Wondering what it takes to be #1 in Pinterest board search and why it matters? We’ve ranked 51 boards in the #1 position and 77 boards in the top ten. What follows are our secrets for building top boards and tips for getting there yourself.
I’m Andy Fling, the founder of TrafficWonker. I launched this site in 2015, but my online business journey began in 2007 with my elementary music education site, MakingMusicFun.net. In those days getting your pages to the first page of Google was the only thing that mattered. If your post was listed anywhere on the first page of the search results it was a good thing.
If your post ranked #1 in the Google Search results you could count on significant traffic. My site grew in popularity very fast and my pages ranked on the first page of Google’s search results often. My Canon in D – Free Piano Sheet Music, page held the #1 spot for more than 5 years and traffic to that page alone was sometimes as high as 31K visitors per month.
Note: Pin scheduler Traffic Wonker has sadly gone out of business, but owner and CEO Andy Fling has given me permission to share his useful Pinterest research and other information on my site. I jumped at the chance as Andy is the smartest guy I know when it comes to Pinterest!
What is Pinterest Board Rank and Why Does it Matter So Much?
There’s not much research out there on Pinterest SEO, but I can offer you a short lesson on Google SEO and eye-tracking and then apply it to Pinterest.
Ranking on the first page of Google is the goal of every site owner. If your post makes the top ten results, you’ll share a significant portion of the traffic to the keyword phrase. According to a Cornell University study the top three spots grab 80% of the traffic. If you’re fortunate enough to be ranked #1 you’ll enjoy 56% of the total traffic. For some businesses being #1 or #2 is the difference between a good year and an amazing year.
I have to think that some of this matters on Pinterest. Boards at the top of the results should get more clicks because we read from right to left and top to bottom. The #1 board is where we all begin and should logically be seen first by visitors and receive the most clicks.
The following chart presents the results of an eye-tracking study that supports this idea. It shows how the eye moves across a web page. The eye begins on the top left where we would expect, and moves on around the page a bit until it lands on the right column.
7 Big Ideas for Pinterest Board Search
The following list will provide you with my big ideas based on my research and my experience. I’ll follow with explanations in the next section, “Big Ideas Explained.”
1) You can rank your Pinterest board #1 if you have more pins, unless another pinner has more followers.
2) You can rank your Pinterest board #1 if you have far more pins, even if another pinner has more followers.
3) You can easily take the top spot for low competition/high volume keywords.
4) The order of the keywords in your title matters far more on Pinterest than on Google.
5) An exact match always ranks #1.
6) Short 2-4 word non-truncated titles rank better.
7) Boards with on-topic pins get more love.
Big Ideas Explained
1) Ranking Your Pinterest Board #1 with More Pins
Google outwardly states that it favors “large and well-established sites.” Large sites have a greater number of resources making it likely that visitors will find something of value, and a well-established (older) site is often a trusted site. With only data to consider, Google’s search engine does a good job leading its visitors to quality information and products. Pinterest follows their lead by favoring large and well-established boards. It’s not the only criteria, but it is a big piece of the puzzle.
Case Study #1
In mid-2015 I built a board called Pinterest Marketing and started tracking its rank on Pinterest board search for the term “Pinterest marketing.”
My Pinterest Marketing board began as a secret board and I switched it to a public board after I filled it with 525 quality pins. That’s what I thought it would take to rank #1. On occasion, I added the keyword phrase “Pinterest Marketing” to the description box of pins to improve their keyword richness and relevancy to the board.
Within 3 days my new board hit Pinterest’s radar and entered as board #27. With 1,000+ boards as competition, that wasn’t a bad start. However, because other boards above it had fewer pins, I was pretty sure it wasn’t finished rising in the ranks. I added another 500 pins to my Pinterest Marketing board and it moved to #17. Then #16. Then #15. Fast forward to today and you can see my Pinterest Marketing is holding strong at #6 for an extremely competitive search term.
Pinterest Marketing isn’t a #1 board, but its story is a valuable one to tell. Now let’s look at three of my #1 boards.
Case Study #2
My Home Business Ideas board is a secondary board for MakingMusicFun.net’s Pinterest account, but why not make it a top performer? It’s a great board for cross-promoting TrafficWonker pins. It started at #41. Four days later, after adding a few pins, it claimed the #9 spot. Today it’s a “well-established” board that is ranking #1 for “home business ideas.”
Case Study #3
Sometimes board name changes can help you take the top spot. That’s what I did with my Extreme Homeschool board. The name sounded awesome, but unless people were to search for “Extreme” my board wasn’t going to be discovered in Pinterest search. I changed it to Homeschool Curriculum and it was the #1 ranked board a few days later for the search term “homeschool curriculum.”
Case Study #4
This last example is the win of all wins. I have a Piano Sheet Music board on five different Pinterest accounts. If you type “piano sheet music” into Pinterest and select Boards, you can check them out yourself. I’m claiming five of the top six spots for this search term and impressions for the #1 board tops out at 237K last month with 2,680 clicks and 971 saves. It’s so good to be #1!
2) Ranking Your Pinterest Board #1 with Fewer Followers
My Homeschool Curriculum board won the top spot with fewer followers, but it took every pin I had to do it. At the time this board had 22K pins. My competition didn’t have as many pins, but she had far more followers. On Pinterest that tends to carry more weight. I won, but it required more pins than most people would ever what to add to rank a board. The lesson here is if your board has enough pins, go for it. If not, consider optimizing another board or rename your board with a less competitive title.
