Pinterest for beginners - a strategy guide for the confused

Pinterest is an important marketing tool.

I needed a Pinterest for beginners guide. If you’ve been blogging for any length of time, you’ve probably heard that Pinterest is a super important marketing tool. Having a Pinterest strategy is what gets your blog or website pageviews, traffic and readers!

But Pinterest can be confusing. Is it a search engine? Is it a social network platform? What do I pin? How do I pin? How often? What are the “rules”??

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is kind of like a hybrid between a social networking tool and a search engine. It’s really neither and both at the same time.

How is it like a search engine?

Like a search engine, Pinterest displays a collection of links and sites that have been submitted to it, in the order of popularity or “ranking”. It has a preference for the kinds of sites, “pins” and links it likes, and it will favor certain kinds over others.

A “pin” is what Pinterest calls the images that it displays on it’s feed. These are rectangular, and have an image, a title, and a description. When you hover over a pin, you can save the pin to your own board, like bookmarking a site in your browser.  Or you can click on a pin and be taken to the site it’s linked to, to read whatever it was you were interested in.

A “board” is an individual user’s personal collection of pins, like having a folder of links in your bookmarks. These boards are usually titled as a category, and then users will save pins to it that relate to that category. You can also add board descriptions. There’s no limit to how many pins you can pin to a board. You can even divide a board up into sections, to further organize your pins.

How is it like a social network?

Like a social network, Pinterest allows you to have an account and profile. You can name your profile, and your username becomes your Pinterest handle and URL. You can also have a profile picture and description. If you have a business account, you can “claim” your website, or verify that you own it with code, and then Pinterest will show you statistics on how your pins perform on Pinterest.

You can also follow other accounts on Pinterest, and they can follow you. You can follow an account, or just an individual board. And you can follow a topic, and get pins related to that topic on your customized feed.

Like a social network, Pinterest will show you a feed, rather than wait for you to search a topic. While you can also search a topic, your home feed will show you pins that Pinterest thinks you’ll like, based on what you’ve pinned or clicked on before.

How do you use Pinterest?

First, you need to set up your account.

On Pinterest, you would simply create an account on their login screen. Pinterest conveniently lets you use your email address, Facebook profile or Google account to login to Pinterest. No matter how you choose to set it up, there’s a few things you’ll want to do right at the start, if you’re using Pinterest for your business.

  1. Make sure you use a Pinterest username that is exactly like your blog or business. That makes it easier to search.
  2. Link to your website.
  3. Verify or “claim” it — either by adding a verification code or a file to your site.
  4. Create a description. Use the main keywords you want to be searched for in your description.

Second, you’ll create “boards”.

Boards are where you’ll showcase your collection of pins. Create at least 10 boards to start, and continue to create new boards as needed. Name your boards with the keywords you want to be searched for. The more times you use the keyword your pin is relevant to, the more likely it is to come up when that term is searched. (So don’t get creative with the board names!)

You can assign a “cover” for each board. This is the pin you assign as a cover. So feature your own pin, make it a keyword-relevant pin, and assign it as the cover to your board. When your board is followed, it’s the first pin that will show up on that board.

Don’t forget to write a board description. Keep it short and sweet, and make sure to use your keywords!

Now pin to your boards. Make sure each board has at least 5 pins, with only one being to your own website. The 80/20 rule is still in effect on Pinterest.

Note: you can create two kinds of boards – “public” and “secret”. Secret boards are seen just by you, and public boards are seen by others. If you want to create a secret board that’s just all your pins, for reference or to test images, that’s fine too!

Third, start creating pins.

Pins are vertical, rectangular, image-heavy graphics that are linked to outside sources. So when you create a pin, remember these rules:

  1. The ideal sizes are square, a ratio of 2:3 rectangle, and a “long” version of 1:2.1 ratio.
    In layman’s terms, this means that your square one (as of Sept 2018) is 600×600, the optimal pin is 600×900 and the long one is 600×1260.
  2. Use an image to keep your pin engaging. Text-heavy pins do NOT do well on Pinterest (unless it’s an infographic).
  3. The title is super important. Make sure you use keywords. Lists, numbers and how-tos do very well.
  4. Describe your pin. Even though the descriptions aren’t shown in the main feed, they do help your pin rank on Pinterest, especially if you use your keywords.
  5. Watermark your pin with your site name and URL. (This can be a small detail in a corner!)
  6. Link back to your site — either by loading the pin to the post you want to pin, and then pinning from your post, or by creating a pin on Pinterest, and putting in the URL in the form.

