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The Ultimate Pinterest Marketing Guide 2020: How-To, Algorithm Updates, Strategy, and More

If you think that Pinterest is only for finding recipes and DIY crafts, think again. Recent research estimates that Pinterest is responsible for between five to eight percent of all referral traffic across all industries.

Are you overlooking a great marketing opportunity in Pinterest? You just might. Pinterest’s discovery-first philosophy and its over 320 monthly active users make it a valuable, untapped resource for many businesses.

Keep reading to learn more about how the platform works, why it might deserve a place in your social media approach, and our eight Pinterest marketing strategy tips for 2020.

How Pinterest Works

Pinterest functions as a sort of search engine and social media hybrid. While users can “follow” each other, they also spend a decent amount of time searching for helpful content.

Pinterest users explore, share, and save content (Pins) they find inspiring or interesting.

“Pins” refer to pieces of Pinterest content. They consist of an image or video, a description, and a source (usually a link to a web page).

Users are shown a mix of Pins in their home feed. The home feed displays a mix of content, including Pins from accounts and boards users follow, new content, and advertisements.

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A user’s profile houses the usual information such as profile photo, name, bio, and an optional location. Profiles also show who you’re following, as well as the Boards, topics, and people that follow you.

Within their main profile, users can have many different Boards. Users and businesses typically organize their Boards around themes or topics. We’ll talk more about how proper Board organization can boost your marketing results later on.

An individual’s Pinterest Boards typically reveal a lot about their lifestyle. Users and brands curate content around their interests and tastes, and then share with other like-minded people.

Users tend to save content to refer back to in the future, meaning that Pinterest content has a much longer shelf life than other social media platforms.

Finally, Pinterest also offers the typical social media functions, such as following others, liking and commenting on posts (Pins), re-sharing (re-pinning) content to Boards, and sharing Pins via messages and other social networks.

Should You Market Your Business on Pinterest?

Although Pinterest isn’t the most popular social media platform in the world, its unique characteristics make for exciting marketing opportunities.

For instance, recent research states that 47 percent of Pinterest users log in to the platform specifically to shop. Of the 2 billion searches made monthly, 97 percent are un-branded, meaning users are open-minded and willing to consider new brands. Finally, people on Pinterest rate Pinterest ads 1.4 times more relevant and useful than ads on other platforms.

Perhaps Pinterest users make up a smaller segment of your audience(s), but this data shows they’re much more likely to engage and click through than people on other networks.

If those statistics don’t impress you enough, consider the following points to decide whether or not Pinterest marketing is right for your business.

  • E-commerce: Basically, if your business has a significant e-commerce presence, you should create a Pinterest account immediately. Let’s look at a few more numbers to understand why.

    ◦ Pinterest drives 33 percent more referral traffic to shopping websites than Facebook.

    ◦ Four out of every ten in-store shoppers report using Pinterest while shopping.

    ◦ Users typically spend more money on Pinterest-inspired purchases than users on other social media platforms.

Clearly, Pinterest holds a uniquely powerful influence over purchasing decisions. If your business utilizes e-commerce, set up your Pinterest account today.

  • Audience: If your target audiences include women and/or millennials, Pinterest is definitely for you. The numbers tell it all.

    ◦ Pinterest reaches 83 percent of women aged 25-54. That group makes about 80 percent of the purchasing decisions in U.S. households.

    ◦  Half of all millennials use the platform, and 6 out of 10 millennial users use it to discover new products.

    ◦ Fifty percent of millennial Pinterest users report they use the platform for inspiration and motivation to accomplish their dreams. That kind of emotional pull is a powerful sales driver.

Don’t be fooled by Pinterest’s relatively lower user base. Pinterest can help you reach the women and millennials in your audience in more significant ways.

  • Competition: If you’re not on Pinterest but your competition is, you’re missing out big time.

    Research shows that 28 percent of all marketers (worldwide) use Pinterest to market (2019), so there’s a good chance your competition is already taking advantage of the platform.

    Obviously, your business should be promoting itself wherever the competition is doing the same thing. Otherwise, you’re not even in the race.On the other hand, if your competition hasn’t discovered Pinterest marketing arriving first on the scene can provide a major competitive edge.

  • SEO Boost: If done correctly, Pinterest marketing can help increase your website’s SEO ranking.

    Every Pin links back to its original source. If you follow our strategy tips below, you can leverage your Pins to increase web traffic and make your website more discoverable in major search engines.

  • Content Lifespan: Ready for some fantastic news? Pinterest content has a much longer lifespan than the major social media networks.

    Content on the big three networks are practically gone in the blink of an eye.

