Beat The Pinterest Algorithm And Improve Your Brand Presence!
Pinterest launched over a decade ago and has changed a lot over the years. But, the core principle remains the same.
Collect all the images, info, and inspo you need for whatever you’re planning in one place.
And 2020 was a huge growth year for Pinterest.
Pinterest saw a 6x increase in the number of businesses using the shopping ads format in Q4.
And, an overall 300% increase in shopping conversions on the platform.
So today, we’ll be looking at the Pinterest algorithm in 2021.
We will be discussing what it is, how the algorithm works, and ideas for boosting your presence on the app.
- We’ll start by looking at how Pinterest is used and cover some common terms.
- Then we’ll look at reasons why you should be using Pinterest for your business, plus some misconceptions we hear from small business owners.
- Next, we’ll talk about the customer journey and how this affects how people use Pinterest.
- Then, we’ll dive into the Pinterest algorithm and the 4 specific factors Pinterest looks at, plus how to improve them.
- Finally, we’ll talk about best practices for making eye-catching graphics.
Ready to get started? Let’s dive in!
What Is Pinterest? And How Is It Used?
Let’s just get this out right at the beginning: Pinterest is not a social media network.
“Pinterest is a visual discovery engine for finding ideas like recipes, home and style inspiration, and more.”
Pinterest is a hugely powerful search engine, with more than 2 billion searches performed every month on the platform.
Sure, Pinterest has social components to it, like users can leave comments and share.
However, most of the platform is spent by an individual who isn’t interacting with others, but rather who is planning or preparing for something.
Important Terms To Remember To Better Understand The Pinterest Algorithm
Pinners refers to the platform’s users.
Pins are what all of the content that is posted is called. Each post is called a Pin, and when you save a Pin, you can use it as a verb like “I pinned that.”
Think of these like folders.
Boards help you separate and organize your Pins into specific groups. Boards can be as broad or specific as you want.
Your boards and the Pins you put there are visible to your followers and other pinners unless you make them secret.
Similar to other social media platforms, your feed is the centralized location where you will see the Pins recommended for you.
These are a combination of Pins from accounts and boards that you follow, and new Pins suggested by the Pinterest algorithm.
On the Pinterest app, the lens is the camera icon that is found right next to the search bar.
You can use this to take or upload a picture of something, and Pinterest will then show you Pins that are similar.
Pinterest is Excellent for Driving Traffic to Your Website
We converted to Pinterest after we’d been growing a client’s organic following for months with ever-increasing numbers.
It was honestly kind of shocking to see the growth from 13,000 monthly views to a million.
We learned later that Pinterest drives 33% more referral traffic to shopping websites than Facebook does.
It took a year of consistent pinning and good content strategy, but at that time, Pinterest was able to drive traffic to websites by over 50%.
And that’s one of the reasons why understanding and winning in the Pinterest algorithm is important for businesses like yours.
What Businesses Do Well On Pinterest?
Pinterest is a visual platform. Typically, businesses in the creative sector such as:
…and etc. do well on Pinterest.
Because of Pinterest’s work in enhancing their shopping platform, eCommerce businesses do well on Pinterest.
Before we talk about the Pinterest algorithm and Pinterest marketing…
…we want to quickly cover some basic misconceptions we hear from small businesses all the time.
Pinterest currently has 478 million monthly active users, which is relatively small compared to Facebook’s 1 billion+ users.
85% of pinners say they use Pinterest to plan for new projects.
And, 97% of searches performed on the platform are unbranded, which means users aren’t looking for a specific company when they’re searching for ideas.
They’re much more receptive to new companies.
Misconceptions About Pinterest
Misconception #1: My target audience isn’t on Pinterest. It’s only for millennial women.
While women aged 25-34 represent 30.4% of Pinterest’s ad audience, more and more folks are using the platform.
60% of Pinterest users identify as female. But, users who identify as male increased by 50% in 2020, and Pinterest expects the gap to continue narrowing.
Additionally, the millennial user base grew by 35% last year and Gen Z increased by 40%.
Misconception #2: I sell products outside of the U.S. so Pinterest wouldn’t work for me.
50% of all users on Pinterest are located outside of the United States.
So if you’re looking to start selling in another country, Pinterest is a great place to start.
Plus, this is the digital age. Think of how you can digitize your product so you can help more people.
Misconception #3: Pinterest is great for traffic but it doesn’t convert.
