Pinterest has rapidly become the #1 source of traffic for so many blogs, including this one. And it's nuts to me to see bloggers who still think Pinterest is somehow not for them!
If you're still on the fence about whether Pinterest can drive traffic to your blog, bookmark this list or pin it for later. Take the time to read through it thoroughly, but don't let it overwhelm you. Set aside an hour a day to focus on Pinterest, and work through this list item by item.
Then, let me know if your Pinterest traffic rises. I bet it will!
The table of contents will help you take this guide one piece at a time.
The Ultimate Guide to Using Pinterest to Drive Traffic to Your Blog
Pinterest likes (no, loves) engagement. So start pinning right away! Pin 30 things you like (not your own content, you dork!) today. And tomorrow. And for all of your tomorrows. Make a recurring calendar reminder. It doesn’t take long. Pinterest will reward you for being an engaged Pinterest user.
Want to increase your Pinterest followers? Of course you do! So, start following people. Ten people a day, to start. How? Find someone awesome (if you can’t think of anyone, try me!) and follow the people they follow. Or, mix it up, and follow the people who follow them. Following ten people happens quickly, especially if you're pinning 30 things. Try this: every time you pin something new, follow the person who pinned it.
See a pin you like that doesn’t fit into one of your boards? Hit that heart button. Pinterest gives you credit for liking — almost as much as they do for repinning. I bet you can like 20 pins without even scrolling through your home feed.
Rich pins make your pins jump higher, run faster, and have better hair. Wait, no. That’s something else. But rich pins do help your pins stand out in the sea of pins on Pinterest. And they’re easy to apply for. If you only do a handful of the steps in this post, make sure that this is one of them. Read this post about how to get rich pins.
Another way to make your pins stand out from the crowd is to create a fun favicon. In fact, if you don’t have one, you’re likely promoting someone other than you when you pin your rich pins.
When people search the internet (or the pin-ternet in this case), what terms should bring them to you? Your Pinterest profile allows for (as of this posting) 37 characters, which, we don’t have to tell you, is not much. If your first name has eight letters, you’re already down to 31 for descriptions. Be choosy. Think about the people searching. My profile says “Kathleen | Blogging tips,” which works better than using my URL.
Your profile description gets 160 characters, which, if you went through the pain and suffering of trying to figure out how to cram an elevator speech into 37 characters in your Pinterest name, should let you breathe a big sigh of relief. Show your personality in this section, but use keywords! Don’t forget that Pinterest is a search engine, too. Tell people what you are all about and what they can expect to find on your boards.
It’s not enough to bring the Pinterest masses to your site, you want people who visit your site to know you’re active on Pinterest, too! The plugin I use to put pins in my sidebar is Pinterest RSS Widget. It puts my latest pin and a “follow me” button in my sidebar.
Head over to business.pinterest.com and convert your personal account to a business account. Why? Because checking Pinterest analytics is almost (but not quite) as addictive as checking Google Analytics. Who’s in your audience? What are they clicking on? How can you reach them? These are all questions that can be answered if you convert to a business account.
Believe it or not, people will come to see what you’re all about. Are your boards arranged on your profile in a way that makes sense? Put the boards with your content in your top row, and put the board you want people to see right away in the top-left corner. Be sure to change the top two rows up seasonally, because Christmas in July doesn’t make quite as much sense as BBQ recipes.
Remember, people use Pinterest to search, and if you want your boards to show up when a person wants to find what they’re making for dinner, don’t name your board “the course before dessert” (this is a real example, from me!). Name it “dinner” instead. Or, if you pin more recipes than I do, split things up. Slow cooker, chicken, tofu, whatever. Make a board for each!
Don’t have a ton of followers but want to get your pins seen by more people? Join a group board! Group boards used to be a guaranteed way to get more pins, but people were abusing that guarantee, so Pinterest recently changed their algorithm to adjust for that. So, group boards are no longer a magical solution, but they’re still excellent. Find a relevant group board in Pin Junkie’s Pinterest Group Board Directory or Pin Groupie (sort by number of repins) and apply to join. Make sure the group boards you apply to are actually open for membership before you spend time trying to get in contact with someone. The rules are typically listed on the board.
