Let’s just jump straight in. Pinterest SEO is a THING because Pinterest is a search engine.

In the online family tree, it’s more closely related to Google than Facebook or Twitter, because – and here’s the secret – it’s not really a social media platform.

This post is all about helping you to understand how Pinterest SEO works, and why keywords are the secret sauce to seeing results on the Pinterest platform. I’m also going to go into more detail about how to find keywords, where to use them, and why learning how to use keywords on Pinterest should be the cornerstone of your Pinterest SEO strategy.

Download over 250 Pinterest Keywords

The Pinterest Smart Feed

The Pinterest smart feed is the tool that Pinterest uses to decide which pins show up for certain search results, for a particular user.

Like all algorithms, Pinterest plays its cards close to the chest, and so we can’t know EXACTLY how it works. To make things even more fun, they keep changing things up on the platform.

In 2017 we have seen a LOT of changes, and it can get quite confusing.

But, here’s what we know in their words – and you can read about it in more detail in this article.

What Pinterest have told us, is that they look at three different buckets of pins:

  • Repins: which pins are being repinned, saved and shared
  • Related pins: pins that are similar in content and with similar keywords
  • Interest pins: pins followed via an interest

They put them all into a big bucket, mix them up, and then decide which pins they’re going to show based on a particular search.

Here’s a handy little image they’ve provided:

How the Pinterest Smart Feed Works

Clear as mud?

Here’s the main thing you need to remember.

If you try to game the system, and outsmart the algorithm – you’re going to come undone over time.

As a platform, they care about the end user. They want the person searching for ‘gluten-free brownies’ to find a recipe for gluten-free brownies. Tactics that attempt to highjack keywords cynically will eventually be stamped out.

So, I will preface all of this by saying – if you treat it as a platform that’s a way to share valuable and relevant content to your audience, you can’t really go wrong.

But of course, there are some best practices!

An Overview of Pinterest SEO

Pinterest have told us that there are four main factors that they look for in terms of whether they serve up your pins for a particular search term.

These factors are:

  1. Your domain quality (that’s your website)
  2. The quality of your pins
  3. The quality of your Pinterest account
  4. The relevance of your content.

I’m just going to go through what these are, and when we get to that final point – relevance – that’s when we’re going to dig into how to use keywords on Pinterest in more detail.

1.      Domain quality

Domain quality is how relevant Pinterest sees the content of your pins,your blog posts and your website in general.

To increase your domain quality you need to:

  1. Set up your Pinterest business account
  2. Make sure your website is verified with Pinterest
  3. Enable rich pins – so your descriptions and alt-tags remain attached to your pins as they get shared across the platform
  4. Create and share relevant content that signals to Pinterest over time that your website is a source of valuable information

Related post: A Beginner’s Guide to Pinterest – this post details the steps you need to follow to set everything up properly.

2.      Pin quality

In a nutshell, Pinterest SEO is linked to the popularity of your pins.

If your pins are getting lots of re-pins and likes and shares and comments, then that signals to Pinterest that your pins are resonating with a certain section of their Pinterest audience.

So again – broken record time! –  this comes back to making sure that your content is of a good quality and is relevant.

For pins that click back through to your blog posts, a KEY part of this is making sure that you’re writing compelling headlines. Headlines are how you grab the attention of the fickle internet audience to entice click-throughs. Pinterest is a visual platform, but the headlines are still a key component of creating a successful pin.

Speaking of visuals – your pins need to have a certain aesthetic appeal, and if you’re looking for help with your Pinterest photography, I have a photographer in my free Pinterest group who is sharing free tutorials around exactly this topic.

Once your pins are getting attention, people share them, click them and save them. As a result, you’ll see that they get more traction. This is because the Pinterest algorithm sees that people are interested in the topics of your pins.

3.      Quality of Your Pinterest Account

The next factor helps you rank for Pinterest SEO, is how well you are curating content as a whole.

It’s no good just pinning your own domain pins – if everyone did that, the platform would lose effectiveness quite quickly.

What Pinterest is looking for, are a number of things. They want to see that you’re active on the platform, they want to see that you’re curating content  (and not just sharing your own content), and that the content that you’re curating is also valuable.

TIP: When deciding what content to pin, try to imagine what your ideal client would be interested in. And pin THAT content.

An active account is one that is pinned to regularly. To do this, you can use a scheduler like Tailwind [add link] or Boardbooster [add link], which means your pinning content every single day (without spending your life on Pinterest).

Consistent action will keep your account growing, as you’ll notice your pins being shown to a bigger audience every month.

The flip side is that as a platform it’s also pretty forgiving. If you forget to schedule a few days here and there, it doesn’t really seem to make much difference. I’ve had periods where I might miss a week or so, and it hasn’t made an effect on my account.

I wouldn’t ignore it for too long though!

4.      How To Use Keywords on Pinterest

The final piece of the Pinterest SEO puzzle are keywords, and this is tied to the relevance of your content.

Through  pins headlines, pin descriptions, your account details, board names, board descriptions – all these places you can place keywords pulled together gives Pinterest an overview of your account, and of your niche.

Keywords are also how they marry up your pins and your content to what people are searching for in the Pinterest Search Bar.

Using Keywords: Find Long-tail Keywords

The  first thing you need to do is some keyword research. You need a list of long-tail keywords around your topic and niche.

