How the Pinterest Algorithm Works in 2021

Last year’s algorithm updates were extreme (to say the least).

Many Pinterest marketers and bloggers are still struggling to adjust to all the changes.

In this post, we’ll unpack the details of how the Pinterest algorithm used to work (pre-2020) and how it works now in 2021. Plus, I’ll show you legit ways to get ahead of the changes without driving yourself crazy!

To understand how the Pinterest algorithm works in 2021, it’s important to understand how it used to work.

So, we are going to have a super brief history lesson…

I’ll start in 2019, because that’s when my personal experience with the algorithm started. 

In 2019, even though Pinterest was constantly saying they wanted “Fresh Content,” repins were definitely king in the algorithm. Each repin was equivalent to a chance to get seen by users. More repins = more chances!

So, the more you re-pinned a pin, the more views and traction it would get. Pinning to 20 or more boards was totally normal.

Repinning your most successful pins could easily double your traffic. This was lots of fun to do especially when working on client accounts!

In Spring 2020, a noticeable shift happened. Those fun traffic boosts were suddenly really hard to come by. No one really knew what was happening, all we knew was that the repinning strategies we all loved stopped getting results. 😩

Then, we started seeing emails from Pinterest support that blatantly condemned large numbers of repins on accounts. At that point, we knew Pinterest is now suppressing REPINS.

Things were changing rapidly.

Even Tailwind put out these new recommendations:

  • Save a pin to no more than 10 boards.
  • Save no more than 25 pins per day.

At this point, instead of repins creating more chances to get seen, Pinterest was now saying that only FRESH PINS were more chances to get seen.

So, like a good content creator, I listened to Pinterest and deleted hundreds of repins from my accounts and my client accounts. Then, I only put out fresh pins and pinned them to one board each, and waited to see the results.

Well, it was a TON of work, and it was an epic disaster. The results were not good at all.

That lead me to tons of research and testing. Lots of studying the Pinterest Engineering blog and their published papers.

Eventually, I found a way to appease Pinterest’s desire for endless FRESH PINS for my clients without going totally insane.

This method is totally different than anything you’ve heard of before… but how? Let me explain what makes this method so unique.

Many of the pinning strategies you find online are dependent on high impressions on pins. This one is NOT.

If you’ve been on Pinterest lately, you know about the widespread issue with the new algorithm changes: LOW IMPRESSIONS on new pins. 

I’m not immune to this issue at all. In fact, impressions on my new pins are laughable!

But, I’m totally fine with low impressions, and here’s why…

Engagement Rating and Why It Matters

This explanation requires just a little background info. I’ll try to keep the terminology as user-friendly as possible, I promise.

First, we need to understand engagements on Pinterest. Engagements are called “actions” in the algorithm and include:

  • Clicks (Outbound clicks)
  • Long clicks (Outbound clicks with dwell time of 30 seconds or longer [source, Definition 4.1])
  • Close ups (now called Pin clicks)
  • Saves

Here’s what engagements look like in the algorithm:

Source

The engagement rate is the number of engagements divided by the number of impressions on a pin. This definition can be found in your Analytics dashboard under Top Pins > Engagements.

Here’s the kicker: if you have high impressions and low engagement, your pin will literally do nothing. But if you have LOW impressions on a pin, and it gets just a tiny little bit of engagement, your engagement RATING will shoot up super high, increasing the chances for that pin to start ranking in search, in the recommendation system (underneath related pins), and in the Home Feed!

This new method is taught in my signature course, Scheduling Shortcuts, and allows you to publish more fresh pins faster. This means low impressions are OK, because you’re maximizing your chances to get high Engagement Rates on your pins by increasing the number of fresh pins on your account.

What’s unique about this method is that it doesn’t require you to create individual pin designs for each relevant board. I’ll show you how to maximize distribution on all NEW pin designs and how to recycle OLD pin designs quickly for more chances to rank!

Over the last 8 months of using this method, I’ve noticed that the high Engagement Rate pins are the ones that usually end up ranking in search results. It’s directly tied to that high engagement rating (and good SEO, of course).

So, if you’re seeing low impressions on your new pins, don’t panic!

The only time you should be concerned is if your impressions are in the single digits about a week after publishing it. In that case, you should reach out to the Pinterest help desk to see if you have been mistakenly marked as spam.

If you’d like to learn more about the Pinterest algorithm changes and how to get ahead, grab your free copy of the 2021 Pinterest Strategy Guide below and get a special limited-time discount on Scheduling Shortcuts.

Get Access to the Free Strategy Guide

This guide is now hosted on Podia so I can quickly keep it updated (updates happen ALL the time!). Once you sign up, you’ll have forever access to future updates. 🙂

If you’re tempted to give up on Pinterest right now, I totally get it. It’s a weird time… but there’s still PLENTY of traffic to be had. All you need to do is work WITH the algorithm, instead of struggling against it! 🙂

Happy pinning,

Amy