Pinterest SEO: Things To Consider

Chris CrumSearch

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A lot of website owners and marketers are still trying to crack the Pinterest nut. If Facebook referrals start evaporating, that will no doubt be the case even more. Currently, Pinterest is second behind Facebook for driving website referrals as far as social networks are concerned.

Promoted Pins will be a big storyline this year, and search is a big part of that. But what about simple organic Pinterest SEO? What can you do to get more out of Pinterest, and its search feature in particular?

Do you currently consider search optimization techniques for Pinterest as part of your online marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments.

Pew just released some new Pinterest growth stats. Men in the U.S. using Pinterest jumped from 8% in 2013 to 13%. 42% of online women are Pinterest users. It's more popular than Twitter, according to the firm. 21% said they use Pinterest, up from 15% last year., compared to 18% for Twitter.

Pew tells us, "In 2014, the number of men on the site doubled, and we see that growth continue today - ⅓ of all signups are men (50/50 men/women in markets like India, Korea and Japan). In the past year, monthly active users outside the U.S. grew by 150%. Since launching Guided Search nine months ago, the number of searches per person has increased by 25%."

What Pinterest Says About SEO

First, let's look at what Pinterest itself says about search visibility: "Search is an important way for Pinners to find content from your business. If you use Rich Pins and have a verified account, your Pins appear higher in search results. Another crucial way to improve your appearance in search results is to sharpen your Pin descriptions." Emphasis added.

Pinterest gives some helpful tips right in its official business guide:

Note that they're giving you a specific example of an account that's doing it right - Tory Buch. You can peruse their pins and descriptions here to get a feel for how they do it.

Pinterest goes on to give some additional tips about descriptions. For recipes, you would describe the main ingredients and how to cook the dish. For fashion, you would include the type of clothing, the designer, and/or the season. For travel, you would include the location and the kinds of things you can do there. For DIY, you would describe the project, and how to make it, as well as the materials needed to get the job done. For photography, you would name the photographer, the year, the subject, and/or the publication. For design, you would mention the designer, medium, publication, etc.

Basically, regardless of the type of content you're pinning, you want to be as descriptive as possible and include all of the relevant keywords. Pretty straightforward. Note in the image above, however, that they advise against just dropping in keywords or hashtags. It's unclear if this is actually detrimental on an algorithmic level, but either way, you probably just don't want to do it that way.

Another key to making your content more easily found in Pinterest searches is to make it easier for people to submit the content to PInterest in the first place. This means taking action on your own site by using high-quality images (ideally at least 600 pixels wide), including the Pin it button, and using rich pins (Product Pins, Article Pins, Place Pins to automatically include information like price, availability, ingredients, location, etc. This is done by adding some meta tags to your site. Pinterest points to Lowe's as a good example of a a site well designed for Pinterest. They added a "Pinterest-friendly" section for creative ideas, with at least one project that has been pinned over 200,000 times.

"The more people Pin your content, the more discoverable it becomes," Pinterest says. "To encourage more Pinning, make it easy to Pin from your website and emails. Promote your Pinterest account on social channels, packaging and advertising."

You should use Pinterest Analytics to see which pins are popular, and which ones are driving the most traffic to your site. It will also show you which boards your content is appearing on and how others have described it, which could lead to some helpful revelations.

"All of these insights will help you make smarter choices about your merchandising, product development and marketing strategy," Pinterest says.

It's probably a good idea to use your Pinterest account well, because it might help you gain some credence when it comes to search result ranking (I've not confirmed this, but it's something to consider). The company does suggest pinning at least once a day so followers get fresh content, and not just pinning your own stuff.

"You can tell a richer story by adding Pins from others," it says. "You could partner with bloggers and lifestyle websites to Pin their content. Your followers will appreciate the Pins, and bloggers will appreciate the referral traffic."

Engagement with other users through follows, repins, likes, and comments, is also recommended, as is creating group boards and inviting people who "love your brand" to contribute.

