21 Steps to Supercharge Your Pinterest Marketing

Pinterest is widely regarded as being one of the best sources of traffic for websites, with around 5% of all online referral traffic coming from the platform.

It has also been found to be 80% more viral and 3x more effective at lead generation than Twitter, so from a business perspective, you really can't afford not to master Pinterest.

I know from personal experience, though, that Pinterest can be a tricky beast to tame.

There seems to be conflicting advice everywhere, with promises of instant, massive website traffic growth from a few too-good-to-be-true 'secrets' never far away.

Trust me; I reckon I've tried all the Pinterest tips and tricks available, from high-volume pinning to testing out strategies combining manual and scheduled pinning, nothing seemed to work to grow my profile's reach and engagement exponentially.

Thankfully, I've found a 'back to basics' approach that works, and I'm going to show you all the steps in this article.

Perhaps the first step below should be to be realistic, as the most important thing you need to realize is that it's a marathon and not a sprint.

There is no such thing as overnight success in any endeavour.

Provided you follow the steps below and stay consistent, then you too should be able to grow a Pinterest profile capable of producing the monthly views and blog traffic that you're after.

Essential Information in 2020 – What do you need to know?

If you've read anything about Pinterest over the past couple of years, you've probably heard about the algorithm update which took effect in 2018.

As a bit of background information, Pinterest introduced a feature known as the 'smart feed' in the backend of 2018 (this is just a fancy term for the home feed that shows on your profile's homepage).

It’s called 'smart' because it uses an algorithm to ensure that any pins displayed on the home feed are as relevant as possible for a user based on certain criteria, for example, their interests, what they searched for on Pinterest previously, and how 'quality' a pin is considered to be, etc.

It isn't uncommon for the algorithm that drives this to be updated, and that's what has happened in 2018.

Now, Pinterest is never going to come out and tell us precisely what the algorithm looks for (they're a business after all, and they need to protect their intellectual property).

We can, however, piece together snippets from various sources including Pinterest employees, articles, and our personal experience to build a picture of what works on Pinterest.

That's what I’ve done for this guide.

There are four main areas you need to look at if you want to boost your Pinterest profile's reach and engagement, and to ultimately get traffic to your blog using the platform.

These include:

  • Domain Quality

An assessment is performed by Pinterest to determine the 'quality' of your website.

It makes sense for this to be measured because Pinterest would prefer to boost the ranking of pins from authoritative and popular sites versus those associated with spam.

Nobody likes spam or clickbait, so by weeding this out, Pinterest hopes (and can expect) to increase user satisfaction and loyalty on the platform.

  • Pin Quality

Nothing new here.

Pinterest checks to see how much engagement your pins are getting.

The more saves, clicks, comments and tries the better, and Pinterest takes note of this to boost the ranking and visibility of more popular content.

  • Relevance

It's important to remember that Pinterest functions as a search engine. Hence, the top priority of the platform is to display pins that are highly relevant to a user's interests or their specific search query.

  • Pinner Quality

Pinterest cares more about the quality of the pins you promote on the platform than the quantity.

The visibility of your pins will take a hit if you consistently promote low-quality content with little engagement versus more popular content.

I'm going to make it super-simple by showing you the twenty-one steps you need to take to meet each of these requirements.

My advice?

Don't overwhelm yourself. Pick a few steps and gradually add more as time goes on.

Consistency is the key here.

Let's dive in...

Steps to Increase Domain Quality

Just like with building a house, your Pinterest profile will be stronger if you build it on the right foundations.

The following steps will help boost your domain quality on Pinterest, a critical step you must take before diving into the other steps in this guide.

1. Set up a Business Account

The first step to increasing domain quality is to set up your Pinterest profile as a business account.

Don't worry, though; it's completely free.

There are a few reasons why having a Pinterest business account is so important:

  1. You can't promote products or services, for example via ads, without first agreeing to Pinterest’s Business Terms of Service.
  2. Having a business account allows you to show the name of your business/blog on your profile instead of the default first name and last name (see the image below), which looks far more professional from a business perspective and helps promote brand recognition.
    image showing a pinterest profile with the business name set
  3. Without a business account, you can't access essential functionality such as Pinterest Analytics (to see how well your pins are performing), and Promoted Pins or Rich Pins (both of which will help you boost your profile's reach and engagement).

