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4 Pinterest Tips to Make Your Pins More Searchable on Pinterest

Pinterest Marketing Tip: Can't find your pins on Pinterest? Here's 4 tips to help your pins be more searchable within Pinterest.
Pinterest-Tips-for-Search-Optimization-1

Note: This post has been updated to include more findings on how to use the Pinterest Search Engine to your business advantage. There will be some more tips added on to the original four that was posted.

Pinterest is amazing, I can honestly spend hours at a time looking at different infographics, advertising boards, and pins. Now with more than 70 million users of the social media, it’s a great social media marketing tool. But with 70 million users pinning dozens of pins and massively more pins, trying to get your pins to show up on search results are much harder.

Old school tactics such as constantly pinning again and again for a category used to help drive traffic. This was because if you kept spamming your pins, your pins would show up on top more often. However, Pinterest has caught on, and they’ve changed the algorithm to help prevent such activities under the new changes made in mid March by Pinterest.

Now that they’ve been very good at stopping most spammers, and decreasing the traffic of marketers that were using that technique, learning to search optimize your pins for keywords on Pinterest’s search engine will be very vital. And it will try to answer the age old questions “Why don’t my pins show up on Pinterest?” While this blog post doesn’t have all the answers, it will shed some light as to how to increase your chances of getting them found in search.

This specific post only discuss about optimizing your pins. I will write another article about optimizing your boards, and your user profile in the future.

Optimizing your pins will be more important, since this is the default search setting for Pinterest.Here are four ways to make your pins more searchable on Pinterest.

Search Optimization for Pins on Pinterest

1)Keywords Should be in the Description of Pins

Please don’t be mistaken, I’m not talking about search optimization for Google or Bing, this is just for Pinterest’s search engine when looking for pins with the keyword.

The first thing you need to do to optimize your pins for search is to ensure that you put keywords into your pin’s descriptions. For example, let’s say you want to create pins that are more locally targeted, then you may put in keyword, “Fashion trends in L.A. or fashion trends in New York.”

It’s important for localized businesses that they put their city in pin’s descriptions. The huge majority of pins that were searched based on a keyword, I believe, are found using this particular method.

What really bugged me was that some of the pins that were searched by keywords never even had one single keyword in the actual description itself, yet it was showing up. This is when I clicked on them and was able to determine that the second factor played a role in which pins showed up in search feeds.

Pinterest Tip for Search Optimization 2 2)The Pin Should Come From a Domain with the Keyword In It

What I also noticed when searching for pins was there was a good chunk of pins that didn’t have any of the keywords that I was searching for but still popped up in the searches. For example, when I typed in Pinterest infographic, I would sometimes get social media marketing in the description. Though the number of pins that did show up without the keywords in the description were much lower than those that did.

I know for a fact that Pinterest can’t read text on pictures (but they are able to identify colours and shapes), so I decided to click on where the pictures were hosted. And what I noticed was that the many of the pictures that didn’t have the keywords in the descriptions had keywords in the urls that they were from.

When I clicked on it the pin that had social media marketing as the description, it led to a site that had the key words “Pinterest Infographic” in the domain such as. www.examplesite.com/social-media/five-pinterest-infographics-for-CEOS

My speculation is that Pinterest scrapes the domain, or the webpage and takes that into consideration into its search algorithm.

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Pinterest Tips for Search Optimization 3 3) Keywords Should be in the Name of the Picture/Photo File

What also helped, but I couldn’t find as a strong correlation, was the name of the file contained keywords as well. Based on closer inspection I believe why it helps is because some people will pin the actual domain where the file is hosted.

For example if the name of your infographic or pin is whateveryouwant.jpg and it’s hosted on the site www.examplesite.com/uploads/whateveryouwant.jpg then Pinterest probably won’t pay too much attention to it. However, if you if the file name is pinterest-infographic.jpg and your pin is directly taken from www.examplesite.com/uploads/pinterest-infographic.jpg then this will help in the search results of the actual Pinterest search feed.

This is really just an extension of the second point that was made.

Pinterst Tips for Search Optimization 4 4)The Number of Recent Repins Matter

I typed in a bunch of random keywords and noticed that many of the pins that showed up for heavy used keywords such as, red velvet cupcake and cotton candy were quite interesting. It was hard to find pins that showed up on search that had not been repinned at least once.