If you create your own group board, you’re in charge. Plus, you’re immediately seen as someone who knows a thing or two about the topic you started. Create the board, invite your friends to collaborate, then help it thrive!
Think like major retailers when you’re planning your Pinterest content. You know the ones I’m talking about. Where you walk into the drugstore in October, only to find Christmas exploded? It’s normal to feel like that’s “too soon” for stuff, but now that you’re using Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog, you’re all of a sudden on the other side of this. Realize there ARE people out there who start thinking about Christmas well before December 1, and cater to them. Start pinning seasonal content (yours and others) as soon as you see that stuff appear in the store (typically six to eight weeks before the holiday).
Have you ever looked at Pinterest’s popular feed? I look at it from time to time, trying to figure out whether there’s a pattern. I’ve never been able to come up with one, though. But one thing we do know about the popular feed is that many people have pinned this stuff. So, since we want Pinterest to know that we’re the kind of person who’s pins are always popular, let’s go one step further and pin things from the “Popular” feed (but only if they’re relevant to one of our boards).
The most repinned pins are the ones that have a 2:3 ratio. That is, the width is 2/3 the size of the height. According to Social Warfare (the plugin I use to help with sharing the right-sized image with the right audience), the ideal pin dimensions are 735 px wide by 1100 px tall.
This is going to feel really weird (unless you’re used to telling people that your stuff is the absolute best ever, then you’ll be fine) but when you’re writing your pin descriptions, pretend the content isn’t yours. Instead, the content is someone else’s, and you found it, and you love it. So, change “chicken enchiladas for six” into “OMG! I just made these chicken enchiladas for my husband and kids, and there was none left!” People won’t know when they see your pins in the wild that you were the one who OMG’d. But they will know that someone got excited about your pin’s content. That’s what you want.
Keeping with the descriptions, why not make it easy for people to read more from you? Sure, the pin goes right to the post, but if you add your URL, it’s yet another way for people to click through and get to your site.
Remember, Pinterest is a search engine (just a pretty one). So, let’s say you want to write about driving traffic to your blog from Pinterest. Go to Pinterest.com and in the search bar, type “pinterest.” If you get too many results from that, keep adding search terms. Add the word “blog,” or the word “traffic” and see which pins are the most popular. Sidenote: the best way to tell which pins are the most popular is to look at the first two rows of results. Seeing the titles and the pin layouts will help you decide what you’re going to write about to see your pin in those results.
These pins are already doing well for you, so take what is working and make it work even harder. Log in to your Pinterest Analytics and click “Your Pinterest Profile.” Click on “Clicks” up at the top (because we’re all about driving traffic to your site not just making you generally popular on Pinterest!), and expand your timeline to the past 30 days. Go repin each of those! Unless they’re not all yours. Only repin yours.
Pinterest wants 735×1100 pixels on their pins, but those sizes take up too much space on the WordPress themes I like. In fact, having an image that big means I’m either forcing my readers to scroll too much at the beginning of the post OR I’m giving them a huge photo at the end of my post instead of making it easy for them to share wherever they want and/or comment or subscribe. Luckily, there are (at least) two ways to make it all work harmoniously:
Free but Challenging: Add “display: none;” Code
Upload your pin somewhere on your post. Now, go to the “text” part so you can add code. Find your image. It’ll start with “<img” and continue from there. Just before the “<img” part, add this code:
<div style=”display: none;”>
Then, find the end of your image. Add “</div>” to the end of that.
We’re effectively “wrapping the image in a div” that tells your visual editor to hide it, but when you click the pin button, your image will appear as if by magic.
