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8 Critical Keyword Opportunities on Pinterest to Boost Traffic

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By now you’ve probably heard the news that Pinterest is, in fact, a search engine and not a social media site. So how can you use Pinterest to boost traffic to your website?

With search engines comes that elusive goal of SEO – search engine optimization. Think of SEO as the control you have over how well your content does! 

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While we don’t know EVERYTHING that goes into the algorithms of our favorite search tools, we know enough to take control over what we’re putting out there. Keep it simple, but be strategic – think of keywords as the way Pinterest organizes all of the content constantly being added to make it easier to share the best results with their users.

When it comes to Pinterest, there are some prime opportunities to use keywords for the most impact. Review the list below for a look at the 8 places on Pinterest you need to be using keywords and then download my free checklist, which you can use to make sure your own account and pins are optimized.

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Use Pinterest to Boost Traffic by Optimizing for Keywords

  1. Profile:

    Both your Display Name and About Your Profile fields should have keywords. These are both used by Pinterest to help find great results for searchers. 

    Display Name: This is going to be where you add your business name. A tip here is to maximize the character count with some keywords. 

    When you add your Display Name using the Pinterest website on a computer, you’re limited to 30 characters. However, if you go to your Pinterest account profile using your phone app you’ll have 65 characters!

    Add a pipe, or vertical bar, and then a few words to describe what you do. Here’s an example: Laura McDowell Creative | Marketing & Design for Entrepreneurs. Play around with it a bit. Pinterest will let you know when you’ve hit the character limit. (Hint: The pipe symbol can be found above the backward slash on your keyboard!)

    screenshot of Pinterest profile page with Display Name field annotated

    About Your Profile: Here’s where you can describe both your business purpose and what your Pinterest account offers using strong keywords. There is a limit of 160 characters, so be strategic.

  2. Board Names:

    A lot of people will get all creative here and name their boards something punny. This is fine for a personal account. When it comes to driving traffic you want to be clear and concise.

    Pinterest is going to take the search term and match it with boards that include those terms. Make sure the keyword terms your target audience will search for are in your board names.

  3. Board Descriptions:

    Here is another often missed opportunity. Many people leave the board description blank, but the contents are used by Pinterest to find relevant search results.

    You have 500 characters for this space, so write up a strong descriptive paragraph.

    You may see board descriptions that include simple lists of keywords. Currently, Pinterest does not penalize for this practice, which can be viewed as keyword stuffing in the Google world. I recommend the paragraph format as a safety net to avoid penalties in the future.

  4. Pin Images:

    When creating your actual pin image understand that Pinterest is reading the text you use in your pin design. Keywords are really important here and should be easy to read.

    Fancy cursive fonts might look pretty, but they are hard for Pinterest AND searchers to read.

    pin comparison graphic showing benefits of simple plain fonts versus fancy handwriting font

    Remember to design your pins to provide the best search experience for your target market. It’s easy to try to mix it up because you get a bit bored with the process. Don’t fall into that trap.

  5. Pin Titles:

    Because pin titles are not required by Pinterest, you can imagine many people leave this blank.  Your pin title can be up to 100 characters. Generally, the first 30 characters show up in pin feeds.

    screenshot of pin settings on Pinterest

    Try to add your business name to the end of the title. This will make it easier for people to find you and your pins again because the title is searchable.

  6. Pin Descriptions:

    Pin descriptions are also not required, so this field is often left blank. Don’t make this mistake. Pin descriptions can be up to 500 characters. Use them wisely!

    Similarly to the keyword lists I mentioned with Board Descriptions, you’ll probably see plenty of pin descriptions with lists. This can be effective when it comes to appearing in search results. It’s less so when it comes to actually enticing clicks, which is really what you want.

    Descriptions should include your brand name, details on what the reader can expect when they click through, and a call to action. As with website SEO, keep your keywords towards the beginning of the description. Even though you have 500 characters, the first 50 or so will actually be visible in the feed.

    Hashtags can also be used in descriptions, which is a newer option on Pinterest. You can add up to 20 hashtags per pin, but I would recommend sticking to 2-5.

    The handy feature Pinterest includes is a character count as you type. You can keep on eye on that number to see where you’ll be cut off.

  7. Destination URLs:

    The destination URL is the website someone will be taken to if they click on your pin. You should already be creating URLs with your keywords in mind to help with your website SEO, so this is sort of a bonus on Pinterest. If you’re not already considering keywords when setting up URLs for your website, this is your wake-up call!

  8. Promoted Pins:

    Do you use promoted pins? They can be a great strategy for driving traffic to your site. When you set up your promoted pin, you’ll be prompted to include keywords.

    Pinterest gives you the ability to use up to 150 keywords. Choosing relevant keywords increases the chance of your pins being shown to your target audience. You can also use negative keywords to help eliminate certain searches from showing your pin.


Alt Text: The One Place NOT to Focus on Keywords

It’s important to understand the purpose of alt text. Alt text is used to describe an image online. It’s valuable for people that use screenreader software because this is the text the screenreader will read to the user.

Screenreaders are typically used by people that are visually impaired. Using alt text for every image helps make sure your website provides a comparable experience for all visitors.

You’ll probably come across Pinterest articles that recommend using the alt text field for your image to add keywords. This is not only the incorrect usage of alt text, impeding the experience of your user, but it can also hurt your SEO. Don’t do it!


Super Simple Keyword Research

While this article is really not about finding keywords, while you’re in Pinterest, you can get some valuable keyword research done.

Pinterest makes it easy to find keywords relevant to your audience. Simply type a broad keyword you focus on in the Pinterest search bar.

You’ll see suggestions appear in a drop-down as you type, similar to a Google search. When you submit your search, you’ll see an entire row of keywords related to your search. Clicking on any of those will take you to a more specific long-tail set of keywords.

These are pulled from actual Pinterest searches and can be really valuable when planning out your content.


Now that you’ve read through the 8 critical keyword opportunities on Pinterest to boost traffic, don’t forget to request your free checklist. Just remember that Pinterest is a visual search engine and you’ll benefit from using many of the same SEO strategies you’re already putting in place on your website!


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