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Traffic, Leads, and Sales: Everything You Need to Know About Pinterest SEO




Andrea D.: We are live, welcome everybody. Welcome to this new webinar organized by SEMrush and Tailwind. Today you're going to learn everything, and I really mean it, about Pinterest SEO from the two guests that we have today. We have Alisa Meredith from Tailwind and Jeff Sieh from Manly Pinterest Tips where he is head of beard for a reason I guess.

Today, Alisa will start the presentation and Jeff will come into the presentation asking questions and giving his opinions, and I will be asking some of the questions we received from the participants, and also I prepare some nasty naughty questions that I would like to ask during the presentation.

Alisa Meredith: Okay. Are you able to see my slides?

Andrea D.: I am.

Alisa Meredith: Okay, good. Traffic, leads, and sales, that's what we all want and that is what Pinterest can give us. But of course, it only works if you get seen. That's what we're going to talk about today; how to get found on Pinterest. 

We're going to talk about why, why should we bother? We're going to talk about how to give Pinners what they want, which will, in turn, give you what you want. 

And a huge part of it is SEO, search engine optimization, for Pinterest because Pinterest is not a social network. It is a visual discovery engine. Then we're going to talk about a five minute trick for 600% more traffic from Pinterest, which I have proof that it works, so I'm excited to share that with you. 

Then a special offer from Tailwind. If I haven't gotten you excited about Pinterest by the end, well, then you won't care about that offer. But if I have, you will. You want to stick around for it.

Why Your Business Should Be on Pinterest

The first question then is why Pinterest? Isn't Pinterest just for planning weddings or recipes? No, it's not. In fact, there are 300 million monthly active users. Actually, I should have updated this because the new earnings report said there are 322 million monthly active users on Pinterest, which is no small thing. 

Two billion searches are happening every single month. Most of the activity on Pinterest is happening in search. You definitely want to be a part of that. Pinterest stopped counting a long time ago, but there are over 200 billion pins that have been saved, and many of them are from businesses just like you.

What people say about Pinterest is that content from brands is actually useful. 78% of Pinners actually say that, which is a lot higher than on other platforms where brand content can be disruptive or unwelcome. 

77% have found a new product or brand on Pinterest, which is pretty cool, especially if you are pretty new to your business, and you haven't spent a lot of money on brand awareness and don't have a lot to spend on advertising, it's a great place to get yourself found.

Also, it's interesting that share of referral traffic, while it's going down on Facebook, it's actually going up on Pinterest. For many people, Pinterest is their number two source of referral traffic from social. For a lot of people I know, it's their number one source, and for some people, it brings in more traffic than even Google. That's something that you can look forward to. 

Pinterest Marketing Tips

The key to that then is giving Pinners what they want. What is that? Well, it is not what people want on Instagram. It's not what they want on Facebook. Facebook and Instagram, when we share or we share as a brand, it's more talking about me, right? It's presenting an image of myself or my business the way I want to be seen. 

Pinterest, people are using it for themselves. You might think of it as the introverts network or all about me. Like, how do I plan my best life rather than how do I project this vision of a life that I want people to think I have, whether I do or not.

What they're looking for is inspiration; inspiration that you too can have this in your life, or you too can make this or do this. They want to be told, "Yes, you can." They also want information. They actually want to go and do and build and buy these things.

Now, it is a little bit longer of a cycle than say Facebook or Instagram. People will tend to start researching on Pinterest a lot earlier than they would on other platforms, especially Google. You just have to keep that in mind, but they do want that information and inspiration.

If you have been marketing on Pinterest at all, you'll notice that some things have definitely changed. One of them is that it used to be that if you share the same pin to the same board over and over and over again, that would help you get found in search. 

That is not the case anymore because Pinterest wants to build a platform that is fresh and exciting to keep people coming back, not least of which reason is that they are now a public company and they need to make money with ads. They really need to keep the platform fresh and exciting.

What they're looking for now is more like this, more variety, right? You can still be branded, but you want variety.

Here's an example and something that you can put into practice. This is from Kim Garst. What they do is for every single blog post that she puts out, they create five different pins. That means she's going to get five times the opportunity for traffic when she distributes these pins out there because Pinterest sees them as totally different pins. 

