Pinterest SEO in 2018: How to Optimize Your Pins for the Changes

Is Pinterest on your list of things to do this year?

Well, the first thing you should know about Pinterest is that it isn't a social media site.

It's a search engine.

There are over 2 billion monthly searches on Pinterest.

But, why should you care? Surely only DIY, food, and mom bloggers are having any luck on Pinterest?

Actually, Pinterest is a huge driver of website traffic across all industries, responsible for about 5% of all referral traffic.

But traffic isn't the only consideration for hopping on the Pinterest bandwagon. It's also good for business.

pinterest-statisticsvia Brandon Gaille

You see, Pinterest users are ready to buy. While surfing their Pinterest feeds, shopping carts ring up at $58.95 on average. That's more money than people spend from Facebook or Twitter.

Pinterest also represents a huge opportunity to overcome your competition, as many online businesses are using Pinterest all wrong, or not at all.

Leveraging Pinterest SEO can give you a practically unlimited supply of free traffic to your site. Traffic that is ready to buy. Are you ready to learn how?

Good! Let's start by introducing you to the 2017 Pinterest algorithm change…

Meet the Pinterest "Smart Feed" Algorithm

The "Smart Feed" is the name of Pinterest's algorithm. It determines what a user sees in their Pinterest home feed.


Here's how it works:

Pinterest wants to show you a mix of content you care about. Good content. The kind of content that will have you clicking and coming back for more.

Pins used to be seen in real-time, however, that's not the case anymore. Pins are shown as "best first" rather than "newest first".. And Pinterest's Smart Feed is responsible for prioritizing and ranking pins based on their quality, with quality being determined by their algorithm.

There are three different content pools of content that your home feed is drawn from:


  • Repins from users you're following
  • Related pins
  • Pins from your interests

Pinterest chooses pins from each of these three pools to display in your Smart Feed.

But how does Pinterest decide which pins to choose? Well, like any search engine algorithm, Pinterest's Smart Feed algorithm is complex and they hold their cards close to their chest.

However, there are 4 main factors which are known to influence whether or not your pins show up on Pinterest:

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

Once you understand how to optimize each of these 4 factors, you'll be well on your way to driving consistent traffic with Pinterest!

Let's begin with how to increase domain quality…

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?

Step 1. Convert to a business account if you haven't already done so.

Step 2. Verify your website to show Pinterest that you are a legitimate pinner.

Step 3. Enable rich pins on your account.

Rich pins add extra information to your pins directly from your blog. The best part is that if you update the information on your blog, it'll automatically transfer across to Pinterest. The added information helps to improve your ranking.

Step 4. Create and pin high-quality content that gets many repins and likes.

Easier said than done, you say? Don't worry, we'll explain how to get more repins and likes in the next section…

2. How to Increase Pin Quality

Pin quality is determined by the popularity of your pins.

If a lot of people repin and hit the "Tried It" button on your pin, Pinterest will view that as a high-quality pin.

Pinterest also looks at all versions of your pin when determining pin quality. So if you repin one of your pins to another board, Pinterest adds up how many repins and "Tried It's" that pin received as well.

How do you improve your pin quality?

Step 1. Write compelling blog post titles.

The entire point of a blog post headline is to get people to read the next sentence. Similarly, a juicy or compelling headline goes a long way towards getting repins and likes on Pinterest.

Step 2. Create pin-worthy graphics.

You can have the best post in the world, with a great headline, but if your pin graphic is ugly it isn't going to do well on Pinterest.

Here are some best practices for creating pin-worthy graphics:


  • Make sure your image is tall rather than wide.
  • Use a high-quality image.
  • Overlay your blog post title on the image.
  • Use multiple images in your pin. This works well for food, DIY, and craft bloggers who can show the steps in their process. It also works well for outfit posts, roundup-style posts and before/after transformation posts.
  • If you have a free download you're giving away with your blog post, create a mock-up of it and add it to the pin. People like to see what they're getting and it shows that your post is packed with even more value.
  • Use longer images. They take up more space in the feed and get more engagement.

