Pinterest Strategies To Get Free Traffic
We’re often asked how to make money on Pinterest, so, we’ve decided to share a proven method that provides marketing success.
Pinterest is not just a social media platform, it’s a search engine.
Users go on Pinterest for inspiration regarding things they either want to:
With this in mind, you can tailor your content accordingly, and have your pins go directly to your blog, landing page, or even straight to your affiliate links.
Pinterest has recently allowed direct linking again.
This might sound simple, however, you need to have the correct strategies and tactics in place to drive traffic and conversions. You can’t just create a host of pins with affiliate links and start spamming the platform.
We’ll cover how to use titles, keywords, hashtags, boards, repins and your URL to leverage the platform and get the most out of it.
Prior to 2014, Pinterest was pretty straightforward.
Many advertisers and bloggers were getting a significant level of free traffic to their sites from Pinterest by using boards and repinning content. Then, practically overnight, the algorithm changed.
Traffic tanked for a lot of users, while it increased for a handful of others, but no one knew exactly why.
Here’s what happened: Pinterest had introduced Smart Feed.
Smart Feed, just like for Facebook and Instagram, is a collection of posts from other users, along with a few promoted pins (paid ads). In Pinterest, it’s a collection of pins, topics, and boards. And just like on Facebook and Instagram, on Pinterest you see a collection of pins based on what the algorithm thinks you want to see and follow by looking at your recent behavior and what you have clicked on.
Pinterest continuously tweaks and alters this algorithm, and about once a year users see a drastic change in traffic due to a major algorithm change.
Think of this as similar to the “Panda” update for Google, but ongoing!
The good part about this is, you don’t need to rely on followers as much as you did in the past. Remember, Pinterest is a search engine.
So, once you prepare your content properly, using keywords, hashtags, titles, and boards, your content will be placed in the Smart Feed and reach new audiences – regardless of the number of followers you have.
On Facebook, your un-promoted posts are not visible to anyone who hasn’t liked your page without paying. Conversely, on Pinterest, your free pins are visible to a large audience.
This is the main difference – and advantage that Pinterest has, even for beginner users.
Followers: Yay or Nay?
So, does your level of followers matter?
Before the 2014 update, your home feed was based entirely on who you were following. If I wanted to see content about “making money online,” First I had to follow people who were posting the same content.
Now, we can search for “making money online” and start pinning.
In the home feed, Pinterest will start showing us pins based on what I have been searching (“making money online” in this case).
This reduces the need to follow people in order to find the content you’re looking for. Pinterest states that the vast majority of pins are distributed in the search and in the home feed.
One of the drawbacks of this is that you will miss content from the people you follow, so Pinterest added the Follow Feed.
In plain English, this means that although you still DON’T necessarily need a million followers to have you pins seen by a large audience, having QUALITY followers matters now more than ever.
To check the quality of your followers, head over to the “Following” tab and glance at your followers. Do you see a pattern there? Do you believe they are a good representation of your ideal audience for targeted CPA marketing?
Deleting Pins (Don’t Do It)
Don’t delete pins. Ever. Period.
Often we see a spike in traffic coming from pins that are a few months old. One client has a pin from 2016 that still brings them over 20,000 visits per month! You never know when Pinterest is going to pick up a pin and decide to favor it.
This includes deleting Boards, don’t delete any of your boards – set them to Private.
Boards can be also divided into Sections; this is a further step you can take to organize your account. However, Pinterest doesn’t look at Sections that much, Sections are generally for your own reference and organizing.
The Pin Description (Important)
Pin descriptions are one of the most important factors for guiding Pinterest in finding your pin and your content. Did we mention Pinterest is a search engine?
A good way to find content is to type some keywords in the top bar and let the engine do the rest.
Just like Google.
If you want to pin about “making money online”, start typing that into the top search bar. You will see results like making money online passive income, fast, internet marketing and so on.