For strongly competitive words, the number of recent repins that a pin gets can help shoot it straight to the top, but once the number of repins has cooled down, it’s mostly likely going to move much lower in the search results or completely disappear. There is a pin that I repinned it from another account about the end of July 2013, and 10 weeks later it’s been repinned 386 times and has stayed on top of search results. If you use the desktop version of Pinterest it requires about 2 pages of scrolling down before it’s seen.

Every week, the number of repins keeps going up, and I believe this is the main reason why it’s stayed on top of results.

This wasn’t the case for keywords that aren’t searched as often but it seemed to be the case for popular keywords.

More Tips On Getting Your Pins Found

Use Exact Word Matching:

I’ve also noticed that the exact keyword match plays a role in how your pins show up. If you want to be found for the words, Christmas tree skirts, it’s best to make sure that those words are together, instead of using the description, skirts for Christmas trees.

This doesn’t eliminate your pin from the original search term, Christmas tree skirts, it just makes it less likely that it’s going to be one of the pins showing up for that particular search term if you don’t use exact phrasing.

What I was also able to find based on a small sample of searches was that keywords that contained plural words showed the same search results for the singular version on search. For example if you go and type in the word Pinterest Strategy, you will see the same results as Pinterest Strategies. This is quite different from Google search engines, that take in such small nuances.

I would suggest that you mix up your description keywords to have words that are plural as well as singular to maximize your potential of being found in Pinterest’s search engine.

If you use a # in between the words, I believe it doesn’t interfere with how it’s read by the internal search engine.

Use the Keyword You Want to be Found for Early in the Description:

There’s a strong correlation that pins that show up on top tend to have their keywords very early in their description. I searched up the words Valentine’s day crafts, and for a lot of other keyword searches, and I’ve found that pins that tend to be on the top are the ones that use the keywords very early on in their description.

For example, if you own a travel site, and you want to rank well for hotels in your city, then you might put into your description, “Paris Hotel: This luxurious Four Seasons in Paris is designed to sweep you away from the everyday and into a life of relaxation and adventure.” This will increase the chances that the pins will rank and be found on Pinterest.

Short Descriptions Are More Likely to Show Up:

This is going to be a tough call, pins with descriptions of about 300 characters long tend to be repinned more often according a to an infographic by Dan Zarella.

However, based on my research, there seems to be a correlation between pins that had less than 100 characters that tended to dominate popular search words. A good example is the search word recipe, one of the most used words in pin descriptions, and yet when the word is searched on Pinterest, the descriptions remain relatively short for almost all the pins. Considering how many popular pins that have the word recipe in in it, you would think that more pins with longer descriptions would show, but that’s not the case.

Google has an algorithm that calculates keyword density, which is the number of times a word is found in a post divided by the number of words written in total. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a ranking measure for Pinterest, where they take keyword density as a measurement. However, keyword stuffing doesn’t work, so repeating the word recipe three times in your description isn’t going to help you rank better for those specific words, it will only help you rank better if a person purposely types in the word recipe three times in the search box.

I’m speculating this is to make it easier for mobile users when they are searching for pins, since long descriptions can be an eyestrain on a smart phone.

5) What about Alt Tags and Titles of the Pins?

Based on my research and clicking on dozens of pins, it didn’t seem that the alt, or the title played a dominant role in showing up in the search results, but this would need more research and bigger sample size. I would imagine this isn’t of much interest because Pinterest isn’t interested in being a search engine like Google or Bing.

I still highly encourage you to properly label these pictures with a correct and detailed tag for your images. The reason for this is because when someone does use Pinterest’s official pin bookmarklet then the description automatically becomes what the alt tag is, however if you use a pin it button like the one I have on my site that’s from Addthis, they take the title tag from that particular page or blog post.

And it’s good for SEO on the Google and Bing search engines. This is why it’s important to ensure that you have an integrated optimization strategy.

6) Colours and Shapes Play a Role

In the last half year of 2013 I started finding more and more results that had less and less to do with texts. Instead I will see the EXACT same keyword search but from a different user. What’s interesting to note is that the description will not have any of the keywords, nor will it have a url with a keyword in it.

I’m speculating that Pinterest is using the data of certain keywords to be associated with certain shapes, colours and even specific photos. Like my friend Jack, from Call2Pin stated, Pinterest has been very good certain photos as porn. (Jack works in the lingerie wholesale business and has done extensive testing with Pinterest about visual recognition.)

To further support this statement,Pinterest acquired VisualGraph, further supporting that they may be moving towards being a visual search engine.

Keep in mind that this is all speculation based on observation. It would be interesting to see what other marketers and search engine optimizers think. I highly encourage you to do your own tests and see if you notice any patterns.

