How To Successfully Market Your Blog On Pinterest With A $0 Budget
Guest Post by Cassie May of Explore Horizonz
Marketing your brand or small business on Pinterest is a great step forward for your business. With over 250 million active monthly users and on it’s way to make $700 million in revenue this year it’s hard to not see the potential reach you can get with your business.
“People want to get ideas from businesses to figure out what to do or buy next”. – Pinterest
If you’ve ever taken a course to learn how to use Pinterest before then you might have also heard that Tailwind is a good investment to have, or another scheduling tool. You can also hire a virtual assistant to take care of things for you. But I know first hand how tight a new blogger, or small business owners budget can get, and not all of us can get the help we need to manage our Pinterest accounts.
So I’m here to share my best tips and strategies to get your Pinterest account started and running on a $0 budget, which can also make you money so when the time comes, you can start outsourcing it or investing in a scheduling app.
Pinterest and SEO
The first thing you need to understand about Pinterest is that it’s a visual search engine. There is a new ‘communities’ feature that was introduced late September 2018 and it for socialising rather than searching. But if you are there for business I wouldn’t bother too much with them as it’s just another group of members talking about a particular topic.
To get the best results with Pinterest you must understand how to use Pinterest SEO strategies. I have an awesome workbook I put together that shows you step by step and actually gets you to learn and implement the strategies so you can get the most of of it. You can get it here.
Pinterest is a big platform with algorithms and systems that work hard to give it’s users the best experience possible, so let’s get to know what they are and how they work in order to understand the journey your pins take to appear in front of people.
The smart feed (or commonly the home feed) is the first place that users are greeted by when entering the app on desktop or mobile. This is the best place to show up as Pinterest uses it’s algorithms to show you content that YOU want to see. Pinterest also filters in the best quality pins, ones that get good engagement because high engagement (clicks, saves, close ups) it send signals to Pinterest saying that this pin is quality.
If you recently searched for ‘chicken marinate recepies’ then in a few days searched for ‘how to grow my Instagram account’ then Pinterest will show you relevant content to what you searched for, and engaged with while on the platform. Also when you first sign up to Pinterest it will ask you to select a few categories you are interested in and show you the best content from those categories as well.
The smart feed is also a combination of pins from the boards, group boards, topics and categories that you follow and the content that performs well in each section.
The smart feed takes a bit of time before you start appearing on it when you are just starting out. Pinterest has yet to determine if your content is quality and user friendly so you may take a couple weeks of constantly being active on the platform, pinning your own content and third party pins. As long as you are trying to rank your pins with SEO strategies you’ll get into peoples smart feed faster.
Once you start building up followers, join group boards and also play around with topics which is something I cover in this post, you will also start appearing in people’s smart feed.
This one is an interesting one as hashtags are fairly new to Pinterest and don’t have a huge impact on your overall SEO rank but Pinterest is consitently changing the algorythm so in the future it might be more powerful.
It’s easy to get your content to show up in relative hashtag feeds, simply enter in some hashtags in the pin description. But the hashtag feed works by showing pins in a chronological order. So before you start editing old pins descriptions by entering in hashtags I wouldn’t waste your time. Instead just start using hashtags in your new pins.
When you follow someone on Pinterest simply because you enjoy their content but find that the smart feed isn’t showing you their pins well now you can find them in the following feed. This allows users to see content from only the people they chose to follow and prioritizes the first 5 pins that you pin after UTC midnight. This was confirmed by Sarah Hoople Shere, Head of Product Marketing at Pinterest and Alisa Meredith, Content Marketing Manager of Tailwind in March 2018.
The search feed is pretty easy to understand as it’s simply the display of relevant pins to the search term a user has typed in. While it may be easy to understand how it works there is massive competition to rank high in a search term as there are a few factors that Pinterest uses to determine how high to the top each pin will appear.
- Domain quality – increase your authority with Pinterest.
- Pinner quality – pinning high quality third party pins that are relevant to your niche.
- Relevance – using keywords to help Pinterest understand what your pin is about and how relevant it is to the search term.
