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Almost one year ago I had the pleasure of meeting two Pinterest employees at Mom2.0, a conference for bloggers. A small group of us stayed after the session and had the opportunity to “get real” with them and chat about some things that were on bloggers’ minds such as stolen pins, rich pins, Pinterest best practices, and more.
This relationship has been an honest and open door that we have kept up since the conference and in light of recent Pinterest changes, I asked for some clarification and solid numbers for bloggers. As I’ve mentioned to Pinterest, bloggers will follow the rules if you give them rules–but you have to give them specific rules.
I have had multiple meetings with Pinterest over the last few weeks and given a lot of feedback to them from bloggers about some things that are happening at Pinterest. I feel that they are beginning to understand where we are coming from and as more information comes out, I’ll update this post for you.
I co-wrote this post with my Pinterest rep. Pinterest asked that I post this on my blog for bloggers to see–originally we discussed posting it in Facebook groups but decided it was easier to read and save if it was on a blog.
What is considered Spam on Pinterest?
Pinterest users are reporting that seeing a board with the same Pin multiple times (even if that is over the course of many months) is spammy, AND they’re reporting those Pins and boards.
In order to not be considered spam (and have your account shut down):
1. Don’t Pin the same Pin to the same board multiple times.
2. Click through Pins to make sure that you’re not Pinning a Pin that leads to a spammy site. You can also test to see if a link is spammy using these tips: (website removed)
3. Make sure the Pin image is relevant to the webpage it’s linking to.
4. Sites with pop-ups, sites that are very heavy on ads, and sites that have a slow load time are considered spammy.
Note: Account suspensions don’t happen with one “negative action.” There are usually several strikes against your account by the time your account is reviewed and suspended.
Are duplicate pins ok on Pinterest?
I explained that as bloggers with a ton of posts and Pins, we repin often. And of course, more repins = more website visits = more money for us, so more is better for bloggers and we really need specifics.
Pinterest explained that our boards should not have duplicate Pins. A few times is ok, but if a regular person would look at your board and notice the ‘same pin,’ then it’s getting risky. They will take into consideration things like Tailwind glitches (like when Tailwind Pinned duplicate Pins for all of us at the end of last year).
Approved Schedulers for Pinterest
This can’t be said enough: do NOT use unapproved schedulers. If the scheduler asks for your username and password, it is a security risk and you shouldn’t be using it. If it’s an approved scheduler, it’ll have a popup that brings you to the Pinterest site and asks you to approve the app (oAuth).
You can find a list of all approved Pinterest partner tools right here.
Long vs Short Pins on Pinterest
The tall giraffe Pins are slowly losing traction and are losing distribution. Anything longer than 2:3 will be in danger of being cut off (think about the tilted Pins on the business profiles–if it’s getting cut off there, it’ll also show up cut off in other places in the same way).
Pinterest gave us a warning about this way in advance (like, two years ago), so that we could change our image layouts. The changes are still in progress and the 2:3 aspect ratio will continue to be emphasized.
Do Pin and board descriptions matter?
Descriptions make your Pins and boards more useful to Pinners and help with distribution. We recommend adding descriptions to all your boards and Pins, along with descriptive titles.
Does categorizing boards help with SEO?
Yes, categorizing your boards does help with search engine optimization. To edit your board category, just click or tap the pencil icon in the lower right corner of your board, then select select the category that best represents your board.
How does Pinterest use keywords? Should I include them in my descriptions?
Yes! Good keywords will help your content get to the right audience and give helpful context to Pinners. Pro tip: Try out a search yourself to find out what results show up with certain keywords.
What’s the difference between keywords and hashtags? And when should I use each?
Both keywords and hashtags make your Pins easier to find. Keywords help with search and give important context about your Pins and boards to Pinners. Adding hashtags helps Pinners discover your Pins. Each hashtag you add automatically creates a link that Pinners can tap to see other Pins with that same hashtag. People can discover hashtags in places like search results and Pin descriptions. When you visit a hashtag feed, the freshest Pins are featured up top.
For my descriptions, should I use full sentences or only keywords?
People are reading these, so sentences work best. But remember that robots are also indexing these, so make sure to include strong keywords.