    Facebook’s average content lifespan hovers around the 5.5-hour mark. Instagram has an estimated lifespan of 48 hours, and speedy Twitter can only claim an average content lifespan of 18 minutes.In contrast, Pins are searched for, found, and repined over and over again as time goes on. High-quality Pins can continue to earn engagement for up to a year (and sometimes even longer).This longer lifespan means that for each minute spent making social media content, Pinterest generally gives the highest rate of return on engagement, awareness, and click-thrus.

Pinterest’s powerful sales-driving abilities, audience composition, plus impressive fringe benefits like SEO boosting and a longer content lifespan, make it a worthwhile marketing tool.

If we’ve convinced you that Pinterest marketing is right for your business, keep reading to learn about latest Pinterest algorithm and our Pinterest marketing strategy tips for 2020.

The Pinterest Algorithm in 2020

No social media strategy can be built without a thorough understanding of any algorithms at play. The same way adapting to the newest Facebook algorithm is crucial to succeeding on Facebook, it’s best to understand the Pinterest algorithm before building a marketing strategy.

With over 175 billion items pinned onto 3 billion pinboards, Pinterest uses its algorithm(s) to determine what content to show to its users.

First, let’s talk about exactly where the algorithm comes into play. There are three locations where the Pinterest algorithm plays a significant role.

1. Home Feed: Also referred to as the “Pinterest Smart Feed,” this is the feed of Pins a user sees when they first log into their account.

Many Pinterest users come to the platform to discover, sometimes with vague or no specific intent. With this in mind, Pinterest creates a relevant mix of Pins designed to capture attention and encourage engagement.

The home feed pulls content from accounts and boards followed by the user, targeted ads, and individual Pins the platform believes users will find appealing.

In addition to other factors, recent user activity (searches, re-pins, click-thrus, etc.) play a major role in what appears in the Home Feed. Users can often see immediate shifts in their home feed as they interact with different content.

2. The Following Feed: This refers to a tab that displays Pins from accounts and Boards that a user follows. This feed tends to be a bit more chronologically based than the home feed or searches.

Pinterest recently added this tab to show users an up-to-date idea of how their connections interact on the site.

pinterest_following_feed_marketing_2020

The algorithm is perhaps least important here, as this area focuses on delivering recent content from accounts, boards, and topics that user follows. Recency is generally most important here.

3. Pinterest Searches: This is where Pinterest behaves most like a search engine. User searches will generate these results, ranked according to four factors we’ll cover below.

Again, this function of the site works very similar to web search engines. Since Pinterest users utilize the platform to discover and find inspiration, searches are one of the best ways to reach new users.

Users can search for Pins, Product Pins, videos, people (accounts), and Boards. With so many ways to search, it’s crucial that every part of your Pinterest account is search engine optimized. (More on that later.)

Pinterest prompts users to refine their searches with their guided search suggestions. Guided search weighs commonly combined search terms and a user’s activity history to suggest additional keyword or keyword phrases. Later on, we’ll show you how to leverage this feature to improve your strategy.

4. Hashtag Feed: The Hashtag Feed displays all Pins with the same hashtag. Much like the Following Feed, more recent Pins typically rank higher in the Hashtag Feed.

The Four Pinterest Algorithm Ranking Factors in 2020

Remember: Pinterest is a visual search engine. In order achieve your marketing goals, you need to encourage Pinterest to show your Pins in all four areas described above, but especially the home feed and relevant Pinterest searches.

When determining search ranking, Pinterest start with the information you provide in each Pin. The four main ranking factors for Pinterest searches are (in no particular order):

1. Domain Quality: Pinterest scores your overall domain (website) quality. This factor attempts to measure the quality of your website. Since this is largely based off of the popularity of Pins from your site, your domain quality will gradually increase over time.

2. Pin Quality: This is essentially a combination of popularity and recency. The more users comment, re-pin, share, and click thru on a Pin, the higher Pinterest perceives its quality. It’s especially important that your Pins perform well with your followers, because then Pinterest will share it to larger audiences looking for similar content.

3. Pinner Quality: This factor evaluates your business as a content creator and pinner. Pinterest examines your Pins and the content you re-pin from others. Pinner quality considers how often you pin, how consistently you pin, and the quality of your re-pins.

4. Topic Relevance: Pinterest works to understand what each Pin is about and then deliver the most relevant Pins to users interested in any given topic. Unlike the previous three factors, topic relevance only deals with the keywords used in your Pin. You can think of this factor as Pinterest keywords. We’ll talk more about how to find and use the best keywords in your Pins.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of the algorithm, we’d like to share some practical advice on appealing to both the Pinterest algorithm and your audience.

Eight Pinterest Marketing Tips for 2020

While it’s important to optimize your Pinterest Pins and profile, creating content that resonates with your target audience is still most important. Below, we’ve outlined eight tips to create a Pinterest strategy that both the algorithm and your audience will love.

