social media how toHave you heard about the Pinterest smart feed and how it impacts your exposure?

Are you wondering what it means for your pins?

With its new smart feed, Pinterest enhanced key features, which means you need to do things differently to make your pins stand out.

In this article I’ll explain the Pinterest smart feed and how to use Pinterest’s changes to your advantage.

pinterest smart feed

Find out how to optimize for Pinterest’s smart feed.

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What’s Pinterest’s Smart Feed?

Pinterest’s smart feed is a complex new algorithm based on the following elements: quality of your pin, quality of the source (blog or website) that the pin leads to and a rating assigned by Pinterest.

Pin Quality: The highest-quality pins get moved to the top of the queue and stay there as long as the pin receives quality interaction (repins). It’s sort of like what Facebook does with popular posts in your news feed.

Source Quality: The quality of the source is determined by how often people pin and repin content from a website or blog. To get higher rankings, pin your best content. Also, check the source of each pin you repin to make sure that it leads to a reputable website with good content. (Spammers will change the links in the source to something other than indicated in the pin image.)

pin source highlighted

Check the source of everything before you repin to make sure it matches the content.

Pinterest Rating: Pinterest puts pins through a blender of criteria called the smart feed content generator. It chooses what they feel is best for the smart feed, based on the current pin and the performance of other pins from that source.

Pins are placed best first, not newest first, into the smart feed. Pinterest no longer puts pins in your feed based on the time they are pinned. For example, users will no longer see 10 Mason jar pins in a row from a pinner who went on a Pinterest binge to fill up a certain board.

According to Pinterest’s blog, the “best pins” are high-quality images that are clear and relevant; have minimal text and no borders; and include great, helpful pin descriptions.

Here are five things you can do to stand out in Pinterest’s smart feed.

#1: Design Beautiful Pins

Pinterest is the ultimate wish list. People pin and repin things they like and want. So think of your Pinterest boards as your visual portfolios, and make your pins as appealing as possible.

This pin by Trey Ratcliffe is an example of the vertical crop on an image that appeals to pinners. Trey recognized this early in his Pinterest usage and began cropping his professional photos to suit the style of Pinterest. His 4.6 million followers love his photos.

trey ratcliffe image pin

Optimize image sizes on your blog for pinning on Pinterest.

Here are a few tips for how to make outstanding Pinterest images.

  • Create tall, vertical images. The preferred image aspect ratio is 2:3 to 1:3.5. The minimum width of a pin is 600 pixels and the maximum is 735 pixels. (I use 735 pixels x 1102 pixels.)
  • Use high-resolution, professional-quality photos.
  • Don’t overwhelm your image with text. Incorporate the text into the image.
  • Make sure your text is easy to read on mobile.
  • Tone down your logo. Rely on rich pins to brand your content and provide more information.

Create a branded image for pins that work in tandem with your website or blog. That way, all of your images are recognizable and have your URL on them.

#2: Craft Thoughtful Descriptions

Write descriptions with user-friendly language, and include keywords in the text. Beware: don’t stuff in keywords in that aren’t of value to the pin. Make sure the information is helpful, minimal and appeals to pinners. Plus, avoid overly salesy text.

recipe pin

Include helpful information in your pin descriptions.

This recipe rich pin uses simple text and provides in-depth information right on the pin.

People are on Pinterest to learn and get inspired. Provide answers and ideas in your pin text. It gives people a good reason to repin and click through to your website.

#3: Repin High-Quality Pins

Seek out quality pins to repin and analyze your own pins using a tool like Tailwind.

The Tailwind app offers enhanced analytics and detailed information on Pinterest pins and boards to help you discover what content is working. It helps you plan balanced content to spread throughout the week.

tailwind reporting

Tailwind analytics help you find viral pins, related pins and top pins to help with your Pinterest planning.

Use Pinterest consistently and find pins that add value to stay on top of the smart feed, since both of those factors play into the algorithm.

#4: Be Helpful

Make sure your pins link to a useful and relevant website.

This pin has all of the essential ingredients of a great pin: great image, not too much text on the image and a fantastic description.

tips pin

Use text on your pinned images to give them context.

At a glance, you can tell this pin has helpful information.

Smart feed notices source quality, so be sure your pins (and destinations) are helpful and all content you repin adds value.

#5: Optimize Your Blog for Pinterest

Add the Pin It button and widgets to your blog to make it easier for your readers to pin. The more often your blog content is repinned, the better your pins will perform in the smart feed.

Here’s how to make your blog Pinterest-friendly.

