Let’s talk about Pinterest SEO as the next step in the Pinterest Tips Series (see the first post here).
I know, I know. You got all nervous and uncomfortable as soon as you heard the word “SEO”. As a creative entrepreneur, I can tell you that I also can’t feel much passion for analytical things – like doing my bookkeeping… I would sooner do 100 push ups.
But SEO is important, because if you do it right, it will work for you by bringing in new and relevant traffic on the long term. So it’s important to do it right from the very beginning.
To make this post friendlier, hereby I promise not to use any fancy jargon. This will be more like a friendly chat at your local Starbucks. Sounds better?
Plus this post comes with a helpful freebie, The Ultimate Pinterest SEO Worksheet. This one-page worksheet helps you collect your keywords and reminds you to use them in all theimportant places that Pinterest checks.
WHAT IS PINTEREST SEO & WHY DOES IT MATTER?
When we talk about Pinterest, we often list it beside social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. However, Pinterest is not a social media platform.
Think about this. When was the last time you log onto Pinterest to chat with your high school bestie? When was the last time that you commented on a pin?
While you can do so (there’s a chat part and you can leave comments) but you rarely use these. There are also group boards that has a social feel as you can contribute to the same board. But it doesn’t give you the same community feel as a Facebook Group.
No, you go to Pinterest to search for inspiration.
At its heart, Pinterest is a search & discovery engine. As a search engine, it’s a beautiful, visual,heartwarming one, not so much an instant lexicon as Google. And as a discovery engine, it constantly tries to satisfy its users with great and relevant content.
How do you tell Pinterest that your content is great and relevant?
By doing search engine optimization (a.k.a. SEO). This helps Pinterest to recognize what your pins are about and show it to those who are looking for that exact content.
This matter because if you optimize your pins well, Pinterest will be able to show it to the right people. And because those people will find your content relevant to their search, they will more likely to save, repin, read and follow your content.
PINTEREST SEO FACTORS
There are 3 main factors you must consider for an optimal Pinterest SEO:
#1 - PINTEREST KEYWORDS
Keywords are the salt & pepper of SEO. If there’s one thing you do properly, it must be to find and include the right keyword with your Pinterest content.
OK, but where should you add these keywords? The pin title and description sound like a good start. But that’s just the beginning. You’ll be surprised how many other parts of your pins Pinterest analyses in order to detect these keywords. Below I list all of these (not particularly in order of importance).
The Pin Title can be set when you manually add content on Pinterest.
Pinterest can also automatically pull a title from your site’s Rich Pin data.
(Rich Pins add extra details to Pins and update important information from the websites they came from. If something changes on the original website, the Rich Pin updates to reflect that change.)
If you are not using Rich Pins, Pinterest will use the first part of your Pin Description to make a title. Make sure to include your keywords at the beginning of your description.
On this pin the title is 10 must-watch Skillshare classes.
You can add your pin description manually or you can add it in your favorite Pinterest scheduling tool (I use Tailwind). Make sure that this text also includes your keywords.
If you use Rich Pins, Pinterest can also pull the description directly from your website. In this case it will show what you set as description in your SEO plugin (e.g. Yoast SEO).
As you can see there are two description fields on this example. #1 is the Rich Pin data pulled from the website, #2 is the description that the blogger set for the pin when she scheduled it.
BOARD NAME & BOARD DESCRIPTION
Pinterest also checks whether the board where you pinned your content is relevant to the search query. Make sure that you pin to relevant boards that has a name AND descriptionrelating to the topic. You don’t have to overcomplicate this though. Just describe your board naturally.
Here’s an example for one of my boards where I collect branding tools:
LINKED PAGE TITLE / DESCRIPTION / MAIN TEXT
Next up, those smart Pinterest bots visit the website linked to the pin. They look for keywords in your post meta description. This is what you can set up in the Yoast SEO plugin: the page title and description. Make sure to set these both in the Snippet editor (see screenshot below) and at the Facebook settings:
The bots also scan the text of your blog post for keywords.
SEARCH QUERIES THAT FREQUENTLY LEAD TO THAT PARTICULAR PIN
Even if you don’t add any particular keywords to your pins, Pinterest can still tag you with one. How?
Let’s say you pin your blog post about watercolor color theory. Then someone searches on Pinterest with “watercolor for beginners”, finds your post and clicks on it to read it. Now Pinterest assumes that your pin is related to “watercolor for beginners” so it tags you pin with this keyword / key phrase.
THE OBJECTS DETECTED ON THE PIN IMAGE
This is where Pinterest goes more high-tech. It can detect the objects you have on your pin images. This is why it’s beneficial to showcase your products on your pin images or use photos with relevant objects to your topic.
This article from the Pinterest Engineering Blog explains how exactly this process happens.
THE TEXT DETECTED ON THE PIN IMAGE (OCR)
If Pinterest is capable of recognizing objects, can it also read the text written on your images?
The answer is yes. Pinterest can read the text you layered on top of your images thanks to Optical Character Recognition (OCR). This is why it’s important to always add text over yourblog cover images instead of just posting a plain image.
Adding text to your images is simple and easy with Canva. You can choose from the multiple pre-made templates that Canva provide, buy a template or design your own. In my last post I also gave away 4 Pinterest templates in Canva format for free.