There’s a new “Creators” landing page with case studies and tips. Good overview for anyone getting started: https://business.pinterest.com/en/creators. You can also email Creator support at Creators-Support@pinterest.com.
Look to join and maintain smaller tribes with good quality control. Tribes that are helping to distribute spammy Pins are becoming an issue–don’t assume that because you see a Pin in a Tribe, it’s “safe.” Look for familiar URLs and click through the Pins you don’t recognize to see if it leads to a spammy site or a quality one.
How many times a day should I be Pinning?
Pin a handful of times or a lot, it doesn’t matter as long as you’re following the spam rules and doing it authentically (not blindly). Pinterest understands that a smaller blogger with less posts/Pins is going to Pin less than a larger blogger with 1,000 posts/Pins. The most important thing is to save ideas consistently and steadily, rather than in one single flurry.
What’s the deal with Group Boards?
While group boards are a great way to collaborate with friends and family, they are not good mechanisms for getting distribution. The ones that follow Pinterest’s wishes are small group boards that are all Pinning about a small handful of related topics (healthy recipes and fitness; kids crafts and recipes, etc). Go find a few bloggers that are similar to you and have great content and create a niche group board. Pinterest wants collaboration, not group boards that hack the distribution of Pins/algorithm. <— this was stressed many times during our phone calls.
What I’m doing different
I manage my own Pinterest account as well as a few accounts for brands and bloggers. I’m changing the way all of the accounts are managed due to these changes.
Personally, I’ll no longer be adding duplicate Pins to boards. I’ll be evaluating where my Pins link to very closely and paying more attention to Tailwind’s little ! warnings that say “you’ve Pinned this Pin to the same board.”
I’ll be creating more new Pins for posts so I can still share my newest and more popular recipes in ways that don’t look as spammy. Right now, I create 4-6 per post and each focuses on a different category of the post (Weight Watchers, Healthy, 21 Day Fix, cooking method, etc). I’ll be making at least 2 Pins for each of these categories now.
I’m leaving any tribe that isn’t managed by someone I know or has ANY spammy looking Pins. I’m also creating a few tribes and hiring someone to check them weekly for rule following and quality links. My assistants will have lists of “safe” accounts to Pin from.
I’ll be Pinning more from bloggers I know and less from unknown sources. If I Pin about a certain topic, I’ll be creating tribes to help fill my boards and filling those Tribes with high quality bloggers.
Did you love this recipe?
Make sure to comment below so we can chat about it! Or follow on your favorite social network for even more family recipes.
Since Pinterest is supposedly reading these comments, I’d like to take this opportunity to add to an earlier comment I made with an incident much like what Amanda Smith shared.
Customer service isn’t just lacking, it is non-existent.
What my takeaway from this is – after reading every comment in the Facebook post that led me here and every comment on this blog up to this point:
Pinterest cannot be trusted. If you have a pin/board/account removed or deactivated, there is no course of action. There is no redress.
I have personally invested vast amounts of time into Pinterest as first a user way back when it was by invitation only and later as a blogger/business owner.
I have taken courses, studied blog posts, attended webinars – all in an effort to understand how to use Pinterest best. But the introduction of the Smart Feed was the first step in the downward spiral that we find Pinterest in now.
Another thing I have taken away from this is: Everyone at Pinterest does what is right in their own eyes. We continually get conflicting reports from Pinterest and from a user point of view (because make no mistake, as bloggers we are users) it is a negative experience.
It is such a negative experience, in fact, that we collectively are rethinking throwing our eggs into the Pinterest basket.
Between 60-80% of my traffic comes from Pinterest. I am rethinking the idea that this is a good thing. Oh no! This is a very bad thing, because if Pinterest thinks I’m “spammy” (never mind the dozens of actual spam Pinterest accounts stealing our images, money, and hard work resulting in us spending more time and hard work to report every. single. pin. – which is literally impossible to do, so we have thrown up our hands and have been forced to sit and watch Pinterest become the Wild, Wild West of spam as stolen pins overtake the good experience we used to have back in the good old days) I could literally lose my blog overnight.
Lastly, this has confirmed for me that in 2019 I should be investing less time and money into Pinterest and throwing more time and money into SEO and my mailing list.