  • Create an optimized, pinnable image for every post.
  • Add the Pinterest Follow button to your website.
  • Install the Pin It button for easy pinning.
  • Use rich pins on your blog to add more meta data to your pins.
  • Add Pinterest board widgets or pin widgets for easy repinning.
  • Use the Pinterest Pin widget to embed pins into your blog content to engage your blog with your Pinterest content.
pin widget builder

The widget builder is easy to use.

Smart Feed Fixes

If your Pinterest activity has slowed since the smart feed update, consider doing the following things to boost your Pinterest power.

1. Revisit old pins and update them with better descriptions so they’re more likely to resurface into the smart feed.

2. Add better descriptions to your Pinterest boards to make sure that you have solid, searchable text.

3. Be more active on Pinterest and pin on a regular basis.

4. Share your pins from Pinterest to other social media platforms and invite your networks to follow you on Pinterest.

5. Apply for promoted pins with your business account.


Pinterest has changed their discovery engine in an effort to provide an even more beautiful experience for pinners with their smart feed.

If you pin high-quality content on a consistent basis and use all of the tools that Pinterest provides, you’ll find yourself in a prominent place in the smart feed and get repinned over and over again.

Pinterest is a wonderful platform for marketing your business. Make the smart feed work for you.

What do you think? How do you get your pins noticed? What tactics do you use to show up in the smart feed? Which of your pins gets the most repins? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

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    I create tall multi-image pins either in PicMonkey or using that get a lot of repins. In PicMonkey I sometimes make a stack of 5 images, with the center one being text, like this one:

    And I second your recommendation for Tailwind analytics. Knowing what days and times my pins are the most viral allows me to set my pinning schedule for those time periods. (If you’re not using it yet they have a free trial where you can use the scheduler, and plans start at $15/month)

  • Thanks for your comments, Carole! I’ll have to check out PinThemAll.Net. I use Canva for my pins, I like to recreate popular pins with new images when I find a design that works.

  • Vanessa Smith

    This is a GREAT article! I love all your tips!

  • Vanessa Smith

    Great image tips! Thank you!

  • Jonathan Dwyer

    @carolerusticartistrycom:disqus I agree re: the Tailwind scheduler! Started using it a couple weeks ago and it’s so much better than the one I was using before. Their team has been great, too. I had one minor issue and they fixed it right away. Super happy so far.

  • Joanna Gasdogas

    Do the images of the pins have to be on your blog also? They can really slow your site down. I usually keep my pins stored in a cloud, but don’t include them in my blog. For example, I will make a pin that links back to my blog, but the viewer won’t be able to share my pin, since it’s not on my blog. They can only share it on Pinterest. Any thoughts? Comments?

  • Thank you for reading and commenting, Vanessa!

  • I get great support from the Tailwind team as well!

  • Rebekah Radice

    Hi @PegFitzpatrick:disqus! You are well aware of my love affair with Pinterest. It’s been an exciting journey to see how I’ve been able to move the needle on my website traffic through the power of well-designed and optimized pins. Add that to its ability to directly connect you with your target audience and I will forever sing its praises!

  • Great post – as an early Pinterest adopter the new Smart Feed had me bamboozled but now it makes sense. I am still unconvinced by the Rich Pins, purely because of its current format on mobile – having the rich pin content all over the image makes no sense to me, especially not on a social media platform that is ALL about the visual!

  • Hi Joanna! You could try embedding the pins on your blog. Create your Pinterest image first and then create a Pin widget using the Pinterest Widget builder.

  • You have AMAZING pins, @rebekahradice:disqus! Your branding and Pinterest images are gorgeous and immediately get interaction on Pinterest. Taking the time to tweak and test images really goes a long way into success with visual marketing – it takes time but it’s worth it!

  • Useful tips and insights both in the article and here in the comment section. Thank you, Peg!

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  • Thank you for having me on SME, @CindyKing:disqus! Such a pleasure for me!

  • Rich pins will add a lot of value, @amychicvintagebrides:disqus! The analytics are very helpful. Do you use another program for analytics without Rich pins? Mobile is very important!

  • Would it be bad to confess the only analytics I really use is the traffic from Pinterest? I know when I am pinning the right content at the right time from the visitors from Pinterest. Of course I am having to pay much more attention to it now, since the new Smart Feed. I’m still not convinced that the benefits of rich pins outweighs the issue of their aesthetics on Mobile….but we’ll see 🙂

  • @amychicvintagebrides:disqus We all have a lot of choices to make for images, speed of site, plug ins to use, etc. You can see some information on Google Analytics for your Pinterest traffic so that’s good!

