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Do you want to know how the Pinterest search algorithm really works? In the below video, I break it down for you so that no matter what kind of content you have, or who your target audience is, your pins will be seen by more people.
What’s the secret to Pinterest success?
Compelling content? Fresh pins? Staying on top of the latest trends? How about Pinterest SEO, the new idea pins feature, or group boards?
All of the above certainly form part of the answer. Yet there’s something even more fundamental to success:
Understanding the Pinterest search algorithm.
Getting to grips with the algorithm makes everything easier. Suddenly, you don’t just know what to do, you understand why you’re doing it. Like peeking under the curtain, you come to learn exactly what Pinterest wants from you, helping you gain traction on the platform in the process.
Sound good? Well, allow us to help demystify the algorithmic nuts and bolts!
Here’s everything you need to know about the Pinterest algorithm and how to manipulate it to your advantage.
How Pinterest Works
As you know, Pinterest’s basic function allows users to collate images from around the web (and on Pinterest itself) into specific “boards”. Thanks to a hyperlink between these images and the original webpage, they can then return easily to the initial source at a later date.
Not only that, but Pinterest also serves as a search engine, serving a curated set of results to anything its users look for on the platform. The only difference to traditional search engines, like Google, is that these results are visual in nature.
Pinterest’s Smart Feed returns what it deems to be the best static and video pins available to answer the user’s query, in order of quality. They can then select the one they like best, as well as repinning to boards any they wish to view in due course.
Another unique feature that’s unique to Pinterest is its social element. Whether it’s via direct message, commenting, collaborating on boards, liking, following, or repinning each other’s content, users can engage with each other on the platform.
What is the Pinterest Algorithm?
As you can tell, Pinterest is no ordinary social network. With its strong visual component, it’s more accurate to call it a visual search engine.
Furthermore, like all other search engines (or social networks, for that matter), Pinterest uses an algorithm to determine what users see in their feeds.
That single fact is super important. Why?
Because all algorithms rely on certain types of information to rank content on the platform. If you know the info it’s looking for, then you can alter your Pinterest strategy accordingly to ensure you’re ticking the right boxes. Expect newfound reach, traffic, and engagement to follow.
What Businesses Do Well On Pinterest?
Contrary to popular belief, Pinterest isn’t better suited to one type of business over another. Whether you’re B2C or B2B, in the retail or SaaS industry, Pinterest has definite potential. You just have to use it properly to get results!
And understanding the Pinterest algorithm is a good place to start…
How does the Pinterest search algorithm work?
Although the exact ranking factors remain unknown, Pinterest is surprisingly transparent about what you need to do to satisfy its algorithm. It comes down to 4 key factors: domain quality, pin quality, pinner quality, and topic relevance.
In this section, we’ll go through each one (in no particular order) and showcase exactly how to boost your rankings:
Like any search engine, Pinterest wants to answer its users’ queries with the best possible results. One element of that is the pin itself, which we’ll turn to next.
Yet the webpage attached to each pin plays an equal (if not greater) role.
In a nutshell, domain quality is Pinterest’s way of figuring out the quality of your website. Its method of determining this is straightforward: the more popular your pins are on the platform, the higher-quality the algorithm determines your site to be.
Talk about incentives for creating first-class content! The better your site, the more engagement it’ll receive, which then gets rewarded with ever-greater exposure on Pinterest. There are two quick ways to boost your domain quality ranking:
- Creating a business account (as opposed to a personal one)
- Claim your site on Pinterest via the claim tab in your settings (here’s a detailed guide for this process)
This will provide invaluable data to help you improve your pins and demonstrate to Pinterest that you’re a legitimate entity pinning from a verified source, respectively.
From there, start pinning rich pins on a regular basis.
The nature of rich pins is that they update all the time, preventing them from becoming outdated and falling down the rankings thereafter. Pinning often tells Pinterest you’re a committed user, which tends to be rewarded.
As you’d expect, the quality of your pins plays a major role here too. And, once again, the algorithm uses popularity as a key metric for determining it. The more engagement your pins receive (in the form of link clicks, close-ups, saves, comments etcetera), the more likely they are to rank higher in terms of quality.
To improve your pins, you should:
- Make their titles as eye-catching as possible (here are some tips on writing a benefit-driven blog post title)
- Use professional-quality, high-resolution images or footage
- Ensure your pins are both attractive and informative
- Use text overlays that are easy to read (even on smaller screens)
- Brand them with your logo and/or website URL (plus the general colors, fonts, and themes you use elsewhere)
- Incorporate a link to your website (unless you’re creating idea pins, in which case this isn’t possible)
That’s right, Pinterest is judging you, the content creator! To do so, it’s tracking things like your pinning frequency (i.e. how often you pin), the degree of engagement your pins get, as well as how often you interact with other pins and users.
Convince the algorithm you’re a prime pinner and you’ll be rewarded in kind.
Importantly, the algorithm isn’t judging you purely on the historical success of your content. It’s also looking at what you’re repinning from other users. Although it remains unclear how much weight this is given, your pinner score can suffer if you repin content that’s seen as low-quality.