So, if Pinterest thought this was going to be a good move on their part, they were sorely mistaken.
If I could give 3 pieces of advice it would be :
#1 – Improve your customer service. Include a customer service hotline, chat function, and email address for us so that we know we are talking to a real person. This will be one of the best investments you can make. Having only 2 forms to fill out on your site is an abysmal CS practice and having automated replies that scream “No one read your message” is a great way to drive users away.
#2 – Spend your energy, time, and money in getting the stolen pins under control. Instead of coming up with new pin practices every few months, throw that energy into creating a better user experience by finding a way to prevent pins from being stolen from hard-working, REAL users.
#3 – Communicate with us directly, and not through select bloggers. Honestly, this style of communication through 3rd parties is the only communication I have ever found regarding Pinterest, and as a smart, savvy person who has spent years of training and experience in customer service before embarking on a home business, this sort of practice comes off as very unprofessional. Especially considering the fact that only months ago I attended a webinar that began with “I talked to a Pinterest rep….” and went on to give literally the opposite advice to what I read here.
I sincerely hope that someone from Pinterest reads these comments and takes them to heart.
There has been a lot of good advice shared here. A lot of questions that have been left unanswered: such as – why Tailwind has spent the greater part of a year announcing, beta testing, promoting, and then implementing Looping – which, by the looks of this blog post, is now obsolete.
This post created far more questions than it answered, and certainly does NOT put Pinterest in a good light. Quite the opposite. It makes the personnel at Pinterest look incompetent and unprofessional, and it appears no one there communicates with one another.
This comment perfectly sums up why I have resisted getting on the Pinterest bandwagon. (It also explains albeit inditectly why it is a bandwaggon.) Everytime I met blogger friends over the last few years they tell me I am mad for ignoring Pinterest. They show me the stats and I think, yes I am mad. I then start to read the various posts, etc. I have bookmarked and get too it. And then I see a discussion on a Fb group along the lines discussed by Rosilind. And I back off. Point of advice #1 is why I would never waste any time on Pinterest, let alone spend any money.
Rosilind’s conclusion makes me glad I have invested so much in my email list and SEO instead of Pinterest.
I couldn’t agree more. There’s no reason for me to repeat what you so eloquently stated, but I will say that I gave up on Pinterest about a year ago and put all of my efforts into SEO instead. It has paid off handsomely.
My whole Pinterest strategy for the past three months has been to pin only new pins to my group boards at a rate of one per day at 8:02 PM until I have pinned to all the boards.
I use tailwind for this function.
The result? No change in site visits which is the ONLY stat I care about as a content creator.
Pinterest used to be my number one traffic source, but I give up.
Pinterest you are like a fickle date who I won’t be going anywhere with any more.
I have no idea what I am supposed to do about multiple pins I have pinned to boards for YEARS. For a long time, that was the guidance I had from the limited sources I could find. Advice: repin your most popular pins as appropriate for holidays etc.
I will not be creating multiple pins for each post. That’s ridiculous and MORE spammy than someone seeing the same pin.
It already takes too much time to create the pins I create.
Actually, Pinterest, you may SAVE me money if I don’t pay for Tailwind or social warfare (which I mostly have for Pinterest).
I can only assume that many content creators feel like I do. We are your SUPPLIERS. If you don’t communicate with us and are so elite that you can’t be bothered with us, then I don’t know what to tell you.
My goodness Rosalind…well stated. Pinterest used to be so exciting for me. Now, I’m so afraid to use it because I’m not sure what the rules are from one day to the next. It’s such a beautiful platform. Such a shame.
I’m just confused why pinterest would only share this with you and tell you to make a blog post…
Not sure about that, I’m sorry.
I’ve been shut down a few times for absolutely no reason. I was just caught up in some random spam filter flare up (and this was when I following the “best practices” at the time). It seems I have just as much likelihood getting shut down while following these supposed best practices as not.
There have been several statements like these over the past year (remember the “first 5”??) that were either retracted or seem to mean nothing (some people’s long pins are still their top performing and new pins of the same length continue to do well for them).
I will continue my current strategy until it’s no longer working.
Please, Pinterest, get it together:
1) Have your employees actually talk to each other (across different departments) so their statements don’t conflict or seem off the cuff random.