You can convert from a personal to business account easily without any impact on your existing pins, boards or followers.

You can read about the specific steps here.

2. Claim Your Website

Claiming your website is an essential step to boosting your engagement on Pinterest.

There are a few reasons for this:

  1. Claiming your site is required to unlock Pinterest Analytics (in addition to having a business account as discussed above). This feature is critical to helping you make informed choices about the content you share.
  2. Once you've claimed your site, any pins that come from your blog will have your profile picture attached beside them which will help boost brand visibility and recognition.
  3. Your website's URL will now show directly on your profile (see image below). Visitors to your profile can directly follow this link to access your blog.
    image showing a pinterest profile with the business name set

Find out how to do it here: How to claim your website on Pinterest.

3. Use Rich Pins

Rich Pins take a standard pin and pump it full of additional, relevant information.

There are a couple of types available:

  • Product Pins
  • Recipe Pins
  • Article Pins
  • App Pins

For example, look at the following recipe pin:

image showing a pinterest rich pin

See all that extra information like cooking time, ingredients, and even the title of the recipe at the top of the pin?

You don't get that on a standard pin, and this extra information will help your pins stand out more.

Another advantage?

Rich Pins extract metadata from your website, meaning that if you change information, for example, the price of a product, the revised price is automatically updated on the Rich Pin.

Find out how to add them here: How to enable rich pins for your website.

Steps to Increase Pin Quality

The quality of your pins is hugely important on Pinterest.

You can't expect people to share something that looks amateur or that is full of grammar or spelling mistakes.

Complete the following steps to increase the number of saves, clicks, comments and tries on your pins:

4. Optimise Your Pins

I can't stress enough how important it is to focus on pinning high quality pins.

First impressions count, and if you want your pin to stand out and receive more saves, clicks and comments than the other pins in a user's feed, there are a number of things you need to do.

So, when creating pins...

  • Focus on quality

Don't create pins for the sake of it, but instead focus on providing as much value as possible.

The following quote sums up what you need to aim for: "the best Pins represent the best ideas – they're inspirational and actionable. Create Pins that have a clear audience, and are engaging for that audience" (source).

  • Don't rush it

Spend as much time as possible creating a pin that you're proud of.

You can use a service like Canva to produce high-quality pins online, they even provide royalty free images, and you can apply filters to quickly and easily modify how your pin looks.

  • Avoid horizontal pins

The general feeling is that you should avoid horizontal pins at all costs – even Pinterest admits that vertical pins work better.

Horizontal pins won't show in full on a user's feed, and if someone needs to click a pin to see it fully and to understand it, well, that'll be too much hassle.

Most group boards prohibit horizontal pins anyway, so make it as easy as possible on yourself and others and stick to vertical pins only.

  • Size matters

There has been a trend recently of creating long, vertical pins that occupy as much space as possible in a Pinterest visitor's feed, with the general feeling being that these will get the most attention (I have created several pins known as 'giraffe' pins – i.e., very tall and thin).

Pinterest, however, states that it prefers an aspect ratio of 2:3 for vertical pins (typically 600px wide by 900px high).

Longer pins will now be cut-off in the feed meaning the entirety of the pin won't show unless it's clicked on, and the Pinterest algorithm will reduce how often these pins appear on mobile devices unless they have significant levels of engagement.

I'm personally sticking to 600px x 900px pins going forward, and I'll be remaking my existing 'giraffe' pins to match Pinterest's preferred size.

an image showing the optimal pin or image size on pinterest
  • Inspire action

Boost the effectiveness of your pins by creating headlines and sub- headlines that people can’t help but engage with.

Check out the following guide for tips on writing headlines (yes...I know it's written specifically for articles, but the tips can easily apply to Pinterest pins too): The Step-by- Step Guide to Writing Powerful Headlines.

