Since its inception in 2010, Pinterest has grown to join ranks with some of the most popular social media sites around. Its purpose is to serve as a virtual bulletin board, where people share and organize, or “pin,” anything they find inspirational or interesting, such as recipes, photos, articles and videos.
While this premise is simple and user-friendly, Pinterest itself has grown to the point that it’s not possible to see everything without the use of some sort of sorting process. That’s where the algorithm comes in.
The word algorithm is used to summarize the many facets of sorting that happen when a new image is posted. The Pinterest algorithm has many different moving pieces and understanding how it works is not simple.
Engaging with content you want to see more of in the future is the best way to keep your feed interesting. Here are some tips for understanding and working with the Pinterest algorithm.
What is the Pinterest Algorithm and How Does it Work?
With the thousands of different hobbies and interests found on Pinterest, a sorting algorithm helps focus content for every profile. This is what makes it seem like Pinterest knows what you might be interested in so it can offer recommendations.
The algorithm functions by remembering the content a user clicks on and engages with and recommending similar pins in the future. The algorithm allows people to find pins that are likely to be relevant to their interests.
It uses several different factors to determine this. And while the algorithm itself has evolved and been updated over the years, these factors remain more or less the same. Some of them include domain quality, pin quality, pinner quality, and topic relevance.
Basically, the algorithm looks for links that increase engagement with your site, as well as quality images and keyword-rich titles.
How Does the Pinterest Algorithm Determine What Content is shown?
The Pinterest algorithm uses a variety of metrics to determine what content to show an individual, including:
- Search queries – Pinterest decides what content a user may want to see based on the search terms they use when seeking out interesting topics. If you’re looking to increase traffic to your site, it’s important to choose keywords wisely.
- User activity – Pinterest chooses new recommendations based on what the user has interacted with in the past. If a user seems to react most to fashion-related pins, for example, then they will soon find that Pinterest will be recommending content that is largely fashion-based.
- Content of unique pins – Pins are essentially a way of bookmarking content that a user wants to return to later, but they are available for other people to pin and pass around as well. It works much like sharing or reposting does on other social media platforms. The Pinterest algorithm pays close attention to the content that is pinned whenever a unique pin is created and uses that information to determine what a user will be shown in the future.
- General engagement, sharing with friends etc. – Like any search engine algorithm, Pinterest looks for what is being shared and engaged with the most to determine which content is more popular, and which will get filtered out to fall by the wayside.
Are There Ways to Manipulate or Game the Pinterest Algorithm to Favor Your Content?
Yes, Pinterest can be used as a digital marketing platform in much the same way that Google would be used. If you are already familiar with similar strategies, Pinterest may feel like second nature to you.
Specifically, Pinterest is looking for quality in four areas.
- Domains – How popular and trustworthy is your site? Pinterest determines this by monitoring how many unique pins are created from your site, how long people remain on your site after repinning, or how many times your site or account have been reported, among other things.
- Pins – The quality of your pins is actually the thing that matters the most. How does Pinterest know your pins are of good quality?
- One thing it looks for is so-called ‘fresh’ pins, meaning any image or video you use that the algorithm hasn’t seen before. Also, these graphics should be high-resolution and a good size (1000 x 1500).
- Titles matter here as well. A good title that catches people’s attention will rank higher than one that doesn’t.
- Pinner – Pinterest will also try to determine if you as a pinner are popular and will rank you accordingly. It notices how often you pin (which should be frequent but not too frequent, by the way), how much other users interact with your pinned content, and how engaged you are with your audience.
- Relevance – How likely is Pinterest to choose your content when a user searches for a particular topic? If you are familiar with SEO, this will be useful when trying to make your topics more relevant, as many of the same strategies apply.
- Research your keywords and use them optimally in your personal bio and Pinterest boards. Make sure your descriptions are accurate and engaging.
What are the Risks Involved with Trying to Game the Pinterest Algorithm?
The biggest risk in trying to game the Pinterest algorithm is the unique focus Pinterest has on account engagement. If a user clicks on and saves a pin, the algorithm will aggressively recommend similar content, sometimes hyperfocusing and forgetting adjacent content.
This means if your keywords do not line up directly with search queries, it may be difficult to reach a wider audience. However, if you keep your topics laser-focused, you can use this quirk to your advantage.
Thankfully, personal hobbies usually don’t branch out that much, so you can focus on a niche without worrying about spreading your influence into other semi-related areas.
The bottom line is, if you view Pinterest as a platform that is extremely hit or miss, you’ll be less likely to encounter frustration.
What are the Best Steps You Can Take to Ensure that Your Content is Shown to Users on Pinterest?
Here are a few takeaway tips for you to start utilizing today:
- Keyword optimization – Once you know what your best keywords will be, use them! Like, everywhere. Apply keywords to every title, description and even graphic caption you write.
- Unique and high quality visuals – We already mentioned that the Pinterest algorithm wants to see new stuff. Resharing existing pins just doesn’t pack any punch when it comes to getting noticed. Make sure you are creating fresh pins regularly containing high-quality graphics.
- Avoid repeating content – Again, freshness is king. Also, don’t contribute too much to your boards in one day, as the bots don’t like that sort of activity from pinners.
- Actively posting – This will help the algorithm recognize your trustworthiness as a creator. It wants to see that you are posting consistently. Avoid dumping onto your boards all at once and then going quiet for weeks on end.
- Keeping up with new features – Pinterest regularly adds new quirks to their website. Some practices that used to be advantageous are no longer recommended, so be careful. Following and utilizing new guidelines will help your profile grow.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the Pinterest algorithm and how you can better utilize it to favor your content. Feel free to share any additional questions or tips in the comments below!