There’s a lot of information on the web, including ProBlogger, on how to maximize Pinterest to get traffic to your site. Between tutorials on how to optimize Pinterest as part of your social media marketing strategy, Darren’s own experiment on Pinterest, how to create Pinterest-worthy graphics, and how to run a Pinterest contest, there are some great tips out there.
But I wanted to share my own personal experience on how an old post on ecokaren received almost half a million pageviews—50% of all-time page views on the post—just from Pinterest. Along the way, I’ll share some tips (and some of my biggest pet peeves) that you can use for better a Pinterest experience.
Now this wildly pinned post from ecokaren—which received over 490,000 pageviews and was pinned more than 129,000 times—is about … how to wash a washing machine.
Woah, did you read that right? 129,000 pins and 490,000 pageviews?
Yup. You read that correctly.
And the post is about washing a washing machine?
Yup. Again, you read that correctly.
I was shocked too when this old post started receiving crazy traffic without my trying, never mind that it was from a newly un-shrinkwrapped social media site called Pinterest. One person’s pin of the post was repinned over 1400 times and has more than 300 likes. I should buy her a drink! Or maybe send her my homemade laundry detergent.
Now, the post was not your typical pin-worthy post. It had no huggable furry animals, no wise quotes, no cute babies nor scrumptious gourmet food. Nor did it have trendy ensemble suggestions for a fashionista or bare-chested Ryan Gosling wannabe.
Instead, it had a few small, individual photos of moldy interior of a washing machine and how it looked after it was washed. Not pretty at all, as you can see here.
So how did a boring, three-year old post get pinned so many times, to the point that it now continuously brings traffic from Pinterest? How did I make pinning sexy? (No, sex has nothing to do with it.)
My top Pinterest tips
Here are my unwritten (now written!) rules on pinning and driving traffic to your site.
1. Be active on Pinterest every day
It’s a no-brainer, right? But it’s true. I pin or repin almost every day, even if it’s just one pin. It’s always better to pin original posts than just repin what others are pinning but either way, I’m active on Pinterest daily.
And when do I pin? The prime time for pinning is between 4 to 11pm US EST. I pin while waiting at the bus stop in the afternoon, waiting for my daughter. But I also pin early in the morning, while my coffee percolates. It’s a perfect way to spend time in the morning.
2. Don’t just pin your own stuff
The unspoken rule of pinning is similar to StumbledUpon. It’s better to high-five others than yourself. (Did you try high-fiving yourself? Yeah. Doesn’t work well.)
You don’t want to be bragging about your post or product all the time. If you compliment others by pinning and repining, pretty soon, others will do the same for you. Sure, you can pin your stuff once in a while but it’s always better to pin that of others.
My general rule of thumb of ratio is 1:6 in pinning my post to those of others. Again, this is not written in stone, but it’s my own unspoken rule. And remember, don’t ever violate Pinterest’s copyright rules when pinning. Just don’t go there.
3. Install a Pinterest button with a counter
It’s obvious that you need a Pin it button on your posts. I use the Pin it extension or widget from my bookmark bar. But it’d be easy to have a Pin it button somewhere on your post too. Don’t make readers have to search for it. Make it easy for them.
To take it one step further, I like icons with counters. I was f-l-o-o-r-e-d when I saw “108k” on my Pin It icon on that washing machine post when its pinning frenzy started. That number will be over 127k by the time you read this. Your posts’ readers will see that number too, and they will be more inclined to pin it, seeing that it’s a wildly popular post.
Why? Readers feel validated when their views are in line with the popular majority. They want to share that feeling with their followers, and that makes them want to pin.
4. Engage your pinners and interact
Add nicely and thoughtfully constructed personal comments to pins. Not one word comments like “nice” or “
They don’t allow interactions. A real sentence or two will.
Also, reply to comments on your posts that have been pinned. I always check the comments people are leaving on posts of mine that have been pinned or repinned. I thank the original pinner and leave replies to other commenters too. Some people are shocked that “ecokaren” is “that personal” and actually came to comment. That always cracks me up. I feel like a total celebrity when I read comments like that.
5. Upload your blog logo
Load a generic blog badge or logo on your landing page, so that even if there is no image attached to your post, at least your logo or badge for your blog will be pulled up on Pinterest for people to use.
I loaded my logo into the sidebar so if there is some reason an image doesn’t load up for visitors to pin, at least they can use the blog’s logo. I see my badge on Pinterest once in a while, alongside comments like “Awesome site!”—and that makes me grin.
