While Pinterest isn’t the newest social media platform (hello TikTok, we see you!), it has some of the most engaged users online, and is the third largest social media platform available in the US, overtaking Snapchat in 2019 (Hootsuite, 2020). With so much going for it, it’s a mystery why only 28% of marketers use Pinterest (SproutSocial, 2020).

There is so much demand among key demographics like young women, older women, dads, and wealthier households, so we’re going to give you the rundown on what you should be doing as a brand on Pinterest (that won’t cost you any money).

social usage 2019 stats

(Hootsuite, 2020)


Why Your Business Should Use Pinterest

We’ve taken a high level view on Pinterest’s stats, but here are some key aspects you should be taking notice of:

  • As of the Q4 2019, Pinterest has more than 335 million monthly active users
  • 90% of weekly pinners have used Pinterest to make a purchase
  • 40% of Pinterest users have a household income of $100,000
  • One in two users have made a purchase after spotting a Promoted Pin
  • 73% of pinners say content from brands makes Pinterest more useful
  • 93% of users use Pinterest to plan purchases
  • 55% of users shop on the site
  • 34% of Americans ages 18 to 34 use Pinterest
  • Pinterest images reach 83% of US women ages 25-54
  • 59% of millennials have found products on Pinterest

(Statista.com, 2016 | Hootsuite, 2020)

Pinterest has become a tool – a virtual mood board – that people are using every day to plan out purchases, create aspirations, plan their health decisions, and even more recently, purchase from Pinterest. It serves as a community trend pulse that one out of every two millennials are on top of.

On top of that, if you’re an SEO like I am, Pinterest earns a tonne of organic traffic, especially since the May 4th 2020 algorithm launch. Some SEOs have been “complaining” that Pinterest is “clogging up” SERPs – “A popular complaint about this update is that sites like Pinterest were clogging up the search engine results pages (SERPs).” –

But at Uproer, we just think it’s another opportunity. 

Just take a look at that Pinterest backlink growth since May 4th! The Force (AKA Google) was definitely with Pinterest.

That much backlink potential is reason enough to be engaged with Pinterest as a business.

The Pinterest Algorithm

Pinterest’s algorithm, like other search engines, has a name – “Smart Feed”. This algorithm arranges pins in the “Home Feed”, thereby determining what content people see when they load the platform and how each pin ranks in the feed. Before Smart Feed in 2014, Pinterest was ranked chronologically, much to the delight of creators of low quality, high quantity content. Smart Feed was introduced as a way to filter out lower quality content, without punishing high volume pinners.

pinterest smart feed

While Pinterest’s search capability is different to that of Google or Bing, many of the same user-centric principles we use for traditional SEO apply to this platform too. Similar to YouTube, Pinterest’s algorithm relates more to engagement metrics and social shares, rather than links, but the basics remain the same.

Factors affecting Smart Feed:

    • Domain Quality
      • When we talk about domain quality, we’re actually talking about the domain quality of the domain you pulled the pinned image from. Yes, this is the same concept as SEO domain authority. The more content from the website that gets pinned and repinned by Pinterest users, the perception of the site changes from being unrecognized by Pinterest to high quality.
    • Pin Quality
      • Pin quality is determined by level of engagement with the Pin on the platform. Engagement comes in many forms, including Likes, Saves, Comments, and Click Interactions. The higher the engagement, the better result. 
      • Something else to note about Pin quality is how Pinterest disseminates your Pins. Pins are first pushed through to your followers to find out if it resonates with your target audience, and if yes, they push it out to other feeds using their Smart Feed sorter algorithm. This is why it is so important to build up your audience in an authentic way with people who are genuinely interested in your product or brand.
    • Pinner Quality
      • Yes, you’re also part of the algorithm! Similar to EAT, Pinterest wants to see reputable pinners repinned more than their low quality counterparts to keep feeds pushing out great, engaging content.
    • Relevance
      • Relevance can be such a broad word. In this case, it has less to do with the quality of the content, and is more like ensuring you have great keyword placement for Google’s search algorithm. Without keywords, no one will find you. Without optimizing your content for what your audience is searching for, no one will find you. 
      • “But how does Pinterest know what’s trending and relevant?” Great question! Aside from using your Pin’s title, description, link, board, caption, and every other factor, Pinterest uses their own data on latest searches and interests and compiles it into their “Taste Graph” which categorizes frequently searched terms into categories that become “trending” per user.

 

So the big question – How do we increase our organic Pinterest rankings with all this information?

Increasing Domain Quality

There is no quick way to increase domain quality, it’s an incremental journey. The first step is to create a Pinterest Business account to claim your website, indicating that you have a real person running this account – a big plus for modern social media companies.

The second step you should take is to enable rich Pins. Rich Pins are linked to your site and enable content sharing between Pinterest and your site for descriptions and titles. There are four types of rich Pins:

  • Product
  • App
  • Recipe
  • Article

So use them wisely and as appropriate for the site. 