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Vincent Ng is the founder of MCNG Marketing, and the author of Pinterest to Profits with Pintalysis and the host of the Pinterest podcast, Pictures to Profits. You can grab your free e-book on How to Search Optimize Your Pins for Pinterest and Search Engines."

Latest posts by Vincent Ng (see all)

  • http://Www.mybesthelper.com Alexandra Greenhill

    Being clever in the titles and descriptions helps too – I re-pinned a cute photo of two babies, but titled it “Two babies networking” and it gets much greater attention than the original. And loading the “Pin it” extension on to your chrome bar is a must – makes it super easy to update content constantly.

    • Vincent Ng

      I agree, I use the Pin It bookmarklet for my Firefox and it makes it so much easier to update content. I like that idea of having a creative title to get more repins. A good headline/caption can do wonders.

  • http://www.scorpiongodlair.com Shyam

    Hey Vincent, Those are great tips. I couldn’t use Pinterest much with my blogs, Seems like I should give a heavy weight try for it ;)

    However, second point is the only new thing for me. I just learning, but not taking action. That’s where I went wrong with my business. I’m going to stop that bad habit ‘Not Taking Action’ now. Anyway great post.

    Best Wishes,
    Shyam.

    • Vincent Ng

      Thanks Shyam for sharing your thoughts. I’m glad that you found Tip #2 helpful. I think Pinterest isn’t going to be right for every blog, but it’s kind of the same thing as submitting it to Stumble Upon. All it can do is offer some great potential traffic.

  • http://www.darlingmushroomblog.blogspot.com Mel

    This doesn’t seem to be working for me. I have labeled my picture file, pinned from by blog, added text to the image, hashtags, etc. I still can not get my pin to show up in search results. What am I doing wrong?

    Here is the pin I am trying to promote:
    http://pinterest.com/pin/281756520410106511/.

    Any insights would be helpful.

    • Vincent Ng

      The main reason why it hasn’t showed up in search results yet is the lack of your image being repinned by another user. This has some weight. If you look at the word minecraft, it’s now become extremely competitive, and pins that have that word in it that show up on the first page of results have at least 2 repins. This won’t necessarily guarantee that you will show up for those words, but it will definitely help you rank higher in results.

  • http://foundationdesign.co.nz Paul Shadbolt

    Hi Vincent, cheers for this. It’s great info. I’ve being playing around with various keywords in my pins and have been trying to gauge the results. Your post has saved me a lot of ‘wait and see’.

    • Vincent Ng

      Thank Paul, I’m glad it saved you some time and effort. I know as new social medium, we’re all learning how to use it. If you ever have any tips or questions, feel free to post.

  • Karlie

    Dear Vincent Ng;

    Your article came at perfect timing for me! I have just started helping a friend with her business to have a Pinterest Contest. Unfortunately Pinterest removed the me+contributors option so we are looking into having people pin to their boards and use hashtags and keywords so that we can search for them at the end of the contest. I did 2 test runs 1) Bowser Beer Summer Contest which showed the board but not the pin. 2) Bowser Casting Call which did not show up at all. With both phrases there is not competition against other pins. Do you know why Pinterest Search is not showing up these specific pins and phrases?

    Thank you

    • Vincent Ng

      Hi Karlie, thanks for your question. I’m not too sure why they aren’t showing up but I’ve noticed that the Pinterest search engine isn’t as thorough as the one that Google has. Even searching my own pins for the word Pintalysis, all the pins that contained that word didn’t show up. I’m not too sure why this is. So far I haven’t been able to find a correlation on why pins for certain words don’t show up. If I find out any new information Karlie, I’ll keep you posted but that part is a bit of a mystery to me.

  • http://www.pinterestpro.tv Anna

    Good info, Vincent. I am sharing it on my fanpage becuase I get asked this question a lot and you explain it so well.

    • http://www.mcngmarketing.com Vincent Ng

      Thanks Anna.
      It’s becoming much harder to rank in Pinterest search as there’s just soo many more pins, and users uploading photos. The other trend I found was that if users kept using the same keywords in their descriptions, there’s a much higher chance that one of them will show up in search results as well, but it’s hard to know which ones.

  • Wildiris

    I want to use Pinterest to promote product from my website, but so far it hasn’t worked. If I use the “pinit” button on my website, use #, and keyword descriptions, I cannot find any of my pins when searching. The pin is coming from a domain with keywords. I am uncertain about the image file having the word “Pinterest” as part of the file name. Advice?