- Pinner quality – making high resolution pins that attract users to engage.
Now we need to optimize our profiles, pins, boards etc… to give our pins the best chance at ranking.
Just like Google, Pinterest also ranks pins high or low depending on domain authority. Though Pinterest does things quite a bit difference it’s easy to cross reference the two. Your domain authority can be fairly easy to optimize, but the main factor being that you must have a self hosted website. This can either be WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify to name a few.
To increase your domain authority, follow these steps:
- Switch to a business account – if you haven’t already done so.
- Claim your website – proves to Pinterest you are a legit marketer/content creator
- Enable rich pins – to give your audience a better experience before choosing to click-through to your website.
An update in late 2018 now allows for non website owners to Instagram, Etsy, or YouTube account which opens up other gateways of opportunity for your Pinterest account.
“We’ll use claimed account information to help distribute your content and offer you additional Pinterest features and content.” – Pinterest
While I cannot confirm that this will help your domain authority as it is relatively new at the time of writing this post (Oct 2018) it’s still a good idea to claim everything you can to help Pinterest understand your profile and boost your content to those who would benefit it.
Pinterest SEO takes a couple of weeks and sometimes months to build up a solid authority. But don’t get discouraged if you don’t appear within the first 3 weeks, as like everything it takes time. So long as you stay active and keep a consistent strategy going then you’ll start ranking in no time!
Optimizing Your Profile
Your profile plays the biggest role in your entire Pinterest strategy so we need to pay attention to it and optimize it as best we can. Like I said Pinterest is a visual search engine. When I say profile I don’t just mean you name and bio, I also mean your boards, pins and the way that everything is all set up. It’s more your account we are optimizing.
This involves your business name, username and bio. I go deeper into detail about optimizing your general profile in my SEO mastery workbook, but I also give you basic run down in this post. What you mostly want to do is use keywords throughout your profile. Below are the sections you want to focus on.
To make edits to these areas go to your settings which can be found by clicking the three dots located at the top right hand corner of your screen on desktop, or the gear icon on mobile.
Your business name should consist of your actual name, or your business name, and if you can fit it into 30 characters then use your niche or a keyword that is most relevant to your niche.
Otherwise called your bio, can be structured in a way that answers these questions – what do you do and who do you do it for? I have also put in a bitly link to an offer. This isn’t really necessary and don’t recommend doing it any more as it’s not a clickable link and most people who visit your profile are on mobile and will be hesitant to take the time and type in that link.
I always recommend that you use a headshot of yourself if you are the sole owner of the business, otherwise a clear picture of your logo. I don’t consider Pinterest as social media as I’ve said a few times throughout this post but people still use it so it’s always good to appear as human as possible on the platform. People generally react and engage better when they know it’s a human that controls your account.
This isn’t in the image above but it is basically your url. When you change it you’ll notice the url tail for your profile. I used my business name ‘Explore Horizonz’ as thats what most of my audience identifies me as instead of my actual name ‘Cassie May’ mostly because this is my business profile not my personal. If you business name is your actual name then go ahead and use that.
Naming boards is the fun part. This is when you get to give your profile life and categorize all your pins. Basically I like to make a board about everything I talk about on my blog….BUT before you go crazy and start making 50+ boards, just start by make 10. My general rule of thumb is for every board I make I must be able to pin 3 articles on it.
So if I have 1 or 2 articles about Facebook marketing, then I generally don’t make a board for it, instead I pin them to my general niche boards. These boards are the general topic I discuss on my blog. So for example I write a lot of articles about social media marketing and blogging so ‘blogging’ and ‘social media’ will both be my general niche boards.
I have a whole post dedicated to naming boards that you can read here. Inside that post I also touch on topics. Now if you’ve never used Pinterest before or not sure what group boards are, they are basically just a board that multiple people contribute to, so instead of just you pinning to your own boards, you can pin to group boards. It’s a good way to expand your reach as you get access to the followers of that group board. Usually when someone follows the whole account on Pinterest not just a board and if that person who just got followed, that is also contributing to a group board, then that follower becomes a follower of the group board as well.
