Move over Google, Pinterest is Coming in Hot

While we all know Google is the world’s largest search engine, we need to remember there are other ways people are searching the Internet, including social search engines like Pinterest. Pinterest–the visual discovery social channel we all love–has evolved far beyond its humble scrap-booking and recipe-sharing origins. With massive growth resulting in an ever-growing uber collection of information, and the recent addition of advertising options such as video pins, promoted pins, and rich pins, Pinterest’s amazing opportunities have transformed it into a powerful social search engine.

Pinterest seems easy, right? You upload an image and a link to a virtual bulletin board and voila—you’ve got a pin! You start going crazy and start pinning everything you can. Cute animals! Photographs! Accessories! Home improvement projects! Oh my!

But if you’re trying to grow your business through Pinterest, that strategy alone won’t help you at all. You can’t pin a million things and sit back, hoping you get people to click through; you have to make each pin count.

7 Ways to Optimize Pins for the Pinterest Search Engine

1)    Use a High Quality Image

Start with good, high quality images that are clear and represent your brand well. Tall images work best as they stay on the screen longer when people are scrolling through their feed (but not too long). There are lots of other ways to make your pins look beautiful, but a large, high resolution image is a great place to start.

And please stay away from cheesy stock photos—Pinterest users love inspirational, beautiful photos or graphics, or images that are extremely helpful, clever, or informational—not photos that stink, like that image of a businessman wearing pleated Dockers and speaking into a 6 pound cellphone with a three foot antenna—you know the one we’re talking about.

2)    Make Sure the Message is Clear, and the Link is Relevant

The image should correspond with what the user will find if they click on the link. Don’t mislead your Pinterest followers with false advertising.

Instead, choose an image that reflects the link’s contents. If you’re struggling to convey your message clearly, add text to your image to describe it.

The moral of the story is this: make sure people know what’s inside the pin, and give them a reason to click on it. If you think the image isn’t pulling its weight on its own, add text.

3)    Add UTM Parameters to Your Links

Time to get geeky with it. UTM parameters are tracking tokens at the end of URLs that let you measure success. You need to add these to your pins so you are able to show that what you are pinning is making an impact, and is worth your time and investment.

Sure, it’s nice to know how much site traffic comes from Pinterest, but understanding which piece of content is driving all that traffic is even better!

All you have to do is add a snippet of text at the end of your URL. In Google Analytics, the data can be found under Traffic Sources > Sources > Campaigns. From here, you can click on your Goal Sets to see how each campaign has led to conversions based on goals you have set up in Google Analytics. Check out this Google support page for more insight.

4)    Utilize Attribution

Attribution is how you will determine credit for sales, conversions, etc. In the case of Pinterest, it can be used for pins you create yourself, and repins.

As it’s really easy to steal content on Pinterest, you want to make sure you’re always giving credit where credit is due, and protecting yourself when others won’t do the same for you (jerk move).

It’s pretty simple. If you’re pinning original content, add your logo or website URL to the photo—if people share your content without attributing it to you, people will still know where it came from. If you’re pinning someone else’s content, give them credit in the description.

5)    Write Keyword Rich Descriptions

No matter your approach, a best practice is to create several boards focused tightly around specific topics for more targeted engagement with your followers.

These aren’t just product category boards. For instance, rather than just a “clothing” board, you should narrow it down to “work fashion” for one board and “casual fashion” for another.

Doing so will ensure search visibility and user engagement hits your target audience. Add keywords to pin titles, and use them in board descriptions (within reason people—let’s avoid “keyword stuffing” like the plague). Elaborating on your boards’ descriptions make them far more compelling as well.

Keep your copy concise, yet enticing. Tell readers what they’ll get if they click on the pin in around 200 characters.

6)    Insert a Call-to-Action, Please

Even on Pinterest, where it’s standard practice to click on links, people need a little overt reminder to click. It may seem obvious, but studies show that Pins with CTAs result in huge increases in engagement over pins without CTAs. You can include a CTA in the image of your pin, or pair that CTA with a link in your caption. The result? Referral traffic magic.

7)    Leverage Rich Pins

We do love our buzz words. Leveraging “Rich Pins” is an opportunity to capitalize on a tool that is designed to make your business stand out from your competitors on Pinterest.

If you’re in the ecommerce business, consider employing Rich Pins so users can see the price and availability of a product right on the Pin itself. Rich Pins pull in extra data into a pin whenever you or someone else pins specific things from your website and can perform much better than their not-so-rich-counterparts. More detailed information for website developers can be accessed by links provided on the Rich Pins page.

As you can see, social media continues to play a big role in how you are found online, so don’t neglect your social channels–like Pinterest!