Make people want what you're offering too. If your pin is promoting a free guide or eBook, include a picture of the front cover or some other alluring image to show people exactly what they'll get if they perform the action you want them to take (a picture really does speak a thousand words in these cases).

For example:

an image showing a call to action or CTA on a pinterest pin
  • Make it readable

Make your pins as easy as possible to read/understand.

People will be scrolling quickly past pins on Pinterest, so don't expect them to take the time to digest whatever text you've included on your pin fully.

Choose a font that is simple and clear; a color which stands out against your pin's images/background, and text that is large enough to be readable in a user's Pinterest feed (i.e., before they’ve clicked on it to view it in more detail).

  • Understand key attributes

Some pins naturally perform better than others.

It isn't just a matter of luck; these pins nearly always include characteristics or features which have been found to perform better on Pinterest.

Take some of the following, for example:

  1. Lighter images get 20x more repins than darker images.
  2. Pins which include images without faces receive 23% more repins.
  3. Pins with red images get more repins than those with blue.
  4. The optimal amount of whitespace on a pin's background is less than 30%. Above 40% and the number of repins drops between 200%-400%.
  5. Pins with multiple images typically receive 30% more clicks.

In addition to the links above, it's worth checking out the following short article if you're interested in creating the most effective pin possible (it's an interesting read): This is the Perfect Pinterest Picture, According to Science.

  • Pre-populate your pin descriptions

An essential part of optimizing your pin is to ensure you’ve added a default description which gets added to Pinterest when people save a pin directly from your site.

Don't expect someone who is pinning your image to add a good description or to use the keywords that will best promote your it, instead, create this beforehand and save it so that your pin automatically includes this description when pinned.

Remember to create a description that is effective for both Pinterest and the people who will be looking at your pin.

You need to find a balance between adding keywords to make it as relevant as possible to a user's search query, but you also need to make it interesting and informative to make a reader want to click through to read your content.

The best description will strike a balance between these two requirements.

  • Protect your pins

Unfortunately, pin theft exists, so you should protect your pins by including your website's name/logo on them (see the image below showing how this has been done for the Taz & Jay gift lists website/profile).

Branding your pins isn't always enough to stop it, but it's better than a having a generic pin which can't easily be identified as your intellectual property.

I had this recently with one of my pins – a follower saved it and re-uploaded it except with a link that directed to their website – very cheeky!

Thankfully Pinterest is fantastic at resolving this (see how here), and they removed it very quickly (thanks, Pinterest!).

an image showing a branded pin on pinterest

5. Add a Call-To-Action to Your Pin/Description

A call-to-action (CTA) is something which prompts someone to complete an action, for example, a button on your website which says, "Click here to subscribe."

There are some situations where you aren't allowed to add a CTA on Pinterest, for example, you can't add a CTA to the image of a Promoted Pin (you can add it in the pin's description, however).

You should try to use a CTA wherever you can on non-promoted pins to drive as much engagement as possible, so this means on the image itself...

image showing a call to action on a pinterest pin image

...and in the description:

image showing a call to action in the description of a pinterest pin

6. Don't Forget to Add Links to Pins

When you manually add a pin to Pinterest to promote a blog post or article, make sure you provide a link back to the original content with the pin.

It sounds basic, but forgetting this will make your pin essentially worthless from a traffic perspective, as even if you include your URL on the image itself, it is unlikely that someone will manually type it in and search through your blog for the content you're promoting.

You need to make it as easy as possible for people to do what you want them to do.

7. Create Multiple Pins for Every Post

Don't stop at one pin for each of your blog posts, create as many as you can.

How many exactly is up to you, and it obviously depends on the amount of time you can invest, but the more the better to increase the visibility of the specific post you're promoting and your Pinterest profile as a whole.

Use different types of images, different pin descriptions and try out different keywords to increase your reach by as much as possible.

The bottom line: the more pins you have, the more traffic you'll get from Pinterest.

8. Make Social Sharing as Simple as Possible

It's a great idea to leverage your existing traffic to grow your social media following.

One excellent way to do this with Pinterest (and for each of the other social networks) is through the use of social-sharing buttons.