Also, what might appeal to one person is not what's going to appeal to another person. Not only are you just increasing your chances of being found in search, you're increasing the chances of appealing to different people who may then click, which is exactly what we want.

This is my five-minute tip to 600% more traffic. It's very, very simple. This is my friend Jessica Boschen of What I Have Learned. This pin on the left here was her original, 9 Ways to Start the Year Off Right. Perfectly fine. Bright colors really work for the teachers. 

Right below that we're looking at her analytics from Pinterest. She was getting 1,900 clicks in the last 30 days: I would take 1,900 clicks in 30 days from one pin. However, Jessica did something very smart. She remixed that pin to the one on the right. It probably took her five minutes, you could do this in Canva, no problem, and she hadn't looked when I asked her, but when she looked at her analytics, she saw that she got 10,000 clicks to her website from that one pin, just from refreshing it. 

Five minutes, 600% more traffic from one little pin. You can do this, I can do this, we should all be doing this. This was, as you can see too, it was not a promoted pin, it was not an ad, it was just an organic pin.

Where you can see those numbers: you can see them right on your pins. You can see what's happening up to 90 days back. Just click on something you pinned and see how it's doing. You can also use Pinterest analytics, which are incredibly powerful, and you can filter out the results to see exactly what you want to see, to figure out what is getting the most clicks on Pinterest. 

When you're creating those five different images for each blog post, you want to see which ones are doing the best. Then you're going to start tweaking your designs to get more and more traffic to appeal to those people.

How Pinterest Works as a Search Engine

If you're new to Pinterest, you might be wondering, how does this work? Where are people finding your pins? This is an important part of that search component. Much of the time they're finding you in search. 

Then we'll talk a little bit about how people are searching, what words and what topics. But another way people are seeing your content is in their home feed. When you log into Pinterest, it's never the same place twice, which is pretty cool.

You can also look at just pins from people that you follow, which is interesting. Then if you do a closeup on a pin, which is you just click on a pin and it expands, below that there's going to be more like this, which would be related pins. Your pins can show up in all of those places if you do it right.

So then: how people search. It's between 97% and 98% unbranded searches, which means that rather than looking for KOHLER faucets, people are looking for broader ideas like kitchen remodel ideas. This is an example of what you see when you type in kitchen remodel ideas. 

You'll see Pinterest is giving me these tiles, which are, it's called guided search, and that gives us as marketers an idea of what people are searching for in relation to that term. If we know that our product or our service is related to kitchen remodel ideas, we might want to consider creating content or tweaking the text on our pin to included words like layout, before and after, on a budget. These are things that people on Pinterest are actually searching for. 

Also want to keep in mind hashtags. People can search with hashtags, whether they are or not, I personally don't use them, but they do work. They can find you that way. 

When you start typing in a search term, it will give you kind of a dropdown with other suggestions. Then when you hit enter, that's when you see all these like, "Okay, in relation to kitchen remodel ideas, these are related keywords that people are searching for. 

Visual search too, is really cool, and Pinterest seems to be very, very excited about this. When you're on Pinterest, there's a little icon that you can click and drag to look at an item in there. If you think, "Kitchen remodel ideas, I really like that faucet." If you kind of trace around that, it will then pull up visually similar results on the right, which is really cool.

When you're pinning, your images should feature your products very prominently, and you also want to consider perhaps having just straight product shots. Lifestyle shots will convert better, but the straight product shots may show up more in your visually similar results. I recommend doing both, and Jeff is nodding at me, so that's a good sign.

Pinterest SEO Guide

Now, the good stuff about Pinterest SEO, how Pinterest knows what you pinned. I get this by reading the Pinterest Engineering blog on Medium kind of obsessively, and probably 15 times to make sure I got it right for you, but they give away so much good information there. It's kind of amazing. 

The first thing to know is that there is no pin on Pinterest that is not mapped to an interest. Any time you pin something, Pinterest is going to identify what it is. In this picture (and this comes from their example on their Medium page), Pinterest was able to tell by looking at this pin, and from the page that it links to, which we'll get into in a little bit more, what is in this picture and what interests on Pinterest would it make sense to map it to. 

