If you are a new blogger, there is nothing more frustrating than getting zero traffic. What’s the point of spending all this time blogging if nobody is going to see it?
Even if you are doing everything right as far as SEO is concerned, it can still take some time to grow your search traffic. Google’s indexing bots have to discover your site, index your pages, and refresh their SERPs before you start to appear.
What can you do in the meantime?
That’s where social media comes in, and specifically Pinterest. Pinterest may not have the most traffic of all the social media sites, but it does bring in 3.6% of all referral traffic, and that’s the statistic that matters. With Pinterest, you start on a more level playing field, and it is relatively easy to begin gaining a following.
So why is Pinterest so good at bringing people to your website and blog? In large part, it’s because people visit Pinterest specifically looking for either information on things to buy or for inspiration. They want to discover your website. As a general rule, its users are wealthier than users of other social media sites, with an average user boasting a household income of over $100,000. And though it debuted several years ago, it is still going strong; according to a report by Global Web Index, Pinterest’s active users grew by 111% in 2014. As a blogger, you can make all of this work for you and get lots of high-quality traffic to your blog. Here’s how.
How to Set Up Your Pinterest Profile
People tend to browse the online pinboard site and repin a lot of what they see. But for people to even find your boards and pins in the first place, the thing that matters most is how you set up your profile in general. For starters, give your Pinterest page a name in line with your pen name, blog or even your Twitter handle; in other words, a name that people will recognize or even Google.
Also, set it up as a business account, even if you’re not a “business” per se, as this will allow you to get your Pinterest profile verified. What this does is much more important than a little check mark next to your name. It also gives you access to Pinterest analytics, so that you can watch everything from how many people are pinning directly from your blog or website to how often your pins are being repinned.
Generally speaking, your profile should also be built out in such a way that it focuses on one niche and one niche only. Why? Because you want followers to come visit your Pinterest page and follow all your boards, not just some of them, so they’re always alerted when you create a new board. So if you have a blog about interior design but also a great love of skateboard culture, it might be best to save your skater pins for another account.
Publish Irresistibly Pinnable Images
Images, of course, are what Pinterest is all about, and therefore optimizing the images and photos you choose to publish on your website and pin to your account is the most important thing you can do to earn more traffic from Pinterest. Blog posts with at least one image are shared at least twice as much as blog posts with no images, a fact that really underscores the power of the image.
Additionally, you want your images to get repinned, because the most successful accounts on Pinterest are getting a ton of repins. On Pinterest, 80% of all pins are repins. Repins are what drive traffic from Pinterest. So how do you create irresistibly pinnable images?
Study Color Psychology
Color psychology does play a part in which images get repinned the most often. For example, studies have shown that when images feature a variety of dominant colors, rather than just one dominant color, they’ll get more repins and shares. Medium lightness in color also works better than very light or very dark images. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Check out Curalate’s infographic about pinnable images:
Post Images Specific to Pinterest
A rule of thumb when it comes to social media marketing is not to post the same thing on every single network. You may have overlapping followers on each site, and the last thing they want to see is the same content reused over and over the same way. Take this rule a step further and create and post images specifically for Pinterest users. Study the kinds of things that get pinned in your industry, and try to imitate their success. Remember that if you upload an image straight to Pinterest, you need to edit the pin after posting in order to add a link to your website.
Sizing Matters Too
The images that get the most repins also have something else in common: they’re typically long and skinny, something that Pinterest in general seems to favor. After all, they have restrictions on the width of images, but not height. Ideally, your images will be between 238 and 735 pixels wide – they will display at 238 pixels wide on Pinterest, and will expand to up to 735 pixels when clicked. The length is up to you – longer images will take up more real estate on the screen. (To a certain extent, at least. More recently, Pinterest has been capping some very long images with an “Expand Pin” button – in my very quick and unscientific investigations, this has happened at around 760 pixels in height when the image is scaled to a 238 pixel width.)
Add a Descriptive Text
Imagery is important, but so too is text. Include a caption for each image, and describe the image or blog post in such a way that people are enticed to click-through to your site, a call-to-action if you will. It doesn’t hurt to include a few keywords – this is the only part of the pin that will be searchable, so make it count. Additionally, if you’re pinning a product, be sure to include the price as Pinterest will include a price banner on the pin and include it in the Gifts section.
Superimpose Text, Too
Text should also be used on the image. The text you superimpose can be used in many ways. For one, it can directly tell people what they’ll learn about when they click, like if they’re going to find out about the 25 best winter soup recipes, for example. This isn't to say that every image needs to have text overlaying it, but text can make pins that link to blog posts more appealing. Suddenly, this pin isn’t just a single soup recipe – it is a gateway to 25 recipes. How useful! I’d better pin that for when my next soup craving strikes!
It’s a good idea to include the name of your site or your URL somewhere on the image. That way, if the image is reposted on another site or the link is changed, people will still be able to track down the original source.
Post Frequently But Don’t Spam
When it comes to how often you should post, a good rule of thumb is one to five times a day, as this way it won’t seem like you’re “spamming” your network by overwhelming their feed. Pinning throughout the day instead of in one big Pinterest binge also has the benefit of keeping your content fresh and interspersed throughout your followers’ main feeds.
Make Your Blog Pinterest-Friendly
Success on Pinterest begins on your website. In fact, some sites can even have a Pinterest-optimized website that brings them tons of Pinterest traffic without even having a profile of their own. (Yes, that’s how amazing Pinterest can be when it comes to driving traffic.) Here are just a few ways you can be as Pinterest-friendly as possible.
