Pinterest rethinks mobile discovery with Guided Search

Social sharing network unveils a new tool for users to sift through the network's 30 billion pins and 750 million boards to home in on an custom answer that is geared toward exploration.

Nick Statt Former Staff Reporter / News
Nick Statt was a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.
Nick Statt
2 min read


SAN FRANCISCO -- With more than 30 billion pins and 750 million boards, Pinterest -- as a self-described discovery platform -- has been grappling with a central problem. Within the ever-flowing sea of user-generated items, it's become increasingly difficult to find what you may be looking for, or something useful that you didn't even know was there.

With Guided Search, a unique type of search engine unveiled Thursday and built exclusively for its mobile iOS and Android apps, Pinterest hopes it can help users not only home in on the information you might be seeking out, but also explore new corners of Pinterest in the serendipitous spirit of the social network.

Around 75 percent of Pinterest use is done through its mobile apps, while Comscore puts Pinterest's most recent desktop audience at 48.2 million users.

Each query through Guided Search will be unique to the user and let that user craft the search as he or she goes along in an attempt to avoid the retracing of steps typical of ill-fated searches through Google and other standard Web search engines, Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann explained.

"Let's build a search engine that's more about exploration and discovery and teaching you about your tastes," explained Silbermann at Pinterest headquarters in the South of Market district of San Francisco.

Four-year-old Pinterest is a social network where people, particularly women, go for inspiration on topics such as home, fitness, fashion, food, and travel. Members can store their favorite finds on digital pin-boards for safe keeping. The company also now has place-aware pins and boards that asset people with travel planning or daydreaming.

To help better inform the contextual nature of the way users drift across Pinterest's fast-growing web of items, Guided Search will let you filter down a search by tagging it with new layers of specificity that pulls descriptions written by users across the platform.

For instance, searching for "vespa" will yield options like "vintage," "scooters," and "helmets," allowing you to combine various filters to create a custom search that incorporates all the various ways Pinterest users have organized those specific types of pins.

Pinterest will be rolling the feature out to its mobile apps later tonight. Guided Search for desktop will be coming soon, though the company did not specify a time frame.