    • Vincent Ng

      Can you attach your Pinterest account as well as your website, this way I’m able to make more customizable recommendations.

  • http://kyrenedesigns.com Katherine

    Thank you for this great post.
    At last someone is trying to dig deeper into the mystifying Pinterest search. I’m finding keywords in the description seem to be working best although very irritating when Pinterest can’t even find your own pins!!

    • Vincent Ng

      That’s interesting you mentioned that Katherine, because I’ve noticed the same things. The whole “search my pins” doesn’t work to my epxectations, but I think as Pinterest continues to grow bigger people want to know how their pins are being found, and why they aren’t showing up at all. I hope you had a chance to download my e-book How to Search Optimize Your Pins and Boards, there is some fascinating discoveries inside that I think you’ll love!

  • Katherine

    I have downloaded and it was great. (you might want to check the twitter link at the end!) Going to rework the strategy and boards and now :)

    • Vincent Ng

      Thanks Katherine, glad you really enjoyed the book and that I was of help, and thanks for spotting that mistake. I’m going to make that change right now.

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  • http://Jomadado.com Johnny

    Does Pinterest search treat plurals and singular words the same? For example, if you search Pinterest for “holiday craft” (without quotes), will it show results for “holiday craft” AND “holiday crafts”, or just for “holiday craft”? Trying to figure out if people searching for “funny ADHD shirt” will see my “funny ADHD shirts”.

    Thank you for your help!
    Johnny Jomadado

    • http://www.mcngmarketing.com Vincent Ng

      Based on what I’ve seen Johnny, I find that in many case it is the same results, but that’s not always the case. For example if you type in gluten free candy, you’re probably not going to see too many results for gluten free candies. But you do see results for gluten free candied (pin description) which I think is fascinating. And if you type in gluten free candies, the results are not exactly the same, but they do show similar pins. I would say that they treated very similarily but they’re not treated exactlyt the same.

  • https://www.etsy.com/shop/BePrettyBeBold Liz

    I’m currently running a pinterest contest. Hoping it will be easy to see who did what I asked. I’m announcing the winner on Facebook because I don’t know how I would contact the person through Pinterest. I’m going to take all your tips. Right them down and use them. In the process of pinning all the items from my etsy shop. Takes awhile but hopefully it will be worth the effort. Thanks for sharing what you know! :)
    Liz

    • http://www.mcngmarketing.com Vincent Ng

      Thank Liz for the kind words. Running Pinterest contests can be quite complicated especially if you’re trying to find ways to reach them. Hopefully your contest generates a lot of quality customers. Some beautiful products you have on Etsy. You should make your product page your first board! Those bow ties are so adorable Liz!

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  • G B

    GREAT article, thank you for the help.
    Vincent, I had pinned many photos, but didn’t describe them well. I was wondering why these were not showing up. I just added fuller descriptions. Will they now show up on Pinterest when these terms are searched for? Here is an example: http://www.pinterest.com/uptown101/monaco-on-the-trail-extreme-detail-gallery-uptown1/ The word I want to come up for in a search is Monaco on the Trail.
    Thank you for your thoughts.

    • http://www.mcngmarketing.com Vincent Ng

      HI GB,
      Thanks for the kind words, I’m glad to hear that the article was of help. I took a look at your site, and it seems that there are pins that are popping up for the search term Monaco on the Trail, though when I tried to click on the link you provided, Pinterest stated that the link no longer existed. So it seems like right now your pins are dominating for that search word! Great stuff.

  • http://www.livelaughandcry.com Hillar!

    Hi! I’ve read through your tips and tricks. They are quite interesting, thank you! Here’s my question. I’ve followed your suggestions. I have a minecraft board where I’m now pinning my own minecraft blog posts. What’s so frustrating is when I pinned one of my posts today, not only did it not show up when I typed in Minecraft Hunt…it didn’t even show up when I typed in Minecraft (and I’m referring to searching on “just my pins”) I’m figuring if I can’t even get it to show up on my own pins, how am I going to expect it to show up in the big world of Pinterest? The pin has the direct url which has the first word “minecraft” in it. The actual url has the words: /minecraft-element-scavenger-hunt-combined. And the jpg image info has the following in it: minecraft-scavenger-hunt-armor-card. And when I titled/described it, the first word I used was Minecraft. And yet, it doesn’t show up on my own board when I type in minecraft? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated (especially since I went through this with my applesauce recipe yesterday) Thanks in advance!

