I think I know why you are on this page… A new Pinterest update 2021 just happened, some algorithm or interface changes seem to be occurring as we speak, and your traffic is either going down or up (lucky you if it’s the latter!). I created this page because I got tired of replying over and over to similar questions I receive from my students about the latest Pinterest changes.
I plan to update this page fairly frequently – as soon as something significant happens on Pinterest, you’ll be the first one to know about it from this post. So SAVE THIS PIN to your Pinterest Marketing board for later.
If you use Pinterest for marketing your products or you are a blogger and drive traffic from this platform, you probably know by now that algorithm updates and major interface changes happen on Pinterest so often that people are getting confused by what is the most recent or new update, what happened just a month ago.
I want to make your life easy! Here, on this page, Pinterest updates are presented in chronological order and also are explained as per what is an actual change, what is a rumor, and how you should react to these changes.
I’m going to also mention here some news related to the officially approved scheduler Tailwind and their new features as this might be directly related to your activity on Pinterest.
January 2021. Keyword Research Getting Harder
Doing keyword research is not as easy on this platform as it used to be because the colorful boxes with keyword suggestions are not shown for most of the users on desktop and mobile devices. This could be a temporary change but also could be a permanent update, time will show.
There are a lot of other updates you might want to check in my latest videos:
July 2020. Controllable Distribution – New Algorithm
Pinterest’s developers published a post in Pinterest Engineering Blog on Medium which makes it clear – the new algorithm was aimed to diversify content types on home feed. This post is extremely technical, so let me put it in simple words for you.
How did Pinterest work before? The platform showed users more of the content that they typically click on, so it was based on the history of user’s activity on Pinterest.
The new algorithm will not replace the old one. It will just work on top of it. First it will build the home feed for each user based on previous behaviour, and then apply controllable distribution.
For example, it can specify that 4% of user’s home feed should contain video pins even if the user never clicks on videos.
What does it mean for us, content creators and businesses promoting on this platform? It means, we’ll have to experiment more with video pins and other new formats that Pinterest is introducing (for example, check Story pins if they are already available on your account).
June 2020. Pinterest Actually Rolls out an Algorithm that Favors Fresh Pins
Pinterest made a short live session with Tailwind scheduler to address some of the questions about the algorithm changes and updates on the platform that seem to affect many accounts.
In February 2020, Pinterest and Tailwind already announced the new recommended Best Practices and I made a detailed video about it.
A lot of people who watched the live session in June, were not quite happy with it as it seemed that it didn’t actually address the question of what is actually going on with the algorithm and what we, content creators, should do to stay on top of these updates.
Well, I can honestly tell you I wasn’t too surprised that Pinterest representative didn’t tell use exactly what’s going on and mostly re-emphasised how it is important to create fresh pins and fresh content to please the new algorithm. We knew it since February, didn’t we? We just didn’t realize that one day we’ll actually see or feel the algorithm update affecting our traffic from this platform.
So if you ask my opinion of what is going on, it’s quite simple: Pinterest gave us a heads-up in February-March, about the coming algorithm change, and now they are actually implementing it by giving more space in the feed and search results to fresh pins, compared to pins that have lots of repins.
Another question that was addressed during the call, is whether or not it’s ok to keep using Tailwind scheduler. There were some rumours based on confusing responses from some of the Pinterest’s support agents, that it might be best to upload pins directly on Pinterest. But during this live session, Pinterest’s representative made it clear that it’s absolutely fine to use native Pinterest’s scheduler or a third-party scheduler like Tailwind. So guys, as long as you create FRESH pins, that is all that really matters for Pinterest.
As for the repins, Pinterest representative confirmed that they will still get some distribution on the platform but not as much as before, and the best way to grow your account and traffic from Pinterest is really by creating fresh pins.
June 2020. New Type of Penalty – Deindexed pins on Pinterest accounts
A wave of account suspensions related to an overly aggressive spam filter affected many accounts, it seems to unsuspend legit accounts quickly though.
