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How stable are Pinterest rankings and traffic? [Study]

A graphic of a search results page with three previews of pinterest results, showing various flower vases. There's also a profile photo of author Mordy Oberstein in the bottom-left

Pinterest is an organic powerhouse.

Each month, the millions of keywords it ranks for bring in over a billion site visits from Google. It’s no surprise that, for many, leveraging Pinterest to bring visitors to the images they're hosting on the social media platform is vital. This is why, more often than not, whenever a large Google algorithm update rolls out, some of the analysis that gets done will inevitably mention Pinterest and its organic market share.

A screenshot of a Semrush report showing that organic traffic to is roughly 1.5 billion visitors per month.
Pinterest receives over 1.5 billion organic visitors per month.

But, how much of a force is Pinterest really? While the domain is clearly a juggernaut, what does that mean for individual users hosting content on the platform? More specifically, what I want to know is how consistent are the rankings (and by extension, the organic traffic) of a specific Pinterest asset?

The problem: Pinterest URL swapping on the SERP

Before diving into the data, let me explain the problem: As mentioned, Pinterest garners a lot of traffic from Google. The issue is that, unless you’re Pinterest, you don’t really care about that per se. What you, as a creator on Pinterest, care about is how much traffic can Google drive to your specific assets that you host on Pinterest.

At first glance, this doesn’t even seem to be a question. Pinterest pulls in an incredible amount of traffic from Google Search as, for many types of queries, the SERP is littered with Pinterest URLs.

The problem, however, is this:

A chart showing six different pinterest URLs ranking for the term “mens ring ruby” at various points over the period of July 17, 2022 to August 21, 2022.

What you’re looking at above is Google essentially swapping out different Pinterest URLs within the same ranking position vicinity.

When I saw this, it made me wonder, how stable is a ranking Pinterest URL? How often is Google swapping out one Pinterest URL for another? Because when I started to dive in, what you see above seemed to be a pattern. That is, Google seems to give Pinterest a ranking slot on the SERP and oscillates between showing various Pinterest URLs within that slot.

A chart showing four different pinterest URLs ranking for the term “mesh shirt mens” at various points over the period of July 17, 2022 to August 21, 2022.

So, I’ll ask the question again: how potent is Pinterest in terms of bringing in traffic via search to your specific assets if it seems that Google is relatively quick to swap out various Pinterest URLs?

Pinterest URLs & Google ranking: Methodology and limitations

The Semrush data team analyzed 1,487 keywords on desktop and another 1,425 keywords on mobile in order to see how often Google is swapping out Pinterest URLs on the SERP. Only keywords that displayed a Pinterest URL with an average rank of 10 or better were considered.

The team then analyzed how many times one of these URLs for the given keywords was being swapped for another Pinterest URL. What, however, is the definition of a URL swap in this instance?

If a specific Pinterest URL was ranking #7 for a keyword and then moved to rank #10, while a new Pinterest URL began ranking at position #3, is that a swap? What if a Pinterest URL was ranking #8 and then no longer ranked top 10 at all, only to have another Pinterest URL begin to rank at position #10—is this a swap?

For the purposes of this study, anytime a Pinterest URL stopped ranking among the top 10 results on the SERP and another Pinterest URL started ranking top 10, it is considered to be a swap.

Now, based on the patterns I’ve seen and as shown in the images above, generally speaking, Google gives a certain slot—or in some instances, slots—to Pinterest. The URLs that Google then swaps fall within a certain range of ranking positions. Thus, it makes sense to consider one Pinterest URL as being swapped for another, even if they are not at the same exact ranking position. However, as noted above, this study includes any instance of swapping even if the swap represents a discrepancy in ranking positions “range.” This is simply a limitation to note.

Also, approximately 1,400 keywords per device is not a small number of URLs. At the same time, it is not as if a million URLs were analyzed. This, too, is something to consider. Similarly, the data collection period covered a period of 30 days. These days were chosen because, as a continuum, they reflected days of average volatility (so as to increase the accuracy of the data) but all-in-all a larger period could, in theory, yield different results.

With that, let’s get to the data itself.

How consistent are Pinterest URL rankings on the Google SERP?

Just 43% of the keywords studied presented the same Pinterest URL on the desktop SERP over the entire course of the 30-day data period.