For new pin creators, it’s easiest to create a template in your graphic design program and then swap out the images and text when you create a new pin. Not only do you get a branded look, but you can then easily see which pins are yours in your feed. And you can test what kinds of images work better for you than others.

Fourth, start pinning.

Pinterest works on a system of regular, frequent pinning and repinning. That means that you don’t want to pin and repin in bulk. Rather, you want to go on Pinterest and pin small amounts, at different times of the day.

The more times your content is pinned, the better.

Here’s a practical way it could work. Say my goal is to pin on Pinterest 100 pins per day (a modest amount according to experts, by the way). I would pin 20 of my own pins, and 80 pins from other people, over the course of the day. And I wouldn’t do this all at once. Rather, I’d go on Pinterest at 10 different times, and pin 10 different pins — 2 of my own, 8 of other sources.

Where do you pin?

This confused me too. You pin to your boards! You can pin the same pin to multiple boards, as long as it “fits” on that board. That’s why you want to make your boards as specific as possible. So for example, the pin for this post on Pinterest could be pinned to a board on Pinterest strategy, marketing tips, blog traffic tricks, website marketing, etc. If you’ve run out of boards to fit your pin, create a new board!

Remember, you don’t just pin your own pins. You pin other people’s pins too. And that means you can repin the same pin to the same board again, as long as you’ve pinned other pins to it in between. What followers (and Pinterest) don’t want to see is a board filled with just your own pins — at least not publicly — as that looks like spam.

Tips to create your Pinterest for beginners strategy

So here’s a few things that I’ve learned about Pinterest.

  • Use a combination of branded pins (using your brand colors and fonts) and non-branded pins for each post. Start by just creating branded pins for your posts. Then go back, create new pins, upload them to the post, and then pin to your Pinterest boards all over again.
  • If a pin or post is doing well, create a new pin for it and repin it! Take advantage of the traffic and pin it again.
  • Pin from your website rather than repinning the same pin over and over again. Actually do both! Repin your own pins, and then pin your pins again from your site. The more times you pin your pins, the better!
  • Pin to multiple boards. Create new boards as needed, with variations on your keywords. And repin to the old boards. It’s ok to repin to the same board, as long as you are careful about how many times and how often you do it.
  • DON’T have a “catch-all” or “best of” personal board. Pinterest doesn’t like boards with pins from just one source. It flags as spam.
  • The more your pins are pinned, the more likely they’ll show up in Pinterest feeds and be repinned. And the more they are repinned, the more your traffic increases. So keep pinning!
  • Since you want your pins pinned by other people and not just you, take advantage of Facebook or message board pinning threads. The more your pins are shared, the more your traffic grows.

Bonus tips:

Pinterest has “group” board options!

A group board is a Pinterest board with more than one contributor. You can set up your own group board, or apply to be on other group boards (by messaging the group board owner and asking to be invited). Group boards are a great way to get your pins on more boards and repinned more frequently.

If you use group boards, make sure they are keyword relevant to your pins, not just “catch-all”. And repin frequently. Follow the rules so that your pins are repinned by others.

Pins can be STOLEN!

I know, this is awful. But it’s true. Sometimes unscrupulous site owners will hijack a pin that is doing well and redirect your pin to their site. This is why you want to make sure your pins are watermarked by your website name and URL. Not only does it help to prove that a certain pin is yours, but it also helps those interested in the link be able to find your post, even if the pin doesn’t take them there.

If you do have a pin that is stolen (or find one from someone else), don’t report it as spam. That hurts the pin itself, not the thief. And sometimes it can hurt your own profile! Instead, report it as a copyright violation.

One last note:

Make sure you load your pins on to your posts! Pinterest (and interested readers) like to see the pins they click on your post. It helps them to know that they are in the right spot.

Also, make sure you have a “pin it” button both on your post, and on your site in general. There’s nothing worse than wanting to pin a post and not being able to find the pin button! You may even want to consider having a “hovering” pin button on your pin images.

Pinterest strategy in a nutshell (TL:DR version)

Pinterest is a combination of social media and search engine. Create pins to share your posts, and collect your pins on keyword-relevant boards. Keywords are very very important, so pick keywords that match your links. Make sure you repin other pins, and not just your own. Pin small amounts frequently, rather than bulk pinning once a day. And the more times you repin a pin, the better!!

Happy pinning!

Do you like Pinterest? Does it increase your website traffic? 

For more blogging tips, read Blogging 101: Starting a blog business, for beginners.

Pinterest for beginners - a strategy for the confused

 

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