    Note: As of November 2017, there are reports from some users that long pins are truncated in the feed – this change hasn't rolled out to all users yet.

Step 3. Monitor your Pinterest boards for repins and clicks

If your pins aren't being repinned from your personal boards or your group boards, consider leaving (or deleting) 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 repins. However, are share/like exchanges really beneficial?

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

  • A boost in repins 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 pinned to irrelevant boards.
  • Your pinner quality ranking could be negatively affected by reciprocating and pinning 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 pinning 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 or Board Booster 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.

3. How to Increase Pinner Quality

Pinner quality is Pinterest's estimation of you as a content curator.

Does Pinterest trust you to curate the best and the most relevant content? Or not?

Pinner quality is largely based on how well your content is received. Do you receive a lot of repins and Tried Its? Do you pin content that Pinterest already rates as high quality? Are you an active Pinterest user? How often do you pin?

So, how do you improve your pinner quality?

Step 1. Be active on Pinterest throughout the day.

You can invest in a Pinterest scheduler like Tailwind or BoardBooster to save time. This keeps your account active on Pinterest throughout the day, without you spending all your time pinning.

As a bonus, Tailwind is packed with analytics and other features that will help you identify your best performing boards and pins and tweak your strategy for more repins and likes.

Step 2. Pin already popular content to your boards.

There are several ways to find popular pins. Here are some you can try:

  • Browse the "Popular" category.
  • Check out for the most repinned Pinterest pins by category.
  • Simply do a search for your topic on Pinterest, and usually the first pins to come up are very popular with thousands of repins (even if you can no longer see the exact number).

    Tip: If you want to check how many repins a pin has had, you can simply add /activity to the end of the pin URL.

Step 3. Increase your repins

Follow the steps in "How to Increase Pin Quality" above.

4. How to Add Keywords to Pinterest (Relevance)

Up until this point, we've discussed how to increase your authority in Pinterest's eyes. But even if Pinterest views you as a high-quality pinner, they won't show your pins to their users unless they think your pins are relevant to their users.

Relevance is how closely your pins fit your audience's overall interests, specific searches, and recent search history.

If you know much about SEO, you'll know that the only way for a search engine to know what your content is about is with keywords. Just like on Google, keywords influence what appears in searches on Pinterest.

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

So how do you use keywords to show Pinterest that your content is relevant?

Step 1. Do Pinterest keyword research.

When it comes to optimizing your pins for SEO, you may be wondering whether there is a good Pinterest keywords tool you can use.

Actually, the best way to do keyword research for Pinterest is on Pinterest itself. Here's how:

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.


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.


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.

Sadly, 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.

Now you're a big step ahead of the competition just by researching keywords, but you still need to know what to do with them. Where and how should you add these keywords? We'll cover that in the following steps…

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 verify 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.

For example, Pinterest experts like Peg Fitzpatrick and Anna C. Bennett show up in the top results for "Pinterest Tips" because they've included the "Pinterest Tips" keyword in their business name.


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]."

Here's an example from Summer Tannhauser. Her bio reads:

"I teach small business owners to build a list, gain leads + secure clients through Pinterest. FREE 5 Day Pinterest Power Biz Course:"


Step 3. SEO your Pinterest boards.

If you want your boards to be found in the search, optimize them with intelligent keywords. Both in the title of your boards and in their descriptions.


It's easy to get carried away when naming your Pinterest boards. Unfortunately, cute board names like "Yummy!" or "My Style Miles" are probably never going to show up in a search. That's not what you want if you're using Pinterest for business.

You also need to add keywords to the description of your board. Don't leave it blank! You've got 500 characters to spend on your best keywords. You can simply list your keywords out separated by commas, or you can work it into a short paragraph.


As of November 2017, there doesn't appear to be any penalty for "keyword stuffing" your board descriptions. However, this may change in the future, so strive to make your board descriptions as user-friendly as possible.

Also make sure to categorize your boards correctly. If you're pinning marketing content to a board that's categorized as "Animals", you're sending conflicting messages.

Step 4. SEO your pin descriptions.