1. Optimize Your Pinterest Profile

First thing’s first; you should set up your profile for success. If you haven’t already, create (or convert a personal profile into) a business profile.

Once you’ve done that, claim your website under “account settings > claim.” You’ll also have to add a meta tag to your site or upload an HTML file to your website’s root folder. Although it’s a bit of work, claiming your website on a business profile is one of the best and easiest ways to earn Pinterest’s trust (see ranking factor #1 above).

Fill in your business details on your profile. It might sound simple, but you’d be surprised by how many businesses forget to add important facts. Make sure anyone visiting your Pinterest profile understands what your business is about, why they should follow your account, and how to get in touch with you.

Add a powerful header image that shares your business’ personality and helps users understand what kind of content they can expect from you.

Including keywords in your profile bio and business name is also a good idea; we’ll talk more about keywords on Pinterest next.

2. Perform Pinterest Keyword Research

In addition to creating content that’s relevant to your audience, you need to make sure you’re using the right keywords so that people searching for your topics find your Pins, Boards, and account.

As you now know, topic relevancy is also crucial to the Pinterest algorithm. Keywords indicate topic relevancy to users’ interests and searches.

When you share a new Pin, Pinterest analyzes its keywords to assign it a specific topic. If you’re familiar with search engine optimization (SEO), the principles here are essentially the same.

Basically, it’s important to do bit of keyword research to find a mix of popular and niche-specific search terms and phrases. You’ll then use these keywords throughout your Pinterest marketing tasks.

Popular keywords, called fat head keywords, are usually one to two words and have a high search volume and level of competition.

More specific keywords phrases, called long-tail keywords, let you rank highly when people search for the exact same topic. They have a lower search volume and less competition, and are a great way to establish a niche for yourself.

The two easiest ways to discover short and long-tail Pinterest keywords is through the built-in Pinterest guided search feature and the Pinterest Ads keyword tool.

Pinterest guided search: Pinterest’s search feature automatically generates suggested keyword and keyword phrases based off of your first query. The first suggestions will usually be popular keywords, but you can create long-tail keywords by adding related keywords Pinterest suggests.

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Ad insights: You can use the Pinterest Ads keyword tool without creating an ad campaign. Under “Ads > Create,” you’ll find the keyword tool. This tool provides more specific information about search volumes for each keyword.

Once you’ve found a healthy mix of short and long-tail keywords relevant to your business, consider adding them to your bio, business name, Board names, Board descriptions and Pin descriptions. This can help users searching for related topics find your profile, Boards, and Pins.

Remember: always incorporate keywords in a way that reads naturally and genuinely. Sacrificing user experience to try to please the algorithm usually backfires.

3. Organize Your Boards Advantageously

Unlike other social media platforms, Pinterest requires you to organize your content into Boards. If done correctly, your Boards can help you reach more of your audience and allow users to find their preferred content easier.

When you create boards, be sure they cover all of your topic categories and sub-topics.

You should create three levels of boards.

  1. High-level boards are broad, general boards. They usually align with fat head keywords, like “fashion” or “interior design.”
  2. Low-level boards allow you to specify with keyword phrases, such as “street fashion” or “minimalist interior design.”
  3. Long-tail boards will be most narrowly defined boards. It’s especially important to base these off of keyword research so that you can be confident the long-tail keyword phrase has a decent amount of search volume. Examples of long-tail Board titles are “Street Fashion: Women & Photography” and “Minimalist Interior Design for Small Spaces.”

Within your Boards, you can create Board Sections. These are especially helpful as your Boards become full with hundreds or thousands of Pins. Sections help your followers see what kind of content to expect from your Boards and find exactly what they’re looking for.

In your Board descriptions, be clear about what your Boards are about. Never pin unrelated or irrelevant content to your boards. Keeping your Board title, description, and Pins aligned is the best way to ensure your boards function as helpful resources for your followers.

At the beginning, it might feel strange to create so many board and sections. However, as you publish your own Pins and re-pin from others, your board organization will help users navigate to what they find most interesting, which in turn makes your profile more valuable to users.

4. Publish High Quality Pins

When you create your own Pins, both the Pinterest algorithm and users will assess its quality. Obviously, the goal is to create Pins that both parties find valuable in order to achieve a good reach and engagement rate.

Let’s take a look at the five most important elements in a Pin, and how you can create the most effective Pins.
1. Pin Images: Since Pinterest describes itself as a “visual discovery engine,” your Pinterest images should be of the highest quality. If you’re familiar with Instagram marketing, be on the lookout for a few key differences between the two platforms.

