The Complete Guide to Growing Your Blog With Pinterest
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(This post was originally written on 01/10/15 and then updated 19/06/2016 to reflect recent Pinterest Changes.)
Pinterest is an incredible marketing tool because the way people use it is unlike any other social media platform. In fact, I tend to think of it as more Search Engine than Social Media!
Users on Pinterest are actively looking for something. They're not just browsing their timelines for the latest photos from their friends or celebrity gossip.
People use Pinterest for planning. Often for big events such as a wedding, new baby or a big holiday. Pins are aspirational, they are what pinners want to have and be better at. That's why Pinterest has such a positive vibe!
Pinterest is about interests not people so it's your products or content that pinners want. You don't have to be a big brand or a celebrity for people to follow you or pin your stuff. And because pinners' feeds are tailored to their interests and what they're actually looking for, they are far more likely to actively engage with your content than if it popped up in their Facebook timeline
Good Pinterest marketing needs a two-pronged plan of attack! You have your activity on Pinterest to encourage re-pins and get followers and you need to make the content on your website so pinnable that Pinterest users can't help themselves pinning direct from your site!
Getting both of these right will then have a direct positive impact on increasing traffic back to your blog from Pinterest.
PS: Before you get started, download your Step-by-Step Pinterest Checklist here (no email address required!) and get started Today on Growing your Blog Traffic with Pinterest!
Make your images incredible!
Having pinnable images is one of the most important thing for Pinterest success.
Create a title image for every blog post with the post title or headline on it. Use a title that tells your audience what you can do for them. Or what you can show them how to do for themselves to help them get closer to where they want to be. Some people use photographs in their blog post titles, others simply use a plain or patterned background and make it more about the text. Do what will appeal to your audience or if you're not sure try some experimenting and see what works best.
Vertical images perform better on Pinterest because they take up more space in the Pinterest feed. Apparently the optimum size is 736 x 1102. General consensus is to stick to the ratio 2:3 and use a minimum width of 600 (that's the width the image is displayed at in the Pinterest feed). Your images need to look amazing on your blog too so if your image width needs to be larger to fit properly on your own site use the dimensions to suit your site.
Put your alt tags and image titles to work!
You should be fully using your image titles and alt tags anyway! They help with SEO but most of all, the 'alt' tag in particular actually helps your audience!
How to Use Your ALT Tags
The original use of an alt tag (which stands for 'alternative' text) is to describe an image for someone who is blind or partially sighted that uses a device to read them the website.
Your alt tag will normally become the pin description when your post is pinned direct from your blog (unless the pinner changes it - which most people don't). Make it a 3-4 sentence description that appeals to the aspirations of your ideal audience. Use language that describes how you are going to add value to their lives but leave enough intrigue that they will click through to your site from Pinterest to find out more. Appeal to your audience's emotions and desires to encourage clicks.
Write the important information at the beginning of your description using words that your audience will use to search for what you're pinning. Eg- if you are sharing your blog post about a recipe for Chocolate Fudge Cake start the description off with 'delicious chocolate fudge cake recipe'! Don't get all creative and call it 'the most sinful yet tasty diet-busting treat you've ever seen in your life'. Well, you can. But only after you've told everyone what it actually is you're talking about!!
You have a maximum of 500 characters for your description but the optimal length is around 200 characters. (The maximum number of characters displayed on mobile is 75-100 (iPhone) or 100-125 (Android)
How to Use Your Image Titles
Your image title is the name of your image. The bit that your camera or smartphone automatically calls something like DSCN1543.jpg. Not very descriptive huh! Choose one or two words (3 at the most) that best describe your pin using the words your audience will be using. If you use more than one word use a dash in between (eg; super-image-title.jpg)
- This tutorial shows you how to add alt text and image titles if you use Wordpress or Blogger: How to add Titles and Alt Text to your Images by Amuse Your Bouche
Brand your images
Well branded images will stand out on Pinterest as yours. Your audience will begin to recognise your pins and know your content is worth looking at or re-pinning (or both!)