For example:

an image showing social share buttons on a website

Steps to Increase Relevance

Given that Pinterest functions as a search engine, the best way to get your content in front of as many eyes as possible is to help it get found quickly and easily.

The steps below will help boost your pin's relevance to increase its visibility for people who will be most interested in it.

9. Don't Forget to Use Keywords

I've already covered the importance of adding keywords to your pin descriptions, but there are other places that you also need to include them in your profile.

These include:

  1. Your Pinterest name – 30 characters available.
  2. Your 'About You' section – 160 characters available.

For example:

an image showing where to use keywords on a pinterest profile

Other places to include keywords on your Pinterest profile are as follows:

  1. Your board names – 180 characters available – find a balance between being readable and enticing, versus too-keyword loaded and spammy which will put potential visitors off.
  2. Your board descriptions – 500 characters available.

For example:

an image showing where to use keywords on a pinterest profile

I focus on both popular and long-tail keywords for my pins, usually creating two different versions of each pin to focus on both types of keyword to try and increase my traffic from Pinterest by as much as possible.

As I mentioned before, you need to strike a balance between adding keywords and keeping the text as readable and interesting as possible.

Avoid 'keyword stuffing' like the plague, which is where you add too many keywords to the point that your text isn't readable by human visitors and looks spammy.

10. Know When to Use Hashtags

Pinterest recommends that you add no more than 20 hashtags to each pin, but is using this many going to provide any real benefit?

In my opinion, no.

Here are a few of the key things I've learned from researching hashtags on Pinterest:

  • Pinterest's hashtag feed adopts a chronological order, meaning that newer pins appear first.

    If you're posting something seasonal, for example, a pin related to Christmas, directly before Christmas, hashtags will be useful.

    If, however, you're pinning something that will continue to be relevant for a long time, for example, a recipe pin, then hashtags probably aren't going to add that much value, so stick to only using a few.
  • There is little benefit in going back and adding hashtags to older pins while Pinterest continues to sort the hashtag feed chronologically.

    Depending on how old these pins are, they'd appear so far down the feed that users would probably never see them.
  • Although it is improving, the hashtag search function on Pinterest is not as good as it is on other social networks, which is another reason why I recommend not using more than a few hashtags at most.

    Your content will be found much more easily if you stick with adding an enticing pin description which includes relevant keywords instead.

    You only get 150 characters for the pin description, so I think it's better to prioritise adding non-hashtag text which we know gets found as expected when people search for it.
  • Too many hashtags can look unprofessional and spammy. That's why I don't include hashtags on any promoted pins that I create.

11. Use SEO-Friendly Filenames

Often overlooked, it's a good idea to name your images in an SEO-friendly way.

SEO stands for search engine optimisation, and it covers the steps to improve a website's ranking in the search engines.

This applies to any image you add to your Pinterest profile, for example, pins or your profile picture, and to any images on your website that are shareable via a 'pin it' button.

I try and get as descriptive as possible with my filenames.

Check out the following example:

an image showing an seo friendly image file name for pinterest

Instead of using something non-descriptive like 'image.png,' it's a good idea to add your brand's name, the pin title including relevant keywords, and a reference to the fact the image was created for Pinterest.

Search engines can't see your image the way a human can, so it's a good idea to give them a helping hand so they know what your pin is about.

Although Pinterest does have a way of 'reading' pin images, I'd prefer not to rely 100% on the accuracy of this, so adding a descriptive filename is a logical step.

Steps to Increase Pinner Quality

Not only does Pinterest care about the quality of the content which you promote, but it also places influence on your quality as a pinner.

Is your conduct representative of someone who places importance on sharing the best information and being as helpful as possible?

If not, you're going to struggle in your quest to build your influence and reach on Pinterest.

The following steps will aid Pinterest in viewing you as an asset on their platform, thereby helping to boost your content's ranking and visibility.

12. Pin Regularly

It's important to pin every day consistently.

You can't expect growth on Pinterest if you post the odd pin every now and again.

Buffer saw a 150% increase in engagement from upping their previous 1-2 pins per day to 10 times per day, so quantity is a deciding factor in the profiles which flourish.