Pinterest Optimization: What Tactics, Topics and Media Formats Get Shares?

Tad Chef
Tad Chef writes for SEO blogs from all over the world including his own one called SEO 2.0. He helps people with blogs, social media and search, both in German and English. You can follow Tad on Twitter @onreact_com to get his latest insights daily.

    By now you should know that Pinterest is one of the most promising social media sites for businesses. You already probably know what it is about (collecting images) and what audiences are using it mostly (women from the US).

    I’m not here to tell you how to buy ads on Pinterest to reach its still growing audience (yes, men and people from other countries are increasingly using Pinterest too) either.

    I treat Pinterest like any other search engines and want to tell you how to optimize content for Pinterest.

    Yes, you can also search on Pinterest, but that’s just a relatively peripheral feature. By search engine I don’t mean the search box. I mean the way people can find you and your products on Pinterest, whether they search for them or not. Ideally they discover them via the pinboards they follow.

    Pinterest success is about shareability

    Until now I have used Pinterest only privately because nobody has approached me yet to optimize for it. My existing clients still don’t understand why they need Pinterest. So I won’t tell you how I sold items worth millions via Pinterest. Instead

    I will tell you what kinds of tactics, topics and media formats work best

    there. Then you can probably sell better on Pinterest by giving the people what they want. You know — the good old supply and demand — thing.

    Imagine free advertising by people who love your products and share them freely so they may even get viral. You just need to know how exactly to use Pinterest to get more shares aka pins and repins.

    Pinterest is a heaven for business owners. People actively seek shopping inspiration there and click through to e-commerce sites to buy things directly. Or they recommend these products.


    No, keyword stuffing your pins, adding URLs to them and hashtags in large numbers are not really good tactics for Pinterest despite blogs everywhere suggesting it. I rarely notice any of such cluttered pin descriptions on popular items.

    Whatever people want to see on Pinterest, no matter the topic, it must be inspirational.

    • It has to be the body they aspire to have
    • the Hollywood star they want to be like
    • the tasty food they want to be able to prepare
    • the luxurious car they want to drive
    • or the exotic travel destination they want to travel to.

    People don’t want to see the average, the common, the ugly aspects of life. Pinterest is like a huge collective daydream.

    So it’s not about old school SEO techniques here it’s about making the Pinterest experience as pleasurable as possible by providing exactly the images of a lofty beautiful life everybody would like to picture her — or himself in.

    So when approaching the Pinterest audience, make sure to hire a professional photographer to make photos of your most sophisticated product range.

    Use the brightest colors for your “food porn”. Show the most romantic or one of a kind wedding. Provide images of the bluest water in your largest pool of your hotel or real estate.

    Also don’t use the default and average pinboard names, be somehow specific but not too much. Choose a topic that is small enough to be distinguishable but big enough for you to be able to find new pins every day.

    For example I use “modern houses” for my architecture board that shows modern residential buildings. You’ll find me in the top 10 when searching for “modern houses” boards on Pinterest.

    Ideally you pin a few pins per board daily. Something like 3 to 5 but not more than 10. Otherwise you might overwhelm your followers or get overlooked due to inactivity.

    People follow mostly boards not other people so you can have totally incompatible pinboards but having a few similar ones may be beneficial. People rather follow people not companies or brands though, so consider using your real name and a personal profile.

    As a business representative, you might want to at least use a picture as the avatar, not a logo. Unless you’re Apple or Starbucks and everybody recognizes you. Don’t create 50 or more pinboards, as nobody will  scroll to  view them all, a healthy number is something from 12 to 24.


    Of course some topics are more popular than others. The female domination is still easy to spot based on the popular items. As you only follow the pins you like you don’t have to revel in weddings and cuteness. Many men prefer for example supercars.

    You can memorize some of these alliteration to get a grip on some of the more popular topics:

    • food, fashion, fitness
    • love, ladies and lads (men viewed from the female perspective)
    • cute, cats, cuddling
    • pets, pools and popular people

    What does this mean for your business? When a popular person and a pet use your product while chilling at the pool you have won. Just consider this image of Evan McGegor (the one who plays Obi-Wan in Star Wars) riding a Pashley Guvnor:

    It’s just a bike, a pretty unpopular topic on the US dominated image bookmarking site, but nonetheless it got 10 repins.

    Media Formats

    Images, text and text images

    Pinterest is for images right? Not for text. That’s after all technically a so-called image bookmarking site. You’ll be surprised to hear that one of the most popular categories is “quotes” then.

    Yes, short aphorisms work fantastically on Pinterest.

    How? Of course embedded in images. The better readable the text the more likely the pin is to succeed. Text readable on a thumbnail is best. My quote board hosts most of my really popular pins, despite having a far smaller regular audience than my most active architecture board for example.

    The bigger the type the better (but don’t use the ugly Impact font, it’s not about memes). For example this pretty simple pin has almost 400 repins by now:

    It’s not just my pin that gets spread. Other people get 100+ repins with it too.

    Video and animated gifs

    Both videos and animated gifs work technically on Pinterest as well but they don’t work well with the Pinterest audience.

    Even in cases where you’d expect to see videos, like say — Parkour — they won’t become as popular as images. Why? When you look at your pins you only see little thumbnails, dozens of them at once. You only spot the most enticing ones.

    With videos you rarely can choose which scene to show, most YouTube videos appear completely boring by judging them by the cover.

    With animated gifs it’s very similar. You won’t see the animation by default, so they simply look like bad quality images. Even on a board with 3k followers these gifs do not get many repins.

    Image Source

    Tad Chef
    Tad Chef writes for SEO blogs from all over the world including his own one called SEO 2.0. He helps people with blogs, social media and search, both in German and English. You can follow Tad on Twitter @onreact_com to get his latest insights daily.

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