However, another issue is that some accounts haven’t been suspended, their domains haven’t been blocked but they experienced a sudden drop in impressions on Pinterest, drop of traffic and also the most unusual issue – all their pins were gone from Pinterest search results (de-indexed). Impressions don’t drop to 0 as it happens when a domain is blocked, they stay at a low level as the new pins are only shown to the followers of the affected accounts.
Some accounts were able to recover from this after over a month or more of exchanging emails with Pinterest support. The accounts that recovered received a confirmation that their accounts were accidentally flagged as spam and their pins should be re-indexed within about 10 days.
April 2020. Shop and Explore Tabs for Queries with Shopping Intent
For many keywords that might have a shopping user intent (examples: “spring outfits“, “office decor“, “kitchen remodel“), Pinterest starts showing the following two tabs: Shop and Explore.
The Explore tab shows a mix of product pins, promoted pins and regular results from websites and blogs. The Shop tab shows only product pins.
March 2020. Today Tab on Mobile Apps
Pinterest introduced a Today tab, a source of daily inspiration with curated topics and trending Pins that makes it easy to explore popular and timely ideas.
March 2020. Censored Search Results and Flagging Accounts
Pinterest added censored search results for a variety of keywords related to the COVID-19 as more and more content creators started creating pins around this topic. Pinterest shows for most of the keywords related to Coronavirus, only the results from WHO. Also, there is a warning that posting pins related to Covid-19, is against the platform’s Community Guidelines, and can be flagged.
February 2020. Pinterest (and Tailwind) Announced the NEW Best Practices
In the middle of February 2020, Pinterest and Tailwind made together a live video session to announce the changes coming to the algorithm, the NEW Pinterest best practices and recommended pinning limits on Tailwind. You can read all the details about these important changes in my detailed post and additionally watch the video on my Youtube channel.
January 2020. A huge Spam Clean-up on Pinterest (going on for a few weeks)
Throughout the entire month of January 2020, Pinterest has been doing a major spam clean-up, you can read about more of similar clean-ups in the post below. It looks like Pinterest makes them at least a few times a year. This time, sites across all the niches are being blocked, accounts suspended without any warning. However, Pinterest’s support seems to reply pretty quickly during this wave. Most of the people who were suspended or blocked got their accounts up and running in a few days. If you want to know how to act if your account was suspended or your site was blocked, on Pinterest, check out this post.
November 2019. Tailwind Scheduler Added a Pin Title Field
In November 2019, Tailwind team implemented a long-awaited feature that allows you to add a Pin Title to every pin. This feature was especially important for those websites which had issues with Rich pins (Pinterest confirmed many times since about the spring of 2019, an ongoing technical issue on their side, with Rich pins on the newly verified websites).
That issue meant that Rich pins validator would show that Rich pins have been successfully enabled, but the Rich pins data wasn’t pulled from the source page (like pin title wouldn’t pull the page SEO title, and there would be no meta-description text on the pin).
Earlier in 2019, Pinterest added a new separate pin title field on their own platform, so even if your Rich pins didn’t work, you could add the pin title manually. The problem was if you scheduled those pins via Tailwind to other boards, the pins published by Tailwind, would have no pin titles. That was because Tailwind was only able to pull the data from the Rich pin and if their didn’t work correctly for your website, you’d have no pin title.
Luckily, since November this problem is solved. Pin title field in Tailwind also helps with your pins linked to your claimed social accounts (Youtube and Instagram). Pinterest has a hard time getting Rich pin data from these platforms, so with a new field on Tailwind, all your pins, even those linked to Youtube and Instagram posts, will have a chance to rank high on Pinterest since you can add a pin title.
August 2019. Pinterest Made a Major Spam Clean-up
In the first part of August 2019, Pinterest made a new major spam clean-up, similar to what happened around the same time in 2018. Many sites (especially in the money-making niche) were blocked for about a week. Most of the legit bloggers were unblocked, but for some sites, the Pinterest team decided to keep them blocked or unblocked the domains while keeping their Pinterest accounts suspended. If you want to know how to act if your account was suspended or your site was blocked, on Pinterest, check out this post.