Not free ($24/year) but Easy: Social Warfare
If messing with code every time you post something makes your skin crawl, it’s worth the investment in Social Warfare. Social Warfare sits under every post of yours with a place to add a title and description for both Facebook/Twitter (they like images of around the same size) and Pinterest. You do have to create two images if you go this route, but you probably were anyway if you were putting a giant “pin me” image down at the bottom of each of your posts. Social Warfare makes it easier. Get it here.
Read more about Social Warfare: How I Grew My Traffic by 31% in Two Months
Even if you have a Pinterest sharing option on your sharing buttons (you have those, right? If not, see #21 and go get Social Warfare), you should install a Pin It button plugin on your site. The one this site uses is jQuery Pin It Button For Images. The “pin it” button appears on all of your images when you’re hovering over, giving users the option to pin anything they want!
Board Booster will really ramp up your Pinterest profile. Last month, my allotted pins ran out before the billing cycle ended, and wow, when I logged in to Pinterest analytics, I could tell almost down to the hour when it stopped working! This post goes through a lot more detail on how to set up Board Booster to keep cycling through your popular pins so people will see them when they’re online even though you’ve set them up at your convenience.
I just started using Tailwind, and I’m already in love. Think of a weird cyber romance between Buffer and Pinterest — Buffrest? See, good thing they didn’t ask me to help with coming up with a name because Tailwind is much better! They did a massive research project to try to come up with the very best times to pin (which doesn’t matter as much now with Smart Feed as it used to, but still matters). So, you fill your queue with pins (yours and others) and Tailwind will drip those pins out on what they claim is the “right” schedule for you. I see this being especially helpful with pins you want to reappear several times. They have a risk-free trial option if you want to check it out for yourself. Try Tailwind now.
You may go through several iterations of what makes your pins your own. I know I did. But now that I’ve settled into something I’m comfortable with, creating pins takes a lot less time and when I release my pins out into the wild, I know they’re mine, and so do others. How do you do that? Create a “look” — light or dark? Come up with two (or at most three) fonts you’ll use, and stick to those, period. Scroll through Pinterest to see which pins you like, then come up with your own style.
Once you’ve created your brand, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. This is the toughest tip in the list as well as the one that will have the most impact. Go through your archives and redo every pin. Pin those to your board that contains pins from your website. Then, set up Board Booster or Tailwind to schedule those pins to go out on other boards. Voila! Posts that haven’t seen the light of day in months or years will find themselves getting some pageviews.
This is a big project for a couple reasons:
- You have to go through all your old posts
- You have to create a zillion Pinterest images
- You might be tempted to go in and fix the SEO as well
- Once you start dusting off your old posts, you’re going to find that they either need to be deleted or completely reworked
It’s really #4 that will take the most time, but trust me, deleting old posts that are no longer relevant (and don’t get any pageviews anyway) is like trimming a tree: get rid of the ones that are taking energy away from the branches that will help you grow.
Sound like a lot of work? You can hire people like me to do this for you.
Create a sense of urgency with your pins (and your post titles, too, if you can stand it!). Give people a reason (surprise, intrigue, incredulity, some sort of heightened interest) to click on your pins, and ultimately, click through to your posts. Don’t resort to bait-and-switch techniques (nobody likes those), but do make the words on your pins more compelling by using words and phrases that pique your readers’ interests.
When I first started creating pins, my thought was, “use as big a font as the space allows,” which, frankly, is the wrong call. I wasn’t corrected until years later when a coworker kindly told me that unless people are sight impaired, you don’t have to use the largest font imaginable.
Use white space. It’s your friend. You want your pins to stand out, not shout. Don’t pick the busiest photo to base your pins, and don’t use up all available space.
This one sounds self-explanatory, but it isn’t. If you want people to click through to your site, tell them to click through. Sometimes people need their hands held, and just like horses, they need to be led to the water. Bring them to the water. You can’t force them to drink, of course, but you can bring them where you want them to go.
Check your Pinterest Analytics and see which colors are in your top ten most repinned, liked, and clicked posts. What is the dominant background color? What is the dominant layout? Use this information to build your brand and repeat what already works.
