How to Hack Pinterest Search – A Look at the Pinterest Search Algorithm

You find things on Pinterest in 3 ways:

1. a chronological feed of users and boards that you follow
2. by browsing very broad categories (eg. Women’s fashion, Kids)
3. by search

I’ve been curious about how Pinterest’s search algorithm works, so I decided to dig into it. I was surprised by what I found.

Check out this search for “boots“:

Search_results_for_boots (1)

pinterest_search_results_for_boots

The first result is for a pin where the description is the search term x 9. The second result is the search term x 6, the third result is the search term x 6 with punctuation…

It looks like Pinterest is using a very simple keyword density algorithm for its search results.

How hard is this to hack?? I post all the time about baby gear. So I posted a crib with the description “Crib crib crib” and a changing table with the description “Changing table changing table”

Twelve hours after I posted these they were #1 in the search results for those terms:

Pinterest_crib_search_results

Search_results_for_changing_table

I also did another test by re-pinning a few pins that lacked keyword dense descriptions. When I re-pinned these I replaced the description text to be keyword dense. These didn’t show up high in the search results, which means that (original) pins rank higher than re-pins even with keyword stuffing.

There is only one type of pin that appears above the keyword dense pins in search. These all have two things in common:
1. No words at all (only punctuation to get around having to enter text into the description field)
2. A lot of comments and repins

Pinterest_pregnancy_search_results

It seems like the algorithm applies a ranking based on keyword density. But if the description has no words, falls back to a ranking based on the re-pins and comments.

Some thoughts

– Pinterest is currently the second largest social network driving e-commerce sales and one of its three main discovery modes is gameable (at least for right now).

– It doesn’t look like many people are actually gaming the system yet. (Unlike Etsy search or eBay search where keyword stuffing has turned into an art.)

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