Pinterest SEO Capabilities and Organic Search Strategies

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Pinterest SEO Capabilities and Organic Search Strategies


Posted by Sam Battin, Senior Natural Search Specialist

Pinterest has received a great deal of attention in the past few weeks because of a very large increase in its user base; according to Hitwise, Pinterest traffic increased 36% (to 103 million visitors) from January 12, 2012 to February 12, 2012. In addition, Pinterest is driving more traffic to publishers than Twitter.

On the Performics Blog the other week, we discussed Pinterest opportunities and strategies for brands and provided details on what Pinterest is and best practices for brands to develop this new method of engagement with their customers. If you’re new to Pinterest, check out this article first, and then come back here for an analysis on Pinterest’s potential for improving organic search visibility.

Depending on how its content is shared, Pinterest has the potential to increase search visibility for a wider variety of search terms related to your brand. The architecture of Pinterest gives search engines more information about what your products are and the words with which they can be associated. Visibility will be more likely based on how well your products or services align with Pinterest demographics and their most active categories.

How does SEO work on Pinterest?

It seems like SEO would be a natural fit for Pinterest. This site allows its users to build pages of material around specific topics. Most often, the material is in the form of images (though there is video content as well). A typical page on Pinterest displays an image, and the image itself is a link back to the site where the image was originally located.

For example, here’s an example of a “Pin” you might see on Pinterest:

Pinterest SEO 1

Users can design pages around very specific categories, providing search engines (and human visitors) with further context for the images they find. For example, the earrings above were from a page organized by a Pinterest user with the <TITLE> and <H1> tag that read “My Style.”  Other links on the “My Style” Pinterest page pointed to additional jewelery items, contemporary women’s clothing, and hairstyles.

User-contributed information like this is very beneficial to search engines because it helps search engines more clearly understand the context for pages on the Web linked from Pinterest. This can improve the visibility of brands when their context is further defined on Pinterest. For example, a search engine crawling the “My Style” page might associate the earrings shown above with the word “Style.”  From the other items on the “My Style” page, a search engine might come to the conclusion that these particular earrings are useful to specific clothing and accessory searches; the search engine could potentially assign the target page greater visibility for search queries that combine the words “Earrings” and “Style.”

Pinterest is Crawler-Friendly

Pinterest has done some work to make sure that all of the pages on their site can be reached by search engine robots. As of April 2012, Google reports indexing 37 million pages on Pinterest, and Bing reports indexing 4.7 million pages. It is likely that Pinterest keeps its site’s XML sitemap files frequently updated so that the search engines know where to find the latest-updated content.

In addition, Pinterest has developed its own categories to help further define the available content on its site. Under the category “Everything” at the top of the home page, there are 31 categories to help visitors start browsing Pinterest content. These category names, including “Architecture,” “Education,” “Pets” and so on, are written as plain HREF hyperlinks that search engines can easily follow. This provides additional context (and defining keywords) for category pages and individual pin pages.

Pinterest’s Organic Search Visibility

Pinterest pages themselves have not yet achieved visibility for high-volume terms outside of brand names. This may change in the future, but for now, according to Hitwise, Pinterest’s own organic search traffic comes from brand terms like “Pinterest,” “Pinterest Website,” “Pinterest login” and so on. Pinterest (so far) is not getting visibility for its high-volume category names or for keyword terms associated with traffic. For example, even though Pinterest has an “Architecture” category, the site is not receiving a high volume of traffic for “Architecture.”

Interior pin pages on the Pinterest site do have organic visibility for very, very specific long-tail terms. As just a few illustrative examples, Pinterest.com shows up in search engine ranks for searches like

SEWING TUTORIALS RECYCLED BLUE JEANS
OWL DECORATIONS FOR NURSERY
TOILET PAPER ROLL WALL ART

Pinterest’s low visibility for non-brand terms means that you should not consider Pinterest as a site that will help you build natural search visibility for high-volume keyword terms. More likely than not, a strategy like that wouldn’t work because Pinterest’s content is centered around images, and not text. Most of the time, pages with lots of descriptive text will get higher visibility because search engines can find a depth of related content on these pages and will be more certain that they will be a good result for the search engine user. However, active Pinterest pages can provide context to search engines which can increase your site’s visibility for associated terms.

Your Organic Search Strategy on Pinterest

Do not, under any circumstances, use Pinterest to create a page with a list of pictures of your products. This will be a waste of time; people can come to your site and find a list of product images there, so putting them on Pinterest is simply redundant and will not increase visibility.

Your strategy should be to use Pinterest to build interest in your products and encourage potential customers to re-post and create additional context for your services that search engines will be able to detect. For example, instead of simply putting up pictures of your products (boring), you might create new images of your products being used (interesting), or add product information into new categories of information to help visitors find what they need (helpful). Your goal is to get people who like your content to “re-pin” it, and add their own category information. These actions will help search engines understand the context of your products or services; who’s using them, and under what circumstances, and with which other topics are your products associated.

Remember, the point of Pinterest is to help people discover new things. SEO visibility will not come from how often you post, but from how often your content is re-posted. The more interesting your Pinterest content is, the more likely it will be “re-pinned” and benefit your organic search visibility through its association with a variety of organically related keywords.

Pinterest’s Demographics

Before investing in efforts to increase visibility through Pinterest, you should first make sure your Web business is likely to benefit from Pinterest traffic. Here are some facts about the Pinterest demographics as of April 2012 to help you decide where to start:

At this early stage, Pinterest’s users are very likely to be women. The numbers vary, with some reporting that 66% and some 90%, of Pinterest’s users are women. Others report that at least 97% of Pinterest’s fans on Facebook are women. If your site’s visitors are primarily women, there may be opportunity to create a Pinterest page.

The most popular pinboards on Pinterest are shown below. If your products or services are related to these ideas, a Pinterest page will have a better chance of being re-pinned simply because of the greater activity in these areas:

Home  – 17.2%
Arts and Crafts  -  12.4%
Style/Fashion  – 11.7%
Food – 10.5%
Inspiration/Education – 9.0%

Check your server logs, too, and see if there’s any traffic coming to your site through Pinterest. This can help you determine whether it’s worth the effort, and may inspire the type of content you will add to Pinterest. For example, Paula Deen built her Pinterest page when she found out that Pinterest was one of her site's top five traffic sources. Her Pinterest categorizes recipes into innovative new categories that her fans are more than willing to re-pin and share.

Are there Brand Pages on Pinterest?

Multiple brands have claimed space on Pinterest.  A brief search of Pinterest established that there are pages for Google, Apple and office.microsoft.com.

At this time Pinterest is invite only, but you can request an invite.

Optimally, your Pinterest content will engage your audience and give them new reasons to check out your site. Track how your audience shares the content you post; remember this audience is out to discover new things. Try to identify categories and themes where your content is re-pinned, and keep tracking the content coming to your site from Pinterest.

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