Now you can start tailoring your description to include these search terms.
You want to avoid looking spammy by keyword-stuffing the description. Make it look readable and sound conversational.
Another way to look for keywords is to use an existing pin you have and click on the title. The guided search on top will provide you with suggested terms that are related.
At this time, these keywords are broad match, meaning Pinterest is not looking at the exact words.
We also observed something interesting.
When searching for a topic, we were presented with images that were related to the topic, but some of those image descriptions had no keywords in them or at least none of the keywords we used to search. So how can Pinterest KNOW that an image relates to a particular topic?
We discovered that Pinterest displays search results based on how other users are categorizing those results. So you might see results about “making money online” that have no mention of making money online keywords, but since other users have already pinned them to boards called “Make Money Online”, Pinterest attaches that attribute.
Hashtags should be used in addition to keywords in the description. We found that pins that have hashtags are discovered sooner by the Pinterest engine. We confirmed this because we saw traffic from those pins coming sooner (from a few days to a week).
Pinterest currently allows for up to 20 hashtags per pin. In all honesty, 4-8 hashtags are ideal, so you don’t look too spammy. A simple way to find hashtags is to make them from your keywords. Example: #makemoneyonline, #workfromhome #passiveincome.
Another method is to enter a basic hashtag in the search bar on top and let Pinterest suggest more hashtags.
Now it’s the time to craft a well-written description that includes your hashtags and your keywords while making sure that the description looks and sounds light and conversational. Remember, your goal is to have people CLICK on your image and go to the destination URL you indicate (which can be an affiliate link if you are direct linking, a squeeze page, a VSL, a long-form sales page, blog, etc.)
Pro Tip #1
The key to making money on Pinterest is providing useful info and VALUE to your audience before asking them for the sale. However, you don’t want to provide TOO MUCH value in the pin graphic itself.
We have seen this backfire.
If you provide all your info the pin, the viewers have all they need right there, and there is no reason for them to click on your pin and visit your site.
Add hashtags at the end of your description, so your description will look clean and “human.”
Always use a call to action.
CTAs can be included in the description and added to the image as an overlay. A few call to action examples are: Try, Buy, Learn More, Explore, Watch.
Since pins last virtually forever, try to make the content evergreen – unless you plan on deleting seasonal content and replacing it with new one.
Use the description field as presell content. Here you have a chance to tell the user why they should bother clicking on your link. What kind of problem are you solving for them?
Here’s a short checklist for your pin description:
- Does it contain keywords?
- Does it contain hashtags? (4-8 recommended)
- Does it sound “human” and conversational?
- Does it qualify or presell the user?
- Does it have a CTA?
- Is it evergreen?
The next thing to do is to add the pin description to your images on your website. This way, when a user pins an image from your site, the pin description you have created will automatically show up as the default description.
Even if the user has the ability to manually change it, very few people bother with this, which is great news.
Here’s how you do it:
Free method: add the HTML below in bold to the image URL:
<img src=”https://myawesomewebsite.com/coolimage1.jpg” data-pin-description=”YOUR DESCRIPTION HERE” width=”800″ height=”1200″>
Paid method: install a plugin called Tasty Pins ($29/year). This plugin does it all for you. You just enter the description and it’s done!
Creating Winning Images
Creating winning images is crucial for a successful Pinterest account.
Are you familiar with the Facebook rule about not having too much text on their image ads? With Pinterest is the opposite. It is recommended that you add some text to your images.
Use no more than 2 fonts in your pin.
Avoid pink and red as your background, because they don’t pixelate well on screens. Avoid these fonts: Comic Sans, Papyrus, Brush Script, Times New Roman and Lucida Handwriting. These fonts are outdated and overused.
When pairing fonts, use 2 fonts that are very different from each other. For example, combine a bold, strong font with a light one. Combine ALL CAPS with Capitalization.
The key is to match the look and feel of your website, lander or offer. Use the same color scheme as your website.