  • Marvelous job, Peg.
    I found Pinterest, is the best source to get the traffic. But, one think what I analyzed that Pinterest is only giving the relevant traffic, if you do that perfectly. Otherwise the traffic is just a spam.

  • TakeActionWAHM

    Well, the tips for the “best pins” certainly put a damper on things for me. There aren’t a lot of images available for “how to blog” (which is my niche), so the images that I pin are typically text heavy, with bright colors to attract attention. Until now, it’s been working pretty well. But if they’re going to be penalizing pins with a lot of text, I’m going to have to come up with a new strategy.

  • Glad you liked it @disqus_Wl34hMC7X0:disqus.

  • TakeActionWAHM

    Funny you chose that one – that blogger is actually a friend of mine, I interviewed her a couple months ago on my Blog Workshop 🙂 You’re right of course – it’s just going to take a big switch from what I’ve been doing.

  • @disqus_7RY8rh9TGT:disqus That’s one of my fave boards! One of my examples is from that board.

  • That’s cool!

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  • TakeActionWAHM

    I think you misunderstand me (maybe?) I don’t have trouble creating great images. But it says up there that Pinterest prefers images that have minimal text and no borders. My images are generally text heavy (word art, as you described it), and have borders. My point was that I will need to rethink my image style to better fit what Pinterest is looking for.

  • GailBP

    Thanks! Lots of helpful info here.

  • You’re welcome – hope it helps!

  • Julie Gallaher

    Pinterest chooses Pins that are getting a lot of interaction to feature at the top of the feed. Do you think that means Pinterest is dead for people with quirky topics? If I wanted to pin recipes or nail art I could get a lot of action, but will a soup recipe always bump my jazz photos out of the feed?

    I’m contemplating unfollowing everyone and then starting over with only the things I truly love. My feed is now as interesting as a Ladies Home Journal magazine.

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  • Thank you so much, Kelsey! I tried to boil down that complicated process. I hope it helps!

  • Rose M.

    I was unaware of this until today. I don’t like it. I follow a lot of people for different boards, and am finding I have few new pins each day, and things I repinned are showing up for another 1-2 days on my feed. This is annoying. I don’t like the suggested posts and ‘ads’…I’m tired of seeing the banana with the ‘you shouldn’t eat this if you’re trying to lose weight’…’s on my feed 4-5 times per day. Many of us joined Pinterest to post things we love….and I don’t love what’s showing up on my feed now. I didn’t join Pinterest to promote a business, blog or website. Astronomy is my main posts, and I try to supply an explanation with many of the pics….this suggests otherwise. Unhappy with this.

  • What about hashtags? Don’t hashtags allow Pinterest to categorize your pins. I have over 60k pins and the ones that get repinned the most always have hashtags. Almost without exception.

  • This was an interesting post! Pinterest is one of my lower fan interaction sites. I generally post square photos as that’s what I do on my blog… Is that a possible problem?

  • Hello Roxanne!

    Happy you liked it!

    You can post square images if you’d prefer. I’d recommend 735 x 735 pixels but you get more space by using 735 x 1102 pixels. I post square images on my blog and then post a different bigger image on Pinterest.

    Hope this helps!

  • Rose,

    A lot of people are unhappy with the promoted pins. You can put a X on the pins you don’t like and block them.

  • szcakes

    I am a newbie and so confused! Sometimes I click on a long tall image on Pinterest, and when I click thru to their blog, I don’t see that image there. Is there a way to use one image for the pin that actually isn’t in the blog post?

  • szcakes

    this refers to my question I asked above…. how do you post one image on Pinterest but not have that image on your blog? Thanks! (newbie)

  • Kim

    That is awesome, thanks Peg!!

  • Kim

    Hi Carole, I love what you did. That’s a great idea. Thanks.

  • How do people change the links on tepins (pins someone else originally pinned)?

    I ask because someone repinned a few dozen of my product pins, many featuring original products and photos (as opposed to stock photos) and changed the link to point to their own (competing) site instead of mine.

    I had the pins removed on copyright grounds and the pinspammer was banned, so my question is how did she do it.

    Pinterest won’t let me change the URL on any pin that I wasn’t the first to pin.

    For the record, I do not intend to use this spam trick against others, I’m just curious as to how she did it.

  • Kristi Murphy

    Thank you for this informative post! Quick question: I love the idea of re-pinning popular content, but I struggle with the thought of having my boards look messy with duplicate content. What are your thoughts? Thanks so much!