The intersection of organic search and Pinterest is actually very small. Still, Pinterest does have a place in search engine optimization as a way to expand a site’s search result footprint, and organic search principles can also be leveraged to improve performance in Pinterest’s internal search.
Pinterest and Search Reputation Management
When consumers search a brand on Google, the results color their perception of that brand. If that brand is in the middle of a crisis, negative news reports can dominate the rankings and further damage the brand’s reputation one search at a time. In times like that, Pinterest can play a role in reputation management.
Building a strong stable of owned media – Pinterest content, Facebook content, Twitter Content, YouTube content, blogs – in addition to your primary ecommerce site improves the likelihood that your brand will dominate more of the search results in a crisis.
From an SEO standpoint, it’s unlikely that a brand’s Pins will rank in the major search engines for competitive keyword phrases. Very few do, even among the larger ecommerce sites participating in Pinterest. In addition, Pinterest Boards are tagged with a meta robots noindex command that prevents the major engines from indexing and thus returning Board pages in search results.
Consequently, the value of Pinterest to organic search lies instead in the ability of the brand’s Pinner profile to rank when consumers search for the brand. In a brand crisis, the ability of that Pinner profile to rank for the company’s name means a negative result gets pushed off the first page of search results. You may not need it until that crisis hits, but when it does you’ll wish you had started sooner.
Pinterest to Earn Links
Before you get too excited, Pinterest stopped passing link authority through its links to external sites long ago to curtail link-stuffing spammers. Pinning links will not send link authority flowing back to your site.
However, as a channel to promote content, Pinterest is absolutely a tool for earning links as well as traffic back to your site. Think about it this way: If no one sees your content, no one can link to it. But when you share content through Pinterest or any other promotional vehicle, some percentage of the people who see that content will convert to sharing the content and some percentage will convert to linking to the content. The more shares the content receives, the more people see the content, and the number of potential links increases as a result.
Pinterest as a Search Engine
In many ways, social networks like Pinterest function as secondary search engines. To get your Pins in front of more Pinterest users, you need to know how to optimize content for Pinterest’s internal search engine.
As with SEO for traditional search engines, the first step is keyword research. Unfortunately, there is no tool that uncovers keyword demand in Pinterest. Use the Google Keyword Planner or your favorite keyword tool as a proxy for searches on Pinterest. Determine what keywords searchers use to discover products in your category or answer questions that point to needs your products may fill.
With keyword research in hand, it’s time to start creating and optimizing.
- Optimizing Pinner Profiles. When signing up for a Pinterest profile, make sure to choose a Pinner name that will represent the brand well. The profile name will be used in the title tag and URL for the profile page, both of which will impact SEO for traditional search engines as well as Pinterest search. Complete the entire profile for maximum findability, including name and location keywords that may help in brand and location searches. Make sure to use keywords in the description as well, and include the URLs to your ecommerce site, Twitter, and Facebook.
- Optimizing Boards. Based on the keyword research, define the content topics you’ll create Boards around. Give each a meaningful, descriptive title that includes the keyword the Board will target. This is where a lot of brands get lost. “Fall Looks We Love” is a terrible Board name for a brand that wants to be discovered in Pinterest for “sweaters.” Naming the board “Sweaters for Fall” would be better for search, and a clearer indicator of the Board’s content to browsers as well. Lastly, make sure to categorize the Board correctly to help increase visibility in Pinterest search.
- Optimizing Uploaded Pins. Pins should also be chosen based on keyword research. Since Pins are the default view in Pinterest search, ensuring that Pins are strongly aligned with the phrases that people search for is critical to earning a place in Pinterest search results. Optimize Pins with strong descriptions that use the targeted keyword, but remember Pins with shorter captions may be more likely to be Repinned. Include details like a link to the product and the price. Use a short, descriptive file name when saving the image, containing the targeted keyword if relevant.
- Choosing the Visual. Searchers will judge Pins, Boards, and Pinner profiles by their visuals. Even if the optimization is perfect, without a correspondingly perfect image the Pin will fail. If the image doesn’t excite the community, they won’t Repin it or Like it and the Pin will not rank well.
- Earning Authority. Pins, Boards, and Pinner profiles that have more Followers, Repins, and Likes will rank better in Pinterest search. As with traditional SEO, even the perfect optimization cannot overcome a lack of authority.
- Optimizing Ecommerce Sites for Pinterest. To this point the optimization tips have been focused on content the brand itself posts on Pinterest. You can also optimize your ecommerce site to encourage more Pins and make Pins more effective. The most obvious step is to add Pinterest buttons or widgets to your product detail pages to make it easy for customers to Pin products to share with their friends. In addition, use Rich Pins to automatically add details like pricing and availability when customers Pin your pages. Getting started with Rich Pins requires some development work to incorporate meta tags into your pages and an application process.
Pinterest for Every Business?
The visual nature of Pinterest lends itself well to ecommerce sites and major brands. Businesses love the idea of using the photography and visuals they already generate for other marketing channels again to feed their search and social marketing programs.
But is Pinterest a good fit for your business?
The Pinterest community is especially strong in home decorating, crafting, recipes and food, fashion and other highly visual categories. Sites with products obviously relevant to these categories will find it easier to share relevant and valuable images and information that turn into Follows, Pins, Repins, and Likes.
Pinterest isn’t for every ecommerce site – B-to-B sites will likely find Pinterest a hard sell. Without a healthy serving of creativity, B-to-C sites that sell unexciting or unattractive products will likewise be challenged.
Even so, there’s no shortage of examples of feisty brands that made a splash with products you’d typically consider unexciting. Blendtec made professional blenders share-worthy. Old Spice recharged a men’s beauty product line with a YouTube video campaign. Look for ways to expose the excitement in your product offering to gaining brand traction on Pinterest.
Is Pinterest a better vehicle than social media defaults Facebook and Twitter? That depends entirely on your audience, your industry, and the visual appeal of the content your brand is willing to share. But it doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition. Some of the content shared on Facebook or Twitter could likely be reworked with an ultra-visual angle to also share on Pinterest. From this point of view, Pinterest may just be a smart way to stretch the use of existing marketing assets to reach more customers.
For more on SEO & Pinterest, read “Leveraging Bing’s Pinterest Integration.”