Pinterest may have plateaued as a driver of traffic to websites, at least for the time being, but it's still number two in that department behind Facebook, according to data from Shareaholic. The firm released a report this week finding that Twitter, StumbleUpon, reddit, Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined represent roughly a third of the traffic Pinterest sent to publishers in December.
If you want to get web traffic from Pinterest, you're going to want to optimize for the Pinterest search experience.
Is Pinterest search optimization part of your online marketing strategy? Do you intend to focus more on it going forward? Let us know in the comments.
We recently looked at some ways you can do that. In that article, we referenced an eBook on the subject written by Vincent Ng, a marketer who has been engaging in Pinterest marketing since 2010, and runs a Pinterest marketing agency.
Ng, who goes specifically by "Pinterest marketer" as opposed to online marketing consultant or something like that, has now shared some additional insights into Pinterest search and marketing with WebProNews.
How has Guided Search changed Pinterest marketing?
Last year, Pinterest launched Guided Search, an enhanced version of its search feature enabling users to find things they didn’t necessarily know they were looking for. You can start with a relatively vague keyword, and get additional options to add to help “guide” you in different directions.
"Guided Search allows for businesses and marketers to see what other topics or products people may be interested in," Ng tells us. "For example, you may be in the business of selling wedding dresses, but you’re not too sure what dresses are popular. When you use Guided Search, it tells us that people are looking for princess wedding dresses, vintage wedding dresses, and lace wedding dresses and so much more. Now you can create boards and pins around those specific topics and keywords."
"You don’t have to guess what people want," he adds. "Guided Search will tell you what people want."
Last summer, Pinterest made its “new and improved” analytics offering generally available. The company described it as a “smarter tool to help businesses worldwide continue to improve how they work, with meaningful insights about what their customers are interested in.”
"There’s a lot going on with Pinterest analytics," Ng says. "The first thing is to ensure you have verified your Pinterest account with your associated website. You will know it’s verified once there’s a red check mark next to your website. A verified Pinterest account gets you analytics of pins that are coming directly from your site as well as pins that direct back to your site."
"The area known as, Activity on (your website), will give you data on which pins are getting the most repins, the most clicks and the most impressions. And this is a great starting point to know how what pins are most engaging," he adds. "And what’s great about that data, is that it shows you pins from other people as well. The best performing pins are not always going to be the one that you originally pinned. It could be from one that’s been reshared onto an influencer’s account. And if it is, you may want to contact that person and send them a thank you note or special offer if she happens to have pinned one of your products."
How Can Using Rich Pins Help Bloggers Drive Traffic?
Pinterest, as you may or may not know, offers something called Rich Pins. There are several types: Product, Recipe, Article, Movie, and Place. These allow you to make pins more useful, and add relevant information. For example, article pins include a headline, the author, and a story description.
"Rich pins for a blogger is a must, because rich pins are a factor in search rankings for Pinterest. Pinterest prefers to show blog posts or pins that are rich pins," says Ng. "On top of that, rich pins also have more credibility and authority because rich pins for articles show off, in bold text, the title of the blog post article and the meta description when clicked through."
"I worked with a hairstyle blog on improving their traffic, and we were stuck at getting 30 referral visits a day from Pinterest," he adds. "The moment they were approved for rich pins, the traffic spiked up within two days to 70 referral visits from Pinterest."
Making Your Site More Pinterest-Friendly
There are things you can do besides using the Pin It button and rich pins to make your site more Pinterest-friendly.
"One of the ways is to ensure that you have a vertical image that people can pin," says Ng. "This is because vertical images stand out more on Pinterest’s feed. A person who does a really good job of creating blog images is Donna Mortize from Socially Sorted."
"The other way to make content Pinterest friendly is to use more than one pinnable image," he adds. "Just like the idea of a click to tweet, when you create snackable content that’s pin friendly and you have two or three of those spread out in a blog post, then readers can choose the one that resonates with them the best that they want to pin."
The Messaging Feature
Last year, Pinterest launched a new messaging feature allowing users to reply to people when they shoot them a pin. You can reply back with text or with another pin. You can even send pins and messages to multiple people at once.
"For marketers, it’s a great way to contact some of your most influential followers and engagers and begin a relationship," says Ng. "As long as a person follows you, you can contact him."
"If you happen to sell a product then send your fans a link for a discount," he says. "As a blogger myself, I’ve sent messages thanking people for being gracious in pinning my content. But I also ask for their e-mail in Pinterest messages. After that I will then send them a free copy of my e-book that would cost close to $25, free of charge, because they were such great fans."
Pinterest also launched interest following last year. Marketers may find some opportunities here as well.
"There are some steps you can take to increase your chances of your pins showing up within interests on Pinterest," says Ng. "First, try to ensure that your boards are in the correct category of the interest. For example, if you happen to sell comic books, then your best category would be geek. Second, in the pin descriptions, use the search terms that are the exact match of the interest, and/or ensure you use words associated with that interest. If the interest is Marvel Comics, then use words like Spiderman and Mary Jane, as long as it’s relevant."
"Another aspect that will help is to look at the images that are being used in interests, and see if there is a pattern," he adds. "Pinterest’s visual recognition isn’t perfect, but it is getting better at putting the right pins in the right interests based on the image itself."
Does Time of Day/Week Matter?
Asked if he believes if there are times of the day and/or week that are better for pinning content than others, Ng says, "I do and I don’t. And that’s because every business is going to be different and every customer is going to use it at different times. For example, you may want to post in the evening and weekend if you’re selling women’s fashion. However if you’re a blogger that’s focused on stay at home business moms, then you may want to pin early in the morning when mothers are getting up."
"The challenge is that not all pins show up at the moment you pin," he says. "It could be hours, or even days before someone is exposed to it due to the new Pinterest smart feed changes."
What Does Pinterest need?
Asked if there's one feature that he'd like to see Pinterest add that it doesn't already have, Ng says, "I think it would be great if Pinterest added a sticky pin feature. If Pinterest allowed you to keep one pin at the first position when a board is clicked on, that would be amazing."
More Men Are Coming Around To Pinterest
Pinterest's latest search-related announcement was the addition of gender-based filtering, enabling men to have a better search experience on the service, which has a reputation for being much more woman-oriented.
"I think the new search feature that customizes results based on whether you’re a woman or a man will be good in terms of driving more men to use the site," Ng says. "Before, when men searched for pins on Pinterest they were getting a lot of irrelevant pins."
"For example if you typed in watches, if you were a man, you would get a lot of watches that were for women," he adds. "But now as a man, when you type in watches in the search box on Pinterest you get watches that are designed for men. And that’s a great way to encourage more men to use it, and to help male/female products be exposed more to the right audience."
A Pinterest spokesperson tells us, “We’ve already seen these improvements result in a double digit lift in engagement, similar to recent updates to the new user experience which show trending interests for each gender to choose from as they get started.”
They also shared some new growth stats with us. For one, Pinterest’s male user base in the U.S. grew 73% year-over-year.
Suffice it to say, the second leading driver of social media referral traffic is growing its audience and improving its search functionality. This is good for websites.
Do you get significant traffic from Pinterest? Is this an area where you plan to put more of your focus? Discuss.
Images: Shareaholic: MGNG Marketing, Pinterest