How does Pinterest then pull out the keywords? Because Pinterest is really, really similar to Google in the way that it's a search engine. What they're looking at is your pin title. You can enter your pin title when you're uploading an image to Pinterest. They're also looking at the board description. In this example, that would be “Keto Lifestyle for Beginners”. 

They're also looking at your linked page. What they're looking at on your linked page would be the title of the page, the description, and even the main text on the page. The reason for that of course, is they want to serve up good results that lead to relevant content on your website. Again, that experience for the user is super important.

While branded pins are great, try something completely different for you every once in a while. Another place; they're looking at your keywords on your pin itself. They're looking at it on your content that you're linking to. 

They're also doing something a little different. If my search for red curls is constantly bringing up this image that does not have the word red curls in it anywhere, the word red curls is not on the linked site or anything, Pinterest will say, "We're showing this because it's a visual similarity and people are clicking on it when the search term is red curls. Therefore, we're going to put that keyword onto that pin." They're looking at people's behavior.

This kind of blows my mind because Pinterest is actually able to see what is on your image. They are pulling out the pictures and putting words to them, therefore putting in keywords that you might not have included. 

If you have a product, again, make sure that that product itself features very prominently in the image. Now for someone like me or Jeff, where we're talking about a service-based business, where you're talking about how to run a blog or how to use Pinterest, you can't show that visually. But that's okay because I can't, Jeff can't, nobody on that topic can. Don't worry about it if it's something that you can't visually show, because none of your competition can either. 

Here's something very cool as well: Pinterest can read the text on your image, and they do. This again is a screenshot from their blog, the Medium blog, where they're showing the words that they're able to pick out. Do you notice something that they didn't quite get?

Jeff Sieh: They got “ookshops”, they didn't get “bookshops”. They got ookshops. One of the things I see a lot of people and a lot of newbies do when they first start creating pins, and it's because it's popular and everyone else is doing it and they think it works so they do it, is they use those real scripty fonts. I call them Instagrammy fonts, is what they are. 

The problem is, is what we're seeing here, is the algorithm can't read that. Even more important, a lot of times normal people can't read it either because you got to remember, it may look great when you're building it in Canva or in Photoshop or whatever, but when you're on a mobile phone, it's hard to read, and it's even smaller when it's in the feed. 

Always look at what it's going to look like in your phone because it's like 85% to 90% of all traffic from Pinterest comes from a mobile device. Scripty fonts, I just try never to use them.

Alisa Meredith: The keywords that we're going to use on Pinterest, the keywords that people do use in Pinterest, they're not going to be the same as Google, right? Google has high purchase intent, has a lot of like branded keywords or really specific keywords. On Pinterest, it's going to be a lot more broad.

One thing that is nice is that you don't have to worry about getting every single term in there, because Pinterest will do it for you. When you're sharing those multiple versions of pins, yes, you can absolutely use different keywords, try out different things that way. But you don't have to get them all. You don't have to worry about plurals, you don't have to worry about the order that you use your search terms, and you also don't have to worry about very similar terms. 

Now we have done all of our cool stuff with our pin. We want to know did we get it right? You can just go to the pin that you saved. Here's a closeup over here on the left, and then below that, more like this, it's going to show you how Pinterest is seeing your pin.

Then really important, we figured out how people are searching, how to present our pins well, but how is Pinterest ranking these? There's kind of a lot to it, but we're going to look at each one separately. 

The first thing they look at, well, one thing they look at, those are actually not in order...is text relatedness. They want to see again, does the title, does the pin description, does the board name, does even the board description, does it match up with the content on your website? The content that you're linking to? 

It doesn't have to be exactly the same, but you do want to keep your keywords consistent, and just think about it as a human. Like Jeff was saying about the way the image looks, it's the same with the text. Are you going to feel like if you click that pin, you've got to the right place or is there going to be some kind of disconnect that will make you want to leave immediately, because that is going to hurt your ranking.

They're also looking for image visual similarity. It doesn't have to be exactly the same. In this example, obviously, the one on the left is a little bit different than the one on the website. But there's a lot of visual similarity there. You can always experiment with something completely different and see if that works. But Pinterest does want to have a similar theme or feel to your image from pin to page.

