Traffic Sources

SEO For Pinterest

Lesson 6 Section 3

The Pinterest Search Algorithm

The Pinterest Search Algorithm is similar to others - it is very complex.  It is not just a cut and dry explanation.  There are certain known factors involved though which this lesson will cover in depth.

There are 4 principle factors known to affect whether or not your pins show up and where:

  1. Domain Quality
  2. Pin Quality
  3. Pinner Quality
  4. Relevance

Understanding these factors and how you influence them along with the layout of your boards and pins is how you dominate Pinterest and drive traffic.  Engagement , relevancy, high quality content are central to all objectives on Pinterest as it define their core purpose.  

From a users standpoint, Pinterests goal is to show relevant, engaging content that the user is interested in and wants to save.  The more engaging content is, the more popular it becomes as it is shared and appears in more and more places.   

1. How to Increase Domain Quality

Domain quality is Pinterest’s idea of the quality of your website.   Pinterest can see how popular pins from your website are, and it learns whether your site is a source of high-quality content over time.

How do you improve your domain quality ranking and get Pinterest to trust you?

  1. Convert to a business account if you haven’t already done so.
  2. Claim your website to show Pinterest that you are a legitimate pinner.
  3. Enable rich pins on your account.
  4. Be a consistent pinner.
  5. Create and pin high-quality content that gets many saves and comments.

It sounds like it should be simple, but honestly, anything good takes effort.

2. How to Increase Pin Quality

Pin quality is determined by the popularity and engagement level of your pins.

If a lot of people zoom-closeup, click through, save, add a photo or comment on your pin, Pinterest will view that as a high-quality pin.     It’s especially important that your followers are engaged with your pins. Pinterest recently updated their Best Practices Guide to say:

[pullquote align=”normal”]We distribute your content to your followers first to figure out what’s resonating. From there, we distribute your best performing Pins to other people who are looking for ideas like yours. [/pullquote]

Pinterest also looks at all versions of your pin when determining pin quality. So if you save one of your pins to another board, Pinterest adds up how many saves and comments that pin received as well. In fact, as of 2018 Pinterest has started to combine comments and photos from every version of your pin. Now, when you pin something, if you wait a few days, you’ll find comments and photos will show up on your pin from other pin versions.

How do you improve your pin quality?
  1. Write compelling blog post titles.
  2. Create pin-worthy graphics.
  3. Monitor your Pinterest boards for saves and clicks

If your pins aren’t being saved from your personal boards or your group boards, consider leaving (or archiving) them. However, also check for clicks to your site in Pinterest Analytics – you don’t want to leave a board that’s getting you clicks!

Should you participate in share/like exchanges?

If you want to give a certain pin a boost, there are many groups on Facebook that run promo days where you can post a link to your pin and ask for saves. However, are share/like exchanges really beneficial?

On the plus side, participating in share exchanges gets you:

  • A boost in saves that helps your pin look better to Pinterest.
  • Increased reach from the shares you receive.

On the negative side, you might find:

  • Your pins may be negatively affected by being saved to irrelevant boards.
  • Your pinner quality ranking could be negatively affected by reciprocating and saving poor quality pins that don’t fit your niche.
  • It takes a great deal of time to reciprocate on exchanges.

Should you participate? As a general rule, we recommend that you avoid like/share exchanges because most of them cause unnatural saving activity and can get you penalized by Pinterest.

However, feel free to participate in promotional activities with other people in your industry who you think would genuinely love your content. Look for industry-specific support groups where you can promote your pins… there are tons of them on Facebook!

An alternative to share exchanges is using Tailwind Tribes. Join niche specific Tribes and promote your own pins and you’ll also have access to high-quality, relevant content to pin to your own boards so you don’t have to spend as much time curating content.

Should you participate in follow exchanges?

Definitely not! The 2018 update places huge weight on follower engagement, and you aren’t going to get the right kind of followers from a follow exchange. Instead, allow your followers to accumulate organically. They’ll be much more engaged with your content which will improve the overall quality of your Pinterest account.

