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When you first mention Pinterest SEO to people, there can be a bit of a frown.  Pinterest, right?  It’s that cool social media site where you pin all sorts of stuff to boards.  But SEO – that’s all to do with getting your website ranked higher in search engine listings.  The two have nothing to do with each other!

But that’s where you would be wrong for one simple reason – Pinterest isn’t a social media site, it is a visual search engine.

And that means that, like any search engine, it operates on keywords and therefore there are good and bad ways to use the site.  SEO, or search engine optimisation, is about understanding how the site works and making the most of it so that your account can work for you and your business.

Let’s start with a few basics about the Pinterest algorithm because, just like Facebook and co, it does have one.

How does the Pinterest algorithm work?

Pinterest uses a system that is called the ‘Smart Feed’ to decide what pins to show any person arriving at the site.  The idea is that it shows you a mixture of stuff that will be of interest to you and that you will want to pin.  So, unlike say Twitter, where everything is largely chronological, Pinterest shows content based on a whole complex set of systems the exact details of which we don’t really know.

What we do know is there are three sections or pools that the site uses to pick content to show us:

  • Repins for people you follow
  • Pins related others you have pinned
  • Pins that are relevant to your interests

Added to that are four main factors used to decide which pins that falls within these pools are worthy of space on your feed.  The website looks at:

    • Domain quality
    • Pin quality
    • Pinner quality
    • Relevance

Domain quality

Domain quality on Pinterest is a bit like a MOZ rating for a website or domain authority – it is the way over time that Pinterest rates your content as being worth showing to others.  Like increasing domain authority on your site, there’s no guaranteed way to make Pinterest like you more but there are a couple of steps to take to help.

First, convert to a business account because you are pinning for your business, even if you also pin personal stuff.  This is simple, free and also lets you in at analytics.  Next get your website verified to show you are a real person.  Lastly, enable rich pins on your account to increase the quality of the pins.

Pin quality

Pin quality is about the content of your actual pin and is judged mainly on how many times it is repined, if people tick the ‘tried it’ button or other such metrics.  Key to getting good pin quality is areas such as the post title that is used in the pin and the quality of the graphics.  Pin graphics are a whole ‘nother blog post so let’s just settle on saying remember long and tall size and great images with readable fonts.

Pinner quality

This one is all about how much you use the website and the quality of content that you pin.  Pinterest is okay about using tools such as Tailwind to pin but there are also theories that it helps to manually pin some pins regularly too.  However, you do it, pinning often is key – anywhere from 15 to 100 pins a day can be recommended by different sources.  Spread them out to avoid appearing spammy.

Relevance

Relevance is where the main concepts of Pinterest SEO start to come in – how does Pinterest know that a pin is relevant for anyone?  Because of the keywords that is contains in its description to tell the site what the content is about.  The more relevant the pin, the more likely it is to come up on a search or even be randomly suggested to someone who has the interests listed in the description.

Looking at the Smart Feed, you can already get some ideas about Pinterest SEO works and why it is so important.  It is a lot like any other kind of SEO – you have to use the right keywords to signpost people to your content.

Is there a Pinterest keyword tool?

Another question people ask is if there is a Pinterest keyword tool like there is for Google.  The answer is both yes and no – there isn’t a specific tool to use but the website itself is one giant keyword research tool.

Let’s say you want to start pinning content around ‘blogging’ so you do a basic search on that single keyword.  You will instantly find a whole list of additional topics to further specify what you want to know about blogging.  Click on one of these coloured boxes and it will refine the pins available and often offer more options.

Another long tail keyword would be ‘start a blog’ and again there are coloured box options.  Say we select ‘in 10 minutes’ and this will give us a selection of quick start blogging tips as well as additional options – tutorials, website and make money.

Not only does this help find interesting content to pin to your boards but also gives you some ideas about the kind of terms that people use in their pins around this topic.  Hence when you write a post about your top tips from starting your blog, you can use terms such ‘jobs to do in 10 minutes’, ‘start a blog tutorials’ and ‘start a blog make money’ if they are relevant to your post, of course.

Pinterest SEO Strategy

So, what would the number 1 tip for people looking to optimise their pins for SEO purposes?

I asked this question to people who know a lot more about Pinterest SEO than I do and their answers paint a very clear picture.

Kate Ahl of Simple Pin Media said that the most important thing was to ‘keyword their pin descriptions with the words they know their target person is searching’ because if you don’t use the terms that people use, your keywords are ineffective.  I realised this with one of my boards for my other blog – I had called it Chef’s Corner because by husband is a chef and he creates some recipes for the blog.  But this might not be what people were searching for so I renamed it – Recipes.

Krista Dickson of Blog Beautifully also put the emphasis firmly on keywords.  Krista has launched a new course called Pin Boss that is definitely worth looking at if you want to master Pinterest or even up your game.  She said:

“My biggest SEO tip is to place relevant keywords in 6 main places on Pinterest:

  • Your business name (on your profile)
  • Your bio
  • Your board names
  • Your board descriptions
  • Your pin descriptions

The titles of your blog posts (once you have Rich Pins enabled, your blog post titles will show up in big, bold text underneath your pin images!)

Choose keywords that are related to your niche and that you think your ideal audience would be searching for on Pinterest, and integrate them into these 6 key places in a way that makes sense, is coherent, and flows with the rest of the description or name.”

Things to avoid

However, there is a word of caution with keywords on Pinterest – don’t stuff them in and make it seem unnatural.  Just like you wouldn’t repeat your keyword in your post loads of times in an unnatural way, don’t stuff keywords into your descriptions of pins and boards.  Instead, write something makes people interested, features the keywords and finishes with a call to action to prompt people to do something – most often, this will be ‘click to read the article’ in some way.

Another thing to avoid when you are writing your descriptions for your pins, boards or even your profile is hashtags.  While they are the lifeblood of sites like Instagram and Twitter, they don’t feature in Pinterest – some even think they can have a negative effect.  So when you write your descriptions, make them relevant and interesting with keywords naturally fitting in but don’t use any hashtags.

Conclusion

There are lots of things to say about Pinterest SEO strategy but for me, a lot of it is about trying for yourself, see what works and do more of that.  I’m still working on my pins but I have at least one or two that I like.  Creating multiple pins for each post is another good tip and is also a great way to practise your pin-making skills.  I’m currently using stock photos from Ivory Mix for my pins and blog titles and they are easy to work with and come in gorgeous colours.  I also use Canva to create the actual pins as I haven’t mastered Photoshop at all!

I’d love to hear your tips about Pinterest and what has worked for you – have you got a keyword strategy or a tool that helps you choose keywords?  And how do you pick what your pins look like?  Share all below!

P.S If you are struggling with Pinterest then I can help – I now offer Pinterest Management services to help bloggers make the most of the site.  If you have Pinterest issues or don’t know where to start I would love to chat!