Pinterest for Business: Your Guide to Proper SEO + Keyword Research
Are you using Pinterest for business effectively? Pinterest is a search engine, in other words, it’s a place for research and discovery, just like Google. The difference is that Pinterest is visual…in fact Pinterest is the largest visual search engine in the world!
While most people tend to think Pinterest is a social media network, it's very different from other social networks in that by using proper SEO techniques, pins can be continuously discovered for years! My best performing pin is actually from 2014.
A user of Pinterest could be actively searching for ideas like recipes, DIY, and home decor, or they could be passively searching for dreams, plans, and goals without even realizing it. Unlike other social networks like Facebook or Twitter, your content has the potential to show up in front of people who are not yet “following” you. But in order to get your content seen by the right target audience, you need to add very specific words and phrases in just the right places…and this is called SEO or search engine optimization.
Here’s an example:
If I type in a phrase such as “chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing” I would expect each different photo that appears in the search results to lead to a website with a recipe for chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing when I click on it. It doesn’t matter if the pin was posted in 2014 or yesterday, if the picture and the words match what I’m searching for, then Pinterest is smart enough to know that and return the results when someone is searching. Pinterest is so smart, in fact, that it can even discern what the picture is even if there isn’t any text to accompany the picture.
Smart and savvy businesses can use the power of Pinterest search to get discovered. Niche businesses with target customers who match the primary users of the platform tend to do quite well. The reason is because the nature of a search engine is to return the results with the closest match to what the user is searching for. It’s a great way to ensure the right people find your content. This translates into something called attraction marketing, in other words, hyper-qualified leads that are actually searching for what your business has to offer. When you are consciously specific and strategic with your choice of keywords and long tail keyword phrases, you have a good chance of attracting your target audience.
What is a keyword and a long tail keyword phrase in the context of Pinterest?
Lets look at the example of the chocolate peanut butter cupcakes. Think about what a user would search for when you would expect this to match their results. Perhaps they are searching for a recipe, so the keyword would be: “chocolate peanut butter cupcakes” while a long tail keyword phrase might be something like: “gluten-free chocolate peanut butter cupcakes recipe.” It’s better to be more specific.
If you only use the keyword “cupcakes” then the search engine isn’t sure what kinds of results to provide, but if you use that long tail keyword phrase, there is no question about what you’re looking for. As a business, the more specific you can be, the better. Notice how this Pin pulls in the keyword description directly from the blog post as well as a pin description with appropriate keywords and hashtags:
How to Ensure Your Pinterest Business Account is Set Up Properly
Every board, board description and pin description should be completely filled in with hyper relevant keywords and phrases that sound natural. Some people make it a practice to “keyword stuff” their descriptions, and this is definitely the wrong way to go about Pinterest optimization. An example of a description with “keyword stuffing” would be:
This board is about cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes, vanilla cupcakes, peanut butter cupcakes and all things cupcake. Need a cupcake recipe? Here you’ll find cupcake recipes and gluten-free cupcake recipes. Are you hungry for cupcakes? Try one of our cupcake recipes.
As you can see, this paragraph isn’t easily “readable” because it’s too stuffed with the word cupcake. Instead a better board description would be:
This board contains recipes for the best gluten-free cupcakes. You’ll find recipes for all different flavors, each accompanied by a gluten-free recipe option.
The algorithm on Pinterest knows how to categorize your content and share it with those who may not follow you but are interested in the topic; however if you stuff a bunch of words that are either too broad or not hyper-relevant, the algorithm recognizes that and penalizes you by not showing your content to your intended target audience.
Want to learn more about how to get your Pinterest Business account set up for success? Download my FREE Pinterest for Business Getting Started Checklist!
Pinterest SEO for Business
The first step to proper Pinterest SEO is to make sure people are actually searching for what you think they’re searching for. Sometimes we tend to think people are searching for our product or services, but in reality they are using a completely different keyword phrase. For example, when I worked for a digital agency, I was optimizing a website for a client who sold a digital product that helped connect sales and marketing teams.