You can do this in a couple of ways.

One recent tool I’ve found is a browser extension that’s been developed by Ike Paz at the Internet Marketing Gym. It’s a simple tool, but SUPER useful and effective. (Thanks Ike!)

You can also do your research inside Pinterest itself.

When you click on the Search bar, you’ll see a dropdown similar to the following:

The Pinterest Search Bar Dropdown

This is what Pinterest is showing me based on what it knows about my account.

As you can see, it’s breaking it down into categories:

  • My recent searches
  • Ideas based on my search history
  • Trending ideas (across Pinterest as a whole)

You can use those ‘ideas for you’ as a starting point for your search, or you can just start typing into the search bar.

Keyword research example – ‘digital marketing’

I’m going to take the term ‘digital marketing’ as my starting point.

When I type it in, you’ll notice that Pinterest does a few things straight away.


It starts giving me suggestions based on that search term I’ve put in.

So, I can see that some popular long-tail keywords are:

  • Digital marketing strategy
  • Digital marketing CV
  • Digital marketing infographics
  • Digital marketing campaign

Below that, it gives a list of 3 people who are relevant for this ‘digital marketing’ keyword.

You know why they’re appearing? Because the keyword ‘digital marketing’ is part of their profile name.

Below THAT, is a list of 3 boards that also use Digital Marketing as a keyword in the board title.

Can you see how this is pulling together?

Alright, so now I hit enter on my Digital Marketing keyword search.


This is a more comprehensive overview of everything around digital marketing as a keyword on Pinterest.

See those coloured little boxes below the search bar? Each of those represents a long-tail keyword.

So, we’ve got:

  • Digital marketing tips
  • Digital marketing strategy
  • Digital marketing ideas
  • And so on…

Note them down. Create a spreadsheet, copy them into a Word document. Whatever works for you, just set up some sort of system to capture those long-tail keywords.

And as you click on each button (eg, Digital marketing tips, the process will continue).

My keywords are now:

  • Digital marketing tips social media
  • Digital marketing tips startups
  • Digital markting tips small business
  • And so on…..

There are so many ideas you get from just this simple search, and while we’re going to go into more detail about how you use these keywords on Pinterest, this is also a great tool for letting you know

  • What people are searching for on Pinterest
  • How likely your Ideal Client is on the platform looking for content related to your niche
  • Ideas for blog posts, downloads, and even product development.

OK, back to the search board.

Once you’re on a particular keyword (so, right now I’m on digital marketing tips), there are 4 tabs there below the search bar.

  • All pins
  • Your pins
  • People
  • Boards


By clicking through these tabs, you can find specific pins, boards that relate to your topic (this can help when searching for group boards), people who specialise in this particular niche.

Your biggest takeaway? When you know what your keywords are, you want to place them into your Pinterest profile so that YOU come up in the searches for that term:

  • Via your pins
  • Via your boards
  • Via your profile

Where to put long-tail keywords in your Pinterest account – your profile

Pick your top couple of keywords, and these can go into your profile:

  • Username
  • Business Name
  • About You

Where to put keywords on your Pinterest Business Profile

Where to put long-tail keywords in your Pinterest account – your boards

When naming your boards, use your keywords here. While it might be tempting to come up with creative plays on words, or some other clever naming system – Pinterest probably doesn’t share your sense of humour.

Give your boards a name that is descriptive of the topic you’ll be pinning there, and weave in a long-tail keyword.

Here are some examples of mine. They’re bog-standard, but they tell visitors and Pinterest exactly what the topic is about.

For example, I’ve got:

  • Blogging tips for entrepreneurs
  • WordPress tutorials
  • List Building Tips
  • How to Use Pinterest

Inside the boards, you have a space to write a description about what the board is about.

As of 2017 – as far as I’m aware – you don’t get penalised for just listing a bunch of keywords, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that changes at some point. Gaming the system is not in Pinterest’s interest, and based on the evolution of Google SEO, I wouldn’t be surprised if they crack down on this at some point.

I would move towards incorporating a few of your long-tail keywords into an actual sentence or paragraph. You can also put a link back to your website, or a section of your website – like a collection if you’re running an ECommerce store.

Where to put long-tail keywords in your Pinterest account – your pins

The final important place for your keywords ,is on the pins themselves.

Use them in the following places

  • Your blog headlines
  • Your blog topics
  • In the alt tag of your images
  • The description of your pin
  • The headline on your pin images
  • The name of the pin – eg yourkeyword.jpg

Sprinkle them throughout all those key places, and they get pulled across with your pin, and that pin then has those keywords attached to it.

All read together by Pinterest, you’re giving an clear overview of what your blog post is about, and when you have lots of posts, what your website is about.

So the whole thing as an entity tells Pinterest this is what this pin related to this blog post is about. So it’s all about laying down those signals so that Pinterest is aware that when it reads the pin it knows what the topic is. Then combined with all your other pins it will start seeing that you are consistently sharing content around a particular niche topic, whatever it is.

The biggest takeaway for Pinterest SEO?

Treat it like it is – which is a search engine. Plan your content around what your ideal client wants to read (rather than what you want to write about).

Be useful, relevant and consistent.

Don’t try to game the algorithm – it’s smarter than you are! If you make all your decisions based on what is  valuable and helpful to your ideal client, then you’ll see the results over time.

Download over 250 Pinterest Keywords


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