This week alone, I have seen more questions about Pinterest Pin Descriptions than I can possibly count
And honestly, I’ve felt – for a long time – like there is no good solid answer to all of the “how to write pin description” and “where should the pin description actually GO” questions. The reality is that there are just too many third party extensions doing too many things and we can’t keep up with all the differences.
I’ve seen questions about keyword stuffing, about alt text, about hashtags, and about if we need to be using a plugin for our descriptions. It’s time to do some real digging and make our best educated guess at what we need to be doing about pinterest pin descriptions. Then we can put everything into practice and see what works!
After some thought, I realized there IS one solid place to get a few answers – if we’re willing to do look and listen!
Pinterest has two “not-for-average-readers” sort of “blogs” that I love to spend my time on. (And by “love”, I mean, “hate, but feel is necessary”.) Their developers site and their pinterest for business site.
(THIS POST PROBABLY CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. OUR FULL DISCLOSURE POLICY IS REALLY BORING, BUT YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.)
So first, let’s look at what Pinterest themselves will flat out tell us about descriptions
This info comes from the Pinterest developers article about their save button. (They randomly stick little bits of gold like this in places like THAT, where no one will ever find it. Ever.)
What does Pinterest want you to know about your descriptions? This:
Prefill your descriptions
data-pin-description attribute to pre-fill your Pin descriptions.
Using prefilled descriptions lets users save content from your site faster, and can increase visibility of your Pin on Pinterest because it has an accurate description. If you don’t specify a description, we’ll pull descriptions from your page’s alt or title tags, which may not be accurate for every image on the page.
When writing your descriptions, remember the following:
- Descriptions can be up to 500 characters. While only 75-100 characters of your description will appear in grid view, the entire description will appear when Pinners click on a Pin.
- Generally speaking, more characters mean more helpful details and more opportunities to show up in Pinterest search results.
- Good descriptions are an accurate representation of what is in the image. Avoid URLs, which look messy, and first-person messages that don’t make sense out of context.
- Pins get distribution on Pinterest for a very long time: so avoid details like sales, prices or promotions, that might not be accurate later.
What does this mean?
Interestingly, Pinterest is telling us here that our pin descriptions are VERY IMPORTANT in terms of having your pin appear as a search result on pinterest search and in terms of being visible just because Pinterset understands what it’s about (based on the keywords we use). When Pinterest doesn’t know what a pin is about, they don’t know where to place it in their smart feed, and it doesn’t get out there.
So here, Pinterest is telling us to be clear in our descriptions about what the post is about – in other words, “THIS IS AMAZING! Pinning for later!” is NOT a description that will take you very far on Pinterest. Our pin descriptions need to have keywords.
More interestingly than that, I think, is that they are telling us what we can do to ensure that Pinterest pulls the description we WANT them to use!
(Now, this is applying to Pineterst’s official pinning tools, and not necessarily to third party tools – like tailwind or boardbooster etc.)
How to MAKE SURE Pinterest is pulling the correct description for your pin
They say we can use the data-pin-description attribute to tell pinterest what the description of the pin should be. (Most of us don’t set this, so then it defaults to pulling the image title text. As a last attempt, Pinterest will pull the alt text.)
So, to set your data-pin-description, insert your image into your post, then switch to text editor and just put it in before the/> at the end of your image code – so in the text editor that would look like this:
data-pin-description= “increase breast milk supply fast with these tips – I had low supply the whole time we breast fed and this info was a life saver!”/>
Will this work for all methods of saving a pin?
Honestly, I’m not sure. This is the official recommendation from Pinterest, tho and they do know what they’re talking about. I don’t know if it will work for all third party pinning tools. I haven’t tried it with them, because you know I’m not a fan of third party pinning tools anyways. 😉
But what about alt text?
This seems to be a big deal, this alt text thing, and no one seems to know how to handle it. I understand that the image alt text box is important for SEO, so I understand why we wouldn’t write things like “GREAT pin! Saving for later!” in there… (THAT would be bad, but that’s bad no matter where we write that – remember?)
As long as you’re using keywords in your alt text, I just don’t think it matters THAT much. Alt text needs keywords for SEO and so if you’re doing that right, it shouldn’t be the end of the world if Pinterest DOES pull your alt text. (Even though there is a CHANCE that the description could be pulled from the alt text, it’s the 3rd priority and unlikely to happen.)