2) Actually do something about stolen pins (you know, the ACTUAL spammers). I’ve stopped wasting my time reporting them because they just come back with a nasty vengeance.
3) Take care of the content creators that make Pinterest a good place to find great content (as opposed to the spammers who are the actual problem).
4) Stop wasting our time by jerking our chains and changing your tune every other month.
5) Fix your customer service. Honestly, the only thing that’s worthwhile about an inside Pinterest source is that you can reach a REAL LIVE PERSON to unblock you when the spam filters wrongly accuse you.
I will be focusing hard core on SEO this year because honestly, the way Pinterest is these days makes relying on Pinterest traffic flat out dangerous.
Oh my gosh, I had already forgotten about the first 5! SO many changes in recommendations this year! Beyond frustrating that in fact WE are users and they constantly forget that.
Over the last year and half, I have significantly moved my growth strategy away from Pinterest, for the reasons so many others have mentioned:
1. The ‘best pin practices’ change frequently.
2. When the ‘best pin practices’ do change, it is communicated through third parties, reps at conferences, etc. and never directly from Pinterest (via email or displayed on the site).
3. Stolen pins take traffic away from my site daily. Reporting and finding them is time-consuming, tedious, and difficult.
While I appreciate Becca’s willingness to share this, it is unacceptable from Pinterest’s standpoint that they are not communicating their own information in a formal, business, professional manner.
I wish Pinterest would take the issue of stolen pins seriously. Why do I feel that they don’t?
1) Pinterest allows ANYONE to download ANY image from ANY pin on Pinterest. WHY???? That just enables the unauthorized use of our copyrighted images!! Pinterest is currently making it EASY for the REAL spammers to steal copyrighted images. STOP ALLOWING THE DOWNLOADING OF OUR IMAGES from Pinterest!!!
2) Like others have said, get a real customer service department with real customer service representatives to support content creators and users.
3) Seriously respond to and investigate claims of copyright infringement.
Until Pinterest addresses the issue of stolen pins, they are not taking their content creators seriously.
Content creators cannot spend all their time making dozens of pins for one post just to avoid having “duplicate pins”. This is unrealistic. As a separate issue, copyright infringement is a big issue on Pinterest, in the form of stolen pins and derivative copyright infringement.
I know of other people’s pins being removed from Pinterest due to derivative copyright infringement, only for the uploader to continue to upload the removed pin without penalty (and having copyright strikes against their account makes no difference).
Having reported this person for the FOURTH time to remove the infringing pin again, Pinterest responded saying they don’t see how copyright has been infringed… After agreeing it was the previous 3 times and removing the pin(s). Get your act together Pinterest, please. You need to be consistent!
First of all, I love Pinterest! I agree that most bloggers will follow the rules if they know what they are, but to post it through a blogger just to see what people would say is inappropriate and has caused mass frustration and confusion (this is nothing directed at Becca at ALL!) Pinterest HAS done a better communicating with content creators than other platforms—which is great but all of your constant changes and experiments wastes A LOT of our business time and is so confusing. Yes, Pinterest marketing has been worth it due to the amount of traffic creators can receive, but we all want our businesses to accomplish so much more than just jumping through hoops to keep Pinterest happy. The hard thing is that Pinterest itself keeps giving conflicting information, the Pinterest staff is not on the same page and makes so many changes, content users are regularly having to redo things for Pinterest’s latest attempted change or experiment.
For example, you published last year that pins were cut off at 1560–ok so I went and spent gobs of time remaking a crazy amount of new pins and then the next month you switched it to cutting off at 1260, but said that 2:3 was the best size. Many were in a panic over long pins getting cut off and also spent tons of time remaking pins, only to realize regardless of Pinterest saying 2:3 “is best,” Pinterest users keep pinning the long pins because they’re naturally drawn to the longer size. And then I realized when I go to check my top performing pins in google analytics recently, it’s the super long giraffe pins that are STILL my top performers (that I don’t even pin!)
