search engine optimization for Pinterest? Do you want to know what’s the best Pinterest SEO strategy for 2021? What are the ranking factors? What helps your pins show high in search results on Pinterest? Knowing these SEO factors, and including them into my Pinterest strategy, is exactly how I get over 300,000/mo pageviews of free organic traffic to my blog from Pinterest.
How Do Pinterest Categorize Pins?
1. Pin Title
I think pin titles are the most important factor and that is based on the most recent update we’ve seen on Pinterest. If we go to any of your pins, you will see the pin title is on top of the pin and you will see that Pin Title field has been added a couple of months ago.
Another news is that Tailwind Scheduler is also now showing the field for Pin title. It’s a new field, and they even give you some instructions on how you can add this pin title if it doesn’t show automatically.
This new field means that Pinterest wants to give us more control over our pin titles because previously if your site had rich pins validated and they were working correctly, then your rich pin would bring the pin title from your blog post. But nowadays, you can add in any of your pins if you want and test any other keywords. This will override your pin title from your blog post.
You also need to know that they have to be up to 100 characters, but only the first 30 to 35 characters are likely to show in people’s feed. This is why you should keep in mind to have your focus keyword at the beginning of the title.
Here is a video where I talk more about this update:
2. Pin Description
Sometimes, Pinterest doesn’t even show pin descriptions when you’re trying to repin something, especially in a mobile device. When this happens, I just want to tell you that you need to keep calm because things like this happen in Pinterest from time to time. Very recently, there was a big problem with bloggers who had pin descriptions on their website and when they try to pin on their desktop, the pin description field was empty. You couldn’t do anything with it, but fortunately, it’s now fixed.
Even if they’re not showing on the feed, pin descriptions still have a ranking factor. You would want to include keywords and hashtags in your descriptions.
People are getting confused between the description that comes from your site and pin descriptions. The description that comes from your site is often not seen in any way. The only way to I’m able to see it on my desktop computers to click by clicking on the “More about this Pin” option, then it shows me the post’s SEO description.
But anyway, a pin description is something you’re adding when you’re saving this pin from your site or when you’re uploading pin. It is a longer description that can include hashtags. And when you’re looking at a pin on Pinterest, you will always find the pin description underneath the name of your board.
3. Board Name or Title
When you are saving a pin, you always want to make sure that the first board where it goes is:
- On your account. It’s not some other user’s board.
- This board has a focus keyword or at least the most relevant board to the content of your pin.
You need to have as many boards that can support the amount of content on your website.
For each piece of content you are saving on Pinterest, you should have at least 5 boards on your account that would be relevant to it. But that is just the beginning. Because when you have a lot of content on your site, you will start creating more and more boards which will feed specifically each kind of topic or niche on your site. So you need to have as many boards that can support each content you have on your site.
Pinterest says that they don’t mind that you will save the same pin to five different boards but not on the same day. You can save the same thing to five different boards that are all relevant and somehow similar to the topic of your pin, and that helps you to rank your pins for different keywords or related keywords and to show it to different types of users.
4. Board Description
When you go to your board settings, you will see that the description has a longer field. You can include up to 500 characters. That means you can include as many similar or relevant keywords as you need.
A lot of people skip board descriptions, but it’s yet another place you can tell Pinterest what your pin is about, and you can have so many other related keywords in the board description, compared to the Board title. If you can use it to your advantage, why not?
More Pinterest Ranking Factors You Need To Know
Pinterest has lots of interesting information on its official Pinterest Engineering blog on Medium. It’s interesting but also, for the most part, it’s written for other engineers and is kind of hard to read for anybody else. But I like checking those posts because they often mention in them things that will help us understand what other parts of Pinterest SEO we might be totally missing.
In their post called Understanding Pins through Keyword Extraction, they mentioned several text sources they use to extract keywords.
I also believe that these sources are listed perhaps are listed in the order to show us the hierarchy of important text sources. So the most important are:
- Pin title, description, url
- Board name and description
- Page title and description of the link
- Search queries that frequently lead to clicks on the Pin
- Names of objects detected in the image using a visual classifier
In this sense, Pinterest is looking at your page URL for a focus keyword, just like Google would. And the next one is something that Pinterest again is doing just like Google – they are checking your page title and description for keywords.
The next interesting text source is “Search queries that frequently lead to clicks on the Pin.” So this is similar to Google’s user behavior factors when they are observing with which searches users on the platform associate this pin more often.
And one more text source they mentioned here is “Names of objects detected in the image using a visual classifier.” You probably noticed that when you save an image on Pinterest, even if you are not yet adding any description, it will often show in related images something visually similar to what you have on the background on your image.
