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Understanding Pinterest Search: How the Algorithm Works

Unlike other social media platforms, Pinterest’s algorithm is no mystery, but it is ever-changing. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, understanding Pinterest’s algorithm is the key to your Pins being prioritized in searches. Get ready to take some notes because we will be walking you through the ins and outs of Pinterest’s algorithm and best practices when it comes to creating high-performing content.

One of the best things about posting your content on Pinterest is that it has a much longer lifespan than all other platforms. Pins are searched for, discovered, and re-Pinned over time, so you don’t need to worry about it getting lost in the algorithm. When optimizing your content for Pinterest, there are four primary ranking factors at play in its search algorithm:

Domain quality  

  • Domain quality is how Pinterest perceives the quality of your website. It’s looking at how popular your website’s Pins are. The more people interact with your Pins, the higher your domain quality will be.

Pin quality

  • Pin quality measures how many people interact with your Pin. The more people save, comment, click through, or “close up,” the higher the Pin quality rating will be.

Pinner quality

  • Pinner quality scores your effectiveness as a Pinterest content creator. It tracks how often you pin, how much interaction your Pins receive, and how much you yourself interact with others. 

Topic relevance

  • Topic relevance is how Pinterest decides whether or not to show your content when a user conducts a search. This is done through analyzing the keywords within your Pin design and description.

It’s important to keep these four essential factors in mind when creating content on Pinterest if you want to be successful in increasing your engagement. 

Another tip to keep in mind is that there is no magic number of Pins to create daily - it’s more about quality over quantity. Creating too much content daily can easily backfire and could potentially be seen as spam, so it’s essential to find a good balance. Making sure that your content is fresh, relevant to your target audience, including SEO-friendly keywords in your descriptions and Pin titles, and prioritizing content categories that have performed historically well for your brand are just a few things to add into your Pinterest marketing strategy to break into the algorithm successfully.

How to Create High-Performing Pins

It cannot be stressed enough -  think quality over quantity when it comes to  Pinterest. There are many different ways to optimize all of your Pinterest content including from Standard Pins, Video Pins, Idea Pins, and Product Pins. Let’s break down how you can optimize your content into these different formats in an algorithm-approved fashion.

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Standard Pin:

When creating a Standard Pin, the most important elements to keep in mind are font type, colors, image size, and copy. The most optimal image size for Standard Pins is 735 x 1102 pixels. It is said that 85% of users browse Pinterest on their mobile devices, so you want to make sure that any copy you use is easy to read on a phone. This is also why it is  recommended to use san-serif fonts and steer clear from serif fonts. In the example used above, we used relevant keywords such as ‘social media’ and ‘trends’ and also added in social icons to drive home the purpose of this Pin. In our Pin description we also added in the headline as well as a CTA to inspire the user to click through the Pin. The Pinterest algorithm will pick up on all of these details and prioritize this type of content in social media and marketing related searches. 

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Video Pin:

Video Pins are a great way to get recognized within Pinterest. Since they automatically play whilst the user is scrolling, they are more prone to grab the user’s attention. You can upload your videos as a Video Pin or an Idea Pin. In this example, we uploaded the video as an Idea Pin. DIY tutorials are a very popular content bucket on the Pinterest platform and are highly-engaging when created in video-format. In the Pin description above, we used  SEO-friendly keywords into the headline, the difficulty level of this project, and also added in each step from the DIY for users to easily reference when trying it out. 

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Idea Pin:

Idea Pins are Pinterest’s newest,and in our opinion, most powerful, Pin format. Just like Stories on other social platforms, Idea Pins live above the For You Home Feed so users who follow you will instantly see them once opening the app on their mobile device. This is why Idea Pins tend to receive more instant engagement than Standard Pins and why it’s important to add this Pin type into your strategy! 

As for image size, Pinterest recommends a minimum image resolution of 900 x 1600 pixels for Idea Pins. You can upload up to 20 images and videos within an Idea Pin, leaving you a lot of room to tell an engaging story that will grab the user’s attention. Another element that adds to engagement through Idea Pins is the ability for users to react to your Pin (this is also present in Video Pins). In the example above, we created a cover photo that explains what the Idea Pin is about and each slide provides different Pinterest categories. Since you cannot link out with Idea Pins, we added in our blog url within the description to allow users to learn more. 

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Product Pin:

If you are a retail brand and have an online shop, then optimizing your content for Pinterest is essential. Pinterest is the perfect place to create a virtual shopping experience for your customers. This is easy to do by creating a Shop tab within your Pinterest Business profile and then Pinning your products so that users can easily shop right there from your profile. We used The Sill's Philodendron Birkin as a Product Pin example because this was ranked #1 in the keyword search ‘houseplants’. Notice how more of their products are listed below this one Pin? Not only will the user see one of your products, but Pinterest’s algorithm will suggest more from your shop to the user as well. As a retailer, Pinterest’s algorithm definitely works with you and not against you.

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Exploring the Power of Pinterest with the Pin Planner

Now that we’ve broken down the factors that make up Pinterest’s algorithm and the elements to consider when making your Pins, it’s time to bring it all together and put this strategy into action. But first, we have to ask: “Did you know that we have a Planner for Pinterest?” Our Pin Planner is the perfect sidekick when growing your Pinterest presence. You can easily upload and schedule your Pins in bulk, write your descriptions, and have them auto-post all through our Pin Planner - this makes it so easy to plan ahead and create consistency within your strategy. To learn more about our Pin Planner and our best practices, check out these blog posts: How to Use the Pin Planner, Build Your Video Strategy with the PLANOLY Pin Planner, and How to Use the Pin Planner Campaigns tool.

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Payton Rodewald

Payton Rodewald is the Social Media Coordinator at PLANOLY. She is the in-house Pinterest and vibey content expert.

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