To be honest, in the many years I’ve been using Pinterest, I never really gave much thought to where I ranked in searches. I suppose a part of me figured I’d never have a shot to rank with all the big companies and big established brands in my niche already taking up the top slots. I was just a small potato, and small potatoes don’t land on the leader boards, right? Wrong!
The prospect of trying to rank moved onto my radar when I read an article by Andy Fling, owner and designer of Traffic Wonker, a newer Pinterest scheduling software. He wrote a blog about his experiments with rank and how he climbed the leader boards to take first place in search results for many of his keyword terms. The resulting bump in traffic was phenomenal as you can imagine.
I began to wonder, did I have a chance at ranking for any of my terms? The question seemed worth investigation.
Interested in learning more, I recently contacted Andy and spent an hour talking with him. I asked him dozens of questions about all aspects of Pinterest. He’s done tons of research and experimentation, and had a wealth of information to share.
One of the things we talked about was board rankings.
Is Rank Even That Important?
If you’re wondering why you should even care if your profile or boards rank in search results, I’ll tell you the reason why.
While there are no hard and fast studies or stats on Pinterest search results, I think we can assume people’s behavior in Pinterest search is likely similar to how they behave on Google. As you know, Google has tons of research and studies to report on when it comes to search behavior.
When it comes to Google, the first page of results gets more attention and clicks than results on subsequent pages. The #1 result earns 31% of the traffic. The top three spots garner 56% of the traffic combined. On Google it pays off BIG to be in the top 3!
Pinterest isn’t so different. When it comes to search results, English-speaking people generally start at the top and work their way left to right, top to bottom. That means the results in the top row are going to get the most clicks and interest from searchers. What if you could get 25% more traffic or 50% more clicks simply by doing a little bit of SEO and keyword tweaking? Getting to the top of the result page will make your marketing SOOOOOO much easier!
I don’t know about you, but I use the search feature frequently. If I want to find people to follow in my niche, I do a people search and follow the top 20 results. If I want to find a large number of pins that contain quality material on a specific topic, I do a board search. I find many of the people and boards that I follow this way.
Connect with your ideal customer
Many of your ideal customers are going to find you through search, so it pays to be near the top of the results for your main keywords. The higher you are on the list, the more likely they are to see your board or profile and follow you.
This is a critical component of success on Pinterest because these aren’t random people surfing around aimlessly and stumbling upon you by accident. These are people who have a direct interest in your topics and material. These people are searching you out! They are the most likely people to click on your links and sign up for your mailing list or buy your products.
Okay, so I’ve made my argument and I think it’s pretty convincing. Are you ready to work your way up to the top of the pack? In order to do that, first you need to understand how Pinterest ranks profiles and boards.
How To Rank In Board Searches
Maybe you’ve noticed that when you do a search, there’s a dropdown next to the search term entry field that allows you to choose what type of search to run. You can choose to look at pins, product pins, people, or boards. By default the search is set to show you “Pin” results, but you can easily toggle to one of the other parameters.
When you do a search for boards based on a keyword, Pinterest takes several factors into account as they rank the results. Three of the main factors that determine your rank are:
• Keyword Match
• Number of Pins
• Number of Subscribers
When someone types a search word or term into the search field, Pinterest’s search bot goes out and finds results with the exact match to your search terms. While Google has developed the ability to find synonyms and close matches to your search, Pinterest seems to stay pretty close to the original terms.
So decide on the term you want to rank for and use that term in your board name. A few years back the trend was to include as many keywords as possible in your board name. Today that method doesn’t seem as effective.
Nowadays board names with 2 – 4 words perform best in the search results. If you want to include other terms and separate them by a divider or comma, you can do that. I have a number of boards with multiple keyword titles. I’ve noticed that it bumps me down in the search results a little because the exact matches get first billing. At the same time, I have boards that rank in the top 50 for two or three different terms because I used multiple keywords in the title.
Next you’ll want to adjust your description. I recommend using your exact keyword phrase in the first sentence of your description. While I cannot give you definitive proof, I do feel this helps your board to rank a little higher than if you don’t use the term again or if you use it later in the description.
I’ve run a few experiments, adjusting my descriptions to add the keyword in the first sentence. Without fail the board ranked higher a few days later. A few dozen more experimental cases would need to be run before I could say for certain that was the cause of the bump, but it looks likely. Put your ranking keyword near the beginning of your board description and see if it gives you a boost.
