Pinterest is typically lumped in as a form of “social media,” but it’s actually not social media at all – it’s a visual search engine. It doesn’t work at all like Instagram or Facebook. Pinterest has its own entirely different algorithm, best practices, and standards so if you want to start generating the free traffic and leads Pinterest is capable of providing you, you have to take the time to understand how the heck it works.
If getting started on Pinterest feels really overwhelming, you’re definitely not alone! Pinterest is unfamiliar territory to many. So today I want to make your life a little easier and give you a peek under the hood. After reading this post you will have a solid understanding of how the Pinterest algorithm works and the 5 factors Pinterest takes into account when deciding whether or not to show your content to its users, so you can get started with Pinterest the right way and create a strategy that actually works!
How Does The Pinterest Algorithm Work?
The Pinterest search bar is one of the most used tools on Pinterest with over 2 billion searches being done every single month. The algorithm is set up to match relevant quality content to a user’s search query as they search for inspiration or solutions to their problems. Although we may never know the exact formula for how the Pinterest algorithm ranks our content in search, Pinterest has told us of 5 important algorithm ranking factors we can focus on. The following are in no particular order:
- Pin Quality
- Domain Quality
- Pinner Quality
- Pin Formats
1. Relevance (aka Pinterest Keywords)
This is arguably one of the most important factors when ranking in search on Pinterest. Pinterest wants to show the best most relevant results to its users when they are performing a search. In order for Pinterest to consider your content relevant to the searches you want your content to show up for, you need to tell Pinterest what your pin is about. We do this using keywords.
Before you create a pin for your content to put on Pinterest, think about what your ideal client or customers would type into the search bar to find information or products like yours. These are the keywords or phrases you should be using for your content on Pinterest. If you’re having trouble with this, the Pinterest guided search bar can help you out when deciding the best keywords to use. Type in a broad keyword and narrow it down with the words that show up below it. An example of a good keyword in the example below would be “healthy dinner recipes” or “easy dinner recipes.”
hint: if you’re missing the keyword bubbles, change the drop-down menu to the right of the search bar from “all pins” to “videos.” This should bring them back.
Once you’ve decided on the keywords you would like to rank for, use these keywords throughout your profile, boards, and pins. Using relevant keywords for the content you are pinning on Pinterest helps the Pinterest search algorithm match your pins with users who are most likely to interact with your content and generate more traffic and leads to your website.
2. Pin Quality
Pinterest determines a pin’s quality by how much users are interacting with it. The more people closeup, click, save, or comment on your pin, the higher Pinterest will view your pin in terms of quality content and distribute it to more of its users. So that being said, your pin design matters. It needs to be enticing and capture the attention of people scrolling their feed a mile a minute. A few things that will help you rank for pin quality are:
- Text overlay with attention-grabbing headlines
- High-quality images
- Long vertical pins (2:3 ratio)
- Colors that pop
- Freebie Mockup
Another way to get a boost in engagement is to use Tailwind Communities. Tailwind Communities are groups of people in similar niches that post and share each other’s content to help get each other’s content circulating on Pinterest. This feature is only available through the Pinterest approved scheduler – Tailwind.
3. Domain Quality
Similarly to Google, Pinterest scores your overall domain quality. This is basically their judgement on the overall quality of the content you put on your website. The more people interact with pins that lead to your website, the more Pinterest will view your website as a source of high quality content. Improving your domain quality on Pinterest will take time but there’s a few things you can do to speed up the process.
- Create a business account and claim your website
- Enable Rich Pins
- Install social share buttons to encourage people to pin directly from your website
Pinterest scores you on pinner quality by evaluating the content you put on Pinterest as both a creator and a curator. This means that pinner quality isn’t just based on your own pins, it’s also based on other people’s pins that you decide to pin to your account. Here’s a few things that can help improve your pinner quality:
- Curate content exclusively from Tailwind Communities to ensure you’re only pinning high-quality content from others. You will know which content is popular on Pinterest thanks to a small blue flames symbol in the top-right corner of the pin. This symbol indicates how many shares this pin has had on Pinterest.
- Pin consistently. Don’t publish all at once, spread it out and pin a little bit every day. The easiest way to accomplish this is by using a Pinterest approved scheduler. I highly recommend using Tailwind. I use this scheduler for myself and all my clients, I wouldn’t be able to do my job without it. It also offers a lot of extra benefits (like Tailwind Communities) that come in handy.
- Fresh pins… Pinterest has told us to create more fresh pins (aka a new image and URL combination) as they will be putting more emphasis on fresh pins now than repins. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you need to start creating 30 new blog posts a month, it simply means they want you to create more pins for each blog post. Now, don’t go crazy with this. Avoid pinning the same URL more than once on any given day. I also recommend not creating more than 6-7 pins per blog post at a time. I’ve concluded from my own experience that pinning 8+ pins to the same URL month over month causes impressions to go down as well as engagement. When I stopped pinning those URLs the next month, engagement and impressions went back up. That said, you can still pin to those URLs again in the future, just be sure to give it a little bit of a break before pinning to that URL again.
5. Pin Formats
This ranking factor comes with the great Pinterest algorithm change of 2020. Pinterest now distributes story pins and video pins at a higher rate than it distributes static pins. The downside with story pins is you cannot link them to your website and video pins get fewer click-throughs due to the pause feature. Usually, a pinner clicks on a pin to go to a website but with video pins, clicking on the pin only pauses the video. This confuses the pinner and results in fewer clicks.
You might be wondering… “what good do these pin formats do me if I want more clicks to my website?” Stay with me, I’ll explain. Story pins and video pins are fantastic for boosting engagement with your account. Although our main goal is to get clicks to our websites, engagement with your content, in general, is important as well. The more someone engages with your content the more of your content Pinterest will show them. So if someone clicks or saves your story or video pin, the more likely Pinterest is to show more of your static pins to them as well. So definitely consider adding story and video pins to your arsenal but definitely continue to create static pins as well.
The Big Picture
Now that you know more about the Pinterest algorithm and what factors to keep in mind when pinning on the platform, you’re ready to get started!If you skimmed over the post and found yourself here (no judgment) The 5 factors that affect how you rank in the Pinterest algorithm are relevance, pin quality, domain quality, pinner quality, and the use of different pin formats.
If you need more help getting your Pinterest account set up correctly and ready to drive loads of traffic to your website, be sure to grab your FREE copy of The Pinterest Quick Start Guide above before you go! This guide will help you set up and optimize your Pinterest account to get you in front of your target audience and drive more traffic to your content from Pinterest.
If you found this guide helpful or have any questions regarding the algorithm, let me know in the comments below!