It seems like there isn’t a month that doesn’t go by where Pinterest doesn’t add a new feature, or tests out one. So after taking a vacation in Paris and Barcelona, and returning a week and half later, I wasn’t surprised to hear that there was a major update with Pinterest.
As a side note, I would like to happily announce that the main reason I was in Paris was to propose to the love of my life. I am now engaged to an amazing woman who I plan to spend the rest of my life with…but back to business.
After returning from my trip, I had a chat with Cynthia Sanchez from Oh So Pinteresting , and she informed me that Pinterest introduced a new search feature known as Guided Search, which is currently available on mobile to English users to start, but will be rolled out to desktop users and will most likely rolled out in other languages as well.
What is Guided Search on Pinterest?
Guided Search is a search function on Pinterest that offers additional recommendations that may or may not be related to a search term. These additional recommendations are based on popular and associated terms with the search term you typed in the Pinterest search box.
For example, on my Android smartphone I decided to type in the city, Vancouver. Other terms that were popular and associated with Vancouver on Pinterest, showed up. Search terms such as Canucks, Island, BC, Stanley Park, Cafe, Restaurant and so many more showed up.
Another search term that was recommended that were associated with Vancouver was wedding. All you need to do is tap on the search term tile, and then Pinerest begins to load new pin results based on those combined search terms.
What I enjoy about using Guided Search is that it gives me more options for different types of searches, and offers a spontaneity factor when it comes to search. Adding that extra “unknown” factor can actually make search, dare I say, fun.
What will be interest to see is how the terms will change over time. As more Pinterest users jump aboard, the search terms provided by Guided Search will change as well. And of course, depending on the country and language Pinterest is being used in, Guided Search will bring back different results.
In the past I’ve called Pinterest the, “Accidental Discovery Engine” because users are discovering new ideas and pins by accident all the time. With Guided Search, accidental discoveries are going to be even more prevalent.
Pinterest is the Accidental Discovery Engine
I never thought of Pinterest as a search engine per se, but more as a lifestyle and discovery tool. I’ve written about 5 reasons why Pinterest is better than Google and why.
One of the main benefits that Pinterest has over Google is Pinterest’s ability to act as an accidental discovery search engine. When you go to Google, you’re going their with a specific intent, most likely to gain knowledge or collect knowledge to make an informed decision.
But with Pinterest, people discover pins and are presented a visual feast with a site that now has 30 billion pins, and growing by the billions each and every month.
You can type in the word pancakes in Pinterest search box and you get hundreds of pins about pancakes. You may have been so enamoured with the results that you may have forget what you were secretly, and unknowingly looking for.
But Guided Search suggests to us “what we don’t know” so that we do become aware of what we may want.
When I searched up pancakes, Guided Search suggested the words buttermilk, and fluffy. I love buttermilk pancakes, and love fluffy and light pancakes. But I didn’t know that that’s what I was looking for until Pinterest suggested the search term to me.
I landed on that suggestion and pins about fluffy pancakes by accident, simply by typing the word pancakes in Guided Search. And to me this was a GREAT accident. And the terms that are not relevant to me, such as healthy pancakes, well…I don’t click on them.
This means that more and more business pins are going to be discovered serendipitously. And since Guided search allows for more specific terms, this means that it’s going to be a more specific audience that’s interested in those pins. Guided Search is working hard on helping your business find the right customers, you just have to ensure you’re taking steps to do the same.
How to Make the Most of Guided Search for Your Business
The good news is that I believe the core Pinterest search algorithm hasn’t changed. This means using the right keywords in your pin descriptions, as well as the url of where an pin originates from matters.
It’s important to put in multiple keywords or search terms that you want your pins to be found for. If you’re trying to promote your pancake recipe site, you may want to add words like fluffy, healthy, and recipe along with the word pancake in a pin description to maximize exposure.
The key is to use the terms that have popped up with the main search term in Guided Search.