I guess if you were a food blogger or a craft blogger who takes very specific pictures that you REALLY want to appear in google search, then you might REALLY want to to put “chocolate pecan pie with butter crust” in your alt text as an SEO measure – but I wouldn’t be afraid to add the word “recipe” that either.
Because of the type of posts I write (more information than instructional) I don’t really care if my images of a breastfeeding mom comes back from a google search as “breastfeeding mom”. It’s more important to me that my image comes back as “increasing breastmilk supply fast” so THAT’s what I’d put in my alt text box. Then if Pinterest DID pull the alt tag, it would still have that main keyword in it, and Pinterest would still be able to gain some context.
So, all that said, let me tell you what I personally do with Pinterest pin descriptions
When I pin a new pin, I type the description I want into the pin, instead of just counting on Pinterest to pull it from somewhere. (Still great to set that data-pin-description, because if a reader saves our pin, it’s nice to have a shot at having a say over the description – and there is a GOOD chance the average reader WILL be using the official Pinterest pinning tools and not a 3rd party pinning app, so it WILL work!)
And what description do I want in my pin?
I want it to have a heavy focus on keywords, so that Pinterest knows what my pin is about.
Someone asked today in my blogging Facebook group (join it here!) about keyword stuffing in the descriptions f our pins (keyword stuffing is just a big string of keywords – like this: how to start a blog | blogging for beginners | blogging tips | make money blogging | with no conversational value or anything else included).
Keyword stuffing in blog posts is BAD, says Google, they recognize it and they know what you’re doing.
I’m not 100% sure that the same can be said for Pinterest, because I have SEEN these types of descriptions ranking in search. (Just food for thought.)
However, I don’t do that with my pin descriptions. I try to get my main big keyword FIRST – no matter what else I’m going to write, so sometimes I do just put the keyword in front of the “conversational” part. Then I weave another keyword or two into the rest of the description.
I determine what my “big keyword” is by typing a search into the search bar – and see what else they tell me is related.
So for a post “ten ways to increase your breast milk supply fast”, I might end up with a description that looks like this –
Breastfeeding tips | Increase your milk supply fast with these great tips for first time moms! These tips work if you’re nursing OR if you’re pumping!
See how I got 5 keywords in this way? And they are ALL things that Pinterest has shown me will be relevant to the search for the subject I’m talking about.
(Side note: I’d want to make sure that my PIN was very clear that this was a post about increasing breastmilk supply – even tho I’m writing at though the reader MIGHT read it, I don’t ever want to count on the reader to actually have to look at the description to know they want to read the post!)
In fact, for the first 3-4 times I save a pin, I might save it with a different description each time! (To get more keyword variations on it.)
THEN, after that description, I might very well add one or two related hashtags – IF it’s a newer pin.
Hashtags? Really? And only for new pins?
Yep – I was a strong hold out on trying hashtags. I avoided it for MONTHS.
And really, I haven’t seen WILD + CRAZY great results from using them… but I know they aren’t hurting anything – and I know Pinterest pays attention to them.
How do I know that?
Because recently I’ve realized, Pinterest is pushing hashtags this way:
If Pinterest is pushing hashtags this way, they matter. That’s all there is to it.
BUT, there is ONE MORE THING you need to understand about Pinterest pin descriptions before we can leave it at that.
Descriptions really ONLY matter for NEW pins!
Pins that have been “around” on Pinterest for a long time don’t NEED descriptions, or hashtags, or anything else from you.
Pinterest knows what they’re about already. (Well, if the pin has been around for a long time and Pinterest DOESN’T know what it’s about, then you’re in trouble, and that pin failed.)
As Pinterest gains context for a pin over time – from original descriptions it’s given, the hashtags, the boards it’s pinned to and even from other pins that are pinned in the same sitting as it is pinned, Pinterest cares less and less what you write in that description box.
This is very complicated to explain in a single blog post, but understanding how Pinterest treats established pins vs. new pins is super important if you want to be successful on Pinterest. (This is the hands down single best resource out there to help you understand what I’m talking about . My blog traffic from Pinterest – which was already good – doubled once I understood this.)
And there you go. That’s what I think you need to know about pin descriptions on Pinterest.
It never hurts to try new things, experiment, see what works best!