Effective Pinterest Pins and Boards – How One User Makes Pinterest Sing

The open Pinterest board showing its pins and a well-written board description

Pinterest is a great way to promote your website whether it is a business or a hobby but you have to make sure you are using it to full advantage. In this post I’ll take a close look at how to optimize Pinterest and pass on some tips to help you make it work for you.

As a new user, Pinterest can be quite confusing. How to make sense of pins and boards and things when you only have a few examples of each? How do you optimize Pinterest? The easiest way to understand how your pins and boards should work is to take a look at an existing, well-managed board and the pins that its user has saved to it.

Let’s start with pins. Pins on Pinterest are basically just images with links. You click them and they take you somewhere. That somewhere can be inside Pinterest, or out to another website. Unlike normal image links, pins have other visible clickable information attached to them.

The Home Feed

When you first go to your Pinterest home feed you will see 100’s of pins. These are the pins that Pinterest thinks could be of interest to you based on the favorites you selected when set up your account. Similarly, if you search for a topic on Pinterest you will see a similar feed of results. Here for example are the results I see when I search for tips on how to catch a certain type of fish:

Pinterest search results for how to catch a rainbow trout
Typical Pinterest search results. The pins come from a variety of sources, and include both original pins and repins.

What I am seeing in the results are shortcuts to pins; if I click on a shortcut in the search results I can see the full pin:

Example of a full Pinterest pin
A full pin with image (top), including graphical text, and metadata below.

Structure of a Pin

The pin has both the main image (which in this case includes some graphical text on a black background) and some extra information below it. (This is actually a “repin”: that is to say it is a copy of an original pin. We will see the original pin a bit later. Be aware that in many ways a repin is more valuable than an original pin: making great pins that other user’s want to repin is a great way to raise your profile in Pinterest. Getting repins is one of the secrets of Pinterest optimization.)

Let’s take a look at the different fields that make up the pin:

The component fields of a Pinterest pin including the main linking fields

The Title of this pin is “Trout Fishing Tips: How to Catch Trout [Fly Fishing Methods & More]”. That’s 77 characters in all but notice that Pinterest shows only the first 47 characters in our search results. It is worth checking that any title we set works in both its long and its short forms.

The creator of the pin used the terms “trout”, “tips” and “catch” at various places in the title of the pin, but not the term “rainbow”. “Trout”, “tips” and “catch” also appear in the pin description but “rainbow” doesn’t. Pinterest seems quite happy to return a partial match to my search rather than returning a full match.

The Creator’s Profile Page

Clicking on the Creator link takes you to the creator’s home page on Pinterest. That page belongs to a business user called “Wilderness Today”. (This is actually the user’s display name that they’ve set in their profile settings, not their username. You can adapt your display name on Pinterest to suit your business. For example one one visit to this profile I noticed that this user had added the tags “Hunting, Fishing, Survival, & The Great Outdoors” to their display name.)

Wilderness Today's profile well-organized profile page on Pinterest
Wilderness today’s well-organized profile page on Pinterest. Note how Pinterest tiles some of the user’s pins to form a decorative header image.

The user describes themselves with the description “We are your authority resource for everything to do with hunting, fishing, survival, camping and the Great Outdoors.” You can see straight away that this user’s profile page is very well organized. Each board is clearly labelled with its topic making it easy to drill down into specific aspect of fishing, hunting, or survival. The title of each board appears in white text on a black background. You can immediately understand the purpose of each board. This is great Pinterest optimization.

(Note: if you are using the Firefox browser and you are not seeing this view it may be because some features of Pinterest are being blocked by Firefox’s cross-origin resource sharing (CORS) functionality. Do some research to resolve this issue or switch to another browser, otherwise many aspects of Pinterest will remain a mystery to you forever.)

While we are here, click the Community link and check the number of followers this user has! The user clearly knows something about optimizing Pinterest!

The Fishing Tips Board

Somewhere within these myriad boards is our original pin. After a little bit of hunting, we find that the pin is pinned to this board:

A typical board shortcut visible on a Pinterest user's profile page
A board shortcut on a Pinterest user’s profile page. The user has promoted a black and white pin (left) to serve as a board title.

This board, like all the other boards owned by this user, Pinterest represents it on the user’s profile page by a group of images. On the left is a single black and white “promoted pin”; on the right Pinterest makes a collage from the latest 4 pins to the board. If we look in the board itself we can find the promoted pin. It is actually just a normal pin. The user has promoted it to the role of “cover” in the board’s settings. It looks like this:

A pin that can be promoted to become a board cover image
The pin that has been promoted to become the cover image. All of this user’s board have a pin like this, making it easy to create a consistent appearance across all the user’s boards.

Board Organization

Opening the board we find that the user has provided a full description to supplement the board title and further expand on what the board is about: “We could all use some tips in life. If you are a fisherman or fisherwoman, you are in luck, because…”

The open Pinterest board showing its pins and a well-written board description
The opened board showing its pins. Note the well-written board description loaded with important keywords and hashtags.

The user cleverly embeds important “niche” keywords into this description, including multiple uses of the core words “fishing” and “tips” alongside mentions of related keywords like “fisherman”, “fisherwoman”, “beginner”, “expert”, “casting”, and “saltwater”. This keyword smattering helps with search-engine optimization (SEO) both within Pinterest (helping to get pins found) and in the wider online world, for example major search engines like Bing and Google which also index Pinterest pages.

Notice also the use of “hashtags” within the description: “#FishingTipsForBeginnners”, “#LakeFishingTips”, etc. They are not links because, as the Pinterest help pages tell us, hashtags in board descriptions do not automatically become links.

The Original Pin

If we look through the board we will find the original pin:

The original pin in its original board
The original pin is just one related to fishing on this board.

Clicking on the pin zooms it as expected. Notice that now the name of the name of the pinner has changed. That’s because we are now looking at the original pin, not a repin as we were earlier:

The original pin showing the details of the original pinner
The original pin, now showing the details of the original pinner.

Pinterest Hashtag Search

Notice also that the hashtags here are now clickable links. Click a hashtag to be taken to Pinterest’s search engine. There you will see other pins that share that hashtag in their description:

Pinterest search engine showing the results of a hashtag search
Pinterest’s search engine showing the results of a hashtag search. Each returned pin will have the hashtag somewhere in its metadata.

This is just the normal Pinterest search. Hashtags therefore provide another way of finding and grouping your pins outside of boards. If you add a unique hashtag to each of your pins, you will be able to use Pinterest search to return just your hash-tagged pins. Consider clever hash-tagging to be another good way to optimize you presence on Pinterest.

Linking to the Outside World

Clicking the image in the pin in the Fishing Tips board opens the www.wildernesstoday.com website. The link takes us directly to the article being promoted by the pin:

The target of the pin: the article and Wilderness Today
The main target of the pin (and of any repins!): an article at the Wilderness Today website.

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