Here’s an example of a rich Pin versus a non-rich Pin:

Rich Pin

rich pin example

Non-rich Pin

non rich pinterest pin

Ongoing steps include engagement with Pinterest as a platform. Pinterest, unlike traditional search engines, feeds on engagement. The more Pins you pin, the higher engagement your Pins get, and the more followers you acquire, which leads us into increasing your Pinner Quality Score.

Increasing Pinner Quality

Flaunt that Fresh Content

Pinterest increases your pinner quality the more you engage with their platform, and the more your audience engages with your content. Just like every other content platform, fresh is best.

“But how often should you be pinning?”

Like everything else, that depends. Writing this article, I’ve seen everything from a maximum of five (5) to 20-30 times per day, split amongst your own and other user’s content.

The truth seems to be located somewhere in the middle. It’s all about the consistency of your pinning. The first five (5) of your Pins will get the highest reach per day, but higher engagement with the platform will help increase your Domain Quality.

We recommend highlighting five (5) of your own website Pins as your first Pins of the day as the bare minimum, and moving onto other user content or aspirational content throughout the rest of the day. You can use apps like Tailwind to help schedule out content so you don’t spend all day on Pinterest (like some of us).

Optimizing Your Business Profile

It’s not enough to just have a Pinterest Business profile, like any good SEO, you need to be able to optimize your brand presence online.

Start by optimizing your profile description

Allen Edmonds Pinterest

Allen Edmonds (allenedmonds) on Pinterest

The description on Allen Edmonds Pinterest is my #pinterestgoals:

“Handcrafting shoes on the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin since in 1922, featuring classic American styling and fine craftsmanship.”

The description is a very prominent aspect of the Pinterest profile, and should clearly communicate what your brand is about.

Some things to consider when writing your description:

  • Use keywords that people would be interested in searching for
    • For Allen Edmonds, they’re targeting “handcrafted shoes”, “american style”, and “fine crafted shoes”. Perfection *chefs kiss*
  • Use clear language and keep it simple
    • You really don’t have that much space to play with to make an impact, so use it wisely.
  • Try to keep it unique and relevant to your Pinterest audience, who may be different to your Facebook audience
    • For example, if Pinterest has half the millennial demographic signed onto their platform and 59% of those purchase products on Pinterest, you may want to target those users with relevant language and graphics. In comparison, if your Facebook audience is predominantly Gen X, the message on Pinterest may not resonate with this audience as strongly. It’s all about knowing your audience!

Updating your Profile Image

Eye-catching logos or professional headshots are the KEY to capturing attention on Pinterest. The idea is to keep your brand image as recognizable as possible – you want people who stumble onto your brand through Pinterest to notice your logo when they next go to the mall or when they get a targeted ad from you.

The one “don’t” of Pinterest profile images:

  • Do NOT use product images. It’s confusing and you become just another pinner on a platform while other brands outrank and out-convert you.

Creating a great Cover Image

Cover images are a collage of your recent Pins. You can choose the latest Pins from a board or just the latest Pins from your account, but that’s all the control you get. When deciding, it’s important to be aware that this is the first thing a user sees, you don’t want a selection of Pins that don’t represent your brand.

Increasing Pin Relevance

“Content relevancy matters more than anything else on Pinterest…great content that’s tailored to your audience’s interests and needs.” – Pinterest

Sound familiar? 

“Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here. Users know good content when they see it and will likely want to direct other users to it.” – Google “SEO Starter Guide”

We’ve been saying it for years and other platforms have listened – it’s all about the human on the other side of the screen reading your content.

Keyword Research for Pinterest

To make sure you’re reaching the right people and the right people are engaging with your Pins, you’re going to need to do some keyword research for a variety of aspects of your content.

Same rules apply:

  1. No keyword stuffing
  2. Keep it simple and broad, but focus in on targeted terms where applicable
  3. Create a hub and spoke model with boards
  4. Take notice of your what competitors are targeting
  5. Don’t forget about your alt text
  6. Use keywords in your description, profile, boards, and anywhere you can write text.

How to do Keyword Research for Pinterest

Just like with Google and Bing, there are easy ways that will give you a general idea of trends in your industry, and harder ways that will impact your targeting.

Some ways you can do keyword research without spending a dime include:

  • Explore Pinterest itself

Use terms that are aimed at your audience and type in what your users would – you can start by testing out your AdWords keywords or your list of organic keywords. You’ll start to notice that the site auto-suggests terms to narrow your search.

mens shoes search

And just like with intent matching on Google, it’s recommended that you go in and see what kind of content people are posting for each keyword.

“Mens Shoes” may have a different intent than “Mens Shoes with Jeans”, let’s test it out!

“Men’s Shoes”:

Very broad, people are looking at brands, the type of shoes there are, and the related searches at the top appear to be branded and have a feeling of trying to understand what these shoes are.