May 2019. Pinterest Releases New Analytics Dashboard
The new design of Pinterest Analytics dashboard looks a lot cleaner than the old dashboard. Not all the accounts get access to new Analytics dashboard at the same time so you might not be seeing it yet.
You can find more details about new Analytics and how to use the tool in this post by Tailwind.
May 16th 2019 – Pinterest Mass Blocking Blogs
At 12 EST precisely, a huge amount of legit blogs were marked as spam on Pinterest (many are with prime ad management companies which simply don’t accept crappy sites by default).
One of my blogs (not this one that you are reading) has been also affected. Last summer, if you scroll down this post, a similar wave of blocked domains happened but that one was resolved for me in 12 hours, for most of the bloggers within 2-3 days.
This type of penalty on Pinterest is the worst because when your domain is marked as spam, all the pins you already have on the platform, stop bringing you traffic instantly. You literally lose 100% of Pinterest traffic in one moment and all the links to your site on Pinterest show the message that your site is spammy:
Pinterest doesn’t admit this as a glitch + Mediavine and Tailwind are not involving this time in any way. They are just recommending to keep emailing to [email protected] and asking Pinterest to remove your site from a blacklist.
One of my sites (as hundreds of other blogs) remains blocked for 4 days, since this happened on Thursday and on weekends, as far as I know, Pinterest support doesn’t even answer any questions. I will update this post when we have any news about this mass domain blocking.
Meanwhile, if you want to read more about what you should do when your Pinterest account is suspended, or your site is blocked on Pinterest, my detailed post on this topic is here.
Video Pins on Pinterest Available for Organic Pins (Not Just Ads) – March 2019
Videos pins used to be only an option for promoted pins, but in March 2019 Pinterest made videos available to the majority of accounts on the platform, to upload them as regular (organic pins).
To create a video pin, you need to click on the red “plus” in the right corner of your account, to Create Pin. Most of the accounts see among the types of files you can upload, videos.
These are the requirements for video files on Pinterest:
- File type: .mp4 or .mov
- Encoding: H.264
- Max file size: Up to 2GB
- Video length: Minimum 4 seconds, maximum 15 minutes
- Aspect ratio: Shorter than 1:2 (width:height), taller than 1.91:1. We recommend making your videos square (1:1) or vertical (2:3, 9:16).
Pinterest October – November 2018 New Features
All business accounts on Pinterest can now create Carousel Pins – this is a new type of pins which allows up to 5 different images published as a slider under the same pin URL.
These images can be linked to different page URLs on your website, they can also have different titles and descriptions!
Pinterest initially introduced Carousel pins as an additional tool for businesses to make their ads more attractive. However, right now you can create Carousel pins without starting an ad campaign.
Just go to your Pinterest account on a desktop and click on the “plus” button next to your profile name. From the drop-down, select Create Carousel.
There is a chance that as early adopters of the new pin format, we could gain some additional benefits. First, at the beginning, not many users will create these Carousel pins (they obviously take more time than the regular pins). Plus, Pinterest should probably give an additional initial boost to the new pins so that more content creators get interested in saving these Carousel pins.
Pinterest Update July 2018 (And Some Other Changes)
Pinterest Glitch Blocked Many Legit Bloggers Domains on 7/24/2018
This day many bloggers and Pinterest marketers woke up to see their domains marked as spam on Pinterest. This very blog you are reading now was also blocked and you can’t imagine how I was worried about it – all my Pinterest traffic was gone for nearly 24 hours.
Each and every pin on affected accounts was not leading users to the websites anymore – they were sending users to a broken page with a ruthless message:
As far as I was able to follow up the situation in multiple blogging communities on Facebook, the majority of the affected accounts were working fine within 24 hours since the issue was known about. Pinterest didn’t make any official statements, didn’t reply to anyone’s emails, just fixed the issue and pretended that nothing happened.