Also, whenever possible, want to have image to text similarity. Again, Pinterest knows that these are pumpkins before we even tell them, but when we tell them, they're like, "That makes a lot of sense. This seems like a quality experience," and then when we go to the website page, the similar keywords, similar images, this is a good search result to serve up to people.

Then of course there's this one, pin engagement and popularity. And then of course, how many times it's been saved or pinned on Pinterest. All of that is some indication to Pinterest of how good this pin would be in search results. All of those together are going to determine roughly where your pin appears in a given search result. 

The last remaining one for us to talk about, is what kind of pins do you like? Do you like just regular pins? Do you like carousel pins? Do you like a video pin? They know all that about you and they're going to tweak your results to show you what you want to see.

Include a CTA, call-to-action, asking people to do something so that when they get to your site, they are prepared to take some action. Obviously, that's going to help prep them to do that next step, which may be more sales, maybe an email signup, but at least you're getting them one closer to being a new customer.

Here's the biggest one: include a price. You can get 28% more sales when you include a price. This I think is super important, especially if you're advertising on Pinterest, because every advertised pin is “click on the pin, jump immediately to the website”. You kind of want to get people to qualify themselves. One really great way to do that is having a price. 

Some action items to take away from this is to create new optimized pins at least weekly. And of course, you can batch those. I recommend you do batch those. You can get some templates, and in fact, we have an offer on Tailwind, it's a Pinterest toolkit that has some templates in that. 

Get to know your analytics. The other thing that's cool about analytics is that if you're saving other people's content and you start to see, "That blog post Jeff did about blogging is doing really well. He's getting a ton of clicks because I saved his pin. Maybe that's a topic that I need to write about as well."

Then remember how people are searching. They're searching for ideas for how to make their kitchen beautiful, or how to make the morning smoother when you have kids going to school. Use all your keywords in all of the key places. I'm sure everybody's used to doing that for their Google SEO, so just keep it going across Pinterest. If you've got it consistent on your site, keep it consistent with your pins as well.

Then the last one is to send a Pinterest consistent signal. Across your images, across the text and keywords, and by pinning consistently. The easiest way I think to do that is by using Tailwind. If you wanted to sign up, when you use this link, which is bit.ly/semrush-pinterest, all lowercase, you'll save $30 when you upgrade from that link. You can do all your pinning for a week in less than an hour. 

Andrea D.: That was really awesome, Alisa.

Alisa Meredith: Thank you.

Can You Build a Pinterest Presence Organically?

Andrea D.: Yeah, there are a few questions. I wanted to ask, one is about ads, and what I wanted to ask is, do you think it's still possible to grow a profile on Pinterest without ads organically 100%?

Alisa Meredith: Absolutely.

Jeff Sieh: Engagement, we talk about that a lot on the other social networks. Yes, I kind of want engagement, but I don't really care. I want clicks. I mean, if I have a pin that's got all these engagement to it and nobody's clicking through, then I still don't think that pin's working right, and I need to go back and tweak it and do a better call-to-action, or something, or it's not resonating enough to get a click.

For Pinterest, don't be saying like, "I don't have enough followers to make a difference." I Pinterest is not a social network. It is a visual discovery engine, I think that's what they call it. Think of it as like, it's a search engine. It's a visual search engine and so your followers don't really matter as much.

Alisa Meredith: Yeah, that's a great point. Especially, because most of, I think they said at one point 90% of the activity happening on Pinterest is happening in the search.

Jeff Sieh: And you asked the question about promoted pins. What I like to do is I don't just usually create a campaign and just make a pin for it and throw some money behind it. I find a pin that's working already organically and then put money behind that one because I know it's resonating and I usually get more bang for my buck. 

Alisa Meredith: When you're doing organic, it's more like Pinterest figures it out, your keywords have influence. But when you're doing a promoted pin, you can say, "Okay, I want people with this interest to see it. People searching these keywords to see it. People in my email list." You have more control over the distribution, which I think can impact the success of that pin tremendously. It's not a bad idea, it's just that you don't have to limit yourself to that.

