With more than 750 million boards and 30 billion pins, the idea of searching for, well, almost anything on Pinterest can seem overwhelming at best. But that’s all changing. To cut through the clutter, Pinterest has released a series of updates over the last 10 months to facilitate discovery and enhance user engagement on the platform. In response, your team now needs to be thinking about how to pin down a strategy that adapts to these changes.
It started with Guided Search last year.
Much like its name suggests, Guided Search helps users find the most relevant content by surfacing sub-topics related to the original search term. For example, whereas a search for “vacation” yields an endless number of results, Pinterest now recommends relevant keywords to sharpen the image set. A quick search for “vacation,” for instance, brings up the terms “ideas,” “places,” “packing,” “destination,” “outfits,” “quotes” and so on.
Since the launch of Guided Search, Pinterest has reported a 25% increase in the average number of searches per person.
Then, Pinterest evolved their search capabilities yet again.
Pinterest’s most recent update seeks to make search results more relevant and, therefore, more actionable by using past search queries to inform future search results. To illustrate how this works, we turn to a recent blog published by Pinterest Software Engineer Don Wang. In it, Don asks us to consider the turkey.
“…When a person searches for “turkey” it’s not immediately clear whether he or she is looking for “turkey” recipes or “Turkey” travel or “turkey” animal. After the Pinner browses search results and issues another query, such as “turkey recipes,” we begin to understand the direction of the search.”
This subsequent search for “turkey recipes” not only helps Pinterest to serve up scrumptious food-related pins but to also inform future search results. Wong adds, “The more people search the better we can suggest results. From the previous example, we can guess that the next person who issues the query “turkey” may also be interested in the “turkey recipes.’”
And let’s not forget about gender.
A recent blog post from Pinterest pointed to the impact of preferred gender settings, helping users hone in on pins intended for either women or men. This is based on the gender you chose when signing up for Pinterest. If a user is looking for pins geared to the opposite sex, they can simply go into their settings, and flip the switch.
By using a pinner’s initial search term as a jumping off point, Pinterest is moving beyond conventional search behaviors, helping consumers to explore information in a more visual and discovery-oriented way. As a digital marketer, here’s what you can do now in order to take advantage of these search updates.
1. Make it easier for consumers to find your products.
Pinterest draws on common terms to surface relevant content. Guided Search, for instance, is made up of user-supplied metadata that lives within the platform – think captions, comments and board titles. The suggested tags you’ll notice in the screenshot we shared above—meant to help consumers zero in on relevant information—are culled from billions of descriptors and represent the most frequently used terms.
One way to ensure that your pins are optimized for discovery is to identify which terms consumers use when pinning your content (full disclosure: Curalate has a Top Keywords tool that does just that). By anticipating what these terms are, you can ultimately make your pins more visible, subsequently increasing your ability to drive awareness, engagement and revenue.
2. Write detailed pin descriptions.
Pinterest’s latest slew of updates are intended to drive discovery. What this means is that users may stumble upon your pins without knowing what the product in that pin is and, more importantly, why they should care in the first place.
If you’re in charge of writing pin captions for your brand (or know the community manager who is), then you should be thinking beyond your brand name and product ID. Tools that identify popular keywords can come into play here as well. Consumers have very specific needs that your products meet: Weave these details into your copy. Smart, relevant descriptions—like Ikea’s in the examples above—tell a story, provide context, and drive action with your pins.
3. Create “rich” user experiences.
Pinterest is a powerful driver of awareness, and for marketers, Rich Pins are a great tool for turning that awareness into action. Rich Pins allow you to enhance your images with essential information. For retailers, Product Pins offer real-time pricing, product availability, and details as to where that item can be purchased. If a product is on the expensive side, Rich Pins can also alert consumers when the price has finally dropped.
Other types of Rich Pins include Place Pins (map + address + phone number), Article Pins (headline + author + description), Recipe Pins (ingredients + serving size + cook time), and Movie Pins (ratings + cast + reviews).
4. Take consumers from search to sale.
Pinterest has dedicated a lot of time and energy to helping consumers find and engage with content that fits into their lives. As the keeper of this content, it’s your responsibility to be ready to make the sale. According to a survey from customer experience management firm SDL, above anything else, consumers want a positive experience from retailers without interruptions or dead ends. In an omni-channel world where consumers discover products and engage with brands constantly, this starts with creating a seamless experience no matter what channel a shopper is on.
On Pinterest—the No 1. driver of referral traffic for many publishers and retail brands—it’s important to make sure that your product links are all working. Each one should drive a consumer to an article they can read or a product they can buy.
What’s next for Pinterest?
Of course, Pinterest has more than one trick up its sleeve. In addition to notable updates to their search capabilities, the platform has also been testing and rolling out Promoted Pins. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can get started with their ad offering, we’ve outlined some best practices for Promoted Pins.
With each iteration of the network, it seems that Pinterest has a clear goal in mind: to utilize data to help consumers more easily navigate the increasingly noisy social arena, turning inspiration into aspiration and aspiration into sales. For brands that leverage the technology by optimizing their content, these updates will be particularly beneficial.