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How to Use Keywords on Pinterest

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How to Use Keywords on Pinterest

Are you wondering how to make your content show up on Pinterest search results? Did you just say yes? Then mark your calendar because your new high priority task is to get your feet wet in the Pinterest SEO (search engine optimization) department. We’re going to discuss the importance of keywords on Pinterest.

Why keywords? Pinterest has said it themselves – they’re a visual search engine. That means it operates similarly to Google and learning how to use keywords on Pinterest is key to getting discovered on Pinterest.

Lots of new Pinterest users get caught up in growing their following and fail to utilize even the most basic SEO tactics. Don’t get me wrong – growing an engaged following boosts the performance of your content, but if you’re not using keywords, you’re likely leaving a lot of reach, engagement, and traffic on the table.

If you just recognized yourself, don’t freak out! Today we’ll talk about what the hell even is a keyword, why it’s important to distinguish between different keywords, how you can use them, the strategic places you can use them and how to find relevant keywords. Let’s dive in!





Keywords are specific words you use to let Pinterest know what your images are about and to help your content show up in Smart Feed and search results. Keywords are relevant to your niche and describe the pin you’re posting.

Pinterest uses keywords to pull up relevant content as search results. That’s why we add niche keywords to our profile, boards and pins.

There are two types of keywords – short tail and long tail keywords.

Short tail keywords consist of 1-2 words and are broad, general and not specific at all. Pinterest, small business and dinner recipes are examples of short tail keywords. Short tail keywords have a high search volume and bring lots of traffic, but on the downside, they have high competition (meaning lots of people are using these keywords in their SEO efforts) and are hard to rank high for.

Long tail keywords, on the contrary consist of 3 or more words, are specific and more targeted. The more words, the more specific and targeted keyword. Long tail keywords are less searched for but competition is lower. This, in turn, means it’s easier to rank high. Pinterest graphic templates, small business bookkeeping software and vegan dinner recipes are examples of long tail keywords.

I prefer long tail keywords because that way I can target specific people and specific interests. When it comes to Pinterest, especially pin descriptions, it’s best to use a combination of short tail and long tail keywords.




Knowing how to describe a pin with correct keywords makes all the difference. Pinterest is great at sending the right people to your content BUT you have to feed it the right keywords first.

The good news is that you don’t have to guess what keywords to use. Pinterest search bar is your bestie and I’ll show you how to use it in a second.


Understand your audience

Before you start researching keywords, you need to have an understanding of your customers. As a business owner, you most certainly have a client avatar but understanding your audience goes even deeper than that.

Do you know what problems they’re experiencing? What’s frustrating them? What do they want to learn about? What are their pain points?

Forget that you’re an expert in your field and think like your audience. You need to be able to think on their level.

Having an understanding like this helps you write better, more targeted content. It also makes researching keywords easier for you because you know what your people are searching for.


Simplify your life with a keyword bank

Before you embark on your keyword-optimizing journey, take the time to sit down and create a keyword bank of sorts. Keyword bank is a collection of relevant keywords that you’ll use time and time again.

The process of setting up a keyword bank is a must-have step in my account set-up and managing process. I have mine set up as an Asana board but you can also use a spreadsheet, Airtable, a piece of paper or even a Word document.

Write down your main short-tail keyword and list more specific long-tail keywords in a column under that. 

Let’s say you want to find keywords related to Instagram. Instagram is your main keyword and according to Pinterest, your additional keywords would be Instagram photos, Instagram theme, Instagram captions, Instagram tips, etc. Your additional keywords are more specific and targeted.

Repeat the process for your other big keywords. By the end, you’ll have a collection of Pinterest-approved keywords you can use to create content around and use in your board and pin descriptions.


Use the search bar

To find keywords, look no further than the Pinterest search bar. When you click on it, you’ll see your recent searches and current trending ideas on Pinterest. If any of the current popular ideas are relevant to your post, you can use them as keywords!

Pinterest search bar

If not, find your own. Let’s take Instagram as an example. When you start typing it in, Pinterest gives you a list of keywords.

These all keywords people search for on Pinterest so take note. We learn that Instagram captions, Instagram highlight covers, Instagram picture ideas and Instagram bio ideas are all popular keywords on Pinterest.