Use Social Sharing Buttons
Studies have shown that sites with share buttons, such as a “pin it” button, actually get seven times more shares than those without. If you’re using WordPress, it pays to install the pin it button for images plugin, or the more advanced user, the jQuery pin it button plugin. This puts a “pin it” button on all of your images when a visitor hovers, and with a simple click, your readers can pin your blog’s images right from your website. If they roll over an image they find interesting, the pin it button is a great reminder of somewhere they can save it.
Show Off Your Pinterest Feed on Your Blog
If your Pinterest feeds closely relate to your blog, you could even display some of them on a sidebar or within your posts to entice visitors to follow you. My favorite free Pinterest gallery plugin is Alpine Photo Tile for Pinterest, which has a half-dozen different tile configurations to choose from. It also pulls the image files onto your own site, instead of loading them from Pinterest, to improve your loading times.
SEO Those Images
Add a meaningful description as an alt tag on each and every one of your images. When the images get pinned off your website, that’s the description that will get pulled! That way if they don’t add any of their own text to the caption, which they more than likely won’t, there will still be something there that can entice people back to your site.
In case you’re wondering, there’s a plugin for this, too. SEO Friendly Images will let you specify how you would like to structure alt tags for your images, such as using the title of the post. This is a great time saver, and it will not only automatically alt-tag your future image uploads, but will go back and do all your previously uploaded images, as well.
Build Your Pinterest Empire
Now it’s time to spread your influence and grow your number of followers, because the right setup for your Pinterest account and your blog is just the start of things.
Follow Influential People and Brands in Your Industry
Chances are, other industry leaders are doing something you can emulate. But that’s not the only reason to see what they’re up to on social media. Provided they’re not direct competitors, you can also repin their images. This is important because, in order not be seen as a spammer or someone only posting self-promotional content, you should be pinning only 50% of images from your blog/site, and the other 50% should be pins from elsewhere.
Pinterest will offer up suggestions, but you can also go searching for brands you love, or check out similar boards to yours. After all, every time you pin or repin something on Pinterest, you’ll see another board that also has what you just pinned:
Organize Your Boards
The way your boards look when you visit your profile makes a first impression on your visitors. Do everything you can to win the first impression game! Place your most important boards up front and create a theme — perhaps through the use of color — across all the cover photos. Another way to organize your Pinterest profile is to create boards based on the subcategories of what you’d find back on your own blog or website.
Use Keywords and SEO Best Practices
To make it easy for people to find you, create a list of keywords that fit your brand and content. Use these keywords liberally (but naturally) everywhere from your board titles to each pin’s caption.
Consider Social Automation
Linking to your other social media sites can help expand your influence. Pinterest makes this easy to do. For one, every time you add a new pin, it gives you the option to pin to Twitter too; experiment on some of your pins to see if this works for your audience. To simplify this even more, you can use automation tools like IFTTT that link your Pinterest and Twitter so that their RSS feeds are linked.
However, a word of caution: overly automating your social accounts can be dangerous, so be careful how you set this up. Remember that your followers followed you on a specific network because that is the way they would like to receive your updates; inundate them with automated updates from another network and they may not be too happy.
Get Involved In Group Boards
Start your own group boards and invite your favorite fans and followers. This can work wonderfully because they can do all the pinning for you, but it’s still tied to your brand. But if you’re looking to expand your influence more, also join popular group boards so you have access to an audience you normally wouldn't.
To really illustrate the power of group boards, here’s an example. Renew My Home is an interior design blog that was trying to build up their following on Pinterest. They struck gold after joining two group boards, including one followed by over 15,000 Pinterest users:
After joining this board and pinning for just a few days they had already earned 100 brand new followers! Actively pinning to and engaging with the pinners on group boards is great for building your followers.
Be a Part of the Community
As with any social media site, participate in the community, and this will pay off for you tenfold. One way to do this is to type in your keywords in the search function in order to find people who are interested in the same thing. You can also investigate people who have pinned the same things as you by clicking on images you’ve repinned to your own boards. Next, follow their pages, and then go ahead and start liking (and even repinning) their pins. When you do this, they’ll be notified, and since you’ve done a lot of activity on their page, they’re more likely to notice — and in turn check you out or follow you back.
Analyze & Repeat
After doing all this work to get more Pinterest traffic, it’s important to check all your activities to see what works best. There are a variety of sites that can do this for you, but the two to start with are both free: Pinterest’s Analytics page, and Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a great way to see your most influential followers as well as keep track of other metrics. For one, when in Google Analytics, look under “traffic sources” and view your “referrals.” This way you can see how many pins link back to your site, and you can continue to grow your community by thanking the people who are repinning your content the most.
To access your Pinterest Analytics, verify your website. Once you’re verified, you can use Analytics to learn more about your followers and what they prefer to pin.
Pinterest only continues to grow and expand, making it easy for all sorts of people — from bloggers to businesses — to reap the benefits of this social image bookmarking site. I hope you enjoyed this guide – please share it with your friends and followers!
Have you tried using Pinterest to draw in traffic? Have you seen success from a particular strategy? Share your stories in the comments below!
Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer and designer obsessed with blogging and social media. She’s been blogging, in one form or another, ever since she started using the internet – and having grown up with the technology, has learned a few tips and tricks along the way. You can see more of her work by following @adrienneerin on Twitter or visiting her blog, Design Roast, where she talks about what it takes to improve as a designer.