To brand your pins use a consistent style of image with similar colours and use the same type and style of font for your text. Make sure the fonts and images fit with the style of your website. Add your domain name somewhere inconspicuous on the image to claim it as yours.
These three bloggers do this really well and their pins are instantly recognisable to their followers. All three of them use a very simple font and similar layouts and changes in font style but their colours and imagery style set them apart from each other and everybody else.
Julie Harris Design uses consistent colours and themes in her photography choices as well as keeping her layout and font choices the same.
Elle & Co keep their branding very simple on their blog titles with plain colour backgrounds or clean minimalist photography.
I love the way Wonderlass uses bright bold colours in her photography and background colours and the dots and borders she uses to add interest to her plain coloured images. As with the other two examples her font styles and layouts are consistent across all her images too.
optimise your blog for mobile
75% of Pinterest daily traffic is from mobile devices! 35% of Pinterest users only ever visit it from a mobile device. If you seriously want to make Pinterest a traffic driver to your blog it needs to be optimised for mobile users. Pinners that value the quality of their accounts will check pins before re-pinning and if they can't easily check the content on your blog, it is likely you will lose out on the re-pin, and the subsequent chance of new traffic.
Make your web content super easy to share!
The best thing about social media done right is that it's most effective when other people do the work for you! (Eg; when it's that amazing they can't help themselves sharing it. People look to social media for recommendations from their friends, not the brands themselves)
To get people to pin your content from your blog you have to make it incredibly easy to do so! (And of course so incredible, useful, relevant or just downright hilarious enough that they want to share it in the first place!)
So how do you do that?
Include a pinnable image!!
Make sure your blog posts have at least one pin friendly image. If you haven't been including images in your posts, or they haven't been vertical, Pinterest friendly ones then start including them from now on! I also suggest going back and adding them to your most popular past blog posts. Start with the top 10 as a priority and then you can do more as and when if you feel you need to.
Add Social sharing buttons
Social sharing buttons are the buttons you see normally at the bottom, but also sometimes at the top of a blog post or product description. They enable your audience to share your content with their social media platform of choice with just one click!
Add a hoverable 'pin it' button to your images
This makes it super easy to share your content to Pinterest. The 'pin it' button appears when someone hovers over your image in your blog post or shop and then with one click, it can be shared on Pinterest. It saves your readers having to look for your share buttons or manually adding your content to Pinterest. Regular Pinterest users will be aware of this widget and will actively look for it if they want to pin your content (and I’ve even seen people saying they don’t necessarily use other methods if this super quick button isn't available!)
- If you use Blogger or Wordpress, this tutorial tells you how to add a customised ‘pin it’ button to your site: How to Add a Custom Pin It Button to your Blog Images by Design Your Own (Lovely) Blog.
Add a 'pin it for later' link
A ‘pin it for later’ link can either be a text link or an image that links directly to an actual pin. Your visitors can then re-pin your pin to their own boards, helping to share your content across Pinterest.
A ‘pin it for later’ is a great, subtle, non-demanding call to action. Include them in your blog posts, resources pages, sidebar and even your emails to draw attention to a pin you specifically want shared.
So..... I know this Blog Post is Information-packed! So I put the whole post into a printable pdf, so you can download the sections you're working on without having to switch between the post and Pinterest every time you make any updates! It's all uploaded ready for you to grab Now in the Badass BusinessMum's Club Archive Library.
How to Set up your Pinterest account for Maximum Impact
Sign up for a Pinterest Business Account
There are two very important reasons for having a Pinterest Business Account:
- Rich Pins
- Pinterest Analytics
If you already have a personal account that you use for your business you can convert it to a business account but consider how relevant your boards are to your business and your target audience's interests.
- You can sign up here for a business account: https://business.pinterest.com/en-gb or,
- Go here to convert your personal account: https://www.pinterest.com/business/getstarted/
Fill out your profile information
A fully filled out profile provides information for anyone taking the extra time to investigate your business in depth and shows you have taken time and effort to provide that information. Optimise your Profile with your keywords by using them in your Business Name (eg; mine is The Badass BusinessMum | Blogging and Small Business Tips for Mompreneurs) as well as in your description.
