Pinterest is enormously important for driving traffic to our blog. It literally accounts for about half of our travel blog hits, and without it we seriously couldn’t continue to do what we love.
Why is that?
The first thing to realize is that Pinterest is a visual search engine. It’s a way for people to use photos to track down information about the things they’re interested in. For travel bloggers then, Pinterest is a way for your content to be found by avid travellers, and can drive serious traffic your way if done correctly.
The income you can make from your website is also relatively proportional to the traffic you receive. Your traffic affects your affiliate link income and ad revenue, and perhaps more importantly for some of you, your ability to reach new audiences.
At last count, our Pinterest page has around 700k monthly unique visitors, and that is entirely down to our targeted Pinning techniques and the specific strategies we’ve used to grow that traffic.
If you want to grow your Pinterest to a point where it’s driving massive traffic to your content, then following even some of our tips is going to be enormously helpful for you:
20 ways to improve your Pinterest and drive more traffic to your travel blog
1. Create beautiful Pins
I cannot emphasize enough how important the quality of your Pins will be for driving traffic to your blog and your Pinterest. There are millions and millions of quality pins on Pinterest, and for yours to have any chance at all then they need to be better far than average. Only use your very best photos and don’t settle for garbage if you have nothing better. Our most visually appealing and intriguing pins get the most hits by far.
2. Use stock images
If you’re writing posts about something that isn’t visually interesting, e.g. the actual nuts and bolts of blogging, (or you don’t have any decent photos of your own) consider buying stock photos or downloading some images that are free to license. Pexels.com is a great source of free stock images. See below for an example of something from Pexels.com
3. Have a recognizable style
Style is important if you’re trying to grow a follower base or if you think you’re creating great content. If you’re putting out great stuff and want your readers to recognize something created by you in the future, having a recognizable style will allow people to find you again easily. Using similar fonts/graphics each time will make your pins recognizable and easier for your fans to track down.
4. Use a logo in your Pins
Include your logo in all of your photos. I can’t stress this enough. There are several reasons for doing this:
- People begin to learn your brand’s name and associate it with quality. Hopefully it even encourages some readers to skip Pinterest altogether and visit you directly occasionally.
- It makes plagiarism significantly more difficult. It’s not uncommon for people to steal photos from Pinterest and claim credit for them themselves, or they’ll repost your image but link it to their own spammy content. Having your logo on your photos immediately brings the plagiarism to light and is a great deterrent.
- If your photos do get stolen (which is relatively unavoidable), you will still benefit from some exposure. People will still see your logo and might visit your site independently. It’s a small consolation but there’s no such thing as bad publicity!
On that note, make sure your logo isn’t something pointless and obscure. The logo can be beautiful but should always point a curious reader towards your website.
5. Create beautiful graphics for your pins
Ok this might sound impossible if you aren’t already a graphic designer, but there are tons of options out there for the stylistically challenged. With the amount of resources available, there’s absolutely zero excuse for creating crap graphics. Here are a few options:
- Canva – a free service with dozens of great designs for your Pins and much more. They have a paid service too but there are enough options on the free version that you shouldn’t really need to use it.
- Adobe Spark – another free service with plenty of great Pin templates. Just upload your photos and overlay a design on top. There’s even a mobile app to help you instantly create beautiful pins on the go.
If you’re like me and you want something unique or hand crafted, then Adobe Indesign or Photoshop are always great options. The learning curve is significantly steeper but you also have infinitely more freedom.
Check here to visit Adobe and find out more about their programs. If you’re a student they do insane discounts!
6. Create long Pins:
Long pins are statistically more likely to be repinned than a regular pin. People love long pins and the barrier to entry seems to be quite high. It takes a lot more work and many people simply don’t have the skills to put one together. That means they’re often more than happy to share yours instead.
If you have any list posts, they’re the perfect opportunity to create a bigger pin with a collage of photos. It’s well worth it and the vast majority of our viral pins have been long pins.
Again, don’t do this if you’re going to use crap photos!
Going back to the previous point, having an understanding of Adobe Indesign or Photoshop will come in super handy for creating long pins. The programs give you the flexibility to customize your canvas size and shape and create the optimum dimensions for a long pin.
Not sure what size your canvas should be? Search for it! Here’s a link to a pinterest board with all the best dimensions!
7. Pin good/accurate content
This might seem obvious, but only pin subjects that are interesting, and please make sure that the pin you design actually links to a post on the same subject.
One way to ruin your credibility is to create a pin about one thing and link it to something completely different. If the subject is so boring that your pin won’t get any clicks, just don’t bother making a pin in the first place. That’s not to say that you can’t create an enticing title though (more on that later).
If your boards are full of crap articles and photos, people are going to rapidly lose interest.
8. Pin your Instagram Photos
Recycling your IG posts on Pinterest is a great way of getting your content seen in more places. If the photos are good enough for Instagram they’re probably good enough for Pinterest. Using programs like Tailwind can make it super easy and painless. Personally I have a separate board for Instagram photos because I like to keep the blog posts all in one place and separate, but you may choose to do it differently.
