Wondering how to use hashtags on Pinterest? Hashtags have been fully functional on Pinterest and of benefit to marketers looking for more Pinterest exposure since September 2017. But there’s still some confusion about how to use them. You’re in the right place to learn how to use hashtags on Pinterest like a boss!
Update 8/25/2020 – Hashtags on Pinterest are now considered “optional.” It’s recommended that you spend more time working on using keywords in your description rather than finding hashtags. Searches for hashtags will pull non-hashed keywords from your description. Carry on!
How Do Hashtags Work?
Hashtag searches are a great way for users to find content. All of the content that shows in a hashtag search has been labeled with the hashtag by the people who posted the content. This labeling creates a publicly-curated list of posts on a topic in reverse chronological order.
When relevant hashtags are applied to content, the platform and the end user don’t have to guess about the topic of the content. And because users are using hashtags to find content, labeling your content with hashtags is a great way to get more attention on your business and products from people who are searching for those ideas but who may not yet be following you.
How do Pinterest Hashtags Work?
Hashtags on Pinterest function much like hashtags on other platforms function – as labels for content.
On Pinterest, hashtags show within the feed in different ways on different browsers and devices. Sometimes hashtags display in the Smart Feed on desktop but not on Pins in the mobile feed.
Regardless of which device and browser are used to browse Pinterest, hashtags in Pin descriptions are always displayed within the Pin description. The hashtags may be hidden when a longer Pin description has been truncated but the hashtags are still labeling the post. The hashtags become visible when the Pinner expands the Pin description to display it in its entirety. The hashtags will help the Pin surface in search whether they are hidden at the end of a truncated Pin description or not.
When hashtags display on Pinterest, they show as blue text. The hashtags are clickable, meaning if a user clicks or taps the hashtag, it will hyperlink to a page of search results for the hashtag.
How Pinners use Hashtags
According to a March 2018 Pinterest presentation by Enid Hwang at AdThrive Summit, Pinners are using hashtags to search for your content on Pinterest. Pinners can use hashtags to find content in two ways:
- Click on an existing hashtag in a Pin description
- Type a hashtag into the search bar
Either of these actions results in a feed of Pins which users have labeled with the specific hashtag that was searched.
Hashtag Results on Pinterest are Displayed Chronologically
The results from all hashtag searches are displayed in roughly reverse-chronological order and in real time. That means that new Pins with hashtags have a chance to show up at the top of the feed of these hashtag search results, based on how recently the Pin was added to Pinterest.
The more often you use hashtags on your Pins, the more chances they have to show up in these searches.
Hashtag Searches Can Return Non-hashtagged Results
If a user searches for hashtags that have few Pins labeled with the hashtag, the search feed will also display results without hashtags. The Pinterest algorithm will try to match the content based on keywords and other cues from the content to identify user intent. This helps the feed display similar, non-hashtagged content the user may have intended to find with the hashtag search but that has not been hashtagged.
Note: These instances of low hashtag use provide a great opportunity for businesses who have content that would fit within these hashtag search results. Dominate hashtags that have few results in the search feed by adding these hashtags to your posts when relevant.
Why use Hashtags on Pinterest?
There are several compelling reasons for using hashtags as an integral part of a strong Pinterest strategy.
Hashtags Help Pinners Find Your Content
Hashtag search or discovery are two more methods Pinners can use to find your content. Anyone can search for a hashtag or click on a hashtag on Pinterest and see all of the Pins with that hashtag.
Hashtags Help Your Content Perform Better, Faster
In my experience, Pins with hashtags rank faster in search and perform better in the Smart Feed. Typically I’ve seen that it takes 30-90 days for a Pin to work its way through Pinterest’s AI, start to become recommended to Pinners, and show in searches for specific keyword terms.
Adding relevant hashtags to the Pin description, in addition to a keyword-rich description and title, can accelerate the performance of the Pin.
For example, a post about Thanksgiving meal planning may take several weeks or months to rank in search and to surface in the Smart Feed for Pinners looking for Thanksgiving meal plan content. Adding #ThanksgivingMeal to the Pin description for a Thanksgiving meal post I saved resulted in a traffic spike from the Pin to my website only 48 hours after the post was first saved to Pinterest.
I’ve seen traffic for multiple holiday-specific Pins with hashtags like this, just a few days before a holiday. Typically, I’d expect those Pins to deliver poor results because there was not enough time between the date saved and the holiday for them to be identified for those holiday keywords within Pinterest’s Smart Feed.
What I’ve seen on my Pins and on client Pins is that Pins with hashtags perform better in the sense that they send traffic to the site faster. A Pin without hashtags seems to take longer to become a referrer of traffic to the site. They can still have good long term performance but posts with hashtags can start sending traffic faster, in as few as 2 days.
