April 25, 2014, 12:16 PM

Pinterest makes it easier for mobile users to find what they’re looking for

The image-focused social network rolls out a new search tool that should simplify site navigation for mobile users. That’s particularly important because the number of pins on the social network has doubled in the past six months and nearly 75% of Pinterest users are on mobile devices.

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Pinterest on iPhone 5s

Pinterest is booming. The social network, which lets users collect images from across the web, has more than 30 billion “pins,” roughly half of which were added in the past six months. That huge increase in content on Pinterest “boards” makes it more difficult for users to find what they’re looking for.

Now Pinterest is attempting to make it easier for mobile users to search those 30 billion pins with the release of a new mobile-focused search engine called Guided Search.

Guided Search aims to help users discover pins by presenting them with related categories, which Pinterest calls “guides,” that enable them to hone in on what they’re looking for. For instance, if a user searches for plants, it might show guides such as “indoors,” “shade,” “succulents,” to help her find items of interest.

“Search engines are great for answering specific questions—the weather in San Francisco or the capital of Peru—but Pinterest can help with the questions that have more than one right answer,”writes Hui Xu, Pinterest’s head of discovery, in a blog post. “Where’s your next vacation or what’s for dinner tonight? With so many possibilities, you might not know the best one till you see it.”

Guided Search, she writes, helps users find what they’re looking for while also leaving room for serendipity. “Exploring getaway ideas might lead you to a treehouse adventure, a motorcycle trip down the coast, or maybe even something else you didn’t know you were looking for,” she writes. “You might be surprised where you end up!”

Finding ways to make Pinterest easier for mobile users is increasingly important because 75% of traffic to the social network comes from consumers who are using smartphones or tablets (including smartphones and tablets), Don Faul, head of operations at Pinterest, said earlier this week. Consumers who visit Pinterest via mobile devices come back more often and report higher satisfaction. Faul said mobile Pinterest users visit the social network twice as often as those who only visit via computers and those mobile users are 60% more likely to say they would recommend Pinterest to a friend.

The number of large online retailers on Pinterest has soared over the past few years. 85% of the retailers in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide are active on the platform, up from 78% a year earlier.  

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