3. How to Increase Pinner Quality

Pinner quality is Pinterest’s estimation of you as a content curator.      Pinner quality is largely based on how well your content is received. Do you receive a lot of saves and comments? Do you pin content that Pinterest already rates as high quality? Are you an active Pinterest user? How often do you pin?

Improve your pinner quality?

  1. Be active on Pinterest throughout the day.
  2. Pin already popular content to your boards.
  3. Increase your saves
  4. Increase your follower engagement

Use Pinterest analytics to find out what your top performing pins are. This is likely to be content that resonates most with your followers.

Here’s an example:

Top Pinned Pins

You can see that this audience is interested in Graphics.   I can use the information to guide content and create additional posts the followers want to read and will engage with on Pinterest.

4. Use Relevant Keywords

So far, we’ve discussed how to increase your authority on Pinterest.   Even if Pinterest views you as a high-quality pinner, they will only show pins that are relevant to their users.

Relevance is how closely your pins fit your audience’s overall interests, specific searches, and recent search history.     You should already know that the only way for a search engine to know what your content is about is with keywords. On Google, just like on Pinterest, keywords influence what appears in the search results.

While domain quality, pin quality and pinner quality tell Pinterest how important your pins are, keywords tell Pinterest what your pins are about.

Step 1. Do Pinterest keyword research.

When it comes to optimizing your pins for SEO, there is no better tool than Pinterest Search.

When you’re typing in a search query on Pinterest, you’ll notice that it auto-suggests keywords to you. Similar to the way Google does. These suggestions are popular search phrases.

Smart Search

After you’ve run a search, a set of suggested keywords will appear beneath the search bar for you to add to your search to narrow it down even further.

Search Keywords

Like Google SEO, Pinterest SEO is all about long tail keywords (think multi-word phrases rather than single words). 


There’s a lot of competition for general keywords, so the key is to get as targeted as possible with long tails.

You can’t see the exact number of searches for keywords on Pinterest. But, if you’re interested you can look at Pinterest categories and drill down into Topics to see how many people have indicated that they’re interested in the topic. This will give you an idea of how popular any given keyword is.

Do not overlook the value in doing a little research.  It is very easy to hand this off to someone else to do.  However, if you are not seeing results on Pinterest, do some of this research yourself.  Use as direction for whoever is doing this for you or you are at least hold them accountable..

Step 2. SEO your Pinterest profile.

There are three places you can add keywords to optimize your profile:

  • Your username
  • Your business name
  • Your bio

Your username determines the URL of your Pinterest profile. You can use this to add one of your broader keywords or, alternatively, use your business name.

To add a business name, you’ll need to upgrade to a business account. You’ll get access to analytics, promoted pins, and you’ll also be able to claim your website.

Pinterest gives you plenty of space in the business name field to add keywords. Add keywords right after your business name to show people what you do.


Choose your username, business name and always write descriptions using common sense.  Don't pick a goofy username and expect to be taken seriously.  

Set it up correct the first time around and you will have no regrets later on.

no regrets

Next, add keywords to your bio. You’ve got a short 160-character space to fill with your bio. This is not the place to get wordy. You need to be concise, mission-focused, adding keywords and a call to action in there as well.

If you’re not sure where to start, try this Pinterest bio formula:

“I help __________ to __________ by __________. Learn more/Click here/Sign up for my free thing: [your URL].” 

My profile would then read I help online sellers  to dominate their niche and grow sales by teaching them how to master the different techniques and options available.

Step 3. SEO your Pinterest boards.

If you want your boards and the pins on them to be found in the search, optimize them with intelligent keywords. Both in the title of your boards and in their description .  Always save your new content yourself and always pin it to the most relevant board first.  This clearly tells Pinterest that you as a content creator, just produced the high quality content, it will set your titles and descriptions as the primary descriptions etc.

