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Before I started my travel site Two Scots Abroad, I had dabbled with Pinterest. I used the platform to search for nail art ideas and Halloween costume inspiration but never considered how Pinterest could help those with a business. Pinterest drives traffic to your website. It fast became my number one referrer by simply creating one new pin for every article I published (it’s now rivalled by organic search traffic from Google). The point is, Pinterest is easy to use and can get hundreds – thousands of new eyes on your pages every day. All you have to do is add your pins to Pinterest, which are directly linked to your posts. If pinners are inclined, they can click through to your website to find out more about the image/pin. Now I receive traffic from Pinterest daily. Warning, if you do use Pinterest already, your Pinterest strategy may be outdated. Don’t worry, we’re here to show you what is hot in 2018.
The following 8 steps will get you to this stage in no time.
Set up: Pretty Pinterest boards
Create a profile, fill in the usual (you’ll need to verify your website by putting a code in your website), and create boards. You want these Pinterest boards to look aesthetically pleasing. Lots of research suggests that one of your first boards should be your ‘blog board’ so that your followers can keep up to date with your newest posts. Upload your first pin by clicking ‘edit’ and type in the URL which is associated with your pin or choose ‘upload from site’ and put the web address of the post. Before you do this read the next section. Note – the newest update from Pinterest recommends that you should pin to your most relevant board first (which may not be your ‘best of board’). This is because when the pin is then repinned by other users it carries the information from the board with it too.
1. Add keywords to Pinterest 2018
This is also known as ‘optimising’ which you may have heard of already if you are following our guides to get more traffic from Google. What is the main topic/theme of your website (what are your keywords)? Add this to your Pinterest ‘business name’ found in profile. For example, if your niche is glucose free living, add that to your title. Now add an ‘about you’ bio which includes your the main aim of your site and keywords.
You should also add keywords to your board descriptions. To do this, hover over the board and click the pencil symbol. Here you can change the board’s profile image, description, type of board, and whether it is private it or not. If you have a personal board which is not in keeping with your brand I would recommend removing it or setting it to private.
Why do I need keywords on Pinterest?
Great question, Pinterest is not actually a social media channel like some sites would lead you to believe. It’s a search engine like Google, Bing or Yahoo. Pinterest users type in keywords into the search bar and Pinterest returns the best match based on the queries made by the user.
How do I find keywords on Pinterest?
There are a few ways to do this. Firstly, if you have a keyword research procedure for organic traffic like Google (if you don’t you should read this guide), you could use those keywords. Other articles recommend using Google Adwords to find the correct keywords, we do not suggest that as a solid SEO strategy here at Make Traffic Happen. Why? Because the volume (the number of users asking Google the query) is not specific enough. We prefer targeted keyword research.
Alternatively, you should use Pinterest to find keywords. Go to the homepage, click on the search bar and type in the topic of your pin/article. Pinterest then returns the most suitable pins for the user to consider. Before you hit return after typing your keyword, Pinterest recommends some additional options – add them to your pin and board descriptions if they make sense. For example, when we type in ‘lose weight’, Pinterest makes these suggestions based on what others have previously asked/clicked on.
Pinterest also suggests other keywords in coloured text underneath your search. You may want to consider these options too.
The problem with Pinterest keywords
The issue is the same reason we don’t recommend Adwords for Google keyword research, there is no volume so you do not know how many users are actually requesting information on these topics. Also, Pinterest apparently doesn’t like keyword stuffing (listing keywords) but some of my popular pins do have lists and others have paragraphs.
Extra tip: Pinterest board images
Branding is just as important on Pinterest as aesthetically pleasing pins and boards. You may add a title image to each board. They can be created for free using a platform such as Canva or Picmonkey. The ideal image board size is 217 x 146. Remember to add your keywords in your board description. We asked the members of our Facebook group if you have added board cover images and the majority said no, they did not feel it was worth their time as Pinterest is a search engine so followers matter less. In their latest interview, Pinterest was adamant that they are not just a search engine with more prominence being placed on the ‘followers tab’.
Adding Showcase/Featured Boards to your Pinterest
Showcase does what it says on the tin – you can add your best boards to the top of your Pinterest page. To activate go to setting, profile and select the Showcase option. Edit by adding your best boards using the drop-down. The Showcase can get quite messy as it not only shows your beautifully crafted board cover but also all of the pins you have added to that board (some of which will be other people’s pins).