Initially, I made the assumption that potential customers were searching for the term “sales and marketing alignment” which has a search volume of almost 600 searches each month. In reality, only a fraction of the people searching for the product actually used those exact words. Instead, they used the words “sales enablement” which had 8,900 searches per month. So while proper SEO includes using simple words that fit into your niche, it’s important to research the words and phrases to ensure you are using words that are both relevant as well as highly searched for.
It’s best to keep your descriptions brief and straight to the point. You can use up to 500 characters in your pin description and that also includes hashtags. However, I would recommend keeping your hashtags limited to 3 hyper-relevant tags.
For example, #cupcakes is not super relevant and would be difficult to rank for unless you are a very large and well established account. Instead, you might use a hashtag like #chocolatepeanutbuttercupcakes
Keep in mind Pinterest users are mainly looking at the picture. Pins that are sized at 2 to 3 are the best performers. Most of the time, people won’t click on a rectangular pin because its much smaller and harder to see. If a picture gives someone all the information they need, they will either pin, scroll, or click. Most of the time, people overlook the title and description, but those are important so that Pinterest can properly find and categorize your pins properly. The titles and descriptions don’t need fancy, but they do need to be informative.
5 Places to Put Keywords on Pinterest
1. Your Website First
First and most importantly, optimize your website. When you write a blog post, you should include keywords and long tail keyword phrases into the title and meta-description of the Pinterest image that is attached to that blog post. Alt-text inside the image on your website is specifically meant to describe what the image is showing, it’s not the same as the image description. Alt-text is meant for the visually impaired.
There are two ways to accomplish this. One is by using the Tasty Pins plugin (if you have a WordPress site). The other way is to add the description manually by using the data-pin-description tag inside the code editor.
Why do SEO on your website first?
If your Pinterest account is connected to your website properly, it will pull the meta-data directly from the blog post. In other words, when someone pins your pin directly from your website, the specific information included inside your blog post optimization carries over to the pin.
2. Pin Descriptions
If you’ve already optimized your website, the Pinterest description will carry over and you won’t have to do anything when you pin. The best way to create a brand new pin on Pinterest is by pinning it directly from your website. When the pin image matches the blog post featured image and all the meta-data matches up, Pinterest recognized your pin as high quality. However, there are times when you will want to upload a pin image directly to the platform. The only time I upload a pin image directly is when I direct it to one of my YouTube videos. In that situation, I add a title and description to the pin, and then edit the URL to video or landing page.
Your profile is a great place to add keywords and it’s one that is often overlooked. There are two places you can add them. First, your business name. Include your business name and a brief description of what you do. Pinterest limits the amount of characters in your title, but you can add more inside the profile description.
Use this section to let prospective customers know how you’re going to serve them with the type of content or niche you are in. You can repeat keywords that you used in your business name.
4. Board Titles
In this section, it’s important to consider who your target customer is. Be specific in the types of titles you use. Use hyper-targeted and descriptive keywords and phrases. For example, it’s better to create a board called “cupcakes” and pin cupcake recipes to it rather than creating a more generic board such as “desserts”. While regular people (i.e.: your potential customers) use Pinterest for pleasure and may not care whether their pins get shown to other people, as a business, you want your pins to get shown to people when they are searching for “cupcakes” so your pins have a much better chance of being seen when they are pinned to a “cupcake” board rather than a “dessert” board.
5. Board Descriptions
This is the place where you will tell the user what you pin on the board. Write complete sentences in a natural way. Add a few hyper-relevant sentences about what kind of pins go on the board, and repeat the keyword and long tail keyword phrases.
Know Your Pinterest Audience
Last but not least, the goal with Pinterest SEO is to target your intended audience. Think about it this way: you want to attract the kind of people who will want to consume your content and share it with their friends. If you’re stuck on which keywords to use, my advice is to start with a simple list of 10-15 words or short phrases that you believe people would type into a search to find your content. In the world of marketing and advertising, we create something called a “persona” or an “avatar”. This is your “ideal” customer. Each pin (or piece of advertising) is intended to attract your ideal customer.
Once you get your target audience clicking on your pins and landing on your website or product page, make sure you are using something like the Milotree app to help convert them into Pinterest followers. If they find your content interesting enough to click over from Pinterest, it’s important to wow them with a reason to stick around and follow you for more!