Remember, Pinterest is a visual search engine, right? This platform works pretty well with visual content on your pins—it can often identify objects on the images. If you have a woman with a laptop on the photo, Pinterest will definitely recognize the laptop as one of the objects on the photo.
Now, this might come as a surprise to some, but Pinterest can now also read the text that you have on your photos or the text overlay you added to the pin. You can confirm this information in this post on Medium.
Pinterest is using a technology called Optical character recognition (OCR). This means that they are looking at your image and they find on the background either letters or text overlay that they can attribute as keywords for your pin.
Here is a quote from the blog post: “We leverage OCR techniques to extract text from an image to obtain descriptive information of the Pin.”
All this information then will be matched and Pinterest will use pin cohesion as a ranking factor. This means that all the signals or factors I mentioned will need to come together and be cohesive and help Pinterest rank your pin for the right keywords.
Now another thing you need to know about Pinterest search results is that they are personalized. And over time, these results will become even more personalized and relevant through advancements in machine learning ranking.
Pinterest is now building a system to deliver content from various verticals within one integrated search results page. Today when you search you’ll already see these different types of formats (Video, Shopping, Pinners to follow).
Pinterest can check which verticals the user has seen recently for similar queries and what they engaged with for those queries. If they did not engage with certain verticals, Pinterest will NOT show more of that vertical in the near future.
Pinterest is also assigning the so-called “interests” to pins and uses them as one of the ranking factors. For example, to this pin image Pinterest assigned the following interests:
So the platform thinks that the topic of dogs is one of the most relevant to this pin, then mammals. Then the topic of animals is less because it is categorized only as “1.” Skiing and snowboarding are also relevant, and so on.
When they use interest, they categorize your pins and understand for which searches and categories they should show your pin for higher results.
Now I just want to go back to one of the things that I mentioned earlier when I said that Pinterest is recommending you to save your pins to multiple boards (or at least 5 boards). If you look at one of the examples they mention in their blog post, they are showing you how just one pin can have annotations or can be associated with 6 different keywords or categories.
So in this pin example, if you have different boards on your account, you might want to save this pin first on the board with the keywords “sloth sanctuary”. So these are the boards wherein you can save this pin to. This will help you show your content to a larger audience – not only to people who are searching for sloth sanctuary but also for those who are searching for travel inspiration and such.
Another ranking factor is that Pinterest is using user engagement factors to rank your pins. It understands which of the pins are best based on how many pins the pin gets and how many comments and tried it photos were added by users.
When you do a search on Pinterest, just look at the search results and you will often see that the pins that are ranking high have a lot of “Tried it” photos, or comments, or repin count.
This is just one of the examples but you will notice that the pins that are ranking high have also high user engagement scores in different ways – either repins, comments, and photos.
So overall in 2021, I think that Pinterest SEO is getting a little bit more complicated and that Pinterest is getting smarter over time as a search engine.
So in this post, I tried to make a deep, deep dive in all of the information I found on Pinterest’s Engineering blog where they share how their Pinterest algorithm works. They don’t speak how it exactly converts to Google but because I have this background on Google SEO, I understand some similarities and differences on the two platforms.
To help me guide you more in discovering Pinterest SEO strategies, I have a Pinterest SEO Checklist printable for free.
Pinterest SEO is a really big topic. It’s big enough for me to have my signature course called Pinterest SEO Traffics Secrets. So if you want to dive deeper into all the details of Pinterest SEO and get a step-by-step plan, then don’t hesitate to join my course!
If you found this post useful, you might want to save THIS PIN below to your Pinterest Marketing board to check the post later when new updates are announced.
Why would you need a Pinterest SEO strategy (search engine optimization)? Isn’t it a social media platform? Yes and no.
Pinterest is both – a search engine and a social media site.
You have a feed to scroll down when you just want to browse on Pinterest, like on Facebook or Instagram. You can follow users, like on other social networks.
But you also have a powerful search tool on Pinterest.
Try to search for anything on Facebook – how relevant and useful the results will be?
On Pinterest, you find pin images which lead to websites and blogs, and oh, hard to believe, but the results are as relevant as on Google!
If you know anything about SEO (search engine optimization) on Google, you are probably prepared for a struggle for months if not years, to get some results from your free traffic generating efforts.
SEO isn’t easy on Google, especially if your website is totally new, doesn’t have domain authority. In the first six months or even a year, you are destined to work hard creating high-quality long posts to compete for low-volume keywords.