Two charts showing Pinterest URL consistency on Google mobile and desktop search. For desktop, the URL stayed consistent 43% of the time, and on mobile it was consistent 40% of the time.

Meaning, the other 57% of the time, Google is not using the same Pinterest URL on the SERP over the course of the month. On mobile, this number jumps up to a full 60%.

Pinterest URL diversity on the SERP is the norm, which means you should, as a rule, expect your ranking Pinterest URLs to be replaced on the SERP at some point.

In other words, volatility is the rule rather than the exception when it comes to specific Pinterest URLs ranking on the SERP (again, Pinterest as a domain is very consistent, but we’re concerned with specific creators here, not the platform).

The question is, how volatile are specific Pinterest URLs on the Google SERP?

To phrase it another way:

  • How many unique Pinterest URLs is Google utilizing over the course of a month?

  • Is your Pinterest pin or board and its URL sharing the SERP with just one other Pinterest URL?

  • What’s the organic market share like for specific Pinterest URLs on the SERP?

According to the data, Google swaps Pinterest URLs an average of six times per month and utilizes three unique Pinterest URLs when doing so.

A chart showing that Pinterest URLs get swapped an average of six times per month, and those swaps use an average of three unique Pinterest URLs

In other words, you can expect to share the SERP with two other Pinterest URLs (other than your own) each month. What’s more, you can also expect your URL to be swapped an average of two times per month.

For creators relying on organic traffic from their Pinterest uploads, that’s not exactly a picture of stability and stands in sharp contradistinction to our a priori understanding of Pinterest from a domain perspective.

When Google swaps Pinterest URLs: Patterns and observations

Big data is great and the insight it affords can indeed be illuminating. Still, I typically find that there’s a level of nuance that can only be surfaced by looking at specific instances. With that in mind, let’s dive into some of the patterns I noticed while analyzing specific cases of Google swapping Pinterest URLs on the SERP.

Simultaneous consistency and volatility among Pinterest URLs on the Google

While the data does show Google has a propensity to swap the Pinterest URLs it ranks on the SERP, this volatility does at times coincide with stability. Specifically, there is a pattern where Google will show one Pinterest URL consistently on the SERP within a position range for the entire course of a 30-day period (perhaps longer, but I only looked at a 30-day period).

At the same time, Google may also rank a secondary Pinterest URL at a slightly lower ranking position. This is exactly the pattern seen in the example below:

A chart showing a Pinterest URL ranking consistently between position five and ten within a thirty day period for the term “crochet pineapple stitch,” and three other Pinterest URLs that rank in a close, but lower, position that Google has swapped out various times over the thirty days.

The URL represented by the purple line consistently ranked on the SERP over the entire 30-day period analyzed. Below it, represented by the yellow, pink, and orange lines, was a secondary Pinterest slot on the SERP where Google oscillated between three different Pinterest URLs (or no secondary Pinterest URL at all, depending on the day).

Practically speaking, it is entirely possible to experience significant volatility while tracking one of your Pinterest URLs, while another Pinterest URL sees relative stability for the same keyword on the SERP.

In terms of real numbers across the dataset we tracked, 50% of the time Google showed two Pinterest URLs on the SERP simultaneously.

A pie chart showing that Google shows just one Pinterest URL 50% of the time and shows more than one Pinterest URL the other 50% of the time.

There is overlap, and a good amount of it: While there are days when Google truly swaps one Pinterest URL with another, there are also days when Google might show both URLs only to remove one of them a day or two after that.

Search intent when Google ranks Pinterest pins and boards

It is possible that, even though your Pinterest URL for your particular pin is being swapped, the Pinterest URL that replaces yours also contains your pin. This is because Google doesn’t merely swap a Pinterest URL to a specific pin with another URL to a different pin.

Rather, Google sometimes replaces a URL to a specific pin with a collection of pins (a Pinterest board).

For example, take the keyword mens ring ruby which (as shown earlier on in this article) reflected multiple instances of Google swapping Pinterest URLs. In one case, Google swaps a link from this specific pin:

A screenshot of a single pinterest pin for a gold men’s ruby ring

To a collection of pins, as seen here:

A screenshot of a pinterest board showing a gallery of mens ruby rings.

It is possible that the specific pin shown previously can appear in the collection above. However, even if that were to be the case, a link to your specific pin is obviously of greater value.