8 out of 10 users have purchased a product after seeing it on Pinterest. That’s the power of finding people early on in their customer journey.
With Pinterest making it easier to shop in the app, we expect more brands to be able to find success selling on Pinterest.
We think a lot of these misconceptions come from a misunderstanding of the platform, or the users on the platform.
It’s important to keep in mind the customer journey when you’re thinking about your marketing strategy for Pinterest.
There’s also a dedicated feed for just Shopping Pins, meaning if a user visits that spot, they’re looking to buy. That’s a big deal!
Users on Pinterest are at a different spot in their customer journey than users on other platforms.
Let’s briefly look at the customer journey and talk about where your Pinterest audience is at, so you can understand how to advertise to them.
If you’re not familiar with the term “customer journey”, it’s a term we use in marketing to describe how a customer finds your business.
We know that Pinterest’s users use the platform to plan everything from weddings to remodels.
And that they’re looking for new ideas, not brands that they’re already familiar with.
With that in mind, you want to be targeting buyers who are in the early stages of their customer journey.
Mapping Out Your Customer Journey
It’s a good idea to map out your customer journey. Customer journeys aren’t linear anymore, so it can be hard to keep it all straight.
That’s why we recommend actually mapping it out. If you’re like us and need to physically draw it, that’s cool.
You can also use any number of free and paid tools to map out a customer journey. But let’s look at how you might put one together without extra tools.
There are a few different types of customer journey maps. But for beginners, it’s best to start with a Current State Map.
This map just shows the actions, thoughts, and emotions your customers currently experience when interacting with your company in any way.
1. First, you need to list out your customer persona or audience demographic details.
If you’ve worked on any marketing strategy before, you probably have these things ready.
2. Next you’ll want to list out all touchpoints.
This is any place the customer can find you, like the social media platforms, your website, emails, any paid advertisements, and other sources.
We recommend using your Google Analytics to give you an idea of where people are coming from.
Don’t spend too much time digging for every obscure entry point though. You’ll narrow your list down to the most common touchpoints.
When you get to your Google Analytics, you’ll want to look at Acquisition and choose source/medium.
Scroll through those and look for all digital entry points to the website.
3. After this, you’ll list the actions that customers have to take in order to find you.
Those actions could be:
- entering a search term on Google,
- opening your email campaign,
- following your social media accounts,
- swiping up in Instagram Stories, or
- clicking a product from your Facebook feed.
4. Think about what happens when they get to your website too.
Where do they land? What are they clicking on?
How many steps are required until their purchase is completed?
You may find a very long list here. That’s okay and it’s totally normal.
We’ll want to whittle down to as few steps as possible, especially for our paid marketing efforts.
But that only comes after awareness, so don’t worry about that step now.
Think about the emotion that moves your customers at each point in your journey.
Maybe they’re frustrated with the current process, find your solution, and then feel amazing.
Maybe the next purchase they make is to upgrade, but this decision is made out of happiness and not frustration.
It’s important to keep in mind the different emotions that drive your customers to buy.
And, this may vary for different products or steps in the journey.
5. Get an honest look at obstacles your customers are facing.
This can be tough to do because it can feel like you’re just attacking yourself.
But for the Pinterest algorithm to favor you, you need to look honestly at your product, your business, and your current customer journey.
And then, figure out what obstacles are stopping folks from buying from you.
Are they concerned about refunds or legitimacy? Are they surprised during checkout by extra fees or shipping charges?
Did their coupon code expire? Are they using something similar and think it will be a hassle to switch over?
6. Finally, list any resources you have or need that can help you improve the customer journey.
Remember, you will find holes in your processes and places you can improve. That’s a good thing!
You just need to make sure you have the resources (or know what resources to get) for them.
If you’re not sure what your map should look like, the short answer is: whatever makes sense to you.
You can Google customer journey map examples and, as you can see, they can be as complicated or simple as you’d like.
We also recommend checking for templates for your specific business type. It’s nice to get a bit of a head start on the brainstorming part.
It’s important for you to take the journey your customers take.
Do an Undercover Boss scenario if you want to (or just place an order online, that’s easier).
Your goal here is to experience your business like a customer.
You know your business intimately, and you love it, and your website is like your second home.
So, you may not be able to see blocks or issues that your customers see because of your knowledge.
When in doubt, become the customer.