My theory is that the hashtags are a strong indicator to Pinterest about the topic of the Pin. That means Pinterest can more easily identify the content and align it with a keyword. Also, Pinterest can more confidently serve that content to Pinners because the topic of the content is made clearer by the addition of relevant hashtags to the Pin description.
Pinterest is Invested in Hashtags
Consider that Pinterest had to invest in their infrastructure in order to fully enable hashtag functionality on the platform. Lots of research, planning, and consideration went into the decision to develop hashtag functionality on Pinterest. If the platform is investing in a new feature, that’s a strong indication that the platform sees value in the feature and thinks it is important to reaching their mission.
Hashtags are Becoming an Important Part of Search Across Multiple Platforms
Everywhere we are seeing signals from platforms that they are using hashtags to help users find the content they are looking for. Most recently, YouTube and LinkedIn have invested in hashtag functionality on their platforms. All of the platforms are facing the challenge of labeling content so that they can serve it up to the right audience and improve their experience on platform. Pinterest is one of many platforms recognizing the need for better labeling capabilities for content; and that’s what hashtags accomplish.
Hashtags Align with Pinterest’s Mission
Pinterest’s mission statement centers on helping people discover and do things they love. Even more so than other platforms, hashtags on Pinterest are a natural extension of Pinterest’s mission to help people discover and try new ideas.
In fact, Pinterest goes so far as to explain their investment in technology and how it relates to their mission in this post on the Pinterest Engineering blog on Medium:
“Our technical strategy’s mission matches our company’s mission: to help people discover and do things they love. We will not develop technology just for the sake of developing technology. Instead, we will develop technology with a purpose — to support Pinterest’s mission.”
Using hashtags supports Pinterest’s mission.
How Should Businesses Use Pinterest Hashtags?
When developing your business’s strategy for Pinterest hashtags, consider Pinterest’s mission to help people discover and try new ideas. Everything Pinterest does comes back to this core mission. Therefore everything you choose to include in your Pinterest strategy should be done in the context of Pinterest’s mission.
Choose hashtags that will help people discover your content. Search for a hashtag you think might work to surface your content in a relevant search on Pinterest and look at the results. Consider the intent of the Pinner who is using that hashtag in a search; would they expect to see your content in the results for that hashtag?
You can find hashtags to use by several methods:
- Search for keywords by adding a # in front and removing any space between words
- Start typing the hashtags into the Pin description directly in Pinterest. On mobile, suggestions with the number of uses will display in a dropdown menu within the Pin description editor; choose hashtags from the list
- Look at the hashtags others in your niche are using. Make sure you search them to see if your content would fit with the other results in the search feed for that hashtag
How Many Pinterest Hashtags Should You Use?
Pinterest has recently issued additional guidance with regards to using hashtags on Pinterest. Use no more than two hashtags per Pin. Be sure to check the guidance regularly for updates to these content tips.
A Pin description that is comprised of only hashtags provides little value to the Pinner reading the description. I recommend using 350-450 characters of the 500 character Pin description for keyword rich sentences and the remaining 50-150 characters for relevant keyword hashtags (just keep it to two or fewer total hashtags).
What Types of Hashtags Should Marketers Use on Pinterest?
There are several types of hashtags that you might be using on other platforms like Instagram. Hashtag strategy on Pinterest is unique to the Pinterest platform. You’ll want to choose a selection of broad and specific keyword hashtags to include on your Pin. Branded hashtags also have a place on Pinterest.
Broad hashtags are the best hashtags to use for the purpose of getting your Pins to surface in hashtag search results. More people will likely search broad hashtags. Broad hashtags help your Pin show up in the chronological hashtag search results in real-time. For example, #comfortfood, #bakingtips, #bakingideas
Specific or Niche Keyword Hashtags
Specific hashtags can be used to help content display in keyword searches. Specific hashtags serve as additional indicators about the topic of the content.
While fewer people will be searching for specific, keyword based hashtags than for broader hashtags, these hashtags can help the content surface in keyword searches. For example, #blueberrypie is another indicator that the topic of the Pin is “blueberry pie”. A search for “blueberry pie” or “#blueberrypie” returns results with both hashtags and keywords in the Pin descriptions.
Branded hashtags are another type of hashtag to use on Pinterest. A branded hashtag labels all of your content with your brand name.
If a user clicks a branded hashtag, Pinterest will display all results that have that hashtag. Adding a branded hashtag is a great way to get people to notice and discover your content, even if they are not following or even aware of your brand.
The easiest way to create a branded hashtag is to add a pound sign symbol in front of your business name, removing any spaces between words. For example, the branded hashtag for Smart Fun DIY is #SmartFunDIY.
Consider adding capital letters to hashtags with multiple words to improve readability for users. Hashtags are not case sensitive so adding capital letters will not affect search.
The benefit of long tail hashtags is that they are another iteration or instance of a long tail keyword for the same Pin. Long tail keywords are searched less but the people searching them are looking for that very specific idea or result. Multiple word hashtags function in a similar way; no one is searching these hashtags but they can help the Pin surface in searches for the long tail keywords that make up the hashtag.