Instagram search

You can now hit enter and get search results for Instagram. Pinterest will display a row of colorful tiles below the search bar. This is called guided search and each of these tiles is a keyword. There you go – even more keywords for you!

Pinterest guided search

You can narrow down (= get more specific) search results by clicking on a tile. Below are the search results for instagram bio. There’s an abundance of keywords you can use.

Pinterest guided search


Image titles, descriptions and alt text

Always start by optimizing the images off-site and on your site.

This is not only important for Pinterest, but it’s also a generally good SEO practice. Search engines like Google and Pinterest can’t see what’s on the picture. Instead, they rely on the text that comes with the image like file name, title, and alt-text description.

Before you even upload an image to your site, give it a proper name. Instead of “image1.jpeg”, “DSC_56789.jpeg” or “pintemplate.png”, name the file with the keywords.

For example, if your blog post is about writing clever Instagram captions, title the Pinterest graphic something along the lines of clever-instagram-captions.png. If your post is about working more productively, you could name the file something along the lines of “improve-productivity-work.png” or “productivity-tips.png”. This lets Pinterest know your pin is about productivity.

When you upload the image to your media files, take the time to give it a title and write an alt-text description. You don’t want to have images with titles like “DSC_56789.jpeg” floating around on the interwebs.


Recommended reading: 7 Ways to Optimize Your Website for Pinterest


Your URL

As you write your post, you most likely have an idea of what your main keyword is. Make sure it’s included in your URL!



This is the prime space you should definitely take advantage of! Using niche keywords all over your profile gives Pinterest an overview of what you’re about and helps get your account pulled up when someone searched for those keywords.

In the past, Pinterest allowed more characters in business names which is why you see a lot of accounts with profile names like in the screenshot below. Profile names were used to list niches and therefore increase the chances of being found.

As of writing this in January 2019, Pinterest has tightened up the rules and no longer allows business names longer than 30 characters. This means two things.

First of all, Pinterest clearly wants us to use the business name only for its intended purpose. Secondly, if you currently have a business name longer than 30 characters, the only way you’ll be able to keep it, for now at least, is to not update your profile. You won’t be able to save any changes until your business name is within the character limit.


You can and should, however, make use of your profile description! In the 160 characters, let people know what you do and how you can serve them. Since you already have a keyword bank set up, pick 2-3 keywords to describe how you can be of use.


Board names and board descriptions

Read my post about board optimization for in-depth information about how to make sure your boards are optimized and searchable.

Recommended reading – How to Optimize Your Pinterest Boards


Pin titles and pin descriptions

Pin descriptions are the obvious space to add keywords. Before even uploading your pin to Pinterest and saving it to a board, make it your mission to filter out the keywords you should use for that particular pin. That means stretching your keyword research muscles!

Pick a few keywords to include, then write a few sentences telling people what your pin is about. Top it off with a few hashtags. Remember, the goal is to captivate and make people click.



Hashtags are becoming a thing on Pinterest and work the same way as on other social platforms. As mentioned before, you can add them to board descriptions but they’re not clickable.

However, hashtag use in pin descriptions is definitely endorsed by Pinterest. Use specific words or phrases that describe the content of the pin. The current suggestion is to use 1-2 relevant hashtags but no more than 20 hashtags per pin.


Promoted pins

Keywords are also the key to creating optimized promoted pin campaigns. For starters, use a combination of 20-30 short and long tail keywords that have proven to do well with regular pins.


And that’s how you use keywords on Pinterest! Remember, don’t just use keywords. Use the right keywords! Make sure to get a clear understanding of your audience and what they crave, research and then optimize your profile!



How to Use Keywords on Pinterest

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Hey there!

I’m Maris – Pinterest marketing strategist for service-based businesses run by women, and botany enthusiast with an indoor jungle.  

As a Pinterest strategist, it’s my mission to uplevel your biz with a Pinterest presence that’s purposely crafted to connect you to the people you’re meant to serve. 

Hey, I 'm Maris!

As a Pinterest strategist for service-based businesses run by women, I spend my days helping business owners get started with Pinterest marketing from my cozy, plant-filled home office in Tartu, Estonia.
Through my signature Pinterest marketing framework, I help you a craft strategic Pinterest presence that attracts, connects with & converts your ideal clients on autopilot, so you can keep living and working on your own terms. 


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