2. How to create pins for Pinterest [free]
Photos which are vertical (long), slim and bright get more attention. Currently bigger, vertical images work best but Pinterest indicates that they prefer 2:3 900 tall x 600 wide. You want your pins to be seasonal, Pinterest advises that you pin them 45 days before the holiday or the event to let it gain traction.
I use Canva and Adobe Spark as they offer pre-set Pinterest templates. I edit all images on Lightroom before uploading to Canva. Quality is key. You not only want pinners to click on your pins, but you want them to pin them to their own boards too! Here’s our tutorial on how to make beautiful free pins.
3. Call out pins for Pinterest
When I create a new article I always create a new pin (using Canva, see above) to support it. This lets me tell the world MY ARTICLE HAS LANDED.
Pins with nice images and catchy titles do well on Pinterest. For example, ‘10 Things to do in Ljubljana’. These pins grab even the shortest of attention spans as the reader knows that the article is going to be succinct.
Next, I add the pin to my blog article. To do this I upload the Canva template sized pin to WordPress, add to my post from the media library and then click the pencil on the image to manually resize to a smaller size (somewhere in between 350-500 long edge).
There is confusion over whether to add your Pinterest keywords to the alt tag section of the upload information or your targeted organic traffic keywords. Tailwind advises us not to add the Pinterest keywords, sticking with the organic ones. Check out this article which explains why.
Finally, on my article, I write a quick sentence suggesting that the reader hovers over the pin and saves to their own Pinterest boards (see below for my pin call out for this article – Pinterest for Bloggers).
Here is one of my most popular pins (not the best in my opinion) but there is a statement on it which obviously works!
4. Hashtags on Pinterest
Pinterest has said that hashtags may be a thing of the future *heavy eye roll*. We have been experimenting with hashtags but a few things stand out. Many of the hashtags that Pinterest recommends look like Instagram hashtags. Some of the hashtags we have researched pull up very poor quality pins (small, square, terrible photography) – not what we are accustomed to seeing on Pinterest. As of Spring 2018, Pinterest has reinforced that hashtags are not going anywhere and pinners can add up to 20 per pin. Simple Pin Media recently recommended in a webinar to use three hashtags per pin with one being your brand name #maketraffichappen for example.
5. Pinning + sharing pins to increase traffic
When I first started using Pinterest I searched for ‘travel’ in the search bar and added the most popular pins to my boards. I also followed 50 travel-related accounts per day, to get some numbers behind me. This information worked for me, but with the development of research on how Pinterest works it has become clear that it is not a social media channel, it’s a search engine. However, Pinterest is now highlighting that your ‘followers tab’ is important. This is where your pin is first shown and your followers will see the first five pins to pin each day here, or so they said in May 2018. This was soon removed from Pinterest Best Practices and the most up to date advice is pin frequently but not in a flurry. Spread it out but pin consistently.
From the ‘testing ground’ followers tab, Pinterest will work out how engaging your pin is – does it have comments, ‘tried this’ images, saves or repins to other group boards? If so, it will help get more eyes on the pin by showing it to more users.
You should also stick to pinning thematic pins. If you want to create a wedding board and you normally pin about workouts you can use the secret board function. Although, Pinterest now appears to be going soft on that advice too. Your pins should be seasonal and pinned 45 days before a holiday or an event.
How many pins should I pin?
As of Spring 2018, Pinterest states that there is no magic number or ratio of pins but you should pin daily and be consistent. So it is better to pin less each day the binge pin twice per week. This has changed my strategy as I used to join 2-3 share threads per week.
The bad news is that Pinterest prefers fresh pins. That means it likes when you add a new pin for a new or old article. However, you should not delete old pins – think of it as a chain, by deleting one pin you may be removing a link in the chain.
Pinterst share threads
There are lots of Facebook groups which offer Pinterest share threads. I used to religiously join 2-3 per week to promote new pins. In share threads you add your pin and repin the other pins in the thread, those pinners will then repin your pin. However, times are chaning. Simple Pin Media say ‘Threads can really be hit and miss. Mostly we see a whole lot of time and energy spent, with little return’. They then suggest working with 2-3 other pinners in your niche who have similar content and sharing each other’s content (this is like a Tribe in the pin schedule/analytics tool Tailwind but with smaller numbers). I am about to trial this with six other travel bloggers, I will keep you updated on the results.
