10 Tips for Pinterest Search Engine Optimization

Without a doubt, Pinterest is the flavor-of-the-month website.

People are talking about it all the time, so I thought it might be interesting to look at Pinterest from a search engine optimization perspective.

As I was getting ready to write this column, I was talking to Greg Habermann about it and he asked an important question: “Why would anybody care to optimize Pinterest?”

That pretty much threatened to derail my entire column for the day. But I’m not an easy person to get down, so I quickly thought of a couple reasons why a person would want to do this.

One reason for wanting to optimize your Pinterest pins is to take up greater search engine results pages real estate. Possibly you already rank well for a particular phrase and then ranking well for the phrase on your Pinterest account would give you more overall exposure.

Another reason is that you never know how the search engines will value social media listings down the road. They typically follow web users’ interests. That’s why you see an increasing number of images and videos in Google these days.

Based on what I have seen anecdotally, most Pinterest boards and pins don’t rank well for the phrase they have targeted. I believe this has more to do with the fact that people have not yet linked to these boards and pins. And likes, comments, and re-pins in Pinterest probably have not been accounted for in the search algorithms at this point.

However, I’m definitely starting to see Pinterest results appear in Google. Here is a result for the phrase “bottles to organize bracelets”:


And in image search, the second and third results are Pinterest results:


I’m still not seeing more competitive phrases appearing in the results. But I believe that’s just a matter of time. If society continues to have the love affair it currently is having with Pinterest, I’ve got to believe that the search engines will continue to give these listings even more weight.

Bing also shows Pinterest results in its web search:


But it doesn’t show results for this phrase in image search.

It doesn’t take a huge mental leap to imagine that we are going to see Pinterest results increasingly prevalent in the main search engine results pages.

Here are 10 tips to help position your Pinterest images on the search engines.

  1. Be sure to upload your own images at least some of the time. Re-pinning other people’s images is a good idea but will not have as much value as contributing your own images.
  2. Make sure the file name of your image contains your targeted key phrase. “Feb2012_20120204_0015.jpg” is not going to rank as well as “chocolate-tort.jpg.”
  3. Pin from a variety of different sources as opposed to one specific site. Variety of images will make your overall Pinterest account more compelling. Without a doubt, re-pinning, liking, and commenting is going to play a role in where your images appear.
  4. After you upload an image, you can edit your pin to change your description and add a link.


  5. Pinterest descriptions can be 500 characters. Use them all. Your description should be a keyword-rich explanation or commentary on the image you posted. You can edit the descriptions of anything you have pinned or re-pinned.
  6. Play around on Pinterest to see what catches your eye and what compels you to engage with an image. Make a mental note of these kinds of images so that you can upload similar types of content.
  7. Don’t forget that this is social media. It is not your advertising platform. Comment, like, and re-pin other people’s images. As with any social media platform, people with more followers will have more power. It’s very likely that in the near future, part of a search algorithm will include how engaging your Pinterest profile is.
  8. Create a variety of different boards and make sure the names of the boards are keyword-rich. “Places I love” is not going to serve you as well as “Florida beaches.”
  9. Add the “Follow” button and the “Pin It” button for websites. The key to social media is to give people what they want. Right now people want Pinterest, so give it to them. Like any social media property, things come and go. I don’t recommend waiting to see what is going to stick around before you decide to promote it or engage with it. You will never make any moves with that approach. If Pinterest fades away, then simply remove the links later on.
  10. Don’t be “that guy.” I see it already. People are posting nothing but infographics and superficial images that assuredly will never offend anyone. These are the worst kinds of profiles. Just be yourself. Like what you like. And be kind to other people.

Bonus tip: URLs that you add to images when you edit your pin are “nofollow.” So these links should not be given any weight according to standard nofollow rules. However, you can put URLs in your descriptions. Those currently are followed, meaning that Google should follow these and give the URL weight.

Related reading

Brand Top Level Domains