You can’t afford anything competitive because your site is so new, and if you are lucky to get some traffic with long-tail keywords, your traffic volume is low simply because the keywords you targeted, are low-volume keywords. For someone who wants to see any income from a new site or blog, this reality is depressing.
But don’t worry, SEO on Pinterest is not that complicated (yet) and you have a perfect opportunity to leverage the free traffic before the platforms become too crowded with smart online marketers.
For me, Pinterest was the last hope as I started my blog in 2017 when Google was already extremely competitive, Facebook cut off free impressions for pages and businesses forcing everyone to pay for ads, and to pay more. Instagram… well, Instagram is just a platform with a completely isolated eco-system aiming to prevent users from leaving their app.
I invested all my efforts to learn and understand Pinterest SEO and overall algorithm – and it clicked.
I am driving 70,000-300,000/mo pageviews to my blog from Pinterest. You may be wondering why such a wide window? Pinterest traffic has big fluctuations, it depends on the season a lot, as well as on having a few viral pins. Viral pins can skyrocket your traffic from Pinterest for a couple of months and when the viral effect fades away, you are getting back to some average numbers.
How do I use SEO on Pinterest?
I can tell you that SEO on Pinterest is not as complicated and competitive as on Google for various reasons.
There is less competition because so many users have no idea how Pinterest works, and simply pin and repin their content without giving a second thought about the keywords they use (if any keywords or descriptions are added at all).
Pinterest SEO [as of 2021] is also more straightforward than Google SEO because the algorithm is not as sophisticated. I’ll talk more about the algorithm later, for now, what you need to know is that there is nothing a beginner blogger could find difficult to understand or implement about Pinterest SEO.
Pinterest SEO 2021 Strategy for Winners
1. Business account and Rich Pins
I will not elaborate much about what you need to do to create a business account or make a migration from a personal account, and how you verify your site and enable rich pins. I wrote a detailed Guide about the Pinterest Rich Pins here.
Don’t miss this step because Pinterest representatives made it clear that using a personal account to promote a website is against their ToS, so you can easily get your account permanently banned for doing this.
Also, Pinterest speakers also said that when you use a business account and claim your website, for the platform it means your pins deserve a priority and better distribution.
2. Pinterest Profile Optimization
Your profile shows up when users search for “People” on Pinterest, and the choice of keywords used in your Profile name and description will give signals to Pinterest.
If you migrated from a personal account and your business name doesn’t sound good with a username “Martha Smith” for example, you can change the username to anything that is still available on Pinterest and fits your business better.
Sometimes people worry that changing the username they will hurt their old pins or boards. But don’t worry, really. I’ve done this with several of my accounts and nothing will be broken.
As for the pin URLs, they don’t include your username anyway so they will remain the same.
Example of a pin URL: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/833447474767233379/
As for the board URLs, they will change but Pinterest makes an automatic redirection and I don’t think that anything will be truly affected, in terms of SEO.
Example of a board URL: https://www.pinterest.com/anastasiablogger/pinterest-marketing-tips-and-pinterest-strategy/
If I change the username from anastasiablogger to anything else, the username part of the URL will change immediately and automatically. I noticed that my old board URLs were available for a while after the switch, along with the new URLs, but that could be just browser cache or whatever.
When Pinterest completes the switch, your old URLs will be automatically redirected to the new ones.
3. SEO for Pinterest Boards
Pinterest also has search functionality that allows users to search for boards.
A board with strong keywords in the title and description will rank high in Pinterest search results but also this will help all the pins which you save to the board, to get the right keyword context from the starting point.
When you have a brand-new pin image, Pinterest needs to understand what that pins is about, to understand for which keywords it should rank high.
So, make sure to always have your boards SEO optimized for keywords that you targeting in each board, and when you save a new pin to an optimized relevant board, this helps your new pin to take off on Pinterest faster and gain early engagement.
If you’ve seen on Pinterest boards with titles written in weird ways, like “B E S T R E C I P E S” (probably to attract more attention) with extra spaces between characters. Or if you’ve seen board fancy board titles like “My Yummy Favorites”, in both of these examples the SEO purpose of the board title is completely ignored. These titles are not only useless, but they might also actually be hurtful for the SEO potential of the pins which end up on these boards.
4. Apply Pinterest SEO to your Pins
If you use a business account, your site is verified and rich pins are enabled, for an article type of a rich pin, you will see something like this:
In this example, you can see at least three ways to let Pinterest know what your pin is about by adding relevant keywords into:
- SEO Title of your post which comes to your rich pin together with the
- SEO Description of your post
- Pin Description you added while saving the pin.