Don't forget to optimize your pins themselves by adding keywords to the descriptions. As of 2017, Pinterest has updated their platform to only show titles in search and the 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..

So which do you choose? Keywords or an enticing description?

You need to be doing both!

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

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

One of the changes that Pinterest made in 2017 was the introduction of 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 can 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 pin image name.

Not many people take this final step and take the time to keyword their image names. Rather than allowing your image to go out named "IMG10486.png", change it to something meaningful with your keywords in it, like "chocolate-butterscotch-cake.png".

Step 7. 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.

Step 8. 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 9. SEO your hashtags.

Hashtags are new 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.

Step 10. SEO your board sections.

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

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

No matter what you choose to do with board sections, remember that Pinterest is a search engine. Even though there's no official word about board sections affecting your Pinterest SEO, it's just one more place that you can, and should, use keywords you want to rank for.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pinterest SEO

Now you know how to get your pins to show up on Pinterest. However, there are still a few questions that are commonly asked about Pinterest, especially when it comes to SEO.

Let's go ahead and answer those questions right now…

1. Should you delete underperforming pins?

There is some anecdotal evidence that deleting pins with low recount numbers can increase your Pinterest quality ranking. Which means better overall rankings in the feed, more repins, and more followers.

On the flip side, there's also stories of pins going viral months or even years after they were first pinned and had few repins until then. If you'd deleted that pin you might've missed out on thousands of visitors.

Ultimately it depends on where you're willing to invest your time. Do you want to spend time deleting pins or creating new content?

2. Should you change the description when you repin other people's content?

There are a lot of bloggers and website owners out there who don't know much about Pinterest. As a result, there are a lot of great articles being let down by descriptions lacking in keywords.

It takes time to change the descriptions on pins. And it seems like it would benefit the blogger who owns the pin more.

However, it benefits your pin quality to get more repins, even if they aren't your own original pins. If you try this, monitor your results and weigh it against the time investment.

3. Should you use hashtags?

Yes! Hashtags are a surprising new addition to Pinterest given their previous anti-hashtag stance. Pinterest now recommmends using no more than 20 hashtags per pin.

Hashtags are clickable and searchable, but unlike the rest of Pinterest, pins are shown in order of 'freshest first' rather than 'best first'.

4. How do you make sure your optimized descriptions are used when people pin your blog posts?

If you run your blog on WordPress, you can use a WordPress plugin like Social Warfare to add the description and image that you want people to use when they pin your blog post from your website.

Alternatively, if you aren't using a plugin, add your description to the "alt text" of your image. The alt text is where Pinterest automatically pulls your description from.

What's next for Pinterest SEO in 2018?

Like most online platforms, Pinterest is constantly tweaking and improving their service.

In 2017, some of the most noticeable changes were the introduction of hashtags, board sections, visual search, and the removal of likes and repin counts.

With all these changes, it's impossible to predict with certainty the direction Pinterest SEO is going to take in 2018. If they loosely follow the evolution of the Google algorithm, it's possible that we'll see a crackdown on duplicate content, keyword stuffing, and penalties for pinning irrelevant content.

All of these tactics are a way of "gaming" the algorithm, which certainly puts them in a precarious position.

What can you do about it?

The answer is simple. Do what every search engine wants you to do: focus on creating high-quality content for your readers.

Wrapping It Up

In this guide, we showed you how to use Pinterest SEO to boost your blog traffic this 2018. We also introduced you to the new Smart Feed algorithm, and how to optimize your pins so they show up.

Now it's your turn. Go ahead and flesh out your Pinterest bio, boards, and pins with relevant keywords so that your content gets found. Try out the different tactics we shared above, and make sure to monitor your results. If something's working, you'll want to know what it is so that you can do more of it!

How's your Pinterest strategy going? Are you optimizing for Pinterest search? Let us know in the comments!


Cath Oneissy is the blogger behind This Mama Learns where she shares her love of Pinterest with the world. When not hanging out on Pinterest, you can find her whipping up tasty treats to appease her picky toddler.

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