Mark Bonington investigates how Pinterest can pin you to the top of Google.
Despite being the fastest growing content-sharing platform of recent years, something of a stigma can still be found regarding businesses on Pinterest. The general assumption seems to be a bizarre fairy-land, inhabited with fluffy kittens and sugary cakes.
Or, possibly, the other way around.
Of all the social media networks out there, Pinterest probably ranks as one of the most misunderstood – dismissed unfairly from the board rooms in the same manner as “chick lit” is dismissed from the collective literary consciousness. But behind its pair of cake-encrusted curtains lies a secret SEO weapon – one that can take your business to the dizzying heights of Google’s front page.
E.L James showed the world the power of “chick-lit”. And another woman is turning Pinterest prejudice on its head. Her love of the platform birthed a blog and, shortly thereafter, an entire consultancy business. This woman is Cynthia Sanchez.
“In the beginning, I just found Pinterest so flexible and dynamic,” says says.
“It all depends on what it is you do, and what you want to get out of it. If you’re heading in there hoping to be as popular as a lifestyle blogger like Oh Joy, who has millions and millions of followers, and you’re a little tech firm selling gadgets or something, you’re not going to have that success overnight. So it’s taking those expectations and using Pinterest as a flexible platform to benefit your business.”
But when a new business approaches Cynthia, what are the first steps?
“If they really want a good handle on Pinterest then it all goes back into research. This is the boring bit that nobody likes: they want to dive on in there pinning and creating. But it goes back to research and asking a lot of questions. Doing a thorough assessment on what kind of business they have, what kind of content they have and how much. Are the going to be producing new content? If it’s a product-based business, how many products do they offer? A lot of questions and discussion initially. Then I go and take a look at what kind of service they want to hire me for. I’ll look at their website and see what they’ve done up until this point.
“For example, I worked with a blogger who worked on Daily Deals – she scours the internet and will post 20-30 times a day on the deals she finds online. And she has a blog which goes with it. She’d built around 10,000 followers on Twitter, but her Pinterest just wasn’t doing that much for her. We came up with ideas for different images she could use, posting schedules, board ideas, SEO options and that type of stuff. In 6 weeks she had doubled her following, increased her traffic and increased her revenue. Even those little tweaks we made had a big difference for her.”
There can be no doubt, then, that Pinterest can bake up klout for any business which embraces its benefits. But to what extent does it directly affect SEO?
“Well, you know SEO is a little bit of a mystery. We think we got it figured out, and then they change something. Pinterest and Google have a great relationship. It’s not that surprising – one of the co-founders of Pinterest, Ben Silverman, used to work at Google.
“As an example, there’s a small association of construction and home remodelling business owners in California. One of their Pinterest boards has about 100 pins, and they have around 100 followers. But if you Google “remodelling” in that town, their Pinterest board ranks number 1. And they haven’t touched that board in almost a year. It’s a combination of all the links, the board name, the description, the pin descriptions, and really finding that magical set of keywords: that’s where the trick is. I have some of my boards that rank really well which aren’t that important to me. Now the boards that I’d really like to rank are in pretty competitive phrase, so it’s much harder.
“Set up properly, a lot of those pins should link back to their site, and obviously their account should link back to their site as well.”
But in terms of her expert opinion for the top Pinterest tips, what would Cynthia suggest?
“Start by doing your research. Have a goal in mind. What are you looking for? If you’re just following the crowd to be on there, who knows what you’re going to get out of it? It may or may not work for you.
“Keep in mind that Pinterest isn’t like Facebook or Twitter. It’s primary goal isn’t there for you to connect. It isn’t about conversations. People use Pinterest as a resource and tool for themselves – for things that they like and want to remember. So think of Pinterest more as a library. You’re building your account as a great reference library for the people you’re trying to serve. So when it comes to designing your boards, if you’re a technology company, ask yourself if it makes sense to have a board full of cupcakes?
“They may be really popular on Pinterest, you may get some followers, but they’re never going to buy services from you. Does having boards full of fashion and wedding stuff make any sense if those are not the people you’re trying to reach? Don’t fall into that temptation.”
Pinterest prejudice can be rife in the business world, with many editors still dismissing it as a frothy network for the mommy-blogger crowd. But this is an attitude Cynthia is quick to dismiss.
“When Facebook started, it was intended for use by college students, seeing who was single, who was dating, all of that. We don’t say that about Facebook now. And actually in the UK Pinterest is more a 50:50 spread between men and women, on the last study I read.
“And when people say it’s just women, what do they mean? Women are the biggest buying power in the world, and make most of the purchasing decisions. Even male-centric businesses will have products bought by women for their husband, son, friends. So if it is outside that fashion, recipes, crafting type of space, then Pinterest can become your public portfolio for your global audience. So there are many different ways of using it.”
But as someone who has made so much success around the social media network, what first drew Cynthia to Pinterest?
“It was the flexibility and the fact I was able to do so much with it. Research gifts, find new things to do, buy and try. With search engines like Google or Yahoo, I would get the same responses over and over again; the same big players coming up at the top of the search results. Being a person, I’m kinda lazy – I don’t want to dig back into the pages of Google to find what I want. I was actually a little resistant to the idea of Pinterest at first, but when I got in there, there was just so many different things from so many sources. And the range! From small bloggers who had literally just started blogging to e-commerce and information sites. Places I would never have thought to look or never found before. So that’s what drew me to it.
“Instead of algorithms and bots trying to figure out what they think we want, it’s people putting Pinterest together. It makes it easier for people to bring other people the information they’re interested in.
“Every time someone would ask me where I’d found something, I’d say ‘Pinterest’. So I began blogging about it, which the whole business then built up around. Initially it was just for fun – I learned how to use WordPress, with the hope of one day turning it into a small business. I attended a blogging conference in New York with my husband, had some business cards printed, and when I got back I immediately had a call from a local business owner. They wanted to hire me to handle their Pinterest, which was very out of the blue. We met, and I explained that I was a nurse, not a social media marketing expert. But their new business wasn’t what they had done in the past either, so they became my first client. From then it was diving head first into the research; how to use social media from a business perspective – including Pinterest. Then shifting the focus of the blog from the personal to the marketing side. I added more clients, workshops, speaking, podcasts – it was very quick and shocking. A lot of times I’d wake up and say “what the hell have I done!?”, especially after I left my job as a nurse.
“It was very scary. Still is sometimes. But what’s life if there isn’t a little bit of adventure, right?”
Remember, Cynthia’s incredible story all started from a single blog! Feeling inspired? Start your own world-changing website today at UK2.net.
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