Take the instance below, for example: The dominant Pinterest URL is to a board (you can tell by the URL structure, just for the record). There’s a secondary URL it tests out (reflected in the orange line), which is considerably less consistent than the board shown in purple.

A chart showing a pinterest board consistently ranking for the term “long braided ponytail,” with another pinterest URL to a board also ranking beneath it, but less consistently.

The same can be seen in the rankings for the keyword combat workout:

A chart showing that Google swapped Pinterest board URLs for the search term “combat workout”

Yes, Google does experiment with an alternative Pinterest URL, but both reflect boards, not specific pins.

The same thing goes for the keyword wooden family tree but in the inverse, Google experiments with multiple Pinterest URLs on this SERP; all of them pins, none of them boards:

A chart showing that Google displayed five different Pinterest pin URLs for the query “wooden family tree”

For whatever reason, it seems Google sees the intent of the keyword as either being relevant for a specific Pinterest pin or the opposite, that the user would be better served with a Pinterest board.

The types of keywords predisposed to more Pinterest URL swapping

Some keywords are subject to Google swapping two Pinterest URLs just once on the SERP each month, while some see Google swapping five or six URLs back and forth, perhaps ten times over the same period. Why?

Why do some keywords see so much “Pinterest URL swapping” while others don’t?

It’s hard to determine a definitive reason here. In fact, it’s impossible to say unless Google itself released a statement as to why. However, there are some patterns within the dataset that may possibly explain why some keywords lend themselves to more Pinterest URL swapping than others.

While I’m not privy to the exact thinking around what about each keyword lends itself to one intent over the other, it is interesting to see how specific Google is here. The most notable trend, although it does not account for all instances, is that the more obscure the “item” represented in the keyword, the fewer swaps.

For example, the following keywords saw either one or two Pinterest URL swaps:

  • Dollar tree decorations

  • Puppet makeup

  • Manor lake australian labradoodles

  • Laundry room storage

  • Screaming needle

I would imagine that the more obscure the reference, the less content with which to conduct the URL swapping.

Conversely, the keywords below saw between 10-15 swaps:

  • World map watch

  • Silver bengal cat

  • Vintage windbreaker jacket

  • Brick paint colors

  • Old lady costume

Again, the more mainstream the item is, the more Pinterest content at Google’s disposal with which to execute the swaps (all other things being equal).

Is this 100% why certain keywords exhibit less stability with their ranking Pinterest URLs? No, there are many instances within the dataset that contradict my point above. However, again, there does seem (at least to me) to be a pattern where more obscure sorts of keywords tend to exhibit less Pinterest URL swapping.

Pinterest URL consistency inside SERP features

Pinterest URLs can be a real factor inside of Google’s various SERP features. Similar to the analysis above, the Semrush team pulled some data related to Pinterest URL consistency within two prominent SERP features: featured snippets and image packs.

Pinterest URL consistency: Featured snippets

Believe it or not, Pinterest URLs are used in featured snippets. In the US alone, the domain has earned featured snippets for 9,400 keywords.

A screenshot of a Semrush report showing that has a featured snippet for 9,400 keywords.

Within the smaller dataset we analyzed for this study, there were no featured snippets that contained a Pinterest URL for the entire 30-day period. (Again, that is a number to take with a grain of salt as the dataset here is somewhat limited in that it reflects about 1,500 keywords and not all of them will generate a featured snippet).

Still, when Pinterest URLs were used within the featured snippet, the swapping continued.

When Google displayed a Pinterest URL within a featured snippet at least once over the 30-day period, the search engine utilized (on average) four other URLs over the same period (for a total of five different URLs seen within the featured snippet on average over the data period).

However, not every URL Google swapped in these instances was from Pinterest.

A chart showing that, of the five URLs Google used within featured snippets during the study, 56% of them were Pinterest URLs.

Of the five URLs Google used within these featured snippets over the 30-day period, 56% of them were Pinterest URLs.

So, while Google tends to give Pinterest a ranking slot (or two) on the SERP and oscillates between various Pinterest URLs in these slots, this is not the case for featured snippets—at least not to the same extent.

With featured snippets, Google is not locked in to giving Pinterest (as a domain) the slot and merely swapping various Pinterest URLs. Rather, Google only replaces one Pinterest URL with another Pinterest URL just over half of the time.