Always check your pins on a mobile device for clarity and format.
For text overlay, use catchy verbiage that entices the user to click on the image. For example, instead of saying “How To Make Money Online”, say, “How To Make Money Without Opening Your Mouth.”
A great book on copywriting called “Making Ads Pay” by John Caples is a great read and any marketer is sure to squeeze a lot of value from the information it contains. You can find it on Amazon and many other online retailers.
For all your ad copy, not just Pinterest, there are a few power words that you should be using often.
Some examples of these are:
- X Ways To…
- A Simple Method To…
A Few Tips On Taking Better Pictures
You can find a plethora of royalty-free images online.
Sites like Pixabay and Unsplash offer thousands of high quality, free pictures you can instantly download. However, for some niche products you might want to take your own pictures.
Here are a few tips:
- Natural light is almost always better than artificial light – try to take pictures outdoors whenever possible.
- If you’re using your smartphone, tap on the screen and adjust the lighting before taking a picture
- If you’re using your smartphone, don’t zoom in. It reduces the quality of the image.
- Take a lot of pictures – the more photography experience you get, the better your pictures will be.
- Invest in a tripod.
- Invest in props.
If you have an ECommerce site, stock photos can be a great addition to your product images. Just make sure you follow the image rules and you don’t repost without permission, and give credit when it’s required. Even some purchased images might require photo credit.
Here’s a list of a few free sites for photos:
Once you have an image you want to use, you need to create a pinnable image. For this, we use a free software called Canva.
Canva lets you design pins, ads, Instagram posts, Facebook banners – pretty much anything you need in digital advertising, for free!
You don’t need to be a skilled designer as the interface is super intuitive and easy to use.
When brainstorming ideas for a pin, you might ask yourself, should I post a picture or a graphic? You have probably seen many infographics on Pinterest.
Infographics perform really well in terms of impressions.
However as mentioned above, infographics reveal all the information almost immediately, which might reduce the number of clicks you get.
So, photos or graphics?
We have seen pictures clearly outperform graphics pretty much every time.
Single image, or collage?
It’s a draw here – it depends.
Sometimes collages don’t really stand out, and other times they are an eye-catcher. We recommend keeping the collage images to 4 or less, so the pin doesn’t look too messy or too crowded.
Make sure the image occupies the center stage of the pin, and that the image is zoomed in to showcase the product you want to advertise.
According to Pinterest, 80% of their traffic is on mobile, so even on bigger mobile screens, your pin is competing with thousand other pins in a small area.
You can also pin videos. Video pins are a fun and alternative way of promoting your content on Pinterest. The cool part is, video pins will autoplay on mobile devices once the user scrolls down 50% of the pin or more.
Video pins can be uploaded in a square format or in a 9:16 format (like Snapchat and IGTV!)
Boards help YOU keep pins organized by topic. Boards don’t help Pinterest find your content. Boards don’t even help users get a good first impression of your profile.
In fact, very few users will EVER visit your profile.
Your first impression is through pins, boards just help you keep things in order.
With Pinterest, you can do optimize for the search engine by adding detailed description titles and hashtags to your pins so when a user searches for a relevant idea you’ve added lots of relevant text and hashtags around your pin.
This way Pinterest knows that your pinned image is relevant to user search intent.
This is how Pinterest works as a discovery platform. You’re able to get your content discovered by people who are searching for interesting things.
Then there’s the social bookmarking side of Pinterest, this means that when a user finds a pin that they find interesting – they’re able to repin it to one of their boards. Let’s say that someone has a board that is about home remodeling or landscape remodeling.
When they’re searching on Pinterest for landscape design ideas and they discover an image of a paved stone walkway, they might think, “Wow someday that’s exactly what we’re gonna make in our backyard. Let me repin that to our landscape design.”
You can begin to understand how Pinterest can be leveraged by affiliate marketers.