Add a photograph of you as your profile photo. This is far more personal than using your logo or a product photograph. Use the same (or similar) photograph as your profile photos on other social media to maintain consistency and make sure your audience knows for sure it's really you!
Fill out the short description of your business. You only have 160 characters so keep it to the point. Tell your audience what you do, who you do it for and why it matters that you do it. Include your keywords as near to the beginning of your description as possible while keeping your text reader friendly.
Add the link to your website. Verifying your website gives you access to Pinterest analytics and rich pins.
You can connect your Twitter, Google+ and Gmail accounts to encourage further engagement and Facebook if you want. One word of warning though, you can only connect your personal Facebook profile, not your business page.
To access your Social networks, simply click on the menu to the left of the ‘settings’ page.
Simply move the slider to ‘Yes’ for the accounts you want to connect and follow the authorisation instructions. Make sure you save your settings after making your changes.
Create your boards and add some pins
Set up a board solely for your own blog posts or products. This is so people who are only interested in your content can follow just this one board.
Create a selection boards for your blog categories and sub topics within those categories. Include other people's content as well as your own on these boards.
Put the boards most relevant to your blog niche, service or products at the beginning of your profile.
Consider adding boards about other things your audience are interested in - remember Pinterest is about planning the dream lifestyle. Eg; if you blog about cooking, create boards for must have kitchen gadgets, nutritional advice and inspirational kitchens.
Pin at least 20 things to a new board when you first start it. Or create your boards as secret boards and only make them visible when they have at least 20 pins. Empty boards and boards with only 1 or 2 pins look a bit abandoned and unhelpful and offer no temptation to be followed or looked at.
Choose board covers that match the colours and style of your branding. You can create custom board covers or choose existing pins to create a branded and just downright gorgeous look!
Such as these epic examples:
This example from The Nectar Collective shows a combination of using her own branded blog posts as the board covers as well as photography using her brand colours and style.
This next example from The Branded Solopreneur shows the use of custom made board covers using Dre’s distinctive branding
Follow boards or people
The great thing about Pinterest is you can be specific about what you see in your feed. If you follow a pinner, you will see everything they pin from all their boards. But you can unfollow the boards you're not interested in. If you follow a person and they add a new board you will automatically see that new board. You can also just follow a board without following the pinner.
Use the search function to find people and boards relevant to your business and your target audience. This will get you loads of excellent content to re-pin. The pinners you follow will get a notification you have followed them (even if it's just a board you have followed) and might follow you back but don't use this as a technique to get new followers. Pinterest users only want to see content they are interested in and there isn't the 'I followed you so you've got to follow me' mentality of Twitter or Instagram.
How to get your pins seen, Re-Pinned & clicked on
The Pinterest feed isn't just a linear timeline. It is what Pinterest calls the Smart Feed. A Pinterest user is shown the most recent pins from boards they follow but also pins (and recommended pins) based on their interests and the content they are pinning (eg; If they've just started following a board, older content from that board will also show up in their feed). Pinterest decides which pins are shown based on their popularity and their relevancy to recent activity.
- This Blog Post from the Tailwind App goes into more depth about the Smart Feed: Why Aren't my Pins Being Seen; Diving Into the Pinterest Smart Feed
To get Pinterest to view your pins as relevant to your audience you need to use keywords that your audience uses when searching and that appear in what they're already pinning. Pinterest is thought to consider the following things when ranking pins:
- Domain Quality
- Pinner Quality
- Pin Quality
- Topical Relevance
Use your images
As I said just now use your image descriptions and alt tags to generate accurate pin descriptions with the important information at the beginning. This coupled with gorgeous images, irresistible Headlines and including Calls to Action will encourage more clicks on your content, increasing engagement so increasing their popularity in the eyes of Pinterest, making them more likely to appear in your followers' feeds.