In case you ever get caught by a similar issue in the future, here are a few tips on how you can try to help your domain get unmarked as soon as possible. When you write an email to them, no matter how pissed you are by the situation, make sure you use respectful language because after all, the person reading your message, is just a person. You don’t know how that person who is not personally responsible for the algorithms on Pinterest, might feel about your message, and how this could influence his or her decision about your account.
- Email creators-support @ pinterest.com – this address was shared by Pinterest on their conference for content creators.
- Visit the page https://help.pinterest.com/en/contact, select “Business Account” and then choose the option appropriate to your request.
- One more tip that might not be applicable to every situation, but I thought it’s worth mentioning this insider tip. You see, some companies have a privilege of talking to Pinterest reps directly and when a large-scale glitch is causing some trouble for bloggers or content creators, they do their best to help us. During the latest instances of mass accounts blocking, Tailwind (officially approved Pinterest scheduler), Mediavine and Adthrive (advertising network for bloggers) created lists of affected accounts in their FB communities and then sent lists to Pinterest to manually look into each blog.
Pinterest Analytics Glitches in July 2018
If you noticed that your Pinterest Analytics show nearly 0 views on some days in July 2018, that’s just a glitch and you can verify in your Google Analytics that you were getting traffic from Pinterest on those days normally.
Tailwind releasing SmartLoop tool
Tailwind made an announcement about their long-awaited SmartLoop tool. They promised to roll it out on all accounts within 8-12 weeks.
If you are following Pinterest updates and changes closely, you probably noticed that 2018 is the year when Pinterest started really opening up a little more info to marketers, bloggers, content creators. Yes, Pinterest even organized the first-ever conference for content creators.
Out of all the information that was presented to the blogging community lately, not all “news” truly new or part of a Pinterest update. They just never spoke so openly about the ways you should promote your content on their platform.
However, a lot of stuff that was discussed during the conferences worked on Pinterest for years this way, and Pinterest just never spoke about it so openly.
On this page, I do my best to separate what Pinterest reps claim, what Pinterest Best practices dictate, from what actually works to drive traffic to your website. I’m also going to put away all the rumors based on some popular interpretations of Pinterest’s statements.
I spend a lot of time (more than I wish I had to!) monitoring blogging communities on Facebook where people share their experience on Pinterest. I spend this much time doing it because among the numerous Facebook threads and comments sometimes I can see a pattern and it helps to figure out how Pinterest works for people in different niches, following different strategies.
Also, I do it to save time for my students and to be able to provide the most recent and comprehensive information in my Pinterest SEO Traffic Secrets Course.
Pinterest Disapproved BoardBooster Scheduler
If you don’t know what BoardBooster was, then probably you can just skip this paragraph. Before you do it, just take one thing with you: from June 2018, Pinterest is not a place to mess around using any schedulers or tools which are not shown on their official Pinterest’s partners page.
Now, getting back to BoardBooster. It was one of the two most popular Pinterest schedulers for about 4 years and offered automation tools at an affordable price. Pinterest didn’t like that BoardBooster was operating without using Pinterest API. This was ok for a few years, but at some point, all big social media platforms crash upon unapproved apps or tools. Unfortunately, there was no way Pinterest would allow BoardBooster become an approved partner and the tool was closed for good.
Several tools are shown on the Partner’s page but the leader is Tailwind. If you want to start using it efficiently and save yourself the time from learning it by trial and error, you could make a jump start with my very affordable video course dedicated to Tailwind.
Ongoing Pinterest Update – Algorithm 2018
Group Boards will be losing distribution power
This one is quite a fundamental statement made by two Pinterest reps in an interview for Pinterest scheduler Buffer (check the video below, start from 37:07).
It’s so important because building powerful Pinterest account by reaching audiences of multiple group boards was the main strategy that has been working great for the last 2-3 years.
However, it seems like from now on, Pinterest will be working on reducing the distribution of pins saved to group boards.
Why Pinterest decided to do that? They said group boards became over time something different from what they were created for. Have you seen group boards with thousands of contributors? I bet you have because they are usually the ones that are too easy to be accepted to.