I went through a phase where I was absolutely loving these cutesy graphics. Robots and cartoons and such. But you know what wasn’t resonating with my audience? Those kinds of images. Photos do way better than graphics. Use photos as your pins’ background images. To find all the free, no attribution required photos you could possibly want, check out our list.
Here’s something funny: pins that have people in them get repinned more than pins without people. But if those people have faces? The repin rate goes down. So, cut off their heads! Or, to be more humane, crop closely on hands.
Create pins using background images like this:
Even if you’re taking a screenshot and uploading it to your site, change the name so it contains the name of your blog post. You NEVER want to see “Screen Shot 1/1 9:10” on one of your pins on Pinterest.
We all know that the title of the image should have the same title as your blog post (right?). But the alt tag (or “alternative text” in WordPress) matters just as much. So, take the extra few seconds and write your description in your alternate text field (if you’re not going to use Social Warfare, that is).
Smart Feed has reduced the urgency of this tip, but the timing of your pin matters, at least to some extent. The best times to pin are in the afternoon (think post-lunch brain break) from 2-4pm and in the evening (decompressing after a long day) from 8pm-1am, and, of course, all weekend long. This is a good place for you to put pins on a schedule with Tailwind.
Every week, remind your followers on your other social networks that you’re also on Pinterest. You can do this automatically or manually.
The Automatic Way
Activate this recipe on IFTTT to set up your pins to add to your Buffer for Twitter. You can do it for Facebook, too, but if you’re pinning 30 pins a day, you probably don’t want to jam your Facebook page with pins. Which brings us to the manual way.
One of my recent buffered pins, via Twitter:
The Manual Way
Every week, link one of your boards to your Facebook page. “Latest pins on <<Board Name>>.”
Remember those pins you had at the beginning? The ones that were landscape and used cartoons? Or the ones that didn’t have any text on them at all? Replace them with your new look. That way, you can stand behind your pins, and be proud of them when they go viral.
Infographics seem to have fallen slightly off the internet radar, but if you see them, especially on Pinterest’s popular page, repin them. For some reason, they get crazy engagement on Pinterest. And that’s what we want. Crazy engagement.
Mashable compiled the most searched content by country in 2015. Check out that list here. It seems that here in the US, we’re still not over Harry Potter (which is totally fine with me!). Start pinning more of the most searched pins, and increase the likelihood of your pin showing up in search results.
How often have you seen a pin of just an image and gone whizzing by it, having no clue what the post is about? Don’t let it be your pins that people are whizzing by!
Place clear, easy to read text on top of your pins, explaining the post. Use the post title, or something very closely related, and draw people in so that they repin and click through.
How can you tell if it’s easy to read? Back up a few feet from your computer. Can you still read the words? Excellent! If not, rework the image until when standing 2’ away it is clearly legible.
Tools to Add Words
There are free, affordable, and deluxe image tools readily available to help you easily make your pins clear as day.
I’d be willing to bet (Monopoly money) that not all of your boards belong to a specific category. Go in and change that right now, even if you can’t find one you think fits perfectly. Why categorize? Because that’s how related pins show up. The more you give Pinterest, the more they’ll give you. They want your great content to show up, but they’re not smart enough to know what your pins are about, unless your board has a category. (Give them a break, they’re a computer!)
Did one of your posts go viral on Facebook? Get tweeted 1000 times? Maybe it hit the StumbleUpon lottery. Whatever it is, repin it. Chances are, if it was popular somewhere else, it will be popular on Pinterest, too.
Since you’re already pinning your posts to your boards, why not embed a board at the bottom (or heck, middle!) of your post? The developer side of Pinterest will help you with that. Don’t be scared… they don’t mean you have to be a developer to understand how to build a widget, they mean their developers have created neat tools to help you add a bit of Pinterest to your website.
