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.
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.
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.
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.