“Mens Shoes With Jeans”:

mens shoes with jeans

Straight off the bat, we can see that this is a far more inspirational/aspirational search term – people searching this are looking for outfit ideas, ways to wear shoes, and different shoes to wear with jeans. Very different intent and very different related searches (same ads, I’m a sustainability nut and Pinterest knows it).

  • Pinterest Ads

Hands up if you use Google Keyword Planner for Google keywords. Welcome to Pinterest’s version. Using the Ad platform on the Business Profile, you can find new keywords, and you can see the volume in a small way, helping with prioritization. 

keyword research pinterest

The Possibility planner is less about keyword research and more about what is trending year round. It can help organize your thoughts and topics into a year long content strategy.

So where should you incorporate all these new keywords?

  • Pin Image Name
  • Pin Title
  • Pin Rich Snippet
  • Pin Description
  • Hashtags

Building Hubs + Spokes with Pinterest Boards

One of my favorite things to talk about is Hub and Spoke Models. Organizing your content in a way that is logical and is relevant to your core demographic just makes sense from a human centered design perspective, the added benefit is that search engines are coming along for the ride. With Google leading the charge, I won’t be surprised to hear that social media companies like Pinterest will follow suit.

Pinterest is built for a hub and spoke framework with their boards feature, and it would be a shame to not utilize it to its fullest potential.

Again, from my #pinterestinspo, Allen Edmonds:

The structuring of their boards makes it easy to bulk target with high volume, high performing keywords, and makes it easy for users to understand what they sell and why they’re on Pinterest.

Optimizing your boards is a snap, and with most users leaving their board descriptions empty, we’re in a good place to capture keyword relevant traffic. The Pinterest board character limit is 500 characters, so make it count and use those keywords in a way that is human.

Increasing Pin Quality

But all of the above is for nothing if your Pins don’t get engagement. So how do we break down a Pin? Pinterest gives us most of the answer.

The Science of a Pin

Pin Title

Pin titles are the first thing users see and engage with. The Pin title should:

  • Be less than 50 characters for it all to show (the upper limit is 100 characters, but it truncates after 55)
  • Use keywords towards the front of the title
  • Not include branding

Description

Pin descriptions are the perfect place to create well formed content that is keyword rich. Pin descriptions should:

  • Be between 350 and 500 characters. 
  • Put your most important info first. Only the first 50-60 characters will show up in the feed so use your space wisely!
  • Use hashtags where appropriate – No more than 20 per Pin.
    • Pinterest has reversed course on their anti-hashtag stance, and now embraces hashtags! A great win for millennials and people who like to sort things by topic. This also plays into our relevance algorithm – only hashtag relevant hashtags.

Image Proportions

File type: PNG or JPEG

Max file size: 32 MB

Aspect ratio: It is recommended that you use a  2:3 aspect ratio, or 1000 x 1500 pixels. Pins with an aspect ratio that’s greater than 2:3 might get cut off in people’s feeds.

Purpose

Pin with purpose! It’s not enough to just post pretty pictures, you must also:

  • Know who your ideal customer is and what they want
  • Offer information that the customer can use
  • Let your personality come through your creative marketing

Linking

Link your Pins back to your site, even though links are nofollow from Pinterest. The value of the link being on the Pin means that users can click through your Pin and be directed to your site.

Other links you should be using include:

  • A Pinterest follow button on your website and on any other relevant social media.
  • A link from your blog post to pin to Pinterest.

Pin Creative

Pin creative can be daunting, but there are several things you can do to optimize the way your brand Pins appear on Pinterest to enable increased engagement.

Colors

This may seem out there but Pins with a few dominant colors get 3.25 more repins than Pins with one single dominant color. So choosing images for your brand that have one dominant color and a lot of contrast but still have the brand tone is important in keeping your repin and engagement rate up!

Overlay and On-Image Text

On-Image text may be important to some Pins and Pinners, and can be a way to break through some noise on Pinterest feeds. Some basic must-dos for Pinterest text overlays are:

  • Choose simple fonts – the more complicated the font, the less likely someone will be to read it. With visual search, you only have microseconds to capture someone’s attention, so use those wisely.
  • Be brief and entice people to click.
  • Place text over an easy to read background
  • And as always, test the image on desktop, tablet, and mobile. With 85% of Pinterest users on mobile devices, this can’t be overlooked.

In Summary…

Pinterest is an untapped market for so many companies, and with its user base growing every year, it’s important to sit up and take notice.

SEO for Pinterest is just like every other platform’s SEO strategy – It takes a lot of different elements coming together to make it work, but ultimately, if you create content for the user, you’ll create content that works best on Pinterest.

Key takeaways:

  • Always Pin quality images that match the specs given by Pinterest.
  • Use keywords where available that people are searching for.
  • Optimize your Business profile to demonstrate who your brand is.
  • Utilize boards and rich Pins to level up your approach to Pinterest.