We want to remind you that affiliate marketing is not about simply spamming your affiliate links. We have a process in place.
The approach to affiliate marketing should be traffic then trust and then the offer. So many people think that affiliate marketing is just as simple as getting your links out there and eventually somebody might find them, click and buy.
Trust is the real key ingredient that separates the rookie affiliate marketers from super affiliates who are doing hundreds of thousands of dollars per year doing affiliate marketing. That is because successful people invest on the best affiliate marketing programs money can buy!
We looked at the analytics on Pinterest for one client, and we noticed that he had gained over a million website visits in 2018 FROM PINTEREST ALONE.
So, how do you use Pinterest to promote your affiliate links?
There are three main ways that this works.
Number one – you can actually direct link a Pinterest pin to your chosen product. About 2 years ago Pinterest decided to allow Amazon affiliate links on their pins so you can make a pin that links directly to a barbecue tool set like a spatula and a BBQ cleaner for instance.
You would create a pin that says, “Best barbecue utensils” and then link the pin directly through your affiliate link to the Amazon page where the user can complete the transaction.
So now into the strategy: you got the traffic idea right because you got the traffic source and the offer, but there’s no trust-building in the middle.
Although this is a possibility and it is technically one way that you could market affiliate links on Pinterest, the odds of individuals actually converting, taking your recommendation, clicking through your pin and making a purchase based on your pin are extremely low because there’s no trust involved.
There’s no compelling reason for them to a take action now and to even believe you that what you propose is the best option. They might think that you’re stuffing links in front of them trying to sell them something and no one likes being sold to.
You have to write presell content.
This might be in the form of “The top 10 barbecue utensils for backyard grillers” for example. You write a great content-heavy post that talks about all of the different tools that a backyard barbecue griller will need.
You detail your number one favorite, your number two favorite, and you do a top 10 list. You let the user know which one is the best value, which one is the best stainless steel, etc… I don’t know what those specific things are – that’s your job as the content creator.
You basically create a great resource – a piece of content that serves as a perfect resource for someone who’s thinking about maybe buying a Father’s Day present. They want to get him some barbecue utensils, but they don’t know which one is best.
They’re on Pinterest looking for gifts for dad, then all of a sudden they see your pin.
Every pin is actually a door to a piece of content on your site. This is truly the best strategy to leverage for Pinterest marketing directly, because you get a backlink from Pinterest, which has SEO value. This can help you rank higher on Google.
Also, building these types of backlinks provides an opportunity to build trust with the user. In affiliate marketing this strategy is absolutely imperative.
You show them that you actually reviewed the product and you actually bought it. You used it, you tried it and you really truly proved which barbecue tool utensil set is the absolute best.
Build a brand.
When you have a brand that people trust they will seek you out. They know that you’re a publisher, and they know that they can trust you, they know that you’re an educator.
They know that you’re someone who is an expert within your chosen niche – it could be knitting, it could be crocheting, it could be landscaping design, barbecuing; whatever it is that you’re an absolute expert in.
Create lots of great review based content, then make sure you’re pinning your content to Pinterest, creating lots of long-form excellent helpful blog posts on your WordPress blog.
That’s who ultimately wins long term in this game.
You can make a bunch of money as an affiliate, but then all of a sudden somebody mimics what you do, they copy it, or you fall out of favor with the search engine, and that one thing you were relying on falls apart. However if you have hundreds and hundreds or even thousands of different posts and pins, you can build a truly stable affiliate marketing business on Pinterest.
We always recommend that you own the territory. Meaning you always have your own content on a website that you own. No one can turn you off in that situation. Pinterest states in their Terms of Service that they could turn you off at any moment that they want. So you need to have that core review content to be something that you ultimately own.
How Often Should You Pin?
Max 20 times a day. Pinning more than that has no additional benefits.
If you’re pinning less than that – that’s okay.