As far as Pinterest is concerned, high-quality Pin images……are optimally sized in a 2:3 vertical ratio. Pinterest recommends the 2:3 vertical ratio in order for Pins to appear most “naturally” on the platform. This size ratio also maximizes spaces and looks the most polished.

…subtly but clearly feature your business logo. While you don’t want to come across as overly promotional in organic content, it’s still important to brand your Pins. Placing your logo towards the top or bottom of your Pin image is a great way to achieve this balance.

….are high-resolution. Most Pinterest users access the platform through the mobile app. From that up-close-and-personal vantage point, it’s essential that your images look crisp and professional.

….use bold, clearly readable text (if using a text overlay). If your Pin image features a text overlay (which we highly recommend for blog articles), make sure it’s easily readable on desktop or mobile. That includes ensuring your font size is large enough, and your colors are high-contrast.

2. Pin Titles: Start your Pin titles with the main keyword you’re targeting. This will help users find your content.

3. Descriptions: This is where you convince users to visit your site. Lead with the value; what will readers gain from clicking on your link? You only have about 30-50 characters in the home and search feeds.Why should they save, share, or otherwise engage with your Pin? Write strong copy here to drive engagement and click-thrus. Include keywords where they’re relevant and read well.

4. Landing Page Experience: Believe it or not, many businesses forget to add the URL to the Pin. Don’t forget this step!
Also, make sure that Pinterest users who click thru to your URL have a positive landing page experience. Users shouldn’t be surprised by what they find on your web page. Instead, your landing page should feel like a natural progression from the Pin to your website.

5. Hashtags: The newest Pinterest feature, hashtags are another way to increase a Pin’s discoverability. Since the hashtag feed ranks content based on its recency, using hashtags can help you increase your reach. We recommend adding anywhere between one to five very relevant hashtags to each new Pin. Let your keyword research guide your hashtag selection.

6. Rich Pins: With a business Pinterest account, you can enable Rich Pins, which provide extra detail directly on a Pin.Pinterest and its users find them more valuable because they add additional context. For example, you can set up Product Pins to add product pricing, availability, and store locations to Pins.Check out an example Pin from the very popular Pinterest account, Ytravel Blog. Notice how they’ve created a beautiful, branded Pin that’s easy to read. They’ve also written a strong description, linked to the blog article the Pin is promoting, and saved it to their own Boards.

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5. Create Multiple Pins for the Same Content

Pinterest marketing experts recommend creating multiple Pins for each piece of web content.

Multiple Pins can help you appeal to different segments of your audience, and increase your chances of click-thrus. Not only does this practice improve your reach, but it also helps improve your Pinterest SEO.

Pinterest won’t punish you for creating multiple Pins landing on the same destination, although they encourage writing unique descriptions for each one.

As an added bonus, publishing multiple Pins for each piece of content will teach you a lot about your Pinterest audience and the Pins they respond best to.

6. Pin Consistently

Consistency is an essential step to gaining consistent Pinterest traffic.

The newest Pinterest algorithm will stop showing new Pins from an account after the first five in a day, in order to prevent that account from monopolizing a feed. Therefore, you need to distribute your Pinterest activity throughout the week.

It’s best practice to create and follow a pinning schedule. Most experts recommend pinning a handful of re-pins and one to two original Pins per day.

While there are a few Pinterest scheduling tools available, you can succeed by pinning a few minutes a day, about five to six days a week.

7. Track Performance

Hopefully, your Pinterest marketing will evolve and improve over time. The longer you actively use the platform and follow our tips above, the more favorable marketing outcomes you should see.

However, the best way to truly grow your Pinterest marketing strategy is to continually track performance. After your first few weeks on Pinterest, you should identify your strongest and weakest performing Pins.

On the Pinterest desktop site, navigate to “Analytics > Overview.” Select the appropriate time frame, and then you should see a dynamic table that will rank your Pins by clicks, re-pins, and other metrics.

Use these insights to refine your Pinterest marketing strategy and guide future Pin creation.

8. Pinterest Ads

We recommend establishing a flourishing organic Pinterest profile before running ads in order to build a follower base, track Pin performance, and collect audience data before spending any advertising dollars.

If you’ve been following our tips above for a while now, perhaps you’re considering adding Pinterest Ads to your marketing strategy.

Feel free to check out our tips on Pinterest advertising to decide if they’re right for you.

Conclusion

As you can see, Pinterest is much more than a destination for DIYers and recipe collectors.

Pinterest’s 320+ million monthly active users have a demonstrated intent to shop and discover new products, making the platform an underappreciated social media marketing tool.

Follow our tips above, and soon you’ll be comfortably utilizing Pinterest to drive web traffic, increase sales, and grow your business.