You will be surprised to know that pin descriptions are most of the times invisible for users (Pinterest is saving space in the feed to show more pins, I guess). But it doesn’t mean that you can ignore pin descriptions. They are very important for SEO of your pins!
5. Pinterest SEO for Hashtags (Can I use hashtags on Pinterest? – Yes, and you Should!)
Pinterest is changing their mind about hashtags quite often. They were allowed for a few years then completely banned as a spammy practice for a few more years.
In 2017, out of nowhere, Pinterest announced hashtags are allowed but recommended to limit the number to 20 hashtags max per pin. Also, Pinterest insists that unlike other platforms where adding any popular hashtags to your image is ok, you have to add only relevant hashtags on Pinterest.
They may define your niche very wide (for example, if you made a Vegan dessert, it’s ok to use the wider hashtags #vegan and #desserts along with #vegandessets).
How Can You Make Keyword Research on Pinterest?
I answered this question fully in a detailed post: Looking For A Pinterest Keyword Tool? You will find out from that post, how to check Pinterest search volume.
How Does Pinterest Search Algorithm Work
Before we move on, I want you to understand that even being a Pinterest expert, I can’t know for sure and in all details how Pinterest algorithm 2018 works. All I can tell you is based on my experience and the information Pinterest representatives shared publicly.
Keep in mind that Pinterest will never share all the details as this would open the door for spammers and all kinds of manipulations on the platform at a large scale.
When we talk about Pinterest algorithm, we first need to look at the four different interfaces. Which one shows pins based on its own algorithm.
- Smart Feed (Home Feed)
- Following Tab
- Pinterest Keyword Search Results
- Hashtag Search Results
Let’s take a look at each of these places as opportunities and try to understand how they work.
Pinterest Smart Feed
Smart feed (also called Home feed) is the default view of your Pinterest account. You could compare it with Facebook’s feed because what is shown is based on a combination of your interests, people and boards you follow, pins you saved earlier, your search history on Pinterest, etc.
By taking all these factors into consideration, Pinterest is trying to guess which content you will enjoy the most and for which pins you will come back to the platform again and again.
In 2018, Smart feed doesn’t show “fresh” pins first. Pins are currently prioritized as “best first” – and best are different for each user, like I said, depending on user’s behavior on the platform.
The Following Tab
This tab was introduced in March 2018 and it shows you only the pins from people your follow on Pinterest. In the Following tab, the pins are shown based on their recency, the newest pins are at the top of your feed.
Pinterest Keyword Search Results
Pinterest’s keyword search results are not the same for all users, they are personalized and change based on the which boards and people you follow. Also, search results on Pinterest change with new updates.
Pinterest doesn’t announce nor talks about these updates and their frequency in public. But if you spend a few years actively working as a Pinterest marketer, like I did, you will notice that Pinterest’s search results change a lot, usually at the start of each season because Pinterest seems to be rolling updates at least once in 3 months.
By the way, if you’d like to get an idea of what the latest Pinterest update 2018 has changed and read about the biggest and most noticeable Pinterest updates in 2021, I am collecting them in this post.
Pinterest takes seasons very seriously and you probably noticed that the platform is designed to emphasize some seasonal or trending topics in many ways. Updating search results before each season starts seems to be a regular practice. Even if the keywords your targeting are not seasonal at all, since Pinterest updates search results in about every 3 months, all types of keywords are affected.
Hashtags on Pinterest 2021 and Search Results
Pinterest seems to have a love-hate relationship with hashtags. In the early years they were ok on Pinterest, then for a few years using hashtags could get your account into trouble on Pinterest, they were considered spammy.
Pinterest is trying to be a search engine but people were bringing hashtags in the way they are used on Instagram. Remember those times when using just any popular hashtags no matter how relevant they are to your image, was popular on Instagram? I believe, now a days people get smarter and try to use less competitive hashtags even on Instagram, but it took years before people realized that.
Pinterest didn’t and still doesn’t want irrelevant hashtags attached to your pins just because they are popular. Keep in mind this strategy can still get you into trouble on Pinterest.
Anyway, in 2017, hashtags were invited back to the platform, Pinterest warned users that 20 hashtags per pin is the reasonable recommended maximum.
When they were rolled out, hashtag search results were not based on relevance or user’s interests – they were shown solely based on their freshness. Also, hashtags are shown only for the new pins (so if you repin some pin on Pinterest with a hashtag, it will not show up in the hashtag search).
It’s still true for the most part, but I noticed that pins are not always exactly ranked in chronological order.
Pinterest seems to start adding other factors to hashtag search results. I suppose they might be showing higher pins from users you are following.