Getting Started as a Business on Pinterest

Andrea D.: I have another question. If I am a business and I want to start using Pinterest in 2020, what do you think I should do? I mean, I'm not on Pinterest. I'm thinking of like starting, just beginning and see how it goes. What is the main recommendation you have for me as a business?

Jeff Sieh: First of all, you need to have a business account on Pinterest. If you have a Pinterest account already and you want to turn it to a business account, which technically if you're selling anything or have any sort of products, you have to do or you're breaking their terms of service, that's the first thing to do. 

Alisa Meredith: You also want analytics. You want to do that, but then you also want to concentrate on your content. Whether you have five blog posts or 5,000, your priority is going to be to get your content onto Pinterest. If you've been blogging all this time, you don't have pinnable images, get those going so that you can start putting them on Pinterest as soon as possible.

Jeff Sieh: And pinnable images, so those are the tall ones when we talk about that, those perform the best on Pinterest. I think that's the biggest hangup people have with Pinterest. They're like a solopreneur or a small business and they're already creating a blog post, and like, "Oh my gosh, I got to make another one for a different network and it's got to be tall and I don't want to do that." 

When I create a blog post, I have my blog post image, I have a Pinterest image, and I have a square Instagram image that I can use in all these different places. Just start doing that for each of your blog posts moving forward.

Alisa Meredith: And then go back and make more for the old ones.

Multiple Pins and Spam on Pinterest

Andrea D.: All right. I have another question from Stephanie, and she's asking, "If we are creating multiple pins for the same piece of content, should each pin have a different description and hashtags for better optimization?"

Alisa Meredith: I would say for different optimization. If you want to go after slightly different keywords, you can do that. I don't always take the time to do that because I feel like the description is the part that takes the longest, but it's a good idea to try different ones. Then when you figure out the ones that work, maybe not so much.

Jeff Sieh: I try to make a different description. I don't know if I always change the hashtags, because one of the first ones I use is a branded hashtag. I do try to change the descriptions mainly because Pinterest says it wants fresh content. And so I want to make it as fresh and clean as I can, and I know ... Alisa and I are still debating on if it's worth it or not. I haven't decided yet, but it's worth doing.

Andrea D.: Okay. We haven't talked about spam on Pinterest. I received a question about this. Apparently, there's a lot of spam and you can get penalized even quite easily, even by mistakes someone is claiming.

Alisa Meredith: They're absolutely right, and there's been a rash of it especially this week. What happens is people get an email saying, "Your account's been suspended for spam and we're never restoring it, so forget it." But, you just keep emailing them and they will more often than not say, "Sorry, that was completely our mistake," and they're not targeting people trying to ruin your holiday sales cycle. 

They are trying to cut down on actual spam and actually stolen pins, but sometimes the machines get a little overzealous and then people have to step in and fix it. I know it's awful, but you will likely get your account back.

Andrea D.: Yeah, it happens all the time with every platform.

Alisa Meredith: It does.

Andrea D.: A lot with Facebook and you get ads disapproved or just scary emails from them.

Alisa Meredith: Yeah.

Jeff Sieh: One of the things to help you not to get your content stolen is do what we said before, is have a Pinterest business account...it gives you another little layer of protection when you have a verified website and you have all the meta tags on your site for Pinterest, and that helps kind of protect some of the thievery that goes on.

Alisa Meredith: Yeah, and then to add to that, part of the reason why that does is that Pinterest figures out that you are the content creator of that piece of content, of that pin, and you are the authority on that content.

Andrea D.: All right. I think time is up guys.

Alisa Meredith: Already?

Andrea D.: Already, yes. I thank you for all this really useful information.

Alisa Meredith: Thank you.

Jeff Sieh: Well, this has been fun.

Alisa Meredith: Yeah, thanks for having us.

Andrea D.: Yeah, it's been fun. I hope people who joined from around the world found it useful as I did, and probably see you again soon.

Alisa Meredith: Hope so.

Jeff Sieh: Yeah. Awesome. Thanks everybody.

Andrea D.: Thank you very much.

Alisa Meredith: Bye.

Check out other webinars from this series