How to Optimize Your Pins for the Pinterest Algorithm *

We have all wondered how Pinterest organizes our users’ feed?  What appears to be a random assortment of images is actually determined by Pinterest’s sophisticated algorithm.  Understanding how Pinterest’s algorithm ranks content, you’ll be able to improve your pins to reach a greater number of users.

The “Smart Feed” is Pinterest’s algorithm for arranging pins in your “Home Feed.”  It decides what content you see and how each pin ranks in your feed.  Pinterest still rewards users who are frequent pinners, their algorithm now gathers a greater amount of data from each pin to filter out low quality content.

You don’t need to be a genius to outsmart Pinterest’s algorithm.  You just need to understand how the algorithm works and the ability to tailor your content to improve its performance.

Let’s examine the 4 factors that influence your pin’s ranking: Domain Quality, Pin Quality, Pinner Quality, and Relevance.

1. Domain Quality

Domain quality is a score that refers to the quality of the website to which the pin is linked. This doesn’t mean that because it’s a well-designed website, that Pinterest is going to recognize it as high-quality.

Instead, it quantifies your domain quality by judging how well pins originating from your site perform on Pinterest.  As more content from your website gets pinned, and more users engage with it, your domain quality will increase.

How Do I Improve My Domain Quality in the Short-Term?

The most important steps to improving your domain quality are to convert to a business account and claim your website. This will show that your content is coming from a reputable source.

Enabling rich pins on your account will also give your domain quality a boost. are linked to your site and pull information from that site into your pin’s description. The 4 types of rich pins are: product, app, recipe, and article. The Pinterest algorithm rewards the use of rich pins because it helps show that your website is legitimate.

2. Pin Quality

Pinterest scores your pin quality based on the level of pin engagement.  The more likes, saves, comments, and interactions with your content, the better.  Pinterest first distributes your pins to your followers to find out if it resonates with your audience. If it does well, they push it out to others who share similar interests and preferences.

How Can I Get Better Engagement on My Pins?

Making your pins stand apart from the crowd is all about using attention-grabbing, high-quality images. The ideal pin is longer than it is wide, with a recommended size of 600 x 900px. Pins in this size tend to look better on Pinterest’s vertical feed, and they’re more widely distributed.

Then, once you’ve grabbed their attention with beautiful imagery, use your description space to tell a story that invites your reader to get involved. A clear call-to-action (whether it’s asking users to read your blog, visit your online store, or just follow you for more awesome content) is the key to getting people to do more than just scroll on by.

How Do I Decide What to Pin?

It may take some time before you get the hang of pinning on Pinterest, but that experimenting phase is invaluable toward making your boards the best they can be.

As with any good marketing strategy, monitoring and analysis is essential. Keep an eye on what content performs well, and which content fizzles out.  While you figure out your own pinning style, take a look and gain inspiration from the pros.

Keep an eye on Pinterest’s “Trending Ideas,” and note which pins perform well.  While you’re there, repin any outstanding content related to your niche.  Saving and repinning high-quality content also contributes to your own ranking as a pinner.

3. Pinner Quality

The Pinterest algorithm grades a pin partially on the reputation of you, its pinner.  That makes sense.  Just like an established journalist is a better source for news than an anonymous blogger, a reputable pinner is more likely to deliver high quality content.

How Can I Become a Higher-Quality Pinner?

Pinterest rates you as a pinner based primarily on your content’s engagement rate.  More saves and comments on your pins translate to a better rating for you as a content creator.  

If you’ve followed the instructions in part 2, you’ll already be well on your way to becoming a better pinner.  To kick things up another notch, you’ll need to stay engaged.  Pinterest is a platform that rewards users for producing a constant flow of fresh content.

How Frequently Should I Pin New Content?

Expert pinners suggest pinning 20–30 new pieces of content per day. They also suggest spacing out your pins throughout the day so that you aren’t dropping all of your new content at once.  This doesn’t need to be, nor should it be, all your own content.  There are ways to automate this process so you can do much of the work upfront.

If you don’t mind investing some dough to make your life a bit easier, you can sign up for a scheduling software like Tailwind or Buffer to automate your pinning schedule. This option is best if you want to set it and forget it.

You can, however, streamline the pinning process without spending a dime. Start by creating a secret board. No one (besides yourself, of course) will be able to see the content you pin here. Then, set aside a block of time to find new content from other users, organize your own content, and optimize everything (more on that later). Then, simply log in throughout the day, and move your pins to your public boards. While it’s not completely automatic, following this process will allow you to plan ahead and stay up-to-date with your pinning schedule.

4. Relevance

The last factor that determines your pin’s rank in the Smart Feed is relevance.  This has more to do with current search trends and individual preferences and less to do with quality. It doesn’t make any difference if your pin is perfectly optimized if it isn’t relevant to what people are searching for.

How Does Pinterest Decide What’s Relevant?

Pinterest decides which pins are relevant to each user by digesting information from their latest searches and interests and compiling this information into their “.”  This is where it gets complicated, but all you need to know is that the Taste Graph is a tool that collects data on user behavior and utilizes that data to make more accurate content recommendations. The Taste Graph assigns interests/“tastes” to its users based on their evolving preferences.

Pinterest then uses information from a pin’s title, description, board, link text, caption, and so on to assign that pin to a specific interest, which may then appear on the feeds of users who share that interest.

How Can I Optimize My Pins to Reach a Relevant Audience?

To ensure that you’re reaching the right people with your content, you must optimize your pins with relevant keywords that helps the algorithm pair your content to the right users.

While you’ll want to avoid obvious keyword stuffing, it’s always a good idea to add simple keywords that relate to your target audience.  Pay attention to the keywords used by popular pinners in your niche, and follow suit.  You should include those keywords in your image’s alt text on your website, the pin’s description, your profile name, bio, board titles, and board descriptions.

What About Hashtags?

Although Pinterest was previously in the anti-hashtag camp, it now as an easy way to help users find the content they’re looking for.  Hashtags are also a great way to optimize your pins’ descriptions and increase their search visibility.

Pinterest recommends no more than 20 hashtags per pin, and you’ll want to make sure each hashtag you use is accurate and precise to your content and your niche.  Casting too-wide a net means you won’t stand out or attract the right audience.  

Make sure that your hashtags are relevant to your pin.  It sounds like common-sense advice, but you’d be surprised at just how much unrelated content pops up in hashtag searches.  That is not how you win someone over. Relevant hashtags can help your pins be discovered by people who are genuinely interested in following your content.

Hopefully I’ve given you some valuable and actionable advice on how to win the game of wits against Pinterest’s Smart Feed!  Now that you know the theory, it’s time to take the steps needed to improve your Pinterest marketing strategy.


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