Hopefully you get what I mean? Anyways I digress, topics on Pinterest are basically the same but SOOOOOOO much bigger!
In the screenshot above you’ll notice I have highlighted the 41,349 followers of that topic. If you understood what I was talking about just before about group boards, then you’ll know that 41,349 people can potentially see your pin.
How this works is you have to name your own boards after topics. Go to the Pinterest Categories page, select a category and then start searching, everytime you go into a topic Pinterest will suggest 4 other topics that are related.
This is what most bloggers call it, or commonly a ‘best of’ board. It just has ALL of your pins that direct to your website on it. So you won’t be pinning anyone else’s pins to this board, only your own. This board is – I would say mandatory to have on your profile.
You basically want Pinterest to boost your content, now I have a strategy to always pin to my blog board first, then repin that pin to every other relevant board. Usually those pins will get repins as well, so then all those repins (saves) and clicks will accumulate on to that first pin.
Now that that 1 pin is getting all of this engagement, Pinterest will begin boosting it out to more people as Pinterest sees it as a ‘quality’ pin.
You can name is your business name, ‘best of [business name]’ I generally don’t call it a best of, as it’s all of my pins not just my ‘best’ pins, but it’s up to you.
Creating a Pinning Strategy
Okay, so we’ve covered quite a bit and all of it is relevant. Now we need to discuss your strategy to actually get pins out.
I’m not going to talk about how to create pins, as I have a post that shows you how to do that, as well as a free video course that has a full video dedicated to pin creating in Canva – which is also free to start using.
Pinning to Boards
When you make a pin for your own content your next step is to pin it on Pinterest to a board. This is the part most people get wrong, or get confused by. This part always a strategy you should start creating as you go. You want to see what works best for your account but that can sometimes take up to a month before you can understand if the strategy you are using is right for you.
Here are some templates to use for your own content and create your own strategy from.
- Pin to your main board first (blog board).
- Pin to 2x boards that are most relevant to your pin topic.
- After about 12 – 24 hours, start pinning that pin from your blog board to other relevant boards and group boards.
- Pin to main board (blog board).
- Then to other relevant boards every 2 days (group and your own).
- Pin to main board (blog board).
- Every 12 – 24 hours, pin it to one of your top 10 best performing boards that are most relevant, your boards and group boards.
How To Use These Strategies
Each strategy always starts with pinning to your main board first. This means, that the very first time your pin ever appears on Pinterest it will be pinned to your main board. Remember back a bit in this post I talked about making a Blog board, which has only your own pins on it? Well everytime someone clicks on that pin, saves it to another board, or even comments on it – those stats will now appear on that very first pin, and your blog board will get great engagement.
Step 2 is up to you, I just gave you 3 suggestions on what to do after pinning it to your blog board. The reason why we want to pin it to relevant boards is because you want those boards to add to the SEO part of your pin. If you pin it to random boards that have got little to not relevance to that pin, it confuses Pinterest into thinking it’s about something else.
For example, if I make a pin that links to an article about “how to start a blog” I’m not going to pin that to a board that about chicken recipes, because it doesn’t belong there, and isn’t relevant.
A great resource to understand manual pinning is an eBook called Pinteresting Strategies by Carly Campbell I personally purchased about 3 months into my Pinterest journey. It basically taught me how to manually pin, and also pin with intentions as I was aimlessly pinning all over the place when I first started on Pinterest.
Pinning Third Party Pins
Pinning other peoples pins needs to be an essential part to your Pinterest marketing strategy. Why? Well, simply because Pinterest is a platform for sharing and Pinterest wants you to find other ideas to inspire your audience. Pinning other people’s content is great when your new and don’t have many things to pin of your own content, plus see what content from others that resonates with your audience and create new content from that.
This is also how you are going to make up the entire content on each board on your profile. Each board is a category basically, of ideas, tips and tricks, and a bookmark of content you like and think your audience would like as well.