Regardless of whether keyword stuffing is ok somewhere, don't do it.  You are only hurting yourself in the long run.  Keyword stuffing is a penalty on Google.  Everything you make public on the internet should be looked at from an SEO standpoint before uploading.   You can be on the first page of Google while still on the 28th page of Amazon search.  It is a technique that longtime sellers use to rank products.

Finally, you should never save irrelevant content to your boards. Pinterest has said saving content to an irrelevant board won’t help and can hurt your distribution.

Step 4. SEO your pin descriptions.

Don’t forget to optimize your pins themselves by adding keywords to the descriptions. As of 2018, Pinterest is experimenting with how much of the title and pin description they show in search and the home feed. It’s not enough to just write an enticing description anymore, sadly, most pinners won’t even see it unless they click on your pin.

Pinterest SEO

Keywords are what will get your pins found in search and enticing descriptions are what will get you the click.

PRO TIP:  Pinterest is putting a lot of focus on relevance.  Ensure  your pins are relevant to your content by including keywords from your landing page focus in your Pin title.  

Step 5. SEO your text overlays and make relevant image choices.

In 2017, Pinterest introduced Lens, a visual search function that allows you to take a photo of a product and Pinterest returns pins it thinks are a match.

What does this mean for you?  If you sell a physical product, make sure it’s front and center in your image!   If you don’t sell a product, this is still relevant to you because it’s clear that:

  1. Pinterest may be able to read your text overlay.
  2. Pinterest can see your images and is making associations with similar ones. 

Make sure you’re using your keywords on your text overlays and making relevant image choices.

Step 6. SEO your blog posts.

Another thing you can do with your keywords is to use them in your blog post title and in the body of your post. Using keywords here will transfer through to Pinterest if you’ve enabled rich pins.

It’s also very important to optimize your meta description (or first few sentences of your blog post) to entice Pinterest users back to your blog.

Step 7. SEO your buyable pins.

If you are using “buy it” buttons on your pins, don’t forget to SEO those pins as well by using keywords in your pin title and description.

Step 8. SEO your hashtags.

Hashtags are newer to Pinterest, but that’s no reason not to use them!   Make sure you’re choosing hashtags that are relevant and specific to your content.

When you save a pin, if you type the ‘#’ sign and start entering in a potential hashtag, Pinterest will populate a drop down list that shows how many pins are within each hashtag.

Hashtags On Pinterest 2019

Hashtags On Pinterest 2019

Hashtag Best Practices:
  • Hashtag searches show results by the newest first
  • Post just before and during your users peak usage time.
  • Mix popular and Niche  hashtags
  • Hashtags only go in the description at the end
  • Pinterest is great for evergreen and date sensitive material, dont mix the two
  • 3 to 5 hashtags per post
  • Hashtags do not replace keywords or descriptions
  • Do not update old pins with hashtags

Power Tool: Hashtagify - Boost Your Content By Choosing The Best Hashtags

Step 9. SEO your board sections.

Board sections were rolled out on Pinterest beginning in September 2017, and it looks like they’re here to stay! Basically, board sections are like shelves within boards.

Board sections are a way to give Pinterest more data about your boards and pins, so make sure you use keywords.

Here’s a suggestion on how to use board sections:

  • use them to showcase your best pins in different categories
  • if you sell multiple types of products, use them to showcase each type
  • if you have recipe boards, use board sections to sort by meal type or by cuisine

You aren’t penalized for not using sections, but if you have a broad topic board it’s a great way to improve your SEO. For a very niche board, you don’t need to use it.

Tip: Consider using sections for a broader boards at the top of your keyword groups,


Before moving on to the next Lesson, take some time to familiarize yourself with the different features listed in this module.  The best way to make the most out of this exercise is to look at competitors and/or top Pinterest boards in your categories.  Get an idea of what works in each of different structural points mentioned in this lesson.

Lesson Essentials

Download and print these documents to follow along at home.

Next Lesson: Creating Powerful Titles, Sharing Content & Key Trends