So never repin at random! Always check that both the content and websites in question are of a suitable standard. Ultimately, pinning winning content every day on a consistent basis will boost your pinner score and overall Pinterest ROI as a result.
Topic (Pin) Relevance
Creators familiar with Google SEO will appreciate the need for topic relevance already. Trust us, you’ll always rank higher in search results if your website and content are relevant to a particular query.
Let’s say you run a jewelry business and write a blog post about the latest jewelry trends. You’ll have priority in the rankings over any old blogger who decides to write on the same topic. Why?
Because you’re the expert– a point demonstrated to the search engine by the fact your content relates to your site.
Yet the role of relevance runs even deeper…
Using keywords in your content tells the Pinterest algorithm what your pins are about in the first place! By incorporating them into your titles and descriptions, you’ll impact when they appear in people’s feeds. The more relevant the keywords in your pins and boards are to someone’s search, the more likely your content is to appear.
To find these keywords and phrases, you’ll have to perform keyword research (a topic for another time!).
On a similar note, only pin and repin content to your boards that’s highly relevant to them. For example, a pin about “how to make the perfect pizza dough” would have no place on a board devoted to “pizza topping ideas”. It isn’t relevant enough.
5 Tips to Beat the Pinterest Algorithm
Understanding the Pinterest algorithm is only step one. The next all-important part of the puzzle is to use your newfound understanding to beat it! Here are some top tips for doing precisely that:
1. Use keywords everywhere
As noted in previous sections, Pinterest a) is a visual search engine and b) relies on keywords in your content to identify when and where to display it. The result?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is imperative.
Optimizing your pins and boards around particular keywords will give you the best chance of showing up when users search for a problem or look up ideas your content addresses. From pin/board titles to descriptions, incorporate relevant keywords wherever possible (without overstuffing them).
Don’t stop there though. It’s worth using them in your profile name and description too, as well as your website and blog content.
2. Make your images stand out
As a visual platform, it makes sense that your pins must be on point from an aesthetic standpoint. The images you use should be eye-catching, attractive, and un-pixelated every time. Make them stand out even further by using the correct aspect ratio. Taller pins work best, with a 2:3 ratio being the official recommendation.
Succeed here and you can expect a higher engagement and click-through rate.
3. Use Pinterest’s new features
New features on any platform, including Pinterest, offer a fantastic opportunity to boost results. This is because they incentivize usage by tweaking the algorithm to provide more organic reach from them!
Idea pins are a perfect example of this.
As one of the latest features to hit the platform, you can gain incredible unpaid exposure from pinning them. Not only do you employ a verified strategy for augmenting engagement (idea pins are renowned for sky-high engagement vs other types of pins), but you also take advantage of the algorithmic opportunity.
The same rule will apply whenever a new feature’s released. Don’t wait to experiment. Get involved ASAP and you’re almost guaranteed to see a spike in results.
4. Add fresh content often
Quality’s key to Pinterest success, but quantity definitely plays a part. No matter how amazing your old pins are, you’ll need to post brand new content on a regular basis if you’re going to beat the Pinterest algorithm.
Recent changes mean fresh pins perform best. So use a new image, description, and link for every blog post or product you’re trying to promote! We recommend doing the same thing for your current content too. Stop it from falling down the rankings by creating new pins for anything that’s been on the platform for some time.
Top tip: remember to use your Pinterest analytics to reveal which content performs best. Ditch what doesn’t and rinse and repeat whatever does.
5. Spend time on the platform
Similar to Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram, Pinterest makes money by selling advertising space. As a result, it wants its users to stay on the platform for as long as possible! The more time people spend scrolling, pinning, and interacting with other pinners, the more ads Pinterest stands to sell.
That’s why the algorithm will reward you for doing exactly that. Remaining active on Pinterest effectively puts you in its good books.
Misconceptions About Pinterest
Misconception #1: My target audience isn’t on Pinterest. It’s only for millennial women.
Not anymore. Women do account for a significant chunk of Pinterest users, but male users have increased by 50% year-over-year.
Misconception #2: I sell products outside of the US so Pinterest wouldn’t work for me.
First, Pinterest is an online platform, so location doesn’t matter if you’re selling digital products. And, even if you do, the same source we linked to in misconception #1 notes that 50% of Pinterest users live outside the US.
That makes it an ideal sales channel regardless of where you are in the world.
Misconception #3: Pinterest is great for traffic but it doesn’t convert
Not true! Well, it is great for traffic. But that traffic certainly does convert.
Pinterest itself reveals how 80% of weekly pinners have found new brands or products on the platform. Moreover, according to that same Sproutsocial source, 50% of U.S. pinners regularly shop on Pinterest.
Use Pinterest Tools to Research Topics & Plan Your Content
1. Pinterest Trends
Similar to Google Trends, this tool gives you a detailed insight into the top search terms and topics (in the United States, UK, and Canada) of the previous year. Ideal for finding keywords and topic inspiration, you can see what’s popular right now as well as at different times of the year. Give it a try here.
2. Pinterest Predicts
Whereas Trends looks backward, predicts is all about the future. By telling you what Pinterest thinks will be big in the coming year, it takes the guesswork out of finding the next trending topic(s) to talk about in your content. Check it out here.
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