Keep in mind, you can optimize your actual boards to some extent. Give them clear, relevant names. They should be kept to 20 characters or less. Otherwise they can get cut off. Also include descriptions of the boards, again, using relevant keywords. You can choose a cover pin, so you should choose one that's relevant, enticing, and will make the user want to follow that board. You might consider using the one with the most repins.

Pinterest recommends putting your most relevant boards at the top of your boards page. You can easily drag and drop them.

The company also gives a helpful tip you might not have considered: "Try Pinning a handful of Pins at once that together tell a story and capture the imagination. For example, a Pin of a patterned dress next to the place that inspired it is more compelling than just a product photo."

If you want to look at an account that gets boards right, check out The Container Store. Pinterest points out how they create boards with pins organized to appeal to different audiences.

On a side note, unlike the direction that Facebook may be going in, Pinterest actually encourages linking out. In its business guide, it says, "For example, a movie Pin should lead to the trailer or a review, and a product Pin should lead to where a Pinner can make the purchase."

Pinterest, at least for now, wants to send you traffic.

People Search Pinterest With Intent To Buy

Vision Critical published a study that found that 28% of Pinterest purchasers say they were searching for the item they pinned and purchased or for an item like it. In the health and beauty vertical, the number is 47% (it goes down to 17% for food and drink purchasers). As Pinterest continues to grow, and attracts more people, it stands to reason that the number will grow for additional verticals. In fact, the survey used for the study is nearly two years old anyway, so it's likely already grown, particularly as Pinterest has put more emphasis on search in the past year.

For comparison 47% of purchasers said they just happened upon the item they pinned without searching for it. Interestingly, that number goes down for technology purchases and up for food and drink purchases.

Other Factors To Consider

Vincent Ng, who was early on the Pinterest marketing train says in his eBook How to Search Optimize Your Pins and Boards For Pinterest and Search Engines, "You also want to make sure that your business pins show up as frequently at the top of search results as much possible. It’s better to have five pins for a specific term show up instead of just one, or worse yet, none. It’s just too easy for one pin to be lost in an ocean of millions of pins."

Ng recently appeared on the Social Media Examiner podcast. He talked a little about how Pinterest is getting better at image recognition, and applying that to search.

"What's really fascinating is that Pinterest is starting to have visual recognition engines, so they recognize certain colors and certain patterns refer to a coffee table [for example], so even though a picture in the pin description may not say 'coffee table,' if enough people in the past have referred to that image as a coffee table, you might see a pin that is a coffee table, but that doesn't use that kind of description."

Still, I see no reason not to include good descriptions.

Ng also noted that more people are starting searches on Pinterest rather than Google for certain types of searches - typically lifestyle. The biggest mistake people make when it comes to losing traffic, he says, is not making sure the pin goes to the right URL. You should always check the source of a pin, and edit accordingly.

In his book, Ng makes some good points about keywords on Pinterest. For one, you can find highly searched keywords by starting to type in the search box, and seeing what comes up:

He also suggests that putting keywords early in the description can help, though doing some random searches, I get the idea that this might not be as big of a factor now as maybe it was when the book was written. Exact keyword matches work best, according to the book, but again, the evolution of Pinterest search may have downplayed this.

The number of repins does appear to be a major factor, which makes perfect sense, though freshness shouldn't be counted out. In the example below, the pin in the top right has less than 40 repins, yet it is among others that have thousands, but it is only two days old, while the others have been around for much longer.

As noted, a lot has happened with Pinterest's search feature over the last year, so let's circle back around to advice Pinterest itself is giving out. Search Engine Land shared some tips from Anna Majkowska, a software manager on Pinterest’s search team, back in October. These boil down to optimizing your profile, verifying your site, installing pin it buttons, writing strong descriptions, using rich pins, checking your links, getting more followers, and finding your niches. Maybe not all that much has changed after all, from an optimization standpoint.

What tactics have you seen work for increasing Pinterest effectiveness. Please share in the comments.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.