6. Teach people something
My all time record-breaking pinned/repinned post is about washing your front loading washing machine. Yes: a very sexy topic indeed!
But apparently, people had so much trouble with moldy-smelling front-loading, high-efficiency washing machines that they were pinning and sharing my post for “solving their problem.”
So even though the post was written three years ago and images are ugly, it finally got the attention it deserves—albeit late—and all because of Pinterest. All because the post taught readers something. It solved a problem.
How do I know that? I receive emails from housewives weekly, (I don’t mean to stereotype housewives but let’s face it folks, who does the laundry the most often in your house?) thanking me for the post.
I also created a Welcome page for email subscribers and about 75% of the signees are from the post. And in the comment section, they describe how I solved their front-loading washing machine mystery. I feel their warm hugs daily.
Optimizing your post for Pinterest
Here are some clean stats for the post (as of January 21, 2013):
- Publish date: June 2009
- Total pageviews: 965,085
- Pageviews from Pinterest: 489,014
- Average time: 1:27
- Bounce rate: 57.21%
- Approx. number of pins: 127,000
And the post is getting more views as you read this.
So, it’s great that this little star of a post is getting oodles of eye balls. But what did I do optimize it?
As soon as I noticed the traffic, I made a few key changes to the post:
- I added related links into the body of the post to other posts readers might be interested in, like how to make dryer balls out of orphaned socks, how to make homemade laundry detergent, how to clean your dishwasher, and more. And now, those posts are getting traction on Pinterst. I can tell you are fascinated by these topics too!
- I added affiliate links to relevant products on my Amazon affiliate account. I’m not a millionaire yet, but it’s paying the bills.
- I cleaned up the images. Okay, so the images are still not Darren’s quality but I cleaned up the images that were dingy and blurry looking. A moldy washing gasket is never that pretty but the older images were dark and less desirable for pinning.
- I added text to the images to make them more pinnable and gain attention right away.
- I added watermarks to images so that even if someone pins (or “steals”) the images, anyone who sees them will know where they came from.
If you want to get more exposure on Pinterest, some of these ideas might work for you, too.
Finally, I wanted to highlight my biggest pet peeves about Pinterest. These are things I always avoid—as does any good citizen of Pinterest!
- I abhor when people don’t give credit where credit is due on Pinterest. In other words, they steal your image and don’t link to your post. So I started watermarking all my images. And I check on Pinterest to make sure the images are linking back to my site occasionally. So far, I haven’t discovered my image being hijacked, but I have seen plenty of other pins that do not link to its original post. I think that is wrong!
- I wish there was an easier way on Pinterest to see all the pins that others pinned from ecokaren. Currently, there is no way for me to search my URL or name on the site to see all the images or posts that are pinned. I still have to use Google Analytics for the stat. Not cool. I’m hoping that Pinterest will improve pinning visibility for blog owners before long.
- There isn’t a fool-proof method of searching for Pinterest users. I tried to search for pinners and more often than not, they don’t appear in the search results. Again, I have better luck using Google. Something is wrong with that picture.
- I wish there was an easier way to conduct contests. A Pinterest contest is one of the best social media campaigns you can do for your business or your blog. At Green Sisterhood (http://greensisterhood.com), we manage Pinterest contests for our clients and they require a lot of maintenance. A tool that finds boards and pins that have been repinned the most would be ideal. Again, let’s hope Pinterest adds functionality for this kind of thing soon.
Are you listening Pinterest? If you can make these four things happen, I’d love you even more!
Solve people’s problems!
On Monday, Jamie highlighted the fact that attractive, inspirational content does well on Pinterest, and that’s true. You can put up pretty images or cute animals pictures and even life changing quotes with awesome graphics on the network.
But nothing—and I mean nothing—gets people’s attention like solving problems that they have been struggling with.
Ask yourself, “What would I want to pin and repin?” That’s the post that will get pinned the most.
Do you have a personal success story on Pinterest? What was the post about? Tell us about it in the comments.
Contributing author Karen Lee is a co-founder and managing partner of Green Sisterhood, a network of green women bloggers with aggregated monthly page views of over 2.5 million pageviews. We help companies to increase online branding awareness with content and social media marketing strategies, like Pinterest contests. Karen is also a founder and publisher of ecokaren where she writes about importance of washing your washing machine and on greening your life.