Last but not least, Pinterest is smart enough to handle all possible iteration of a keyword / key phrase. This is why you don’t have to worry about plurals, word order or other iterations.
A quick example:
Design tip – design tips (plural version)
Design tip – design lesson (synonyms)
Design tip – Tip design
#2 – HASHTAGS
Hashtags on Pinterest work differently than on Instagram. Here, they help new content to surface quicker in search results .
In the above example I searched for #PinterestTemplates. As you can see, the search result is in chronological order, showing pins that were posted 1 hour to several days ago.
You can’t do anything to stay on top in these search results other than pinning new content on a regular basis with relevant hashtags in the Pin Description. Scheduling apps, like Tailwind can help you achieve these. Instead of pinning 25 of your images on the same day, Tailwind can distribute it in several days and thanks to its smart looping feature it can also repin your best content again and again.
#3 - INTERESTS
Pinterest maps each pin to Interests. There are hundreds of interests, organized in groups like “Food”, “Arts”, “Fashion”, etc. (and they go even more specific).
Pinterest use these Interests to filter out harmful content, help you target your Pinterest ads better and offer their viewers more personalized content.
Interests also play a ranking role. Think about the holiday season, when Interest categories like “Gift Ideas”, “Christmas Home Décor” or “Thanksgiving Recipes” are trending. Content in these categories will rank higher.
There’s not much you can do to affect these interest categories other than keep making original and trustworthy content (while also looking at trends).
HOW TO RANK YOUR CONTENT HIGHER
Now that you know the main Pinterest SEO factors, you want to use them for your advantage. You can rank your content higher with the help of:
Text relatedness: have your keywords in all the spots we discussed above
Consistency: this is the cohesion between your pin and the linked website. Make sure that the same keywords are used in your website copy.
Pin Engagement & Popularity: How much engagement (repins, clicks, closeups, saves, comments) your pins get. Your existing followers see your content first so make sure to check Pinterest Audience Insights in order to create engaging content for them
THE DISCOVERY EFFECT
Let’s not forget that Pinterest is also a discovery engine. It prompts people to spend time by discovering new content, not just the ones that answer their search queries. In other words, Pinterest tries to do the impossible: it tries to read your mind to show you what you want to see.
Hell yeah, this would be an awesome superhero strength for any entrepreneur, am I right?
But what do Pinterest consider when creating personalized listings?
When reviewing pins, Pinterest checks:
Demographic trends: are these pins more interesting for a specific type of user (gender, location, language, etc)
Type of pin: does the user engage more with a pin created in a specific design or format (video, static)
Interests: is this pin mapped to an interest that the user frequently engaged with?
Takeaway for you: Keep a close eye on your Pinterest engagements. Try out new design options, headlines and keywords to see which ones get discovered by new people with more success.
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT KEYWORDS ON PINTEREST
The great thing about Pinterest, that most of the user searches are unbranded.
While on Instagram, you tend to check the content from those brands that you’ve already been following. On Google, you often want to get review on brands you already know or heard of.
But on Pinterest, users are more open to discover new content and get inspired. So expand your keywords beyond your product or brand names. Think about how the user would searchfor the solution that your product offers.
How to find the right keywords?
This can be done very easily right inside Pinterest. Here’s my 3-step method to find keywords for my content:
STEP #1 - AUTOCOMPLETE
Go on Pinterest and start typing in something that’s relevant to the content you’re planning to post. You’ll see that Pinterest automatically brings up some suggestions. Write these down.
STEP #2 – GUIDED SEARCH BOXES
Next, hit enter and Pinterest brings up guided search boxes below the search box. People who searched your keyword are also interested in these terms. Click on each one to get even more specific recommendations. Write down those that are relevant to your content.
STEP #3 – RINSE AND REPEAT
Start again with a different keyword.
Remember, I give you a freebie, The Ultimate Pinterest SEO Worksheet where you can jot down the keywords you’ve found. The worksheet also reminds you to use these keywords in all places I talked about earlier.
HOW TO CHECK IF YOUR CONTENT IS SEEN THE WAY YOU WANTED IT
Last but not least, it’s helpful to check if your existing pins are seen by Pinterest the way youintended.
To run a quick check, you just click on your pin image and scroll down to the “More Like This” section.
Are the pins that you see here similar to yours? If they are, you’re on the right path. If not, you can go back and tweak your keywords and hashtags.
Here’s one of my pins that I checked this way:
As you can see, all the other pins suggested by Pinterest are similar in content (branding related). Yay!
Be Patient - Seo takes time
I know, this was a long post and now you have a lot to consider. It’s understandable to feel a bit overwhelmed. It’s also tempting to give up on doing your Pinterest SEO, especially at the beginning.
Keep in mind that although the positive effects of good Pinterest SEO won’t show up immediately, your invested effort will return on the long run.
To help you with your Pinterest SEO, I made you a freebie: The Ultimate Pinterest SEO Worksheet. This one-page worksheet includes:
A helpful checklist that reminds you to do all steps of Pinterest SEO
A place to collect keyword inspiration for your content
Sign up to my free Brand Builder Library to get instant access to this worksheet.
Next week, I’ll show you how to schedule pins in Tailwind and how outsource this task effectively to a virtual assistant.