The important thing to keep in mind here is CONSISTENCY, Pinterest wants to see that you’re actively pinning on a regular basis. In their eyes, it’s better to pin once per day than to pin seven things once a week.
Although, if you’re a Pinterest fanatic, there’s no way you can limit yourself to 20 pins in a day. Just remember, there’s no real benefit to more than 20 pins per day, so it’s okay if you want to slow down a little bit.
When you start determining how many pins a day you want to pin (anywhere from 5 to 20), we recommend setting yourself the goal of pinning around 80% your own pins and 20% other people’s pins. If you’re a new affiliate marketer and don’t have that much of your own stuff to pin yet, pin fewer pins per day but at the 80/20 ratio.
You DON’T want to pin too much of other people’s content, as it doesn’t really increase the views of other pins on your account.
Of course, that’s advice for a brand that is planning on investing some money on promoted pins and isn’t as focused on organic pinning or the algorithm at all. Keep in mind you could go some % either way and be fine. This ratio is not set in stone, but you should be pinning MORE of your own content than others.
Pinterest has made it clear that they want “NEW” pins on Pinterest, and we’re going to walk you through an important part of our strategy. Many creators have stopped creating a lot of new content and are simply re-purposing their pins on Pinterest. This served us well for a while, but Pinterest wants fresh content!
Luckily, this doesn’t mean that you have to spit out a new blog post every day or create any new affiliate links on your website to feed the Pinterest machine.
According to Pinterest, a “new” pin just means a different image that can be pinned. And that can be as simple as changing the text on the image, using an image without text, or using the same text overlay with a different image.
There are several reasons why you’ll want to create multiple pins for the same post:
You’re just getting started and don’t have a lot of content yet.
If you don’t have a lot of content yet, this is refreshing. You can create multiple pins that link back to the same URL. This means you can pin your existing content more often while you work on creating new content.
You have a lot of content, and you want to pin your best-performing blog posts more often.
We recommend that you use three main images for everything you pin to Pinterest. Pick your top 10, 15 or 20 posts that receive traffic from Pinterest and post multiple different pins for each of these posts.
You already have posts, products, or sites that generate income.
Even though these links don’t generate huge traffic, they make you some $ each month. You definitely want more than one pin for these.
You want to pin a specific post or URL more frequently.
This is especially true about seasonal content. By creating more than one pin, you’ll be able to pin the same URL several times per month.
Creating new pins that link back to the same URL doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.
Our official recommendation is anywhere from 3 – 10 pins per URL.
The more popular a post is (or the more money an offer is making you), the more pins you’ll want to create.
These pins do NOT need to be posted to your website, but if you want to, by all means do it. Otherwise, keep one on your website and upload the others to Pinterest.
There are a few ways that you can quickly and easily create variations of a pin for the same URL. We gathered some ideas for you below. Experiment with these to see what works for you.
Below we’re using an example, but if you have a post that you think should have 10 pins, you can quickly combine different techniques to get even more pins!
SAME PICTURE + DIFFERENT STYLES: If you are not A/B testing yet, change at least the image and text overlay. Or just swap the image. You can even do one pin a single image, another a collage, and another single image but using a different template.
Do I have to create multiple pins per post?
You don’t “have to,” we simply recommend that you make at least 3 pins per URL – especially if you’re not yet seeing the results you want.
Just remember – it doesn’t have to be for all your offers, especially if you have hundreds of offers that you are promoting.
Do I have to put each pinnable image in my blog post? It will look strange to have three different pins with each blog post.
No! Just choose one of your pinnable images to include in your blog post. Your other images will live only on Pinterest and link back to the URL.
An exception to this would be if you’re pinning one of your regular images that isn’t optimized for Pinterest like we mentioned earlier, or if you have a long blog post and two or three pinnable images that naturally make sense within the post.
Does this mean I have to write new pin descriptions for everything I pin to Pinterest?
No, you don’t have to. It can be as simple as three different images using the same description. If you’re doing multiple pins per URL, then those 3 pins will be used over and over unless you decide to update them later on.
