Pinterest has moved another step closer to being a major search tool with the addition of Guided Search to its website. The feature launched on Pinterest's mobile apps in April, but will now be available across the broader Pinterest experience, just as the company is beginning to give businesses a way to reach consumers in search results with ads.
Do you think Pinterest search will become a major new tool for businesses to reach consumers online? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Pinterest describes its Guided Search feature as a way to find things you didn't even know you were looking for, such as your next road trip, backyard idea, BBQ recipe, or anything else.
“It’s made for exploring, whether you know exactly what you want, or you’re just starting to look around,” explained Hui Xu, head of the discovery team at Pinterest, upon the feature's initial launch. “There are more than 750 million boards with 30 billion Pins hand-picked by travelers, foodies, and other Pinners, so the right idea is just a few taps away.”
Users can scroll through guides click on things that look interesting to "steer their search in the right direction" as Pinterest puts it.
"Say you’re looking for plants to green up your apartment, guides help you get more specific—indoors, shade, succulents—so you can hone in on the ones that suit your space," explained Xu. "Or when it’s time for your next haircut, search by specific styles—for redheads, curly hair, layers—to find your next look.”
Here's a look at the web version:
The feature utilizes the carousel style of search suggestions very similar to the direction that Google has been moving in.
"Now when you search for something, descriptive guides will help you sift through all the good ideas from other Pinners," says software engineer Yuliang Yin. "Scroll through the guides and click any that look interesting to steer your search in the right direction. You might be surprised where you end up!"
Pinterest is also putting the search bar front and center to emphasize the site as a search destination. Additionally, they're making it easier to filter searches by pins, boards, or specific pinners.
Guided Search will be rolling out over the next few weeks, so you might not see it just yet. It will be in English at first, and then more languages will follow.
Pinterest recently raised a new $200 million round of funding, which the company will use to help it realize its "vision of solving discovery and helping everyone find things they'll love". In other words, turning Pinterest into a major tool for search.
Guided Search and the visual emphasis on search in general follow another significant search announcement Pinterest made earlier in the year. That was improved recipe search, which let users search for ingredients (like whatever is in their fridge) to find collections of relevant recipes. It includes filters like vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, paleo, etc.
Pinterest will likely work to apply a similar concept to more verticals making it all the more powerful as a legitimate search tool, especially when combined with Guided Search. It may not be a Google killer, but there's no reason to believe it can't steal some searches that may have otherwise been performed on Google. If you know anyone getting recipes or craft ideas from Pinterest, you know that it's already happening to some extent.
While Google has so far weathered the storm quite well so far, it still faces significant competition from various angles. Apple, for example, seems to be making moves that may lead to a lot more people searching elsewhere.
None of this means that Google is in any real danger, but it gives businesses alternatives to relying on Google for getting eyeballs.
We recently looked at a report about social media referrals from Shareaholic. Facebook sends the most to websites by far, but Pinterest is number 2, and while much lower than Facebook, is significantly higher than everything else (including Google's social network).
Beyond that, Pinterest is only starting to give businesses the ability to advertise and pay for placement. Last week, the company announced the beta testing of do-it-yourself Promoted Pins, following the roll out of the feature for big partner brands. The DIY ads will eventually be available to all businesses of all sizes on a cost-per-click basis. Promoted Pins appear in search and category feeds.
The company is also giving businesses other tools to help them improve their performance on Pinterest. Alongside the DIY Promoted Pins, the company announced a refresh of its analytics offering, providing more detailed insights.
“In addition to seeing what people are Pinning from your website, you’ll also be able to see how Pins from your Pinterest profile are performing,” explained Pinterest’s Jason Costa. “We’ll tell you which of your Pins and boards are driving the most impressions, clicks and repins. We’ll also clue you in to Pins that drive engagement across different platforms.”
This followed the announcement that the company is working with a group of marketing tech companies to give them API access to public data. Companies like Salesforce, Hootsuite, Spredfast, Percolate, Piqora, Curalate, and Tailwind are being encouraged to add insights that aren't available through Pinterest's own analytics offering.
If you're not already, now would probably be a good time to start evaluating your Pinterest strategy, and figuring out what kind of content performs well for your brand and others'.
As it adds search features and self-serve ads, do you expect Pinterest to play a bigger role in your online market strategy? Let us know in the comments.
Images via Pinterest, Google, Shareaholic