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Pinterest is Doing What Google Can’t Do For Search

This post was originally published on MCNG Marketing’s Medium account.

How Pinterest is becoming a leading search engine on its own, and slowly doing what Google couldn't do in the world of search.

How Pinterest is Becoming a Leading Search Engine

There’s a bit of a quiet revolution going on in the world of search, and I don’t think Google is blind to it. However, I do think that many social media marketers and SEOs may be blind to the search revolution that’s happening.

Pinterest is slowly becoming, nay, already is, a search engine, and that may be it’s primary function in the near future. More and more people are going to Pinterest first to search for keywords, and then heading to Google. Especially female users of Pinterest, who adore Pinterest as their primary social network.

In my opinion, Google has been doing a better job over the years of showing websites related to the intent of a search. What’s lacking though is that it has never truly been strong at giving results to people that assist them in the quality of their daily lives, nor providing actionable inspiration.

People are still shocked when I tell them that Google has something called Recipe View to assist searchers with discovering recipes and creating recipes. Sadly, the reaction is a slight “Oh that’s interesting,” then followed by “I’m probably not going to use it.”

Pinterest has been strong in this regard, that it’s a search engine that can drum up excitement when results are shown. Their search engine is about helping people find new ways of creating a life, whether it’s putting you in a day dream state to go travel, or it’s just small craft you want to try to make.

A good example of this is the following. Type in the words, “garage organizer,” into Google. You’re going to get results with a bunch of products that will help you organize your garage. But it doesn’t give you a strong visual idea of how to get this done.

When I searched for those words on Google, the first three results were from Costco and Home Depot. This would be great if I was looking for products, but my intent was to look more for a how to organize a garage resource.

How Google's search engine shows text and product information results, while Pinterest shows lifestyle results.

But Pinterest…oohhh meee…oh myyy…it’s like a visual orgasm of what an organized garage can look like with pictures that would even make Martha Stewart blush. From that point on users of Pinterest can select which pin they would like to click on to get more information, or to get ideas of how to organize their garage within a few seconds.

This is an example of a Pinterest search that shows lifestyle and inspiration results.

Pinterest is presenting a catalog of potential blog posts and resources about how to organize a garage.

Recipes, DIY, and Activities

I honestly can’t think of a better place to go where I can find recipes that show the final product, DIY hairstyles, and activities I can do with my niece, and do so rather efficiently, all in organized and visual manner.

While text based searches are great, and have their relevance, they seem a little underwhelming to the senses. The majority of us would rather have a picture that is worth a thousand words that we can process easily within a few seconds, then to process a thousand words and take minutes to process the same idea.

This is why I think Pinterest poses a serious threat to Google in many ways. It provides a lot of digestible information, in a very fast manner. It is the search engine for lifestyle seekers, and a big reason why it should be part of any retail or hospitality business’ social media strategy.

With over 70 million users contributing visual content, the amount of resources available to be searched on Pinterest is just going to get bigger.

Will Google ever be able to do what Pinterest does for search? In my honest opinion, probably not.

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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."
  • Melissa

    Loved this – I’m a huge fan of pinterest for pleasure AND business but I really hadn’t thought of it as a search engine before. You’re right. For visual people, it’s the perfect resource!

    • Vincent Ng

      Thanks for the kind words Melissa. Glad you enjoyed the article. When I started finding out that more and more people went to Pinterest to look for recipes, it dawned on me that it’s no longer just a pin board. Even for myself, I still use Google as my primary search engine, but I use Pinterest a lot for it’s search results as a tool for market research.

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  • Julie Gallaher


    I get so much action from my Pinterest pins – a few have been repinned well over a thousand times, so I’m very aware of the power of the Pinterest search. What I haven’t figured out is how to optimize. When we crack that it will be gold!

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