I feel like the intent here is for Pinterest to try and make the platform as user friendly as possible and are considering these changes because of their upcoming IPO— but they aren’t truly listening to the customer or the creators. I get that by going public means your first priority becomes your investors, but this is a fine balance to walk with the type of platform Pinterest is. This is not FB, Pinterest can only be a platform with content creators. People do not use if like IG and FB and just hangout chatting with others. These restrictive changes will NOT make most content creators go spend money and get seen with ads. If the smaller pin size for example truly is about ad money so more ads will show in the feed, the feed is NOT user friendly and is already overrun with ads. I just went and counted every 6th pin being a promoted pin. If the comments about us potentially having to pay $1000-$3000/mo on Pinterest ads to get our content seen, it will absolutely ruin the platform. There will be a massive exodus of bloggers (keep in mind 95% of bloggers don’t ever make more than $500/mo) and instead of the fresh content you want users to see, it’ll be a platform of only longtime established bloggers who can afford it and big business running ads.
The spam issue is out of control. That hands down is the biggest issue at hand with the current platform. I know you’re trying to tackle it, but it’s still so frustrating to see all over Pinterest. Every single week I’m getting an email from Pinterest with suggestions on new pins I might like—they almost always include stolen pins of my own! I now only pin content from Tribes to decrease the chances of accidentally repinning spam and avoid pinning from the feed. Focus on the real spammers, not bloggers who want to follow the guidelines. What safeguards are there so a competitor can’t just get us shut down by intentionally reporting someone? There’s so much conflicting info out there and I’m sure many bloggers aren’t even in blogging FB groups to hear about these random announcements through other bloggers to even know what Pinterest wants. And how many bloggers have had Pinterest accounts shut down due to honest mistakes but then are given no second chance or no explanation as to what they did wrong, yet how many real spam accounts have been reported over and over and still have their account?
Pinterest users don’t even scroll through boards (or they rarely do), how in the world would pinning something to a board one time be helpful? Because all of our followers do not see our content due to the algorithm, the only way we can get our content seen is by pinning it over and over and over. If we pin something one time to a board, it’d most like be dead in the water or we’d all need hundreds and hundreds of boards to have some shed for our content to go. Again, is this so we’ll hopefully pay for ads to get seen in the future?
And what about Smart Loop? How many of us paid for a year of using it to simply our Pinterest marketing, yet your proposed changes defeats the whole purpose of even having it? So many of us are just smalltime businesses who don’t have gobs of time and money to spend towards just your platform.
While I Love Pinterest as a user myself and also as a content creator, making changes that hurt your content creator and make it less likely to get our content visible will only hurt you too. So many content creators use Pinterest because it’s been such a great way to get started and to get quick visibility, if you take that away because of restrictions of not being able to repin content to the same board or because you hope people will pay money to get seen, some will, but many will just drop the platform and go back to SEO or focus on other platforms. (Or someone clever will create a similar platform like Pinterest).
What would’ve made the most sense with this announcement is doing a FB Live like you did in the spring in Kate Ahl’s group. That was so helpful!! Hearing from an actual person helps us better understand and reduces issues OR Pinterest should’ve drafted something themselves and sent it to our emails so we could provide feedback.
“Every single week I’m getting an email from Pinterest with suggestions on new pins I might like—they almost always include stolen pins of my own!” – YESSSS
The fact that recommended pin emails consistently include stolen images of my own or my friends is infuriating. Or, I think there’s a great pin in one that I’d like to repin, but then I realize it leads to a total spam site. And that is VERY frustrating as a user.
The notion that a different ‘image’ on the same link to the same URL, to an identical piece of content, is less spammy than an identical image is utterly absurd!
Of course pinning the same pin to a board every couple of days is spammy, however forcing people to ‘engineer’ a new pin and description for the same content is nothing short ridiculous.
Pinterest do not seem to be interested in the end user getting the content they want but increasing user time on Pinterest. The best way to do that is to provide them with 8 pins for every piece of content! Don’t take away the spam, just put it in dress it up differently!
As for this…
“Pinterest users are reporting that seeing a board with the same Pin multiple times (even if that is over the course of many months) is spammy, AND they’re reporting those Pins and boards.”
I call it an out and out lie!
The notion that significant numbers of users are visiting specific boards naturally (which takes at least 3 clicks on mobile) and then are reporting that the same pin being on that board multiple times, which takes at least 5 more clicks after scrolling to notice multiple pins is quite frankly nonsense!