Here’s a great article written by Alisa Meredith about how to use keyword rich descriptions in pin descriptions to help maximize your search results with Guided Search.
Go Backwards, Not Just Forwards With Guided Search Terms
Let’s say you type in the search term, wedding, on Guided Search, notice what other words come up. When I typed in wedding in search results for my Android smartphone, it recommended search terms like dresses, ideas, hairstyles and more.
If you’re looking to get more exposure for your pins, I would suggest you reverse your keyword search.
For example, dresses, is one of the word tiles that shows up for the term wedding. I suggest that you wipe out the term wedding, and do a new search for the word, dresses. When I did this I noticed the search tile, “to wear to a wedding,” came up.
For me this is actually quite fascinating, especially if I ran a wedding dress business. Since my core business would be wedding dresses, I would start a board that would help cross promote a local business that sells dresses to wear at weddings.
And in return, I would ask the business owners who does sell dresses for weddings to promote my wedding dresses on their Pinterest account. This way both businesses cross promote each other, without the need to compete in the same target audience.
The word casual is also another word that’s associated with dresses. So I may create pin descriptions that would have the words, casual dresses to wear at a wedding.
But it’s important to realize that keywords play only a part, not the whole picture (pun intended), and so it’s important not to just stuff keywords in pin descriptions. It will only go so far.
You’ll often find pins in search results that don’t have the keywords in them. This is because multiple search factors can play a role, such as the number of repins.
Local Businesses Need to Take Advantage of Guided Search
What’s been quite fascinating is that in the past, Pinterest often rolled out new features on the desktop version of Pinterest first, but this new feature was rolled out to mobile.
To me this is quite a shift in the way that Pinterest is thinking. Considering that 75% of daily usage on Pinterest comes from native apps, it may making the search function available on mobile first because it’s trying to make Pinterest incredibly appealing on a local level, similar to the way that Yelp is.
While Place Pins have been a big shift in helping promote local neighbourhoods and businesses, but it’s still far off. If I type in the search term cookies, and searched based on Place Boards, it doesn’t give me results of cookie places that are in my city. This is because it returns board results, and at this time there’s no way to get search results of just place pins.
When I typed in Vancouver in Gudided Search, words such as Aquarium, Cafe, What to Do, Stanley Park, and so much more came up. And what’s really interesting is that the results are visual results of pins, so this allows me to see pictures of the Vancouver Aquarium or Stanley Park.
Now are tourists, and locals going to start using Pinterest for local search the way they would use Yelp, or another other directory. I don’t know, I think at this time it’s a long shot. But what’s scary is that Pinterest’s mobile search may move into that field.
When Pinterest first started, nobody in their right mind would have thought that Pinterest would pose even the smallest threat to Google and other search engines. And yet, you can’t deny that it’s nibbling away at Google.
Pinterest’s mobile could do the same against Yelp. People search for Vancouver restaurants on Pinterest, and see the beautiful pictures. Click on the pin that leads to a blog post about the restaurant, find out it’s a good review and then eat there.
A more likely scenario would be that they may like the pictures they see on Pinterest and then go to Yelp to do more research about it. In this case, Pinterest acts as a supplementary information provider.
But with Guided Search, it may, because I haven’t tested this out, add supplemental search terms that are related to local businesses. If I type in Vancouver Restaurants, it may provide me with search terms like Chinese, Brazillian, Steak, and so much more.
This is why it’s important that if you have a local business to start putting in the name of your city in those descriptions. If you’re a restaurant in Chicago, you’ve got to put the word Chicago in there. After all, you never know if it’s going to be tourist, a local, or even somebody from a faraway city that’s going to be bookmarking that pin on Pinterest.
If it seems like a stretch that this might happen, just remember how four years ago, it seemed like a stretch that Pinterest would be perceived as a potential competitor of Google.
What are you thoughts about Guided Search? What do you like or dislike about the new feature?