How I Pinned My Way to a #1 Google Search Ranking
By Braxton Wood
When I had my photography business, I was guilty of doing what a lot of people did and exhausted all efforts to post on Facebook and Twitter, only to wind up frustrated and disappointed with the meager audience I was amassing. I developed a hatred for marketing on those platforms and began a quest of experimentation to see if something else would work better.
Pinterest was an up-and-coming network, and I already had an existing account because I liked the idea of organizing my ideas for photography in a glorified, social bookmarking kind of way. Looking at my failure with Facebook, I figured why not repurpose my blog posts by pinning them on Pinterest?
What happened blew my mind. My blog posts were getting repinned like crazy. My monthly website visitors tripled. Within two to three months, I was ranking #1 on Google search results and I was getting a lot more gigs by the week. And this was only from having about 100 followers on Pinterest. I was thrilled.
What I learned is that Pinterest is absolutely not exclusive to fashion, crafting, or homemaking and that anyone can build a great following from Pinterest if they do it right. In fact, I recently got into a friendly debate with a colleague where I asserted that a life coach specializing in family trauma could truly leverage this tactic. The opposing argument was that the subject matter was too heavy and sensitive for Pinterest. However, a quick search proved otherwise when I found countless articles on this very topic that were repined over 600 times.
In the years since this happened, I’ve dissected everything I can to see what gave me such incredible results and have since been able to replicate these outcomes numerous times with other blogs. This tactic is not as simple as just shamelessly pinning your blog posts on Pinterest, and you will not get desirable results if you’re not intentional about the entire strategy.
The beauty of incorporating Pinterest into your marketing is that people only go to Pinterest for two things: to get information or to buy. If that fact doesn’t make you salivate as a business owner, then I challenge you to rethink everything you’re doing. My entire blogging strategy is centered 100% on Pinterest. The prose, the images, everything; it’s all designed to be optimized for consumption on Pinterest.
At its most basic, the reason Pinterest is so amazing for generating traffic is because its structure provides a ton of potential for virality. When even one person pins your blog post, that causes the pin to show up in all of their followers’ feeds, and anyone in that group who repins it is exposing it to their followers. This creates an exponential snowball effect in Pinterest land, but also improves your organic Google ranking due to all the visits your blog is getting, meaning that at some point you can choose to not rely on pins for traffic (which was the case for me.)
Tip #1 - Approach Pinterest like it’s your blog
Despite all my Pinterest fanfare thus far, execution doesn’t actually start on Pinterest. Nor does it with your website. For a most optimal pin that refers as much traffic as possible, you want to make sure you are clear on what people are actually looking for. And for that, nothing is better (or more affordable) than good old Google keyword research. I don’t want this to turn into an SEO lesson, so be sure to learn the basics of using Google’s Keyword Tool (it’s not hard.) A good starting point is to find keywords that are relevant, have low competition, and have a search count of at least 1,200 per month.
Now that you have your keywords, use them to optimize any blog post you write. Put them in the title, put them where appropriate in the post body, and create a tag for them if you’re using a CMS. All of this polishes your post to be super SEO-friendly. And then do the same thing when you go to pin it. Take an excerpt from your blog post that contains that keyword and make that the description of your pin. Or write a standalone description containing the keyword.
Tip #2 - What makes a great image for Pinterest?
Images are critical for Pinterest’s visually rich world, but getting something to look good for the right audience is tricky. The answer to this question depends on the audience you serve. If you’re not sure what to do, I would spend an hour or two searching around on Pinterest to get familiar with the style of pins that others in your industry are producing and review which ones get the most attention and repins.
As far as creating the images, I’m a Photoshop and Illustrator user through and through. However, there are plenty of free and easy-to-use online tools that can help with this too. Many of my peers at Infusionsoft recommend Canva.com to our customers for all sorts of things. Its online toolset is really good for quick turnaround and it produces some great images for pins.
Another advantage with Pinterest is that while the suggested image width is 735 pixels, there is no max on the image length, making it a playground for things like infographics. Getting that additional real estate on the screen is definitely an attention grabber and can help increase your potential for repins.
Bonus Pinterest Ninja Tactic: If you’d like to optimize your blog post further by having friendlier images for people to pin, I would suggest boning up on some basic HTML and learning how to use
Tip #3 – What’s happening in the background?
So here’s the “why.” Google takes a lot of things into consideration when it ranks sites. In this case, we’re winning the game with the keywords and linking your blog posts on every pin, and the traffic those pins generate. Essentially all of those things are a huge thumbs up to Google to indicate your site belongs in the upper echelon of searchdom. Not to mention that Pinterest is super friendly to the Google crawler, meaning that a well-loved pin will also show up in Google search results on its own.
When Google sees the referring pins with those keywords and then sees that your blog post contains them as well, that’s a plus one. Then there are the exponential hits from the pin that’s also a major plus one. And then Google sees every existing repin that links to your blog for another plus one. You’re effectively stacking up all these instances and Google has no choice but to rank you highly. Then you start getting traffic from organic search, and the entire machine continues to build on itself and gets more valuable, especially if you blog regularly and pin every post you write.
It takes some time to figure out a winning formula for yourself. Of all the blog posts I pinned, the one that was the highest referral rate was a definite surprise. I love this tactic because it takes only two extra minutes for you to repurpose your blog for a different platform without any additional work. Bottom line is that it’s surely worth a try.
Braxton’s passion is figuring out ways to leverage the economics of the internet and sharing that knowledge with others. And as a coach at Infusionsoft, he’s loved finding new ways to couple that knowledge with the power of automation. You can follow Braxton on Pinterest.
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