6. Pinning to boards
There are two type of Pinterest boards – your own boards and group boards. Your own boards are the ones you set up at the start of this guide (with keywords in the description). Group boards are themeatic boards with a number of members. The goal is to pin to the board and repin from the board but that has not been the case over the years.
This year, Pinterest specialists have stated that Pinterest prefers that you pin to your own boards (optimised with keywords) over groups boards. If you invest in Tailwind and assess the ‘virality’ (repins divided by the pins) for the last seven days (you can manually work this out) you will see that the virality is low for many group boards. This is because they have become dumping grounds for pins.
However, many pinners are still using group boards. Here is how to gain access.
- Use Pingroupie to find group boards looking for pinners. Some have instructions on how to apply. Just follow that (something like – go to this website and fill out a form). Others don’t. To find out who to contact, delete the board name in the URL and hit return. This will take you to the board owner’s page. Click on any advertised social media and contact them politely. Or contact via Pinterest.
- Aim for boards with lots of followers, but not as many pinners (5000-10.000 followers and more than 20 pinners have been suggested) – this advice is probably outdated and I would aim for boards with less members.
- Check back on the board to see how quickly the pins move, if it’s slow then it might be worth moving on from that group board.
- Once you are on a board, add a quality, fresh pin every day and save other pins to your own boards.
- Initially, I had a spreadsheet with all the board names on it and I noted down what I’d shared and which boards I had pinned it to.
- Tailwind and Buffer are pin-scheduling websites which allow you to set up your pinning beforehand. Boardbooster was used to re-pin older pins and keep them alive but has now been deemed negative for Pinners.
- As you progress you will be invited to group boards. Accept the invites that fit your niche.
Avoid pinning aimlessly. Use the following tools to check repins and traffic from the pins.
- Your spreadsheet to manually inspect the pin analytics (repins etc)
- Pinterest Analytics
- Google Analytics (you can read our guide here)
- Tailwind Pin inspect
7. Pinterest plugins for your website
There are many plugins which will connect Pinterest to your website. This will allow readers to pin any photos of interest from your site to their boards. When the pin is selected it takes your alt tag with it. I always add my SEO keywords to the alt tag (for organic traffic from Google).
8. Pinterest Facebook groups
As mentioned above, there are Facebook groups which set up Pinterest share threads.
For daily pin, share threads check out the Facebook group Pinterest for Travel Bloggers. You add your pin to the list and add all of the pins in the thread to your own Pinterest boards. Other bloggers will do the same for you.
Start winning: Facebook groups are the gateway to networking. Here are the 29+ I’m active in.
Case study → I quit Pinterest + here’s what happened
If you squint you can see the results of my stint in quitting Pinterest. I wanted to take an actual holiday when I was visiting Bulgaria and Turkey in April so stopped taking part in as many group share threads which then resulted in me quitting altogether (apart from one share for a campaign I felt insecure about not pimping). As you can see my Pinterest.com traffic has not changed much at all. The blue line is from March to July and the orange compares traffic for the same length of the period from October to February. When I look at my top pins in Google Analytics (Acquisition, all traffic, referrals, Pinterest – check out our intro to Analytics tutorial here) most of them a pretty dated which means somewhere down the line when I was following my strategy of joining shares and pinning to group boards these pins went viral and they are still going strong. However, Pinterest Analytics states my Pinterest reach has decreased by 767,000. So the question is – if we don’t take part in some form of pin marketing will our pins magically take off? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments below or in our Facebook group, Make Traffic Happen. I am now committing to Tailwind. Stay tuned to find out the results.
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Pin to your blogging Pinterest board for others to see!
Pinterest for Travel Bloggers
Obviously, Pinterest is just one tool in your travel blogging toolkit. It is possible that many of you actually found this post via Google – this shows the strength of good SEO which should not be ignored for social media! SEO is something I wish I had paid more attention to from the start however it has given me an excuse to revisit old posts which need a bit of love. To find out more about my procedure for blogging check out this post tips to get more blog followers. Pinterest is guilty of creating high bounce rates – blogging needs a balance between all forms of traffic.
Pinterest now allows users to share affiliate links which is something I would like to explore in the near future! Is anyone using it? Let me know how you are getting on in the comments below.
Next up: Twitter for Travel Bloggers