Okay, you’ve heard it before: Pinterest is a search engine. But have you truly taken this as advice? Are you treating Pinterest like the visual search engine that it is? Or just as a place for some pretty photos?
Pinterest SEO is vital to your success on Pinterest now. Your descriptions and board names are just as important as the images you use, yet I see so many people skimping out on this completely.
When you don’t create descriptions, you’re basically saying you never want your content to be found.
Sure, there’s the occasional outlier.
My first “viral” pin was from an account with no photo and no board descriptions. But somehow this pin caught on. I still had rich pins with a good title and a good meta/social description, so maybe that’s why.
My other pins, however, I created with intention. I could watch my own pins improve in search results just by changing the description and giving it some repins through my group boards.
Once I saw this, I updated the descriptions of ALL my pins (to my own site, that it is) and after several months, they’re definitely outperforming my pins with simple descriptions.
Let’s talk about a little something called Pinterest SEO and the role descriptions play in it. This is basically the process of optimizing your pins, boards, and profile to be more easily found in search.
Here’s what I’ve noticed so far based on starting 3 Pinterest accounts for 3 different websites.
Pin Descriptions Quick Links
You could also call this section the TL:DR section. Take these headers as quick bullet points of takeaways if you’re not into long posts.
If this is enough to convince you that you need to start writing better descriptions, like NOW, check out Get Found on Pinterest. This course takes you through my super easy 4-step method for writing great Pinterest descriptions.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase, I'll receive a bonus or commission. Don't worry, there's no extra cost to you!
- What is Pinterest SEO?
- Reason #1: Descriptions help Pinterest know what to show in search
- Reason #2: Builds context for your pins
- Reason #3: Allows your pins to appear as suggested content
- Bonus Reason: Tailwind forces descriptions
- Where to Add Keywords for Pinterest
- Pinterest SEO Recap
- Share this Post on Pinterest
What is Pinterest SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. So this is basically optimization for Pinterest searches.
Search isn’t the only thing affected by Pinterest SEO. It also plays a factor in how your pins are suggested to other users, either directly on their Home Feeds or through related pins.
Let’s take look at these three reasons why you need to stop ignoring or half-assing your Pinterest descriptions right now.
Reason #1: Descriptions help Pinterest know what to show in search
Ah, yes. The most basic of search optimization tactics. The keyword.
Descriptions and titles are key in determining what content belongs in which searches. Keywords, which are most of the time really keyphases, are the most basic thing that connects content to searches.
You won’t have much luck appearing in searches if your description isn’t… descriptive. And by not utilizing the full 500 characters allowed, you’re missing out on the chance to appear in a lot of search phrases. More than just your one main topic.
Much like Google and other search engines, your pins won’t show in search immediately. In fact, it’s often not even my original pins that show, thanks to someone else’s repin getting more engagement.
Speaking of repins, that brings me to my next point!
Engagement also affects search rank
Your success on Pinterest is directly connected to the actions of other people. You have to rely on followers and collaborations to get your pins out there.
You can post something for months, but if no one is repinning it, it’s like it’s not even there. Repins are one of the ways Pinterest decides if content is “good” or “more relevant” to certain searches.
There’s a bit of a circle here because by not having descriptions on your pins, you’re making it that much more difficult to find by people to want to repin content like yours. But then you also need repins to make your pins more easily found. And that’s hard to do if your pins aren’t optimized for search.
“Aahhhh!!!” right? What do you do? How do you get more repins if your pins aren’t appearing in search right away?
Well, it’s unlikely you have tons of targeted followers right from the start, so it’s best to try to get repins through group boards, tribes, and Facebook groups that have other people who also post in your niche.
Here are a few ideas you can use to encourage others to repin your content.
- Create engaging pin images that are attractive to your target audience
- Add a call to action to your pin description or image
- Ask readers to pin your blog posts
- Ask subscribers to save the pin for a new post in your email send out
- Add your pins to group boards
- Add pins to BoardBooster Tribes and Tailwind Tribes
- Participate in Facebook blogger group share days
Reason #2: Builds context for your pins
Did you know that Pinterest’s algorithm, the Smart Feed, decides when and who to show your pins to?
Did you know it does this based on descriptions of pins, boards, and board names? (Though you’ve probably guessed that by now.)
Did you know that using good descriptions is how you tell it what content is relevant to certain searches?
The Smart Feed needs to know what your pin is about. The only way to truly do that is through your descriptions.
I think it also might help you with being sent out in those emails Pinterest sends to people who might “enjoy these similar boards” or however they put it. Definitely worth working towards, as one of the most popular pins ever I saved from one of those emails.
Wouldn’t it be cool if that happened with one of your pins?