Major Ranking Factors Of Pinterest Algorithm In 2021
These days, when you mention an algorithm, most marketers or small business owners are like “Noooo!”
Many types of online advertising platforms and social networks are not upfront about how the algorithm works.
Updates or changes made to the algorithm are often under-explained and throw a wrench in your marketing plans as you react to the changes or new features.
Fortunately for us, Pinterest shares a lot of information about what makes their algorithm happy.
Here are the four main ranking factors that Pinterest considers when deciding what to show to users.
This is what makes the algorithm happy. But what does it even mean? Let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
This is the overall quality and trustworthiness of your website.
Other search engines, like Google, rely heavily on domain quality to decide which results to show to which users.
Some of the factors Pinterest uses to decide domain quality are:
- how many users Pin images directly from your website, and
- how long users spend on your site after they click through your Pins.
Also, if your Pins or account have been reported, this will affect domain quality.
It will take a while for your website to build that domain authority, so patience and a strategy are very important here.
Encourage your website visitors and blog readers to pin your images. Make pin graphics to include on your site that will be easy to repin.
A few things affect your Pin Quality, including whether your Pin has been seen before, and how much of your pinning is duplicate content.
Pinterest takes into account all of the saves, comments, clicks, click-throughs, and closeups.
a. Fresh Pins Over Repins
“Fresh” pins are images or videos that Pinterest hasn’t seen before.
You can use the same URL, title, and description over and over again.
As long as the graphic is new, the Pinterest algorithm will see it as a Fresh Pin and you’ll get a boost.
Pinning the same image and changing the title, description, and alt text will not make it a Fresh Pin.
Likewise, making small changes to an image you’ve previously used, like putting the logo on the opposite side of the new image, will not fool the algorithm.
This is part of Pinterest’s push to encourage new content on the platform. Shift your focus to creating Fresh Pins.
Pinterest’s latest best practices recommend avoiding sharing the same Pin to more than 10 different boards.
If this was your pinning strategy before, you’ll need to make adjustments.
The algorithm will limit the reach of your Pins if you’re adding them to more than 10 boards.
c. Pinning Frequency
Don’t pin more than 50 times a day, don’t re-pin the same thing to more than 10 boards, and wait 2 days before you pin to the same board again.
Pinterest algorithm used to love super-pinners, but now, you’ve got to reign it in.
Pinterest weighs your domain and your pin quality, but they also look at you as a pinner.
The more interactions you get on your profile and with your Pins, the higher your pinner quality will be. Getting those engagements is really important.
To improve your pinner quality you need to:
- Pin consistently
- Focus on Fresh Pins
- Repin, comment on, and share other people’s Pins
- Save good quality Pins
We know we’re really driving these points home, but that’s how important they are!
You’ll notice that each of these factors works together across each category, so improving one will help improve the others.
Topic relevance is referring to your keywords. How closely related is your Pin to the search term?
Good Pins arrive at just the perfect time for each person who clicks or repins them.
Since we know pinners are planners, we know that they’re looking for specific topics or products.
And ideally, you want to hit trending topics and products to maximize the distribution of your Pins and traffic to your website.
What does that mean? It means keywords are your life. It’s not as bad as it sounds…
At least, we don’t think it’s as bad as it sounds. You’ll start thinking in keyword phrases pretty soon.
Your keywords are essential, so make sure you spend the most time planning these.
Here’s how we like to research keywords to beat the Pinterest algorithm:
a. The built-in search bar
Start typing your phrase and see what’s auto-populating as a suggestion. Pay attention to any accounts or boards with your keyword included.
Notice that you can search through Explore or Shop (you need to set up a store if you sell anything).
You can also filter your search for specific types of media, and can add pricing or seller filters in the Shop category.
b. Use Pinterest Trends
Use this to see what’s popular now, and search those terms in the search bar. We’ll talk about this in more detail in just a minute.
c. Use a keyword tool (like Keyword Planner from Google)
You can use your website and have Google suggest terms if you’re just blanking.
Be sure to run each of these through Pinterest to make sure it’s a relevant term.
After you have your keywords selected, you need to put them in the right place. You can add keywords to your:
- Business name
- Profile bio
- Board titles
- Board descriptions
- Pin titles
- Pin descriptions
These should all sound natural and make sense to humans reading them.
Keyword stuffing, which is just slamming as many of those puppies in there as possible, is frowned upon by every search engine.