You send your subscribers emails, right? If you need help figuring out what, exactly, to put in your broadcast emails, check out 50 Ideas to Make Your Blog Newsletter the Best. Then, add a link to your Pinterest profile in one of your notes. Maybe even mention the last ten things you pinned.
Hashtags are a fun way to communicate on Instagram. One of the people I follow writes 37 hashtags for every photo she posts. It’s cute, and fun. But Pinterest is not Instagram. (That was probably the stupidest sentence in this post; of course Pinterest is not Instagram!) What I mean by that is that you can use hashtags on Pinterest, but they don’t replace your description. So, write your description, then add hashtags if you want. But the way clicking a hashtag works on Pinterest is an “exact” search term, so if you write #blogpost, and someone clicks on it, it’s not going to return #blog or #post, or even #blogposts. Likewise, they won’t be found until someone is searching for “blogpost,” which, if they are, is probably just a typo anyway. So use hashtags, but be careful not to let them replace your descriptions that don’t have the pound sign in them.
Pinterest likes the connection between your website and their platform. So, to gain traction (aka clicks) to your website from Pinterest, click the Pinterest button on a published post. Do not upload photos directly to Pinterest. For some reason, that doesn’t get you nearly as much “credit” in Pinterest’s eyes. Plus, it makes it a lot harder for your readers to share the lovely graphics you’ve made.
Tip #1 was to post 30 things a day. Every day. If you were hesitating about the idea that you’d be spamming your followers by pinning that much, this is your permission slip not to. Smart feed fixes all that. Just pin as much as you want, and your followers won’t see everything all at once. Actually, on the flip side, some of your followers won’t see anything at all.
Like me! I’m awesome. I might not be in your niche, though. So, find your heroes. Follow them. Follow the people they follow. Chances are, they’re awesome too. You’ll find that the higher caliber people you follow, the better the pins you get to see.
Show us your face! Don’t keep the default — that’s the Pinterest equivalent of the Twitter egg. And, unless you blog anonymously, or you’re part of a giant company, don’t upload your logo, either. Instead, give your readers a glimpse of who you are and what you look like.
Verifying your website with Pinterest is easy! First, add your website to your profile, then click the “confirm website” button.
Next, go into your WordPress settings, and add that meta tag.
Come back to Pinterest, and hit “Finish.” Voila! You’ve been confirmed!
People will look at your Pinterest profile to get an idea of who you are. So, put your website’s board first, then other important boards. Make sure your top two rows are, in fact, your top boards.
Make your covers look alike! You can upload covers yourself, or you can choose a theme. Let’s say you want all your boards to have a light background. Go in and change the cover of each board to contain a pin with a light background.
We optimize our posts for SEO, right? Don’t forget: Pinterest is a search engine too, which means we need to give it the same SEO consideration we give Google. Use keywords in the following places:
- Your profile
- Your profile’s description
- Your board titles
- Your board descriptions
- Your pin titles
- Your pin descriptions
Make Pinterest a more beautiful place by creating your own pins. Read about finding images to share on social networks, then check out Good, Better, Best and learn where to find images and which programs we recommend for pin creation. Get yourself some design cred!
Pinterest’s ad platform is relatively new, but it could prove to be beneficial. Try it! Experiment with a pin that might bring you money (a post with affiliate links?) or one that might bring in more business. Set a budget, and see how it goes!
Above all, be helpful to your readers. Pin things that will provide value. If you’re interested in something, chances are your readers will be too. Use Pinterest to help you do research. Create a board about your next work project and pin all the relevant pins you can find to that board. Then, someone in the future will be looking for everything on that board and you’ll gain a follower.
Make sure you’re mentioning Pinterest on your blog. Even a simple, “I’m on Pinterest, are you?” somewhere in your post will help people connect with you. Some bloggers use Pinterest for their link love posts, which is completely acceptable as well.
Whew! Welcome to the end of this. Congratulations for getting this far! That was a lot of content thrown right at you, wasn’t it? If you’d prefer a more measured approach, with in-depth explanations, videos, exercises, a workbook, and access to experts, check out the course: