Is Pinterest a Search Engine?

19th November 2014

Pinterest search

As search engines go, Pinterest seems like an unlikely contender. The ‘browsing’ nature of the site meant that search wasn’t used extensively, but the platform has evolved from its origins as an online scrapbook. Pinterest now sees itself as a personalised search site, and it can actually offer unique features that traditional search engines (ie. Google) struggle with.

What is Guided Search?

Guided search was launched around 6 months ago and triggered a 25% increase in search volume per user. With over 30 billion pins on the site, it provides exposure to a huge amount of content while focusing on user intentions.

There’s a key difference from traditional search that makes Pinterest such an effective search engine; when you search, Pinterest’s Guided Search offers ways to continually narrow your options until you find exactly what you want.

If, for example, I was hosting my first Christmas dinner and wanted to find menus and recipes for it, I’d probably search for ‘Christmas dinner’:

christmas dinner pinterest search

It already offers a number of options (including a delicious recipe for roast potatoes), but I also have a few ways to narrow the search further to find lamb for Christmas dinner, or turkey, or sides…

I can narrow my search more and more by adding keywords to my search until I find exactly what I want.

That’s certainly not something that Google offers, and the imagery means that you can see when you’ve found what you want instead of clicking on dozens of sites.

How Can I Use Pinterest for My Business?

Practically every development in search or social media can be used to your benefit, and Guided Search is no different. If you have visually appealing products Pinterest is an excellent way to reach a new audience while they’re browsing through items in your category or specifically searching for what you offer.

If you’re already on Pinterest, you don’t necessarily need to change the way that you use it for Guided Search to make an impact. If you don’t curently write summaries under your images, make sure that you add your keywords there and encourage people to click on your pins. Otherwise, this feature just means that it’s going to be easier for people to find your pins.

If you don’t have Pinterest yet, it is a fantastic tool when used properly. Just remember to:

  • Pin a variety of items (not just your own) – Pinterest is a curation tool, and offering access to interesting content from across the web means that people are more likely to follow you
  • Make sure you link back to your website – otherwise, you are simply directing all traffic elsewhere
  • Think around your products – if you sell wedding dresses, don’t just pin your dresses; you can create boards for table arrangements, make up looks, wedding stationery, and anything else wedding-related to ensure that brides, grooms, and wedding planners are more likely to follow you
  • Consider running competitions – Pinterest allows share-to-win contests that expand your reach
  • Add the Pin to your website so that people can add your content to their own boards
  • Look at using rich pins and see if they’re suitable – this involves adding more meta data to your website, but it produces more detailed pins
  • Create boards that follow what you’d like to rank for on Google – Pinterest boards rank fairly well, so this could actually improve your presence on traditional search engines too
  • Use hashtags
  • Update it regularly – like any social media outlet, Pinterest does need to be updated for you to get value from the platform


Pinterest is one of the few social media upstarts that have managed to carve out a niche and thrive post-Facebook – the unique propositions and ease of use means that it’s an excellent investment for businesses and can offer a huge amount of traffic.

The latest developments mean that businesses are benefiting even more from Pinterest users and can target their audience when they’re much further down the funnel. It’s unlikely that the site will ever take a substantial amount of traffic away from Google, but for certain industries it offers an excellent way to reach your customers and make an impact with your visuals.

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