And, doing so just looks bad to the human eyes that try to read it too.
Get as specific as you can on boards and Pins, and save your industry or broad search terms for your profile bio.
Pinterest Algorithm Best Practices: How To Create Great Pin Graphics
Pinterest is a visual search engine.
That means your keywords matter, of course, but your images and videos matter just as much.
If your images aren’t attractive or engaging, there are a bunch of other options for searchers.
So, here are some of the best practices in creating graphics for your Pins.
1. Use a high-quality image or video.
Use good lighting (natural light is free), and a quality camera. There are very affordable options online, and most smartphones take excellent photos now too.
2. Make sure you go vertical, not horizontal. Long graphics do much better on Pinterest than short.
3. Use text on your graphics (but not too much).
Keep it focused and clean. CTA’s are great here. Remember, most folks are reading this on their phones.
4. Include your logo on every Pin that you publish.
5. If you have a freebie, give pinners a preview, and be sure to use text to call out how free it is.
6. Don’t forget to link to your website!
Use Pinterest Tools to Research Topics & Plan Your Content
Before we go, we want to show you a couple of tools that not enough small business marketers are using for improving their Pins and content.
We know that pinning currently trending topics is going to help give us a boost in the Pinterest algorithm and help new people discover us.
But how will we know what to create?
If you’re too busy to keep up with all the trends, well we’ve got a workaround! Actually, we have 2 workarounds.
1. Pinterest Trends
This tool tells you what’s trending on Pinterest now.
This is a great way to see how you can fit your products, services, or business into what’s popular right now.
You can also look at the overall popularity of the term over time using this tool. Is it growing or declining?
To use this tool, let’s go to Trends.
When you enter your search term, you can see what’s trending, the overall popularity of the term, as well as the most popular posts.
Use this as a place to brainstorm ideas for products you can make, services you can provide, or content you can offer that hits on those trends.
We’ve found that the trends on Pinterest have a longer life than, say, the trending sound on TikTok or hashtag on Twitter.
So, it’s okay to use this for longer-term planning.
Maybe you know what’s trending, but you’ve already launched your collection for the season and can’t afford to go back to the drawing board.
You need to know what’s going to be popular before it’s popular.
Before, it took a lot of detective work and social listening to guess upcoming trends.
Now, though, we have Pinterest Predicts. For full disclosure purposes, we should probably tell you that we’re a little obsessed with Pinterest Predicts.
Last year, 8 out of 10 of their predictions were correct. And this year, it’s looking pretty promising, so we love using this tool for near-future planning.
2. Pinterest Predicts
Unlike Trends, Pinterest Predicts is forecasting future trends.
These are all the things that Pinterest thinks are going to be big this year.
Take this with a grain of salt, but remember as we said earlier, 8 out of 10 of Pinterest’s predictions for last year were correct.
You can browse around the website, but we prefer to download the PDF report so we can read their actual stats and explanations.
We’ll show you how to do that quickly.
For example, if you look at the PDF to see what Pinterest has predicted for the year, you’ll notice a lot of DIY and small space focus.
There’s an emphasis on bringing the wide world into our own homes.
And at least some of the trends of quarantine, like the home office and cozy spaces, are here to stay a while.
Look through the ideas and figure out how you can:
- create a new product,
- tweak an existing product, and
- add these topics to your content calendar to be on the front foot.
You always want to put your own unique spin on the topic and meet your customer’s needs.
Let’s sum up what we learned today and everything you need to do as a business on Pinterest.
- Create a Pinterest business account
- Claim your website and other accounts as applicable
- Enable Rich Pins
- Focus on creating Fresh Pins
- Pin consistently around 10 times a day (schedule these to maximize your time)
- Do your keyword research
- Use Pinterest Trends and Pinterest Predicts to improve your content and optimize potential traffic to your website
Beat The Pinterest Algorithm Today!
That’s pretty much everything we’ve learned about the Pinterest algorithm while using the platform personally and helping clients grow their accounts.
We hope this helped make the algorithm a little less intimidating.
It takes time, so be patient. Just make sure you have a good strategy and you work on your consistency.
As always, focus on quality over quantity.
Using Pinterest for business is a huge driver of traffic, and it’s an ever-growing search engine that can make all the difference in your small business marketing.
Give it a try and let us know how it goes.
And for any social media marketing needs that you may have, our team can definitely help you out.