From experience, this looks like the result of what happens when you ask a focus group what they think of certain things when you have designed the question to give you a specific answer.
Brian that is EXACTLY what i said – users are NOT complaining about this! They MAY complain about seeing the same pin in their feed many many times but they do NOT care about it being many times on a board (that they have NOT visited).
I’ve been thinking about this, basically since I read it a couple days ago, I’ve read many of the comments and I just have to say, it really boils down to the fact that Pinterest, you have terrible customer service. You 100% completely depend on people like us to create your content, but then you make it difficult and confusing to use your site, you change things all the time, you try and make us pay to play, and then we do have a problem, we can’t get in contact with human being ever. It’s unbelievable.
To fix this you need to get some actual customer service human beings to answer emails and phone calls. Have spam complaints reviewed by actual human beings and then start having regular and repeated focus groups with bloggers. And then doing what we suggest. Not what you think we want. Remember that whole thing where you started showing entire recipes on your site and people went nuts? Remember when you told us the first 5 pins of the day were most important? Remember when you told us we can’t have repeated pins on our boards (oh wait, that was just today!) That kind of thing shows that you have a fundamental lack of understanding about how HALF of your users use the site. And arguably we are the most important half. You can’t have pinterest without bloggers creating content to pin to it. Please, get it together, Pinterest.
This is against any logic. Why would Pinterest approve Tailwind as a partner and then have rules that basically forbid you to use it. I mean, isn’t it the main reason we all use Tailwind – to reshare the same pins to multiple boards and then e.g. do it same time next year for seasonal posts. It would take so much work to go back and remove old pins from every board that it’s not feasible, and instead of creating new valuable content we are forced to use our energy and time on creating multiple pins for the same posts.
And what about you as a user? Have you never happen that you saved same pins multiple times to the same board when researching something? Or are we all supposed to remember what we saved? And no, Pinterest will not always tell you correctly if you have saved that same-looking pin before or not…
I’ll never understand Pinterest and their ever-changing rules. Wish they would actually look at their rules from a bloggers’ and users point of view and would spend their time on cracking down really spammy accounts that steal pins and link them to their spammy sites, instead of making this platform such a stress to people who helped it become big in the first place.
What about Tailwind’s smartloops? Is Pinterest abandoning this facet of Tailwind? It sure sounds like it. Many of us have had a Pinterest account for years. Something that is still relevant and was pinned in 2014 is not going to ‘bubble up’ from the basement of some board. Not repinning at least occasionally to the same boards goes against the whole point of having good evergreen content as well as seasonal content. Repinning once or twice a year of the most popular content is essential. I also believe that doing so keeps ‘content poachers’ at bay. Repinning makes it very obvious if someone has been scraping your site to make copycat content or is stealing your pictures. This is because your content is still out there in front pairs of eyes with the real URL on it. The need for prudent and timely repinning seems obvious to me.
As a content creator, I’m focusing less on Pinterest and more on SEO moving forward.
This post just exemplifies that Pinterest is using bloggers as pawns in their efforts to grow.
I hope the author of this article is being paid well. The mouthpiece for a company who’s telling you what to tell content creators (aka their most valuable asset, along with Pinterest users) is an interesting role to take on.
I find it funny that Pinterest can direct you to share their “creators landing page” while not actually publishing all of the information in this blog post on their own site. Surely that’s the appropriate place for it?
It seems to me that they would prefer to hold this blog accountable rather than actually take ownership of the information.
Mara, I appreciate your comment. I have not been paid a penny to post this, I was trying to help fellow bloggers understand what Pinterest is looking for to stop all of the account suspensions we have been dealing with. I had no idea of the negative repercussions that would come to be from this.
Again, thank you for taking the time to leave a comment–I appreciate you <3
If we are only supposed to pin once per pin per board then please tell me what the point of SmartLoop is on Tailwind? I doubt they would have invested millions in developing it if they had known this because they charge hundreds for it and it’s basically useless.
I would also like to point out that the only scheduler/strategy that actually DID allow you to remove older duplicate pins from boards was BoardBooster and Pinterest ran them out of business in very public, vicious and dramatic fashion! Seriously, come on!
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