How to Optimize Your Site for Pinterest
Without further ado, please allow me to introduce you to one of my all-time favorite sharing platforms, Pinterest. Pinterest and I go all the way back to 2011, a year after it’s humble origins. By that time, Pinterest was already a sharing powerhouse, with pins galore covering all types of categories. My favorite category at that time? Collecting memes, of course. Today, Pinterest is home to a diverse audience, and it’s one of my favorite ways to ensure a steady stream of traffic to my site. I believe that making a site Pinterest friendly is just as important as optimizing for SEO. So today I’m going to walk you through how to optimize your site for Pinterest so you can harvest the positive benefits as well.
A Virtual Board for All Your Favorite Things
Pinterest took care of something that up until the point of its creation hadn’t really existed. Sure, there were blogging platforms and social media platforms where someone could share things with friends, but this method left a lot to be desired. Up until this point, there really wasn’t a platform for saving things in a way that was visual, something and took all the hyperlinking out of the equation. So the dawn of Pinterest captivated bulletin board makers, vision board creators, and DIYers galore. Soon people began flocking to Pinterest in droves to find recipes, crafts, and style inspiration, and it simply grew exponentially from there.
My point here is that even if you don’t use Pinterest, others are. And Pinterest is one of the best free ways to bring traffic from all over the world to your site. So today I’m going to teach you how to optimize your site for Pinterest.
The Inside Scoop
In my days working in the media publishing world, I was in charge of our brand’s Pinterest board, which I loved, because Pinterest is my favorite platform! We would have multiple calls with the folks at Pinterest (and I would silently fangirl over it) and these people were the experts behind it all who had so much to teach. I learned many things about the platform at that time, which were:
There is practically no niche that Pinterest does not touch.
About 20% of Pinterest users are actually male.
Vertical graphics are key on this platform.
Pinterest is a search engine, but is often mistaken as a social media platform.
People often pin for inspiration. They tend to pin first and click later.
Pinning to group boards is a great way to get your pins seen by new audiences.
Hashtags are not really a thing with Pinterest (UPDATE* - hashtags can now be used to search for content, and applicable content will appear more chronologically, versus searching by regular keywords which will populate by relevancy.)
Soon, I began making specific graphics, plugging in keywords, sharing more often, and making our images more “pinnable.” I learned so many rules and tricks for optimizing a site for Pinterest, which I’m about to share with you right now. Grab a pen and paper (or Pin this blog post!) because it’s about to get real.
The First Things to Do To Optimize Your Site for Pinterest
When embarking on the Pinterest path for the first time, there are a few helpful things to know. These first 3 things are super basic and are really the bare minimum of what you would need to make things easy for others to pin your content. This is essentially letting your audience pin for you, and I like to look at this as setting up for automation. So what will you need? Read on.
1.) The Pin It! Button
Let’s start with the easiest ways first. Examine your website or blog. Does your site include Pin It! buttons on every image? This is important because it helps a user pin your images themselves when they visit your site. This is essentially a form of automation. They can also install the Pin It browser app, but this helps them avoid that step if they don’t have it. Plus, rolling over an image and seeing an inviting Pin It button is like the perfect queue to do so, because it’s such an easy action. If you don’t have this feature on your images on your site already, time to make that happen.
If you’re on Squarespace, go to Marketing > Pinterest Save Buttons > Click “Enable”
If you’re on Wordpress, check with your theme or developer on the location of the Pinterest features. It could be that you have to install a plugin or add in icons yourself, which is still easy to do with a little research.
2.) Vertical Blog Images
As stated above, vertical images do better on Pinterest. The optimum ratio is 2:3. Super long pins are labeled by the folks at Pinterest as being “Giraffe Pins” and are actually given the boot when it comes to Pinterest’s algorithm. So gone are the days when a super long info graphic can reign supreme because of it’s lengthy visibility.
Creating vertical images for your blog can be as simple as going into Canva and creating your own, or using Photoshop or Adobe Spark (Tip: Adobe Spark’s premium features come free with any Creative Cloud plan purchase) to create some graphics. The key here is to be visually appealing. Think about it, when you are pinning or scrolling on the web, what images make you stop and take notice? These images will often do really, really well on this platform.
3.) Alt Text On All Images
Depending on the plugin you’re using (if you’re on Wordpress) or whether you’re using Squarespace, sometimes native pinning (from your site) can result in pulling in the text associated with the image into Pinterest instead of the blog post info. So for example, if given the option to add in alt text to your images, always rename them something applicable. So for example, instead of a photo having its default name of IMG4523.jpg, rename your image to: How to Make Blueberry Cheesecake | Bethany Bakes Blog. This allows Pinterest to pull in the title of your post and your blog whenever a user goes to pin the image. If this seems cumbersome, know that this is actually also a best practice for SEO as well. So it’s like getting two birds with one stone. Leaving an image titled something like IMG4523.jpg does nothing to help potential search queries find your blog post. Think of all the people who would miss that blueberry cheesecake recipe!
Time for the More Advanced Steps
Ok, now that we’ve squared away the basics, time for some more advanced moves! First of all, if you haven’t created a Pinterest account yet, time to jump in! Free marketing awaits, dude! If you’re starting a brand new account, you’ll have the option to start off with a business account. Go ahead and do that. If you have a personal account that exists already, check out the next step below.