This is all dependant on what works for you. But it is essentially about pinning a percentage of your content and a percentage of third party pins. I usually start with a 30% your own content and 70% third party pins. As you grow you can change that ratio, but don’t start spamming Pinterest with your content only as Pinterest doesn’t like that and you could get banned.
Pinterest has it’s own set of best practices you can read about here, but I want to highlight some key factors to focus on.
- Creating fresh content. This isn’t just about creating new blog posts or products. It’s also about creating ‘fresh’ pin graphics and ‘fresh’ pin descriptions. SOmething I talk about in depth in my Passive Pinning Strategy course. Take an old pin, and repin it to another board and change the description OR make a new pin graphic with the same description.
- Make multiple pins per blog post. Every time you put out a new blog post, or a new product, make more than just 1 pin graphic. While doing this you can also make your content evergreen, by having multiple touch points with your audience. Making multiple pins also allows you to play around with calls to action, keywords and power words. But in doing so, making different looking pins don’t have to be dramatically different to each other.
- A/B test your pins. Split testing is also great to determine which pins resonate with your audience. Sometimes when you make multiple pins not all of them will attract your ideal audience but some might, and can even go viral.
- Consistency. I feel like you knew I was going to say this…but really it’s the best practice for a lot of things we do online. Pinterest doesn’t have to be a choir unless you make it one. Set aside 15-20 mins a day and maybe an hour a month to analyse your analytics. If you have a template for your pins, making them should really only take about 5 minutes, as you are just adjusting some colours, text and/or an image.
Optimizing Your Blog
Pinterest works well by itself, but what are people going to do if they don’t have a ‘next’ step to take and share your content that they love with the rest of their friends, audience. If we can optimize our blogs by taking a few simple steps we can ensure shareability and have even more touch point with our audience.
Note: Don’t go crazy spamming your blog with all these pop-up’s and CTA’s. I HATE it, and I know a lot of other people do too, when you go to a website to read some great content and 50% of your screen is taken up by ads, email opt-in’s and follow me on social media windows!
- Claim your website and enable rich pins (if you haven’t already done so).
- Validate any and all URLs for rich pins.
- Add a widget to your sidebar.
- Enable the Pinterest ‘save’ button to your website.
- Add a ‘pin it for later’ link to your pins. Use this code: <a href=“PIN URL” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>PIN THIS POST FOR LATER ></a>
- Use a social sharing app like Social Warfare or Sumome
Pinterest is a complex but extremely powerful platform for bloggers when it’s used right.
If you follow at least some of these simple steps that I’ve discussed throughout this post you will be starting off on the right foot.
Skipped to the end? This is what we talked about:
- Pinterest and SEO – How to use SEO for Pinterest and where.
- The Algorithm – Understanding how you can be found, and the algorithms Pinterest uses to show your content to your audience.
- Domain Quality – How to improve your account standing with Pinterest, so that Pinterest takes you seriously and boosts out your content to more and more new people everyday.
- Optimizing Your Profile – Building a solid foundation to start marketing your content on.
- Creating a Pinning Strategy – How to pin your own content, pinning third party pins and creating a strategy that works for your profile.
- Best Practices – 4 best tips to keeping your Pinterest strategy ahead of the competition.
- Optimizing Your Blog – Add extra touch points and sharing CTA’s to get your audience to engage with your content.
My name is Cassie May, and I’m the founder of Explore Horioznz, a blog that is full of Pinterest, Instagram and blogging tips to help small business owners and bloggers learn how to use social media platforms to market their website.
I have been using and learning the Pinterest platform since Feb 2018 which was when I launched my blogging business. Branching out into the Virtual Assistant space I’ve been able to help a variety of online businesses ranging in from Instagram coaches, to make up artists, and even Self-love and eating disorder blogs grow their Pinterest profiles, email subscribers, sales and drive floods of targetted visitors to their websites daily.
It has been a great experience working as both a small business owner and a Pinterest Virtual assistant, getting to know the Pinterest platform specifically and apply my knowledge to their profiles. I’ve also been able to create my own courses and eBooks to help my audience learn even more about the Instagram and Pinterest.