When you first create a pin, Pinterest has no idea what it’s about. It lumps your pins together with visually similar pins, which means it’s not being suggested to the right people who are actually looking for your content.
Over time, it learns the context of your pins, and your website, by what boards your pins are being added to and what keywords are in your descriptions.
I think this learning period is part of the reason why it takes so long to build traction for each one of your pins.
How to tell if your pin has the right context
I’m getting a tiny bit ahead of myself here, but there’s actually a really easy way to tell if Pinterest has any idea what your pin is about.
All you have to do is open up one of your pins and scroll to the “Related Pins” section.
If the pins you see here aren’t quite what you’d expect for your article or product or whatever, then you need to focus on improving your keywords and where you (and others) save copies of this pin to.
How to improve the context of your pins
- Add keywords to pin descriptions
- Add keywords to meta/social titles and descriptions on your blog’s SEO or social media tool.
- Save your pins in boards with keyword-rich names and descriptions
See a pattern here?
Reason #3: Allows your pins to appear as suggested content
This is kind of a “part 2” for the context thing I mentioned above but I think it’s important to realize that this is important.
Besides search results, there are two major places affected by the context of your pins, the Home Feed and the Related Pins section that appears underneath the closeup version of a pin.
The Home Feed
Home Feeds kind of feel like search results now. Have you noticed that your Home Feed always shows you pins related to the same content that you repin?
It’s the same for everyone else, too. This is why a lot of your own followers may never see your pins. If they never save content similar to what you pin, or if they only save it to secret boards, they’ll never see your pins.
This is a huge part of why followers are no longer as important as they used to be. It’s hard to show up “at random” now, which further enforces the need to try to catch people when they’re searching for something.
These pins you see from random users are what make up the “Pick for You” pins. If you have this feature turned off, you’ll still see pins that are filtered by what you’re currently saving, but they’ll instead be influenced by people, boards, and topics that you follow.
The other non-search place your pins could be shown is within related content underneath pin closeups. Sometimes this is visual, and other times it’s contextual.
Depending on your niche, visual matching might be enough for you. Things like beauty tutorials, fashion photos, and travel photography can benefit a lot from visual search. Anything that uses product photos, as well.
But for those of us whose content isn’t visually based, related pins based on how our pins look aren’t that great. So we need to work extra hard to make sure Pinterest knows what your pins are really about so they show up with the right pins.
Okay, so maybe it’s actually pretty easy, but it’s still a little bit more work.
Bonus Reason: Tailwind forces descriptions
If you don’t know what Tailwind is, it’s a tool that helps you schedule pins on Pinterest. It’s an awesome, time-saving tool that many bloggers are using these days.
So what does this have to do with descriptions?
Never underestimate the power of saving time (or in my case, sometimes just laziness)! I prefer to do tasks efficiently. I automate everything I can.
Even if this isn’t the sort of person you are, there are many others out there doing this same thing by using Tailwind to schedule their pins. The biggest reason for this is to save time.
Tailwind requires a description in order to schedule a pin. Descriptions aren’t something I can automate so when I see a pin without a description, guess what happens?
I skip it.
I skip it because to take the time to write my own well thought out description would break my stride.
Maybe that makes me a less-than-helpful person, but you have to remember that people who are just like me are out there. And we’re skipping your pins without descriptions.
I don’t want people to skip my pins, so I take the time to write descriptions for them. And I don’t mean just adding the page title to the description and thinking that’s enough.
When I first started, I totally did that. Looking back, I consider it to be my one big Pinterest mistake. Sometimes I see these pins with poor descriptions circulating and I just know they could be doing so much more.
Where to Add Keywords for Pinterest
So you get why keywords are important, but what do you do with them? Where do you need to put them?
I’ll soon have a video available with more information, but for now, here’s a list of what you need to do.
Create keyword-rich descriptions and board names:
- Determine the keywords people would search for to find your content
- Check Pinterest search for related words and phrases
- Add keywords to your descriptions and blog posts
Add your descriptions to various places
- Your business name
- Your profile description
- Your board names
- Your board descriptions
- Your pin descriptions
and on your blog:
- Image name (for basic SEO more than Pinterest)
- Image alt-text
- Social media title
- Social media description
Pinterest SEO Recap
Here’s everything we’ve learned about Pinterest SEO in this post with some links directly to some important sections.
- Pinterest SEO…
- Engagement affects your search rank
- Descriptions are necessary for anyone sharing with Tailwind
- There are lots of places where you can add keywords for Pinterest
Don’t forget that you can also check out Get Found on Pinterest, my super easy 4-step method for writing Pinterest descriptions that practically write themselves.
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