Pinterest puts its posts in the spotlight with 'Guided Search'

A new mobile search tool offers improved customization

Pinterest's logo, as pictured on Nov. 20, 2013.

Pinterest's logo, as pictured on Nov. 20, 2013.

How do you find the best food recipes or clothing on Pinterest that's just right for you? The site thinks it has a way.

The company on Thursday announced "Guided search," an improved version of search on the site with more tools for customization and content discovery. It will be made available now for iOS and Android-based devices.

Guided search is designed to better surface the massive amount of content now hosted on Pinterest as the site has grown. Pinterest now has more than 750 million boards and more than 3 billion pins, CEO Ben Silbermann reported Thursday.

Boards on Pinterest are the pages of content created by its users, and the pins comprise what they post to them, such as jewelry, accessories or event planning ideas.

Guided search is designed to let users better hone in on exactly what they're looking for, and let users tweak their queries in the process. It then adjusts the results it displays, rather than spit back a static list of results.

"The right answer for you might not be the right answer for everyone else," Silbermann said in announcing the product, during an event at Pinterest's headquarters in San Francisco.

So if someone types in "veggie," a bar of related buttons will appear underneath, such as "dip," "burger" or "pasta," which people can toggle through. Users can click on one of those terms, which will add that term to the search field, and change the pins and boards that are displayed underneath.

Results will also be displayed based on what's popular on Pinterest.

With the tool, Pinterest is grappling with a problem faced by other social sites: How best to surface the content that users want that is most relevant to them? It's a goal that Facebook has now too with Graph Search.

Google is by far the dominant player in search, but social networks hope to provide an alternative form of search better tailored to people's interests.

Guided search on Pinterest will be coming to the desktop at a later date, the company said.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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