Keep your boards on topic
Be specific about the content on your Pinterest boards. People will be more likely to click follow them because they will know exactly what you'll be pinning about. And it will help with telling Pinterest what your board is all about (eg; if you have a board called 'chocolate desserts' and all the pins on that board have the word 'chocolate' in them, it's pretty obvious your pins are going to be popular with people who like chocolate! And imagine instead you have a board called 'desserts' and you have chocolate puddings and cake and apple pies and ice cream and fruit pies it's going to be harder to pinpoint a specific audience for that board)
Keep your board titles descriptive
Keep your titles descriptive and avoid the temptation to be creative but ambiguous! Call your board 'potty training tips' not 'staying dry'. People might think you're talking about umbrellas or welly boots!! Use the keywords your audience will be searching for at the start of the title. Users on the mobile app will see the full title, but non mobile users will only see the first 3-4 words.
Keeping them short and descriptive means:
- Non Mobile Users will be able to see most of the title.
- Pinners will know that your board sounds interesting without having to click and see what you actually mean
- Pinterest will see the connection between your board and your user's interests
Write a board description
You have 500 characters to write a description for each Pinterest board. Again, be descriptive and specific. Use your keywords at the start of the description before adding more creativity and personality.
To edit your Pinterest board description click on the ‘edit’ button beneath your board thumbnail on your Pinterest profile.
This opens up the ‘edit your board’ information, where you can edit and update your board’s title, description, category, cover image and add a map and invite collaborators.
Only pin high quality pins
Check pins before you re-pin them. Collect them on a secret board or 'like' them before checking and deleting any that link to:
- An error message / 404 re-direct page
- A crappy Blog Post (I include anything that links to Bloglovin' or has a pop-up that I can't easily close in this category)
- Just the Image source, not a blog post
- The homepage of the blog, not an individual post
Take advantage of Pinterest Analytics
The biggest advantage of having a business account is getting access to your Pinterest analytics. When you have verified your website your analytics will give you valuable insights into your most popular pins, so you can make sure you pin more of what your audience likes.
It is very simple to verify your website if you use Squarespace. You simply have to connect your Pinterest account to your website and Squarespace / Pinterest do the rest!
- If you use Wordpress, follow these instructions from Pinterest: https://help.pinterest.com/en/articles/confirm-your-website
You will be able to see the most popular posts pinned from your website or blog allowing you to work out what it is that makes your content popular with pinners. Look for common themes in the titles, images, type of content and replicate them in your future content to improve your results.
Your analytics will tell you about your audience and their pinning behaviour too. You will get insights into their demographics, location and most importantly their interests and who else they follow.
Using your Pinterest analytics will enable you to tailor your pinning so you are pinning relevant content of your own and others that they actually want to see.
Add a Pinterest widget to your blog
A Pinterest widget in the sidebar of your blog is a good way of directing your blog readers to your Pinterest account. There are people that don’t recommend directing your blog or website traffic to your social media accounts because you’re effectively sending them away from the best place for getting their exclusive attention. This thinking does make sense to me but if your blog or website is new, growing your social media following can only be a good thing! After all, the more social media followers you have, the more people you have sharing your content for you!
Mine is added to the bottom of my sidebar so my readers have to go past my email sign up form and my top blog posts before sending them off to Pinterest.
Get Rich Pins
Rich pins are pins that display extra information to make them stand out, increase re-pins and look more professional in your audience's feed as well as verifying that you're the original author of the pin content.
One great new feature of the mobile app is a little pop-up that comes up at the bottom of the page inviting a pinner of your blog posts to follow you when you have Rich Pins enabled (even if it's not your pin they're re-pinning!)
There are 6 different types of Rich Pins displaying different but specific information relevant to the type of pin. They also display red call to action buttons making it incredibly obvious what you want your audience to do.
Product and article pins are just two of the different types of rich pins. Product pins include extra details showing real time pricing, availability, where you can buy and the ability to get notifications if the price drops more than 10%. Article pins include the headline, author and story description.
