In the fiercely competitive landscape of online lifestyle and e-commerce brands, where promoting numerous products puts you in direct competition with retail giants like Amazon and Walmart, small businesses often face a daunting challenge.
Enter SEO for Pinterest, an underrated yet effective strategy that empowers consumer brands to connect with customers and boost revenue through social selling.
Why Pinterest? Though underrated next to TikTok or Instagram, Pinterest has 465 million active monthly users. Women comprise 60% of the audience, but men and Gen Z are fast-growing segments.
80% of weekly “Pinners” have discovered a new brand or product on Pinterest, making it a prime place for passive and active shoppers.
What is Pinterest SEO?
Beginner Tips for Pinterest SEO
Advanced Tips for Pinterest SEO
Pinterest: The Underrated Platform to Drive Traffic and Social Sales
Pinterest SEO is the process of optimizing your content to make it discoverable on the platform. Most people associate SEO (search engine optimization) with Google search.
The truth is, there are two ways you can optimize your Pinterest content for discoverability: first, on search engines and also on Pinterest. Fortunately, I’ll show you many tactics and best practices to boost visibility in both places.
With search engines, you use traditional SEO techniques to optimize your page titles, descriptions, and images to boost your content’s rankings in Google search, including Google Shopping and Google Images.
In the second, which I like to call social engine optimization, you implement practices to give your content a better chance of appearing on Pinterest.
This is smart because consumers are shifting their behavior to shop within social media platforms — skipping the search engine altogether.
What is social selling?
Social selling is the practice of marketing and selling goods and services directly on social media platforms.
36% of Gen Z and 22% of millennials search for brands on social media more often than through search engines.
And this is translating into sales: One in five Gen Z, Millennial, and Gen X social media users bought a product directly in a social media app in the past three months.
10 Beginner Tips for Pinterest SEO
Just getting started? Begin with these basic tips to set a solid foundation for Pinterest SEO.
Research your top keywords.
Landing content in front of your ideal customer is challenging unless you know what they’re searching for. 97% of the top Pinterest searches are unbranded, which means you need to use keywords other than your brand name.
To compete on SEO, research which keywords your audience uses to browse online. First, make a list of keywords used in your business.
Then, use a keyword research tool to see how much search volume those have and look for related ideas.
Set up a business account.
You can’t use a personal account to set up your Pinterest content for commerce. Instead, create a business account that’s linked to a personal account.
A business account gives you access to the Pinterest Business Hub and Pinterest Analytics (more on measurement later).
Verify and link your website.
After registering, you can take a few more steps to authenticate your business.
Registered merchants can access advanced features like tagging products in a lifestyle photo.
Optimize your company name and username.
To optimize your Pinterest business account for search, you should first choose a recognizable company name and username.
Your company name has no character limit, but the challenge often comes with your username, which is limited to 30 characters.
Lesser-known brands or solopreneurs can find success by adding keywords after their name, like “Sara Smith | Interior Designer, Stager, and Home Decorator.”
If your business name doesn’t fit or is cumbersome for the username, choose something memorable, keyword-conscious, and easy to spell that is also clearly associated with your business.
Optimize your page’s about section.
The Pinterest About section provides 500 prime keyword real estate characters, so use this space wisely. In addition to being descriptive and keyword-sensitive, your bio should be simple, concise, and specific.
Five hundred characters is plenty of space for a keyword-rich overview that covers the who, what, and where of what you do, so use it smartly — and don’t forget to add your website URL in the space provided. Take a look at the example above from Vessi sneakers.
Include keywords in pin titles.
Your pin title is one of the most significant opportunities for text-based content on Pinterest. You have 100 characters to play with here, but Pinners will usually only see the first 40.
Take this example from the outdoors brand REI. They cleverly use an excellent title (“best hammocks”), matching the search phrasing people use.
Write killer pin descriptions
Another goldmine for Pinterest SEO is your pin description.
When describing your pins, include terms that your audience will relate to and use on their own, add links to the original product or content, and consider adding instructions on product usage or care.
Be sure to include the brand name in the first line. Descriptive terms like “new” and relevant keywords in the preview area can also drive more clicks.
Pinterest gives you 500 characters to work with, but take caution that Pinners typically only see the first 50 as a preview. Make the start of your pin description irresistible if you want them to read it all.
Even when they don’t, the keywords will still help to signal your pin’s relevance to their algorithm.
Don’t try anything gimmicky, like repeating keywords or linking to irrelevant content. Instead, focus on creating remarkable descriptions that help you stand out.
Include a call to action.
Verbs like “discover,” “sign up,” or “save for later” can boost engagement with your pins. Pinterest recommends including a CTA in your pin description or title for users to share your pin or follow your board.
After all, the more engagement your pins and profile receive, the more your content will populate across the site.
Create descriptive Pinterest boards.
On Pinterest, you shouldn’t just be pinning your content — you should also be curating it. Creating boards around common search topics important to your audience can make your boards (and your products within them) easy to find.
You can boost visibility and engagement by updating timely boards with a mix of your own and others’ content.
Take Real Simple magazine on Pinterest, for example, whose boards cover topics ranging from skincare to fall recipes to small-space decorating.
The titles you give your Pinterest boards are essential for SEO. Move beyond default names like “For the Home” and “My Style” that don’t stand out.
Break through the pinboard name clutter and be specific and keyword-conscious in selecting your board names.
If you’re an interior designer, replace “For the Home” with “Modern Kitchens” or “Children’s Bedrooms” to align with search terms and increase the likelihood of standing out.
Pin content consistently.
The more high-quality pins you create, the more likely the platform will display your content across feeds and searches.