What Types of Pinterest Hashtags Should Marketers Avoid?
Avoid using hashtags that don’t have any search value. “Feature hashtags” from other platforms like Instagram may not perform well on Pinterest because the hashtags are more exclusive to the Instagram platform. These would be hashtags like #ABMCrafty or #Craftsposure for craft posts.
Likewise, hashtags that are funny or used as inside jokes are not likely to be searched, and therefore have little to no value on Pinterest. These would include hashtags like #iHaveThisThingWithPink.
Avoid using numbers and special characters in hashtags as they may not function properly.
Also avoid the temptation to keyword stuff with hashtags. Because keywords as hashtags help Pins surface in both hashtag and keyword searches, it might be tempting to create many long tail and specific keywords to add as hashtags to your Pin description. Pinterest advises that businesses use 1-2 broad hashtags on each Pin.
What About the Perception that Hashtags are “Spammy”?
There is a perception among some users that using multiple hashtags can make content appear spammy.
You can avoid this perception by always placing your hashtags at the end of the Pin description. After several keyword-rich sentences in your Pin description, the description becomes truncated. The block of hashtags will be hidden unless the Pinner chooses to display the entire description with an additional click.
You should also avoid replacing words in the middle of text with a hashtag. While this practice is acceptable on other platforms like Twitter, it may seem out of place to long-time Pinterest users who are still becoming familiar with the existence of hashtags on Pinterest. It is also difficult to read sentences where some of the words have been replaced by hashtags. (This #sentence is #challenging to #readquickly, #forexample).
How to Effectively Use Hashtags on Your Pins
Hashtags should be used as part of an overall keyword strategy on Pinterest.
Use relevant keywords in your Pin descriptions and titles, board descriptions and titles, and in your hashtag choices. Each of these elements provides a signal to Pinterest about the topic of your content, helping Pinterest better match your content with relevant keyword searches and audience interests.
Here’s what to keep in mind when using hashtags on Pinterest:
- Choose 1-2 relevant hashtags for each Pin, no more than 20 hashtags
- Include keyword-rich sentences in the Pin description
- Create multiple Pin images and descriptions for each piece of content or product on your site. Choose different hashtags from Pin to Pin to see which hashtags perform best.
- Include hashtags in the Pin descriptions attached to the images on your website so that no matter who Pins the image to Pinterest, the hashtags will display in the description
Test the number and type of hashtags you include in your Pin descriptions. Watch analytics and overall profile performance to determine which strategies are producing the best results for your account. A great place to look for this information is in Tailwind’s Pin Inspector. Sign up with Pinterest.
How Do I Know if Pinterest Hashtags are “Working” for My Content?
There are no analytics reports for hashtags on Pinterest.
However, you can refer to Google Analytics for your site to see the referrals from Pinterest to your site. From the Google Analytics reports, you can see the urls for individual Pins referring traffic to a specific page on your site. Examine which Pins have hashtags and make a note of the hashtags on those Pins. Continue using those hashtags and testing to see if they continue to product results for your account and content.
Here’s how to see which Pins are bringing traffic to your site:
- In Google Analytics, navigate to Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals
- Type “pinterest” into the search bar.
- You’ll see several domains pop up. Click on the one with the greatest number of page views to see which Pin sent those people to you.
- Now you’ll see individual Pin URLs. Click the small icon to the right to see the Pin
Note: Don’t panic if you see a large amount of traffic coming from “/.” This appears to be from clicks in the Smartfeed, other searches, and sources which Pinterest isn’t directly identifying.
Every Pin is a test. Do the research to identify hashtags to use, rather than guessing, As you add hashtags to your Pins, analyze the data and results. Adjust and refine the strategy the next time you Pin. Continue and repeat this process to create a lasting strategy using hashtags on Pinterest.
Should I Edit my Pin Descriptions with Hashtags?
Generally, no. On Pinterest (as with life!) you’ll make the most progress when you look ahead. Improve your habits over time.
Adding hashtags to older Pins is one particularly inefficient use of Pinterest marketing time! The hashtag search results appear in reverse chronological order, and adding hashtags won’t reset that time Pinned. Just use them from now on.
Hashtag results will show the most-recently saved content first.
Pinterest hashtags create another way for people to discover your content on the platform, and can be especially helpful for getting your newer content into the feed more quickly. Have you used them?
Jennifer Priest of Smart Creative Social teaches entrepreneurs, business owners, and bloggers the data-focused process for driving traffic and attention to their site with hashtags and Pinterest. With over 10 years of digital marketing experience for large corporate manufacturers to handmade artists (and everyone in between), Jennifer knows what it takes to make content that gets traffic, navigate the algorithms of popular platforms, and interpret data in meaningful ways business owners can use and understand.