Internet analytics company comScore reported 28 million users on Pinterest in December 2012. And while the number of brands on Pinterest is unknown, even a casual observer can see that businesses have flocked to the image-driven social network.
What’s the Pinterest allure for brands? Website referral traffic. After all, Pinterest is the third largest source of Internet referral traffic.
But don’t expect Pinterest to be a slam-dunk.
First, Pinterest isn’t necessarily well-suited for all brands. For example, it’s well known that the large majority of Pinterest users are women. So if your product/service is targeted towards men, and it’s not easy to portray visually –then you’ should probably exert your marketing efforts elsewhere. Of course, there are always exceptions but they are, by definition, rare.
Second, based on my observation, many brands are not factoring in SEO and content strategy — both of which help drive engagement, discoverability, and website visits. By applying just a few best practices, you can drive a noticeable lift in referral traffic.
The following tips have a theme: Social SEO.
1. Get your Pinterest page verified
Verification enables you to create a clickable website url on your page. As seen in the Anthropologie example above, verified accounts have a red check mark next to the hyperlinked url.
2. Apply SEO tactics to your About section
Pinterest is indexed by Google search and content is searchable from within the social network. So it’s critical to incorporate your brand’s most important SEO words (top keywords that bring users to your site, as well as aspirational keywords you’d like to align with your business). Hubspot is a great example of SEO done right on Pinterest. Their About section includes two keywords that explain exactly what the business offers: software and marketing.
In contrast, The Home Depot fails to include keywords in the About section that would improve their search discoverability. They should incorporate words like home improvement, household repairs, and gardening.
3. Align your Board topics with your Brand topics.
Victoria’s Secret Board topics are laser focused on its products, gorgeous models, and themes that resonate with its lingerie-loving audience. The brand’s Boards feature women’s undergarments by color (“Pretty in Pink”), mood (Sexy is…Delicate Romance”), and occasion (“Party Like An Angel”). Additionally, there are Boards on extended beauty topics like hair (“Mane Attraction”) and beautiful models throughout history (“Bombshell Icons”).
4. Be visually strategic with Boards
Re-arrange your Boards so the most important onces appear in the first two rows — above the fold — of your Pinterest page. For example, Volkswagen features its 2012 and 2013 car models and customer stories in Boards that appear in the first row. What VW could do better is set a main image for each of its Boards, one that best conveys the topic. Unless you specify an image to represent a Board, Pinterest uses the most recent Pin image by default.
5. SEO-enable descriptions and categorize every Board
Like your About section, your Board descriptions should include keywords to make your specific Board more discoverable in Google and Pinterest search. Equally important, be sure to select a category for your Board, which allows people browsing through those categories to see your Pins, even if they are not following you.
6. Include links and CTAs in your Pin descriptions
According to various reports, Pinterest blocks or strips links that are affiliate, shortened or tagged. In simple speak, this means you can’t measure clicks on urls that you include in a Board or Pin description. But as long as you don’t break the link rules, why not include a link to your website or blog as often as possible? If it’s relevant, give users an option to learn more about your product or service.
Another tactic that has proved effective is including a call-to-action (CTA) in your Pin description. Marketing service Reachli conducted a study that revealed an 80% increase in engagement when a CTA is included. This can be as simple as “Re-pin for a chance to win,” or “Click on the link to enter the drawing.”
7. Upload images with relevant file names
If you’re uploading an image, e.g., a photo or infographic, be sure the file name is relevant to the image. Don’t use a default photo file name like “photo.jpg” or “SN1234.” Instead, re-name the file to specific keywords. Why? It’s more search-friendly.
For instance, if you sell hats and you upload a photo of a red beret, name the file “red_beret.” Simple as that. The same rule applies to images on your website or blog: the image’s clear alt text should be relevant to the image for increased discoverability.
8. Use hashtags in your Pin descriptions
Just like on Twitter, Pinterest hashtags are hyperlinked, allowing users to easily browse Pins related to specific topics. So for example, if you sell jewelry, include “#jewelry” and/or something more specific like “#rings” in the Pin description.
9. Engage: you’ve got to give in order to get
Pinterest is just like every social network in that you must engage if you want more followers, likes, comments, re-pins, and clicks. In general, I recommend that you pin half of your own content and half of other people’s content. However, it really depends on the type of business.
10. Measure Pinterest referrals
A free and easy way to measure Pinterest traffic to your website is Google Analytics. Look in the Traffic Sources section and track referral traffic from Pinterest as compared to other networks. See the above graph as an example of data you can obtain from Google Analytics.
If you’ve already employed these tips, did you experience a lift in Pinterest referral traffic? Do you have any additional tips on Pinterest best practices?