When one of your pins does well, it signals to the algorithm that similar content from your profile may also do well and can boost your older pins. Pinterest recommends publishing content at least weekly to keep your account fresh.
10 Advanced Tips for Pinterest SEO
If you’ve aced all the beginner tips, let’s move on to more advanced tactics. Some of these are more technical, but they won’t take much time to manage once they’re set up.
Optimize for visual search.
Pinterest is a visual search engine where people can browse, discover, and shop by image. With that in mind, you must change your approach to match how Pinners primarily experience the platform. They come to use their right brain and look, not read.
The quality of your images matters far more than your descriptions or formatting. However, these tactics will give your beautiful images a better chance of being seen and enjoyed.
Size your videos and images for Pinterest.
To give your images the most real estate and better engagement, design or crop them for the platform.
Portrait orientation works best for Pinterest, and the optimal image size for Pinterest is 735 x 1102 pixels. Pins display at a maximum width of 238 pixels, so the taller your image is, the more space it will take up.
Videos should also be in portrait mode to fill the screen area of a phone.
Social media templates can resize images for you, easily edit videos, and give you tools and ideas for stunning visuals.
Hot tip: The Canva app for HubSpot lets you create, resize, and publish your social images in one place — no exporting and importing.
Give descriptive image names.
Many companies make the mistake of uploading photos using their default names. After all, I can’t think of a much more boring task than retitling images.
But an image named 1.13.23ShootImage722.jpg won’t perform as well in search as “Boston-townhouse.jpg.”
Create an internal naming convention that includes important keywords, the product name, and the date.
Use alt text for your images.
Image alt text is another area where you can signal your content’s relevance to the algorithm. Alt text is less potent than your pin description, but still matters.
Alt text is used for accessibility for users with vision impairments, but it also helps with SEO– particularly on Google Images. Keep alt text below 125 characters and use natural language with descriptive keywords.
Add backlinks to your website.
Within each pin, you have the option to add a destination link. Like other social networks, Pinterest designates these as “nofollow” links.
In other words, these links do not pass on any SEO authority. But even while these links won’t give you extra oomph in terms of SEO, you should still add them to drive Pinners to your website.
After all, what good is SEO for your Pinterest presence if you’re not ultimately driving sales?
Adding a specific landing page or product page is better than adding your generic site address. Be sure to use the entire link, as shortened links can be flagged as spam.
Create rich pins.
Speaking of links, in the old days of Pinterest, I remember being disappointed when I pinned a product only to discover that it was out of stock or discontinued. Now, you can update your products in real time with rich pins.
Rich pins extract information from a web page and sync updates automatically. The three types of rich pins are product, recipe, and article.
These stand out by providing extra information like author or product information and include your photo or icon at the bottom of the pin.
Take this example from retailer ModCloth. You can see the product details populating below the regular pin info. To set up rich pins, you must have a merchant account, and the products must be in stock.
Make your website content pinnable with “Save to Pinterest” buttons.
While part of your SEO efforts will focus on optimizing content within Pinterest, another focus should be optimizing content outside of Pinterest. This includes search engines and, of course, your website.
Since users pinning your content is the best way to boost discoverability in feeds, make this easy by adding a “Save to Pinterest” button to website pages or blog posts with visuals.
Leverage long-tail keywords.
Long-tail keywords are longer keywords that capture a more specific search intent. These are typically a phrase or string of descriptive words and can even be an entire sentence.
Optimizing your boards and pins for long-term keywords helps you compete in popular topics.
For instance, searching for “birthday party” will generate thousands of results, including for kids and adults.
Search for “birthday party five-year-old boy” or “kids birthday party games,” and you’ll generate much more relevant results with lower competition.
If you have a local business, you can leverage geographical search by adding your city after the initial keyword.
Here’s a research tip: Use Pinterest’s search autocomplete to discover long-tail keywords your audience may use.
When we typed in “bookshelves,” some of the top choices that popped up were “bookshelves in small spaces,” “bookshelves in living room,” and “bookshelves in bedroom.”
Pinjack relevant search terms and images.
“Pinjacking”(think newsjacking, but for Pinterest!) is another excellent way to capitalize on trends and capture search traffic. This means creating a pin or board based on trends you see happening.
For instance, when the Barbie movie started gaining traction, online store Shoplook created a board of Barbie-inspired outfits that had been pinned over 200 times.
Shoplook added backlinks, so it’s easy for Pinners to buy the entire look on their online store.
This type of campaign takes effort and must be very timely, as trends can die down within a few days. If you don’t have that time to invest, take the tried-and-true method of tweaking your boards based on predictable seasons and holidays.
You can create lifestyle collections for each season or recycle the same boards by changing the title and description.
For instance, create a board for “gift ideas for men.” During the holiday season, change the name to “Christmas gifts for men,” then “Valentine’s gifts for men,” and so on.
Measure and readjust with Pinterest tags.
You’re on the right track if you’ve made it this far and implemented a few of these tactics. Now, switch from strategy mode to content creation, monitoring, and adjustment.
If you’ve signed up for a business account, you can track and analyze your engagement with Pinterest Analytics. You can track how Pinners interact with your content and gain insight into your audience’s interests.
One crucial step is to add a Pinterest tag to your website, an invisible piece of code that lets you track conversions, segment your audience, and report reliably on your performance.
This crucial step will let you analyze not only what engagement and traffic you’re driving — but who’s buying as a result of what content.
Take a look at these reports at least monthly so you can optimize underperforming pins and tweak your future content for success.
Pinterest: The Underrated Platform to Drive Traffic and Social Sales
The role Pinterest plays for businesses is growing every day. The platform provides a unique opportunity for companies to connect with audiences, rank on visual search, and grow their social selling.