Pinterest hashtags have been the subject of much back-and-forth debate. Do hashtags work on Pinterest? What are the best ones to use? Should I use hashtags on Pinterest? Will using hashtags get my Pinterest account suspended?
I’ve been on every side of this debate. Which is what makes me uniquely qualified to break down the definitive guide to Pinterest hashtags based on what I’ve actually tested and verified, not just what other Pinterest experts are saying.
Because if you want to know a secret — even the “verified” Pinterest experts are giving you bad advice.
So let’s break it down, 2024 style — should you use Pinterest hashtags in 2024?
Quickest, most simple answer: probably not. But you didn’t come here for quick and simple, so here’s everything you need to know.
All About Pinterest Hashtags in 2024
The easiest way to explain the functionality of hashtags on Pinterest is to answer some of the most frequently asked questions and address the rumors about Pinterest hashtags. But first, a little background on Pinterest hashtags.
The only reason we have hashtags on Pinterest today is because creators would include copy and pasted captions from Instagram, where hashtags were and most definitely still are a thing. When the Pinterest developers noticed this trend, they added hashtag functionality to the Pinterest platform. But, like all good things, hashtags started becoming a way for spammers to take advantage of the platform.
Do hashtags work on Pinterest?
Maybe. This really depends on your account and whether you’re using Pinterest on your desktop or on the mobile app. For the most part, hashtags on Pinterest are clickable in 2024. That means that the hashtagged text in a pin description turns into a hyperlink that takes you to a search result page for that hashtag.
One of the biggest reasons many Pinterest managers stopped recommending hashtags was because they stopped being clickable, so they didn’t provide any real purpose.
Are Pinterest hashtags spammy?
Between 2018 and 2021, there were a lot of issues with Pinterest accounts getting suspended or flagged for spam, often without good reason. Many Pinterest managers were frequently messaging back and forth with the Pinterest help desk, trying to reinstate their clients’ accounts and identify what behavior had caused the flag.
One manager received a response that stated the use of hashtags in pin descriptions had been linked to spammy behavior and accounts. That became the foundation on which every recommendation to stop using hashtags on Pinterest originated.
As for what the truth is? There isn’t a direct or immediate correlation between using hashtags and getting your Pinterest account flagged for spam. I’ve used hashtags in pins on several client accounts in the past and we never had an issue.
That being said, I also didn’t notice a significantly increased performance on the pins that did include hashtags, which brings us to our next question…
Do Pinterest hashtags increase my reach?
Once again, the answer is maybe. However, I don’t believe that it is the use of hashtags themselves that helps boost your pin’s reach. Often, when we’re including hashtags in any kind of content, we’re using words and phrases that we want our content to be associated with. The difference between Pinterest and other social platforms like Instagram or TikTok is that Pinterest already had a built-in algorithm to associate your content with those words and phrases.
As a search engine, Pinterest relies on the keywords in your content to determine what it’s all about. So by using hashtags, you’re also adding even more keywords to your pin description, which is what I personally think matters the most.
Should You Use Pinterest Hashtags in 2024?
If you’re wondering if you should use hashtags on Pinterest in 2024, it’s important to consider the following factors:
- User behavior
- Search functionality
To put it simply, Pinterest users don’t use hashtags the way Instagram users do. Searching or browsing by hashtags isn’t as ingrained or expected a behavior on Pinterest as it is on Instagram. I’ve never typed #marketingtips into the Pinterest search bar.
It’s unlikely your target audience is searching for hashtags on Pinterest. Since Pinterest optimization is all about using the words and phrases your target audience is searching, if they aren’t searching for hashtags, then why use them at all?
The second thing to consider is the functionality of the hashtags within the Pinterest platform. This is where you get to pull out your sleuth hat with me.
First, let’s find a pin that has hashtags in it. This one pulled up in a search for Valentine’s Day nails and it’s a perfect example to use.
What I want you to notice first is that the term “valentine’s day nails” doesn’t appear anywhere in the pin title or pin description. The closest we get is “valentine’s nails” in the pin title. So how did this pin show up in my search results?
Visually, this pin was very similar to the other pins in the search results. Pinterest’s algorithm compared the visual pin image to the others in the category and decided that this particular pin “fit.” Furthermore, the pin image includes a text overlay that reads “Valentine’s Day Nail Designs”.
But we’re not here to dissect the inner workings of the Pinterest algorithm, so let’s look at the hashtags.
First of all, whether you decide to use hashtags or not, please never do what this user has done with their pin description. Including tons of hashtags or keywords without actually trying to describe the content or write for humans is called keyword stuffing (or hashtag stuffing, in this case), and it is often associated with spammy behavior.
Next, let’s see what happens if I click on the hashtag “#winternails”.
Unlike Instagram, which would bring me to a page of all posts with the #winternails tag, this Pinterest hashtag takes me to the search results for the term “winternails”. And those results are looking realllll sketchy.
Important note: I’m showing you these search results in an incognito browser so the results aren’t impacted by my own personal browsing history.
Now, let’s compare those search results to the results I get if I simply search “winter nails.”
Ahh, that’s much better.
What I’m trying to point out to you is that while hashtags work in terms of clickability, they only link to the search results for that keyword. And in the case of multi-word hashtags, it’ll smush all those words together into one word, which isn’t how your target audience is going to be searching for things on Pinterest.
What’s the Deal with Hashtags on Pinterest?
Let’s answer the question once and for all — do hashtags work on Pinterest? No, or at least not as well as keywords do. When it comes to getting your content seen by your target audience and driving more traffic and engagement, highly searched, relevant keywords incorporated naturally throughout your pin descriptions will always be the most effective.