Pinterest, you know I love you but your search box sucks.
Pinterest is a visual beauty.
Good for us people since we love visual things. Bad for search engines since they can’t see images.
Like Google or other search engines, Pinterest relies on words to actually know what a pin is about. Unlike those search engines, the image name doesn’t matter. What matters is the pin description because Pinterest considers that one big fat alt tag.
If you don’t know what an alt tag is, it’s basically alternative text that tells search engines what a photo is about (since they can’t actually “see” the photo). In Pinterest, you have 500 characters to describe a pin. That, my friends, is what Pinterest searches.
So, the search box suckage is partially our fault because we’re crummy at describing things. But even when we do a good job adding a pin description it still doesn’t work. That we have no control over (at least to my knowledge).
Here’s an example of something funny that I came across on Pinterest.
You KNOW that’s been pinned a ton. I mean, it’s about yoda for crying out loud.
Now, if I actually try to search for it using the phrase “yoda pie,” here’s what I came up with.
FIVE ENTIRE RESULTS. In ALL of Pinterest. And I even tried to capture more results by just saying “yoda pie” instead of “yoda pie chart.” So while you may be searching for “chicken recipe” you’ll only get search results that actually say “chicken recipe” which I doubt all that many people are typing into the pin description box.
How You Can Improve the Pinterest Search Feature?
It’s a bummer that Pinterest can’t work better than that, but each time we pin something, we can improve the searching just a wee bit. How?
Add a Little Description
If you are pinning using the Pin It bookmarklet, it won’t add a description so you’ll need to do it. No need to do any keyword research or make your description devoid of any personality, just try to at least add a word or two that will help describe the pin.
Pin descriptions like this are helpful (the first two probably pulled into the description automatically):
But pins like this aren’t so much help:
Does it matter if you don’t add a description each time you pin or re-pin? It’s a gray area. For that pin on the left with the animals, I doubt many people are searching for a lion riding a horse. For that center one, adding a simple thing like “I love this motivational quote” would help if someone searches “motivational quotes.” And on the right? How about “love this! cool furniture idea!” or “love! chest of suitcases.” It’s hard to know what people would search for though so don’t overthink it.
Take control of your own blog
Even if you can’t be bothered to do anything with other pins, at least take control of ones from your own blog. When someone pins something from your blog, do the work for the pinner so you can be sure it includes the keywords you want. You can use a Pinterest Pin It button that pulls in your blog post title (it’ll get you writing better post titles too). I use the Digg Digg plugin but you can use a plugin just for Pinterest or even just create the Pin It code for a particular post.
Maybe Pinterest will eventually change some things on their end to improve the search feature but until then, we’re stuck with it.
So, what experiences have you had with the Pinterest search feature?
Pssst… on Monday, February 27, I’ll be announcing all the details about my new online course so stay tuned. I can tell you now that newsletter subscribers will get first dibs at a spot in class so join the email list if you haven’t yet!