    • http://www.mcngmarketing.com Vincent Ng

      Hi Hillary, thanks for your comments. I can understand your frustration, especially when it comes to searching for your own pins. You would think that this would be 100% solid. Sadly this isn’t the case. In many ways Pinterest operates in similar ways like Google. You can do everything “according to the books” and still not find the pin you’re looking for.

      There are a few things to be aware of when it comes to Pinterest. It does take two or three days before your pins are indexed with their searches. They don’t happen right away or even within 24 hours. There’s so many pins that Pinterst takes time to “crawl” through all of them. But the other most likely explanation is there hasn’t been enough engagement with those pins to make them searchable, even for your own pins. If the pins you have have been repinned at least once, they’re much more likely to be found for EVERY search result, including “Just my pins.”

  • http://www.livelaughandcry.com Hillary

    (my last comment…my name should have been HIllary…not Hillar!…sorry about that!)

  • http://www.korbanflaubert.com.au Kitty

    Hi there Vincent,
    Many thanks for this post! We are still a bit confused though: we are designers/sculptors and prior to joining Pinterest late last year we noticed a lot of our work is already on Pinterest ie pinned and repinned by other pinners. In short thanks to people who like our work we already have some sort of a presence on Pinterest.
    Now that we have our own pinterest account is there anyway we can make use of this?
    Most importantly what’s very frustrating is that when we type our name in search, other people’s pins of our work shows up, but none of our own pins! I had uploaded some in Dec last year but they still don’t show up! Are we doing anything wrong? We come up as a pinner but under pins, there is just no sign of our pins at all. Our concern is if people only look at the search results under pins, not pinners, they would have no idea that we are on Pinterest at all. Appreciate your thoughts on this. Many thanks!

    • http://www.mcngmarketing.com Vincent Ng

      Hi Kitty, while I think it’s important that people discover your Pinterest account, I think it’s more important to know what your goal is. I think gaining followers is important, but if people are pinning your stuff and sharing it and it’s driving traffic, I think that’s important. I also think the easiest thing to do for people to discover your Pinterest account is to put a Pin button on your website. This way when people visit your site from the thousands of repins, they know who to follow right away.

      • Kitty

        Hi there Vincent,
        Many thanks for reply. Makes a lot of sense + puts things in perspective!

  • http://stalkablemedia.com Clare

    This was very helpful! Im about to download your e-book! Im running a pinterest page for a photographer based out of DC. I have 3 boards but when I search for the photographer by name none of her pictures appear in the search. Im going to assume that it is because we have not been repined yet. I have placed a description of the photo including keywords like newborn portraits and also the photographers name. My first question is about secret boards. If a baby portrait gets repined on a secret board does that factor in the same as being repined publicly? Ive also searched for her under the pinned search and only one of her boards shows up. I can’t figure out why. Im also alternating between pinning from her Facebook, website and instagram. Do you think that is a good idea? Thank you so much, any advise is greatly appreciated.

    • http://www.mcngmarketing.com Vincent Ng

      Hi Clare. I know for a fact that photography is one of the most competitive search terms on Pinterest. As for secret boards getting repinned, I don’t know for sure but I would speculate that it doesn’t since it doesn’t since secret boards are private. I think as long as you’re pinning quality content, and it’s to best serve your audience, whether it is to go back to Facebook or Instagram, then that’s the most important thing.

      Hope that helps Clare.

  • http://www.RichGirlBusiness.com Danielle

    Thank you Vincent for you FREE insight! This is invaluable when trying to leverage a large network like Pinterest.

    • http://www.mcngmarketing.com Vincent Ng

      You’re welcome Danielle. Really glad to hear that you enjoyed the article.

  • sylvia

    Hi
    Thanks for the info, am trying to implement it on my pintrest as am promoting product from my site sparkly.com.au but again am not coming up in the search at all. i change description, names and mostly i pin from the web page, i try to be active and repine other ppls pics and like some and post at least 2 pics everyday. what else can i do to help get my pics up in the search

    thanks

    • http://www.mcngmarketing.com Vincent Ng

      Hi Sylvia, the search engine algorithm for Pinterest is always in a flux. There are also a lot of people doing what you’re doing and it can be very competitive. For example I’ve searched up the term “Pinterest Marketing” and the top results haven’t changed much in the last week and a half. The number of actual repins are starting to play more of a role. There’s no guarantee that anybody is going to show up on the top of results.

  • Susan Abramson

    This was very helpful. I will do my own experimenting as well. Thank you!