Pinterest Guided Search and Key Takeaways for Marketers

Social Media is being used more and more as a discovery engine and in order to keep up, both Facebook and Twitter have greatly improved their search capabilities this past year. You can now type a keyword into either channel’s search bar and be instantly served up relevant posts, pages, and profiles. Therefore, marketers need to become savvier about creating social content that is discoverable.

Background on Guided Search

Pinterest has taken search to the next level with the addition of Pinterest Guided Search. Launching in April of 2014, Guided Search was originally introduced to improve the user experience for Pinners on their mobile devices.


Essentially, ‘guides’ are filters. When you click on a guide it will narrow your search results in an effort to give you more of what you are looking for. Guided search has been effective, Pinterest says that on average, a Pinner clicks on 3.6 guides per day when searching. The more a user searches, the better the results are. Pinterest adapts your search preferences for future personalization.

How Guided Search Works

Guided search was built on organic search results. The algorithm was built to group synonyms, detect typos and remove inappropriate content or spammy terms. For long-tail search results, Pinterest tags pins with meta information. This meta information could come from the Pin’s descriptions, boards’ data, interest categories, linked third-party web page text and meta information of similar Pins.

Search Guides are ranked based on the following criteria:

1)      Interest- the more users click on the guide, the higher it gets ranked

2)      Quality of the results- a quality and confidence score is calculated based on how many times a user clicks on the result and takes an action (i.e. pins the item to the board) and the quality of the website the Pin links to.

3)      Location-location scores are determined based on how much interest Pinners of different countries show to each guide

4)      Gender- based on what is trending for each group

5)      Trending- Pinterest can boost a guide based on it getting a lot of interest on the channel within a certain time frame

6)      Spam- pins, users, and searches that come off as spam are removed from search results.

Key Takeaways to Optimize for Guided Search

1)      Identify your Focus categories

Identifying your top categories, where you are focused as a brand, is extremely important. These focus areas can be translated to Pinterest categories. Start with a category and then build a web of words that you would associate with that category. For example, the category could be ‘rings’ and associated words could be: jewelry, diamond, engagement, wedding, anniversary, fashion, love, gold, etc.


Knowing your focus categories on Pinterest is also important to share with influencers who are creating content on behalf of your brand. Getting advocates to share content and influencers to create content in those key areas will help beef up your results and discoverability for that category.

2) Act Like the General Pinterest User

As a brand on Pinterest, one best practice to keep at the top of mind is to mimic general user behavior on the platform. Think like a user would. Expand your web of words from your focus categories to ensure it includes the descriptive words they would use to find your products. Once you have those words nailed down, use them as key words in your pins, board descriptions and profile description.

Additionally, when you are using those key words for your descriptions, you can leave at the hashtags. With the power of Guided Search, the hashtag is no longer needed for your content to be served up in search results.

3) Use Search to Your Advantage

One way to use Pinterest search to your advantage is to identify what is ‘trending’ on Pinterest, and if relevant, try to insert your brand into the conversation. There are a couple ways to identify top categories. For starters, Pinterest has a category called ‘Popular’, which gives 8 sub-categories of related interests. A second option is to keep an eye on the ‘Featured’ board, which appears at the top of the list of categories next to the Guided Search toolbar.


Another way to leverage Guided Search is to use it to help identify the top Pinners and influencers on Pinterest. For example, if you search for ‘food’ and select ‘Pinners’ you will see a list of profiles that best match your search. Within the returned search results, you can identify influencers within the category for potential partnership opportunities.

More now than ever, we have seen cross-overs with SEO and social channels. Marketers need to be optimizing all digital content, social content included, as if they wanted it to appear in Google search results. How is your brand optimizing its content to increase its discoverability on social?

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