Another interesting note Pinterest made around October 2018 on one of their pages with recommendations for content creators. You might find it interesting if I quote the part about hashtags from this page. It’s also good to have it here for the history because Pinterest changes the text on these pages quite often and I wouldn’t be surprised if this specific paragraph will look different in just a few months: “Pinterest hashtags function as broad search terms, and people use them to find trending content. Use 1-2 hashtags per Pin description, and keep them simple. Unlike other platforms, Pinterest hashtags aren’t used for jokes, memes or commentary. So for a fashion brand, something like #springfashion would work well—but #ilookterribleinhats wouldn’t.”
Other Factors that Affect Your Success With SEO on Pinterest
1. Account Quality
Your account quality includes a lot of sub-factors:
– how consistent is your activity on Pinterest. Content creators are recommended to save a new pin (fresh content) at least once a week. If you don’t have enough of your own content to pin every day, your content curator’s skills will be also appreciated;
– engagement scores on your account (if you have a huge following gained in early years on Pinterest, chances are 30% of your users are either bots that were actively following you back in 2012, or even real people that left the platform and forgot their password from Pinterest forever). This will lead to lower engagement score (repins, click-throughs, comments, “tried it” photos) compared to your following base.
I go deeper into this topic in my Pinterest SEO Traffic Secrets course, if you are serious about getting free traffic from this platform, it’s currently the most comprehensive course on the market that teaches you specifically SEO on Pinterest.
2. Quality of your Pin Images
Here is my post with some fundamental recommendations in regards to the design of pin images that will work for you as traffic generators on Pinterest.
Images that are not designed with these tips in mind, will have a hard time ranking on Pinterest, no matter how much work you do on the SEO part for each pin.
If you use low-quality, pixelated, horizontal images as pins, most probably they will never get enough user engagement and Pinterest will not show them high in search results.
Does Pinterest Help SEO on Google?
How to use Pinterest for SEO on Google? That’s a great question and the answer is… it depends on Google. You see, Google is still a giant compared to Pinterest and Pinterest results compete on Google, just like any other website.
Until 2018, Google used to show a ton of Pinterest pages with an URL like this:
pinterest.com/explore/diy (the page will not open because Pinterest eliminated Explore pages in 2018).
These used to be pages of Pinterest’s Explore tab which was serving two purposes: for users, it used to show some trending and popular pins in each topic or niche. For Google robots, these pages used to be collections of pins with relevant descriptions, tons of them.
Google apparently considered these pages as super relevant for some seasonal keywords, I used to see a lot of these pages show up high in Google SERP for topics like DIY, home décor, art, image search. If you included the word “Pinterest” in the search, you’d definitely get a few explore pages in Google top-10.
But then Google changed their mind – these pages were kicked out from search results and pins that were lucky to get into those Explore pages, can’t get that additional Google traffic anymore.
Is there still any way your Pinterest SEO could also help with Google SEO?
Yes, I’m seeing Pinterest boards and even individual pins showing high in SERP for many keywords in Google. Obviously, they appear in Google because they were originally optimized on Pinterest.
This is a link to a Pinterest board. The description Google takes from the board description. Now, the owner of this board apparently can get some additional seasonal traffic from Google as well.
Do Pinterest’s results show up for any kind of keywords?
Of course, not. You probably noticed that my keyword was a pretty specific, long-tail query. You will find Pinterest pages for keywords with lower competition more often. Also, I believe it depends on the niche. Pinterest users are known for loving all things DIY, home decor, crafts, recipes, art, etc. These are the searches that also imply more image results, so in these cases, Google tends to show Pinterest content more often.
This article is long, yet I only managed to give you the basics of what you need to know about Pinterest SEO. You can get your entire strategy for SEO on Pinterest set with my Pinterest SEO Traffic secrets course.
One thing is sure: you can boost your website or blog traffic using Pinterest SEO in a smart way. The competition for free Pinterest traffic will increase over time as more people try and see SEO on Pinterest driving them traffic.
Don’t leave this page without notes about the changes you need to apply to your Pinterest account.
There is definitely something you could improve in your profile title or bio, in your board titles and descriptions.
You could also analyze some of your main keywords in Google search results. If you see Pinterest boards or even specific pins showing up, there is a chance you could also leverage your Pinterest SEO efforts to get more space in the Google SERP.
Let me know if some of the suggestions from this post improve your positions in Pinterest search for people, boards or pins. Or if you managed to get higher in Google results with your Pinterest SEO changes – let me know in the comments, share your screenshots!
Did you find this post useful? Save THIS PIN to your Pinterest Marketing board on Pinterest to check it later again.