Now, 1000-4000 contributors (the max I’ve seen, but I’m sure there are even bigger group boards) and no pinning limits can’t end up in a good way. Spam eventually takes over these boards and the board is losing the focus on one topic.
As a consequence, even legit pinners on those boards get low engagement scores for their pins and a confusing keyword context based on all the spam saved to the board previously.
Pinterest reps explained that group boards should be only used for collaborations on “projects”. For me, it means that group boards have to be as focused on one topic or keyword, as standard boards are. And shouldn’t involve large numbers of contributors.
What should you do now?
- If you are still relatively new and don’t have many big group boards on your profile, you have two options. First, forget about group boards and work on your own boards. Second, if you still want to try to reach additional audiences with group boards, you might want to create or join only small group boards, very specifically targeted to a keyword or topic.
- If you already joined many large group boards, especially generic boards which allow people from all niches to pin, it’s time to evaluate how efficient these boards are for your account. Learn how I do it from this post.
2. Build strong boards on your own account
Since Pinterest takes distribution away from the big group boards, I can tell that you naturally will redirect the majority of your efforts to building your own boards.
You might not even realize that, but a lot of established bloggers see their Pinterest traffic tanking for a while. Their accounts are packed with group boards they joined while their own boards are the minority.
If this is your case, time for a change has come. Did you notice that in their Best practices, Pinterest recommends creating at least 5 boards for each topic we cover in the blog or website? By doing this, you can target several keyword variations on each board.
3. The “Most Relevant Boards First” Rule for a New Pin
To help your new pin succeed on Pinterest, you have to pin it to a relevant board first. Or several relevant boards. And they should be boards on your account. By saving the pin to a relevant board, you give this new image the right keyword context. By saving first to your own board, you help Pinterest boost your pin, because they claim to give priority to the pins saved by content creators.
4. Tall pins pessimization
If you’ve been on Pinterest long enough, you probably have an idea that long pins get more engagement and space in the feeds, and in general are more successful. That’s why about 2 years ago Pinterest search results were jam-packed with infographics. Some marketing sites received a great traffic influx from Pinterest in those times.
I’m not too sad about it because I hated seeing those long pins using Pinterest on my phone. They used to occupy space or 3-7 normal sized pins and I didn’t find this fair.
Currently, Pinterest is cutting off the long pins at 2:4.2 ratio and in general, they recommend sticking to the 2:3 ratio in the future as longer pins will not only be cut but also pessimized by the Pinterest algorithm.
5. Be a true Content Creator and save “Fresh” pins regularly
Several Pinterest reps talked a lot about the freshness of pins. Why would they touch on this subject?
Apparently, too many bloggers were repinning their own exactly the same pins too many times to multiple boards.
If you even upload the same exact image from the same exact post URL, Pinterest will recognize the image as an existent pin and in the majority of cases will immediately show you the summed up stats for that pin.
The conclusion is – you need to create a lot more new pins – new image, new text overlay, new colors – anything at all has been different on the image to be considered a new pin. They started saying content creators should save new pins weekly, but I lately hear voices saying we should do it daily. Who promised Pinterest marketing is going to get easier?
All platforms get more complicated algorithms over time as the competition between content creators promoting on these platforms grows. So if you are still on the fence about Pinterest traffic and think you can start later, I can’t recommend you highly enough to start working on your Pinterest account strategically NOW. The longer you wait, the harder it gets for a beginner.
I recently found an additional way to make your pins more “fresh” for Pinterest while saving new pin versions for your old posts.
When you just save new images directly from your web pages, Pinterest Rich Pins automatically attach to them your SEO titles and SEO descriptions (if you use Article Rich Pins). This mean, all your new pins from the same page are targeting exactly the same keywords.
Pinterest recommends you to create new pins and change keywords to give another perspective on your image and attract an additional audience. Changing pin description when you save a new pin does its positive job in this sense, but your SEO title and keywords in it remain the same.
So what’s the new solution?