For the record, on average, it would appear that each of the five URLs gets about two “spots” in the featured snippet, as we noticed that Google swapped the URLs 12 times over the 30-day data period.

That is, the same five URLs (just over half of which were Pinterest URLs) constituted a total of 12 different URL swaps over the 30-day data period. Meaning, Google used a URL in the featured snippets, swapped it with another, and then reused the already displayed URL again at some point (as a rule).

Pinterest URL consistency: Image packs

As is to be expected, one of the more prominent places that Pinterest URLs can appear is within Google’s image pack. Accordingly, the Semrush team also pulled data on how often Google was swapping Pinterest URLs inside the image pack.

A chart showing that, on average, Google’s desktop image pack includes 13 URLs and 10 on mobile.

To start, the average image pack includes links to 13 URLs on desktop and 10 on mobile.

Of those URLs, only 13% of them come from Pinterest on desktop and just 9% on mobile.

A chart showing that, on average, 13% of URLs in Google’s desktop image pack are from Pinterest. That rate is 9% on mobile.

Google seems to have swapped these Pinterest URLs 13 times on desktop and 15 times on mobile over the course of the 30 days.

Note: This doesn’t indicate whether Google is swapping Pinterest URLs within the SERP feature more often than it does for URLs from other domains.

Why so much swapping?

Why isn’t there a more consistent showing on the SERP for Pinterest URLs? Clearly, I cannot offer a definitive answer—I am not Google. All I can do is offer my best theory.

To me, this is all about the nature of images and intent. If you recall, Google, on average, executes six Pinterest URL swaps for keywords that display a Pinterest URL among the top 10 results.

That number more than doubles when you look at the image pack, where Google executes 13 swaps (again, this is the number of total swaps, not unique URLs used for swapping). Moreover, while I don’t have specific numbers, the Semrush team did mention that image pack URLs are often moved around in terms of position and even entirely removed from the SERP feature.

To me, this tells a lot of the story.

Google sees images as being “dynamic.” Whatever the reason, Google tends to not treat images in a static way on the SERP when possible.

Personally, I think this is because there are so many varieties and variations to the images that reflect a given product or topic, etc. Having a limited and fixed set of images to reflect the topic or product doesn’t align with the very nature of visual representation, which is often nuanced and extremely varied.

Think about the images Google shows for “Batman”—if it went with the same five images for all eternity, that would not reflect the diverse way the topic can be visually represented. This comes into play on the main SERP as Google has limited space to show images (as opposed to Image Search per se).

From a search intent point of view, Pinterest URLs are present to serve as access to images. It’s a way to provide users with an entry point to see an image that aligns with the search query they entered.

If we think about a ranking Pinterest URL as an image on the SERP (instead of as an organic result), then you can make sense of why there is so much volatility: Google is treating the URLs within the organic results much the way it treats images in an image pack.

This might be why we generally don’t see the same pattern with Amazon. Google is not showing one specific Amazon product URL one day and a different one the next. Google simply shows a URL to a set of Amazon results—not so with Pinterest.

In the chart below, while Amazon ranks with one consistent URL, Google swaps a variety of URLs to specific Pinterest pins over the course of the month:

A chart showing one Amazon URL ranking at the same position consistently during the data period, while 15 Pinterest URLs were swapped in and out at various positions during that same period.

Why? I think it’s because Google treats Pinterest URLs like an image. And, images need diversity, not stale, static, and therefore generic representation.

Pinterest rankings need qualification

Tracking rank sounds easy, but it’s not. Doing it in a way that makes good sense and that doesn’t end up being a bit of a vanity metric can be hard. All the more so when trying to define the organic performance of your Pinterest pins on the SERP.

Seeing that your pins or boards rank well at a given moment, based on what we’ve seen above, is not enough. In these cases, you simply can’t sit back and assume traffic is coming in because at a specific moment in time your Pinterest URLs rank well (not that you really ever should have such a mindset).

As we’ve seen, there is an unusual amount of volatility with Pinterest URLs on the SERP. Taking that into account when assessing performance, reporting, and certainly when predicting future performance is highly recommended.


mordy oberstein

Mordy is the Head of SEO Branding at Wix. Concurrently he also serves as a communications advisor for Semrush. Dedicated to SEO education, Mordy is one of the organizers of SEOchat and a popular industry author and speaker. Twitter | Linkedin

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