Number of Pins
The more “established” a board is, the more weight it will receive in the search engines. Pinterest recognizes that boards with 200 pins will yield more useful information than boards with 10 pins so they serve up boards with the bigger portions first.
When starting a new board, keep the board secret until you’ve added at least 20 pins to it. Then work hard over the next few weeks to build up the number. Try to get over 100 as quickly as possible. One hundred seems to be a magic number that gives you a bump in the ratings.
Once you pass 200 pins on a board, you receive even more preference from the search bots. I watched several of my boards jump drastically in the search results when I built my pin numbers up over 200.
In fact, a board with a much higher number of pins has a chance to rank over a board with more subscribers if both words have an exact keyword match. So the number of pins on your boards matters.
Adding pins to a board that has some close competition for ranking can be the factor that pushes you up ahead of your competitors.
Keep in mind, you want to add good quality pins! They should be on topic and preferably contain the search word in their graphics and description. Adding random pins might push you up in the search a bit, however, when people see that your pins are not what they’re looking for, you’ll lose a follower and potential customer. In the long run that hurts you, so curate a good quality feed.
Number of Subscribers
While the number of followers you have isn’t one of the primary determining factors to your success on Pinterest, it is part of the equation. Call it “social proof” if you will, but if 50,000 people have followed that board, Pinterest gives the board more weight due to its popularity.
When looking at search results, you’ll sometimes see a board that has only 60 pins ranking near the top. If you click on it and investigate, what you’ll inevitably find is that it has a huge following. While it’s a young board and still building its content, the fact that so many people have expressed interest in it gives it more value in the search algorithm.
So while you don’t have to have thousands of followers to be successful on Pinterest, over the long-term gaining followers will help you make your way up the rankings and find a place among the top row.
How To Rank In Profile Searches
Profile search results are based on parameters similar to board searches. Keyword match is given the most weight while number of followers and number of total pins on your account are tie breakers.
Followers do come into play a little bit more on the profile searches. Since so many profiles can have the exact same keyword in their name and description, Pinterest then assesses how popular the account is as a secondary factor. Accounts that have been around for years and have 10K+ followers are naturally going to be higher in the results than a new account with 200 followers. For a newbie, this can be frustrating, since it takes time to build your following.
If your account is newer than most, the best thing to do is focus on your keywords, build individual board ranking, and pin consistently. This will build your audience organically and increase your overall pin numbers to help you climb the charts.
Because keyword search plays such a heavy role in profile rankings, you want to be sure to include your primary keyword term in the name of your profile and early in your profile description. Believe me, it makes a difference. My profile jumped up five or six slots overnight when I put my main keyword term in the first line of my description. Use the exact same spelling and phrasing for your term in both places.
If you need a quick review on how to SEO your board names and profile description, here’s a link to “10 Easy Pinterest SEO Tips To Increase Your Traffic” that will help. Hopefully you put your primary keyword in your profile name. If not, now is a good time to do that. Remember, you have more characters to work with if you use the app to enter your profile name.
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I have spent the last two months implementing suggestions and working on my Pinterest ranking and I’m proud to say I have several boards that have claimed the #1 spot for their keywords, and many more have reached the top 10. My profile continues to climb the ranks and I’m getting more traffic to my Pinterest profile and blog as a result. This stuff really works!!!
Are you ready to work your way up the search engine rankings on Pinterest? Here are some action steps you can take:
1) Go to Pinterest and to a profile search for your primary keyword term. Scroll down and see where you rank. Record your ranking. Make any adjustments to your profile that you think might help, then schedule a time on your calendar to check your rank again and see if it has improved. Sometimes it takes a few days to a few weeks to see changes in search rank after making adjustments.
2) Use an Excel or Google spreadsheet to record the rankings of some of the boards you’d like to see at the top of the search results. Adjust your keywords on those boards if necessary, then check back in a week or two and record the rank again. Track your progress over time and keep tweaking until you get your boards ranked as high as they’ll go. Here’s a sample spreadsheet that demonstrates an easy way to track rank over time.
3) Sign up for the 10-day Pinterest Challenge which gives you easy, actionable steps that help you get the most from your Pinterest marketing efforts!