When you save a new pin for an old post, don’t save the pin from your page. Instead, go to Pinterest Homepage and click on Create Pin in the right top corner:
Then you can upload the new image or if you saved it on the page, you can also retrieve the image from your site (insert the link to your page under the image upload). The most important part here is changing your Rich Pin’s title and description. Try to think of some new keywords you haven’t used in your SEO title for this post or page.
This way, you will overwrite the Rich Pins’s title that comes from your web page. The SEO description remains the same, but you can and should also use new keywords in the pin description (see the screenshot below):
6. It’s Ok to have Multiple pins per page URL
Pinterest reps confirmed what was added to their Best Practices page – you can and you should create multiple pins per post to target different keywords or audiences in each pin version.
7. Pinterest Analytics Work Faster
Pinterest used to have a 36-hour delay in stats shown for each specific pin. Lately, they show analytics on a pin basis almost in real time. Pinterest claims they have a 2-hour delay in reporting the data.
A side note here. The stats you are seeing on a pin basis are summed up counts for all repins, impressions and saves of all versions of this pin. Imagine a user B repinned your original pin to a bigger board and that repin got a lot more impressions and clicks. This means, your own pin will be showing a summed up stats from your pin and the repin of user B Stats.
Another note. When you look at the pin stats in a window like on a screenshot below don’t forget these are stats only for the last 30 days. It’s not all the repins/saves/impressions from the day the pin was initially saved.
8. Followers Quality over Quantity
Pinterest reps mentioned on a few events that the algorithm is showing your new pins first to your follower base. The algorithm evaluates the early engagement to see if your pin should be shown to bigger audiences.
This means that practices which involve mass following or purchasing followers are not helping you get traffic from your pin. In fact, they are doing the opposite. You get followers which are not going to engage with your pins. This gives negative signals to Pinterest about your content. This will limit your pins distribution.
They used the term “early engagement”, which is also well-known in regards to the Instagram algorithm. If your content gets good engagement soon after publication, chances are this content might get an additional boost from the platform’s algorithm.
To quote Sarah from Pinterest (the interview video above): “When you save a new Pin to Pinterest, it will be distributed it to your followers first. That’s the testing ground and it gets your content out much faster than Pinterest could ever do before. This is your most loyal audience – they love your content.”
Pinterest Changes 2018 – New Features and New Interface
Easy Saving to Suggested Boards (for the Web, June 2018)
Like most Pinterest changes, this new feature is rolled to the user base step by step. So if you don’t see the same when you try to save a pin on your desktop, probably you will see it pretty soon.
The change makes saving pins it much easier. You don’t need to click on the Save button before choosing a board. Now Pinterest suggests a relevant board on your account and you can save the pin right on the same page.
Public Stats of Monthly Reach
Not everyone was happy with this one. Because a lot of established bloggers who started on Pinterest years ago were pretty happy with their high following numbers. Since they didn’t invest as much time and efforts in Pinterest anymore, the reach often decreased a lot over time. Now their low reach became public, and it doesn’t look so great when you have a sponsored post opportunity.
The reach number in your profile shows how many Pinterest users interacted with your Pins in the last 30 days. This number is rounded.
New Pinterest Profile Cover
You might have noticed on lots of Pinterest profiles a collection of the latest pins as a profile cover. You can customize which pins will appear there and choose one of the options to show:
- All Recent Pins
- Recent Pins from a specific board,
- Recent Pins made from your site (includes pins saved by other users from your domain).
New Activity Tab
Activity tab is pretty cool – it shows you all the pins which were saved from your site. Not only saved by you (using Tailwind scheduler for example), but also by any other users. You can look at the most popular pins that get lots of saves from your site. Then make your conclusions about which pins or content works the best.
You have an option to keep this tab private if you wish.
Following Feed on Pinterest (March 2018)
I believe that by the time you are reading this post, this feature works on all Pinterest accounts. It’s the second mode of using Pinterest after the Smart Home feed – your “Following” feed.
It’s a feed of pins only from the people follow and these pins are shown in chronological order.
I also wrote a post earlier from which you can find out everything about Pinterest changes that happened in 2017 and earlier.
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.