Just remember, pinning your content each day does NOT mean that you need to create NEW blog posts or NEW pins each day!
Your daily pins should a combination of content, including:
1. New Content
If you create something new, that new content should definitely be part of your daily pins.
2. Evergreen Content
Are you running an evergreen offer? Your evergreen content should be showcased every day in different pinning content.
3. Category Pins
Some pins might be category pins that link back to your site.
4. Product Pins / Offer Pins
Do you have an ECommerce store, products or offers that you want to promote? These pins should be part of your daily pinning strategy.
Save every pin you create to at least 5 of your boards over the course of 3-6 months. After 3-6 months, do it again. And then again. This ensures that your evergreen content is continuously showcased on Pinterest. As it gains more and more engagement (both from yourself and others), it will be visible more and more often in search.
Which boards to pin your work to? You want to make sure that the pin is relevant to that specific board (recipe on a recipe board, travel on a travel board, etc.), and you also want to make sure that you first pin it to your MOST relevant board.
How Many Boards Should You Be Pinning To?
First, take a look at the boards you’ve created and the content that you typically create.
Generally speaking, we recommend that you have at least 5 boards that can be pinned to. This might include a few “generic” boards – like your blog.
You may want to have 10 or more boards. This may feel like you’re creating duplicate boards, but most likely you can find ways to make them all different.
As you’re analyzing your content, divide it into these main sections:
- Evergreen offers
- Seasonal offers
- Products (if you have them)
It’s time to decide how many boards you want for each section.
For instance, you might have 5 boards for all of your seasonal offers and 15 boards for your evergreen content or product pins.
If you look at each post individually, some might have more relevant boards than others. Group them up and establish a good number of boards that most pins from your evergreen, seasonal, and offers pins can go to.
Remember this personalized strategy is an example – there will be exceptions.
If you plan in advance, you will save yourself a lot of time.
If you want to keep things really simple, you can maintain a certain number of boards across evergreen, seasonal, and products. Remember, this strategy is totally different for each individual.
Back in the day, it was a bad idea to pin the same pin multiple times (even in the same day) because your followers would see all of your duplicate pins all at once in their feed and might unfollow you.
Pinning the same exact pin multiple times a day might be flagged as spam by Pinterest. Instead, space out your duplicate pins while you save them to your various boards.
Technically, you could just log on to Pinterest every day and casually decide what to pin to what board. However, as you create more and more content and pins, you’ll tend to pin the same links, while neglecting the other content.
Instead, we recommend scheduling pinning intervals in Excel: how many days between pinning the same pin.
Remember, Pinterest is a search engine, so these pins (when properly optimized with good images, hashtags, and descriptions) will remain there and drive traffic for a long time.
After you establish how many boards you will be pinning to, you can determine the pinning interval for your content. We recommend the interval to be anywhere between 3 and 6 months. With shorter intervals the repinning is too frequent, and with longer intervals you’d be simply not repinning enough.
If you don’t have much content, you’d probably want to repin at shorter intervals.
So every 3-6 months, pin the same image to the same boards again. Then repeat the cycle every 3-6 months. You will notice some pins performing better than others (more clicks, more traffic to your links). You will want to stop repinning poor performing pins and keep repinning the good ones.
Don’t delete original pins. After 3-6 months, no one will see old content. Even if they do, you’ll be pinning other users’ content as well, so your boards will have mixed content.
What you want to pin is based on a number of factors:
- Past good results: if a post drives traffic (and conversions) all year long, you’d want to repin this more often.
- Seasonal Content: you should make a list of seasonal content and when to publish it, and make sure it is kept in rotation at the right times.
- Traffic Hiccups: If I have a post that typically does well on Pinterest, but recently stopped performing, make sure to add it into rotation again.
When repinning your own content, there is no need to update the image or the description.
We hope you found this post helpful!