Pinterest has kept busy lately: It launched “place pins” back in November, it may soon launch a “promoted pins” feature, and it purchased an image-search startup called VisualGraph.
Today the company has more news to share. It is announcing two new features, Guided Search and Custom Categories, and it has made improvements to its Related Pins feature.
For those unfamiliar, Pinterest is a networking site that lets you collect and organize “pins,” usually links to photos or other visually appealing content. You can also explore and follow other users’ collections and pins.
To date, Pinterest says, people have used the site to create 750 million boards and pin 30 billion images, and it has grown by 50 percentin the last six months. With this amount of data, it now wants to refine the connections not only between pins but also between its users and all the pins living on its site.
“How can we help you discover things you care about?” is Pinterest’s current theme, in the words of chief executive Ben Silbermann.
Pinterest seems to be on a mission to index its pins and to help its users search and discover pins through this new and more advanced searching.
Guided Search works like this: If you’re not quite sure what it is you’re looking for, start typing the closest or first thing you come up with, and Pinterest will start pulling up categories and keywords that not only start with the same letters, but also ones that are related to these possible keywords.
“Guided search will help you discover when you didn’t know how to ask for things to begin with,” said Silbermann.
The team that worked on Guided Search aimed to make this a “one-handed feature” — its predictive abilities are supposed to cut down on the amount of typing a user would do.
“It’s focused on discovery rather than finding,” said Naveen Gavini, who worked on the Guided Search feature.
Silbermann added that Guided Search will go live both in the App Store and the Google Play store tonight.
Pinterest had 32 categories when it first launched, and Silbermann admits they were largely arbitrary. However, the company has realized that many of its users’ interests doesn’t fall neatly into these categories. So it’s now adding more narrowly focused categories and some alternative ones.
“If there’s something you’re interested in that isn’t encapsulated in the 32 categories,” you can now search for it with keywords, said Silbermann.
Because it’s a new feature, Pinterest will be rolling it out slowly.
Related pins are suggested pins the service recommends in an effort to help users discover more pins. Related Pins isn’t a completely new feature, but Pinterest is now broadening the coverage — more than 90 percent of pins will have Related Pins attached to them.
Surprisingly, the company has yet to make any more announcements related to its monetization efforts, though it probably should. The company has been around since 2008 and has only recently introduced ideas to bring in revenues (such as “Promoted Pins”) though it hasn’t rolled out any large-scale efforts.
But on a high note, it appears that its purchase of the two-person VisualGraph (a talent grab) has had influence on all three of the above product improvements and releases. Gavini confirmed that although VisualGraph’s team has not been working on a particular project yet, it has been generally contributing to Pinterest’s search and discovery efforts.