Pinterest 101: The Anatomy of Pinterest

Stock photo with text overlay "Boards, Pins, Smart Feed, oh my! The anatomy of Pinterest"

Boards, pins, the Smart Feed, oh my! If you’re new to Pinterest, these terms may be a bit confusing. In order to be as successful as possible on the platform, it’s important to understand each of the different pieces that make up the site. Without further ado, here is the anatomy of Pinterest.

Smart Feed

Screenshot of the Pinterest Smart Feed for Vali Beau & Co.

When you first log into Pinterest, the Smart Feed will appear. The Smart Feed is what Pinterest calls their algorithm and in 2014 it replaced the chronological feed of posts from pinners you follow. Pinterest designed it to show pinners the most relevant content based on the boards and users you follow, the content you pin, and your interests. The pins are also shown to you based on the quality of the pin, which is determined based on the domain, the pinner, the relevance of the pin’s content, and the pin itself.

The key factors in getting your pins seen in the Smart Feed are:

  • verifying your website
  • high-quality pin images
  • relevant, engaging pin descriptions including keywords
  • consistent pinning (both your own pins and the pins of others)

Screenshot of the Pinterest profile of Vali Beau & Co.

Your Pinterest profile is home to your bio, profile picture, website, and location as well as your boards, pins, and tries. It is a curated, visual representation of your blog or business. On the podcast Creative Biz Rebellion, designer and metalsmith Megan Auman compared the Pinterest profile to a magazine for your brand.

The best ways to optimize your Pinterest profile are:

  • a quality profile picture, such as your logo or a professional headshot
  • keyword optimization of your profile name and bio
  • relevant boards, with any irrelevant boards switched from public to secret
  • rearrange boards so your most relevant and best-performing boards are at the top

Screenshot of Pinterest board Save a horse, adopt a mustang from Vali Beau & Co.

Boards are collections of the pins you have saved. Going back to the magazine analogy, your boards are like a section in your magazine, containing articles (i.e. pins) relevant to that section. Boards can be public or secret, and you can collaborate with more than one pinner on group boards. Recently Pinterest added the ability to create sections within a board, which is especially helpful in organizing large boards.

Optimize your boards by:

  • using keyword-rich, easy-to-understand board names (ex. use the title “Dessert Recipes – Cakes” instead of a title like “Let Them Eat Cake”)
  • including relevant keywords in the board description
  • keeping irrelevant boards secret
  • joining niche-specific and active group boards with a moderate number of other pinners


Screenshot of a pin from Vali Beau & Co.Pins are the building blocks of Pinterest. Each pin consists of an image, a description, and a link. A user can save the pin for later, click the pin to navigate through to the linked content, send the pin to another person, and add results of trying the pin.

To optimize your pins:

  • create Pinterest-optimized images for your posts (i.e. verticle, 2:3 aspect ratio with recommended dimensions 600 px by 900 px)
  • write engaging, keyword-optimized pin descriptions
  • link the pin to relevant content on your website
  • don’t repin your own pins – pin directly from your site, create a new pin within Pinterest, or use Tailwind

There you have the main components of Pinterest!

Coming up next – creating Pinterest-optimized graphics! Do you have any questions about Pinterest images? Drop them in the comments below and I’ll include them in my next post!

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