You need to have a Pinterest Business Account and verified your website to have Rich Pins enabled.
The very clever thing about Rich Pins is they are automatically updated when any of the details change, including the prices on Product Pins.
If you have a Squarespace website rich pins are automatically enabled (yay!) so you have to do diddly squat to take advantage of this feature!
You can see the difference between a Rich Pin and a normal pin in this screenshot from the Pinterest feed. The Rich Pin takes up more space and contains more information (in bold so you notice it!)
The expanded article rich pin contains your blog post title, your blog favicon and name, plus the invitation to Follow and the first few lines of text from your blog post.
Pin regularly and consistently
Advice varies on how often you should pin. I've seen recommendations from 10 to 100 pins a day! The important thing is consistency. Choose a number that you can pin every day. I've definitely seen an increase in my Pinterest Profile activity and Blog Traffic from consistently pinning around 30 pins a day.
Spread your pins out regularly through the day or pin when you know your audience is online. Popular times are between 8pm – 1am, with traffic peaking around 9pm. Saturday is the best day for Pinterest traffic, In General. This might not be true of YOUR audience!
- More information in this very useful blog post from Buffer: The Science of Pinterest Scheduling: Finding Your Best Consistency, Frequency and Timing)
To avoid spending all day on Pinterest use automation software such as Tailwind or BoardBooster* to spread your pins out through the day and make sure you pin every day. Different software works in different ways but using it means you can have a weekly Pinterest binge and gather your content for pinning instead of stressing over having to do it every day.
Join group boards
Group boards are an awesome way of promoting your pins to a wider audience, especially when you are just starting out on Pinterest and don't have a big following of your own. When you pin to a group board, the other collaborators of that group board see your pin, and if they re-pin it, it is then seen by their followers, so spreading your pins a lot further than you could on your own.
You can find group boards by searching PinGroupie for group boards (search by category and keywords in titles and descriptions and the site displays likes and re-pin counts for page 1 of the board), simply using Pinterest search for 'boards' or seeing which group boards pinners you follow collaborate on. Group boards generally have the instructions on how to join and the rules of the board in the description.
Choose group boards based on the quality of the pins and relevance to your subject, not just the number of people in the group. The closer the target audience for the group board is to your target audience, the more interest you will get in your content.
When you have been accepted to the group board make sure you follow the rules for pinning quantity and frequency. You don't want to get removed! When you add a product or a blog post to Pinterest don't pin it to all of your group boards all at once. Any followers of more than one of the boards will see your pin each time you pin it so a leave some time between pinning.
Re-pin content from the group boards you collaborate on. This will increase the popularity and views of the board which can only help you in the long run. If you find yourself consistently pinning content from a fellow group board collaborator go have a look at their profile and follow their boards that interest you. Who knows, they might even follow you back!
Join in with promotional threads in Facebook groups
There are many Facebook groups focused primarily on promotion for Bloggers. Even the groups that are more about building community and support often have a thread once a week for promotions.
To get the full benefit of this type of cross promotion you need to be part of a supportive group who's members actively get involved in pinning each other's content, not just a load of people posting and running. I find engagement is better in the groups that have specific threads for specific social media rather than a 'post whatever you want free-for-all'.
Find a promotional group that is either the target audience for your brand or is targeting a similar audience otherwise your pins will not be getting promoted to the right people. It also means you won't be having to pin totally irrelevant content to your own boards (and spend valuable time doing it) for the sake of joining in. Carefully check the rules of the groups you belong to see what is expected of you.
Time to Take Action! Yep, I know that post was long! But I've made you a To Do Checklist to download here and work through because you really don't have to do everything all at once! And if you're a member of The Badass BusinessMum's Club, there's a pdf version of this post in the The Resource Archive for you to download and print off the relevant parts and tutorials.
Come and follow me on Pinterest to get your hands on more Blogging & Small Business Resources for Mompreneurs.
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