3) Build Top Ranking Boards by Filling a Hole
Sometimes, if you’re very lucky, you find a hole. A hole is a valuable “something” in the world of products and information that no one else has created and shared. If that “something” is something that many people really want, you’ve discovered a goldmine. The hole I discovered and filled was quality free sheet music. There were a few sites providing free sheet music when I launched my site, but the music was poorly written. One year later, MakingMusicFun.net was attracting as many as 64,000 visitors per month. Within five years I hit 700K visitors in a single month and I firmly established my site as a leader in my niche.
On Pinterest, it’s just a matter of researching keyword phrases and creating boards that people need. Start by typing keyword phrases and look at the competition. If you find a keyword that not too many people are competing for – go for it. That board might be your golden ticket!
4) Pinterest Board Keyword Order Matters
The Pinterest search engine is good, but not quite as good as Google. Pinterest tends to focus heavily on word order and exact match, rather than best match. Misspellings produce zero search results on Pinterest. With Google you can type the craziest spelling and the search engine says, “Okay, you’re an idiot, but I know what you mean.” I know this because I put Google to the test every day, and every day Google shows me everything I’d hoped for in 0.58 seconds.
So what can you do to get better results?
I’ve created many boards that serve the same audience. For Pinterest marketing, I have 11 boards with unique pins and descriptions that allow me to cross-promote my pins and make an exact match, including:
a) Pinterest Keywords – Ranks #1
b) Pinterest Traffic – Ranks #4
c) Pinterest SEO Tips – Ranks #1
d) Pinterest Marketing – Ranks #6
e) Pinterest Secrets – Ranks #3
f) Pinterest Optimization – Ranks #1
g) Pinterest Keywords – Ranks #1
All of these board names are suggested by the Pinterest search drop down menu, so a good number of people use these keywords when they search. With a little work, I could push these boards even higher.
5) Exact Match Wins the Race
I talked a little about creating boards with titles for an exact match on Pinterest. In this section, I’ll share the data I’ve collected that supports how important this is.
I searched for boards with five different search terms in very different categories, including:
a) Cake Decorating
b) Piano Lessons
c) Art Projects for Kids
d) Home Decor
e) Travel Tips
Within the first 20 boards an exact match was necessary to rank 72% of the time. Home Decor is so competitive, that all 20 boards were an exact match. Because Pinterest has so many boards to choose from, they don’t need to show you additional options.
Doing your keyword research when creating board titles is incredibly important. They should be 2-4 words long and every word should count. My favorite tool for keyword research is Google’s Keyword Planner for AdWords. It’s free.
6) Short Pinterest Board Titles Are Better
Google gives you 70 characters for your title and site owners do their best to write great titles that fit within this limit. On Pinterest board search, you have 21-22 characters and spaces to display your title. If your title is longer than that, it is truncated. If this happens, try something else. Google SEO experts recommend sticking to the limits because:
1) People don’t like to have to guess your title.
2) It looks more attractive.
In the following example the first two boards, Brownie Recipes and Low-Carb Brownie Recipes, include great keywords. The owner of the second board added “low-carb” because she needed to further define her collection of pins. The keyword phrase is a fantastic addition. It’s just unfortunate that the title needed to be truncated. The last board, Travel Tips & Knowledge, includes a keyword that no one will ever search for. In this case, the owner would be better off eliminating “& Knowledge.”
7) Pinterest Boards That Get More Love
Pinterest loves boards that stay on topic. If your boards are filled with pins that are relevant, Pinterest will rank your board higher on Pinterest search. This is done because Pinterest wants to be sure visitors are finding what they want when they are referred to a board. If the pins on your board have relevant keyword descriptions, Pinterest will regard it as a winning board and share it often.
I mentioned earlier that I added the keyword phrase, “Pinterest marketing,” to the description box of many pins that I added to my Pinterest Marketing board. It’s hard to know if it made a difference, but the data seems to indicate that it helped – and it certainly helped the pin owners rank their pin for more keywords. My Pinterest Marketing board ranks higher than my competitor’s boards with far more followers and I didn’t have to go crazy adding 22K pins.
Time to Take Action
With all those data supported ideas, you can see that Pinterest board optimization is worth doing. If you’re ready to jump in, here are a few actionable tips to get you started.
1) Search for your best board in Pinterest board search using the title as a search term. How does it rank? How many pins would it take to pass the competition? Do they have so many followers that you’d never get past them?
2) If you’ve determined that you could pass your competition, start adding pins. Add quality pins that you find at the top of the search results to a secret board and then move them to the board you’ve chosen to optimize. Make sure they are relevant pins by searching for pins with your board title and variations of your board title.
3) Research board titles with Google’s Keyword Planner for AdWords looking for high volume/low competition keywords. If you choose great keywords, you may be able to pass your competition with your new boards or bring new vitality to existing boards.
That’s it. Time to dive in.
by Andy Fling
Founder and CEO of TrafficWonker.com
Other posts by Andy that you might enjoy:
Blogging resources I love and recommend:
Tailwind – I’ve been working with Tailwind for about five years. They are the pin scheduler of choice and it is jam-packed with great features. If you haven’t already, sign up for a FREE month of Tailwind HERE.
Legal Templates – You are required by law to have a certain package of legalese on your blog. You need to have copyright notices, privacy policies, and various other terms and conditions to protect yourself from being sued. The package I recommend is created by Amira Law – a lawyer who specializes in all aspects of blogging and internet business legalities. Learn more about these Legal Templates HERE.
Pinterest Resources – Pinterest is definitely my jam. I can do a personalized Pinterest/Tailwind audit where I go over your account with a 30-point checklist and then set up a Zoom call with you to give you TONS of suggestions. Order the Pinterest Audit HERE.
HIRE ME – I make a full-time living taking great care of my blogger peeps. I’ve done Pinterest Management for the last five years for dozens of clients. I set up mailing lists, automations and build pop-ups for people. I can also build you a simple website. To learn more – go HERE.