4.) Become a Business Account & Claim Your Website
Next we’re going to embark upon taking our journey with Pinterest a little more seriously. We’re stepping up the game a bit. So this step is about becoming a business account, linking your website, and gaining access to Pinterest Analytics. Which is all free, by the way. Can I get an amen? So once you’ve created your Pinterest account, enter in your website title and then follow Pinterest’s instructions exactly so that they can verify your site and hook it into their analytics feature. Visit this page if you need help.
Having a business account gets you access to stats that show how your site is doing on the Pinterest side of things. It will calculate the pins that come directly from your site so you can monitor that activity as part of your Pinterest strategy. The analytics page will also display your top pins, made complete with impressions and clicks. This can help you get an idea for the content you have that performs well. Pretty cool!
5.) Become an Active Pinterest User
Now we didn’t come all this way to just look at it, right? Growing an active Pinterest presence also requires that you put in a little elbow grease and some active participation. Essentially, the Pinterest algorithm wants to know that you’re a “quality” pinner, and that you’re pinning “quality” pins. In this way, Pinterest can pull your pins and share them with users that have similar interests. These pins may show up on other users home feeds. And let me just say, like 90% of my what I pin for myself comes from when I first open up the app and pin from my home feed, so this is powerful stuff, guys.
To become an established and active pinner, simply start pinning!
Start by creating boards that have to do with you and your brand. Pin all of your blog posts to your first board. If your niche is woodworking for example, create boards that are relevant to the audience you’re trying to reach, for example:
Willa’s Wood Works (Your Site Title)
Wood Working Projects
You can create as many boards as you want. Go on a pinning spree! Fill them up with applicable content. Make sure you’re actually interested in these things as well. Have fun with it! Pinterest is for you just as much as it is for others to enjoy your work. If you don’t like Pinterest at all, don’t worry, I’m not one of those people who’s going to tell you to pin 50 times a day, because in my experience, that doesn’t actually work very well anyway. Once you have a stable foundation of a Pinterest account, you can simply pin all of your new content as it becomes available. Pinterest is in all honesty very easy to maintain.
A few extra helpful Pinning tips:
Don’t become a pin hoarder. In fact, it’s been known that removing old pins is looked at as favorable by the Pinterest algorithm and I believe is one element that proves that you are an active pinner. I have experienced huge surges in traffic to my site when I have deleted old pins and added new ones. Seriously, huge.
Use secret boards to pin things that you want to keep to yourself. For example if you’re embarking on a new Paleo diet but don’t necessarily want to share it with your audience, you can make that board a secret board. You will be able to see it just as easily as your other boards, but no one else will.
Find applicable group boards to join to share your content. The goal here is to present your pins to a new audience. This could mean joining with a friend who is a veteran pinner, or even with a partner brand that you can reach out to.
Once someone pins your pin, you don’t have control over it anymore. Unless that user deletes it before others can pin it, it may spread like wildfire! So make sure your pins are the way you want them to be before you pin. You cannot delete another users’s pin (even if you created it!) unless Pinterest removes it due to it being flagged.
Be mindful with URL redirects. If you ever change a blog post URL after it has been pinned, be sure to add in a redirect on your site so those who have saved that pin on Pinterest won’t be met with a broken link! And just as a side note, if you ever delete your site that was once super active on Pinterest, please provide a redirect for that audience to your new site. It’s super sad to get a “Site Closed” or a sad domain landing page, because not only is that traffic wasted, but also now that pin is completely useless.
6.) Add Pinterest to your Workflow with Easy Maintenance
Once you’re established on Pinterest, simply meaning your account is active, you’ve been pinning, your site is claimed, and you’re familiar with the analytics dashboard - the next steps are to make Pinterest maintenance as easy as possible.
If you’re a Squarespace user, a great option is to choose for your posts to immediately push to Pinterest upon hitting publish. Do this by making sure your Pinterest account is connected (Settings > Connected Accounts, then add in Pinterest and click your account to toggle the options to push to Pinterest upon hitting publish. From there, simply make sure that part of your blog post publishing workflow includes going to the Social tab and hitting the button for the Pinterest account.
Other than that, simply make sure you are routinely going through and pinning your new content to Pinterest to all applicable boards. When you pin your content, you also have the option to add further descriptions, which you can use to add in keywords, short blurbs, or excerpts from your post to reach more people in Pinterest search results.
All in all, Pinterest is such a powerful search engine. Yes, it’s often thought of as being a social media platform, as people can follow you, message you, etc, but it’s so much more than that. If used correctly and with intentional strategy, there is so much that Pinterest can do for your work! Free marketing, a fun and user-friendly interface, plus free analytics. It’s a win-win-win all the way across the board! So let’s recap what it takes to optimize your site for Pinterest.
Including a Pin It! Button on all images
Vertical Blog Graphics
Alt Text on All Images
Become a Business Account & Claim Your Website
Become an Active Pinner
Add Pinterest into your Workflow with Easy Maintenance
I hope this post has helped you out! I always suggest if someone has a blog, they’ve got to have a presence on Pinterest. It’s just such a creative, visual, and powerful platform to get your content seen and shared by others. This is one of the best ways to acquire new traffic from all over the world, and I have personally seen just how much exponential growth can come from using this platform, whether you have an existing site or are starting from square one.
If you found this post helpful, be sure to let me know in the comments below and to share this post with someone who may be interested! I’d love to hear from you and discuss your take on the platform below. What is your favorite (or least favorite) thing about Pinterest? What is your Pinterest strategy like and what has worked well for you?