Instagram photos are great because there are plenty of people that repost images without graphics and you might capture another part of the market that you weren’t reaching before.
The same goes if you have photos that you think would be great to post but they’re not really relevant to anything in particular. It’s a waste of a good photo if you don’t use it! With that being said, always make sure you’re linking the photos to something. If you don’t have a blog then make sure it’s linking back to your Instagram, and if it’s not relevant to an actual blog post then simply link back to your home page.
9. Make multiple pins for each post
I’m often too lazy to do this but when I have used this technique it’s been pretty effective. Here’s why it’s a good idea:
- Different photos speak to different people. Having several options to pin is likely to improve your pinning rate from each post.
- If you use different photos with the same caption or the same photo with different captions, you’re conducting a mini experiment into what people like. Usually one pin variant will be significantly more effective than any other and it can be an excellent learning experience about what tends to work and what doesn’t.
- If a blog post is performing poorly, you’ll quickly figure out if it’s just the pins you’re making or if there’s truly no way of making it interesting.
10. Use captivating/ optimized titles
Having interesting and optimized titles is important for being found on Pinterest, and also for general blog traffic and increasing your ad revenue.
For Pinterest, creating an interesting title is crucial if you want people to actually click through to your website and read your articles. Getting people to save or repin your pins is the easy part, and many accounts on Pinterest will repin your posts just because they look good. Enticing people to actually read your blog posts is significantly harder, and this is where your title has to get them curious.
I don’t really want to encourage click bait, because I know how infuriating it is, but there’s definitely a way to phrase things so that people are more likely to want to read them.
For example, are you more likely to read, “Our weekend in Banff” or “10 things you can’t afford to miss in Banff”? I could write two posts with exactly the same information but I guarantee the second one will get more attention. People don’t like the idea that they could be missing out on something, so human psychology suggests that people go for things that create an emotional response.
It’s also likely that the words in your Pin title will affect where it shows up in searches on Pinterest. The software is intelligent to search your images for words, so optimizing those words is a good idea. Using ‘long tailed keywords’ is a great way to ensure that your photos are seen in a variety of different searches:
For example, “Things to do in Banff” vs. “Things to do in Banff in Summer” are two similar titles, but due to the way that Pinterest works, photos with the second title will probably still show up in searches for the first phrase. The first title might not show up in searches for the second title though.
11. Using Keysearch
Aside from creating posts that actively encourage people to read them, you also want your titles to be search engine optimized. I like to use a site called Keysearch to figure out which subjects are likely to get the most search traffic before I even start writing. Keysearch will tell you how many people search a certain phrase, how much ad revenue is associated with that search and how likely a post with that title is to rank on the first page compared to the currently ranking articles. It’s enormously useful for me and I often play around with different phrases pertaining to a certain subject in order to find one that has the most traffic and pays the most ad revenue.
The best way to do it is decide on a topic that you want to write about, and then look for variants that will have a higher chance of being found. Keysearch is a paid service that I use all the time and would highly recommend. You can check out their rates and find out more here.
12. Go above and beyond:
Want to get your pins repinned? Make them the best ones around! If you’re trying to write a list of the top things to do somewhere, find the biggest list around and then make a bigger one! Do you have knowledge few other people have?
Louise grew up in Banff so we feel like we know it better than almost anyone, and certainly better than any travel bloggers that are just passing through. So what did we do? We wrote the top 100 things to do in Banff and made damned sure it was packed full of information that would be virtually impossible to replicate.
Yes, it took forever to put together, but ultimately it was a resource that people appreciated and it’s consistently driven huge traffic to our blog. As with most things in life, the more you put in, the more you get out!
13. Optimize your pin descriptions
One thing that often gets overlooked are the pin descriptions behind a pin. Remember, Pinterest is a search engine, and it uses all the words in your descriptions to decide where the pin will show in search results. Pump your pin descriptions full of keywords and key phrases so that they have a better chance of being found. Pinterest also uses hashtags, so put a few key hashtags into your phrase descriptions as well!
So now we’ve talked at depth about the way you can improve and optimize your pins to make them more likely to be repinned, but is there a way we can improve our strategy to grow our Pinterest traffic? The next section focuses on Pinterest growth strategies:
14. Forget about followers
Step one is to forget about what you’ve learnt on other platforms. Yes, having followers is always helpful because they’re more likely to find your content, but at last count we only had 1,800 Pinterest followers and they account for a tiny, tiny fraction of our website traffic. The vast majority of the unique visitors to our site have found our content through general Pinterest searches.
If your content is good, people will find it and certainly don’t need to be following you. There are plenty of blogs out there that recommend all sorts of techniques for growing your followers, but honestly the return on those efforts is pretty minimal. If you have nothing better to do then obviously it’ll have some benefit, but for us it’s been far less effective than just creating great content.
15. Be a resource
People are generally on Pinterest for two reasons:
- to grow traffic to their own blog – let’s not beat about the the bush, I genuinely think that this is why a lot of our pins are being repinned. It definitely would help account for the huge disparity between the number of unique monthly visitors and the amount of blog traffic that comes from it as a result.
- People looking for inspiration or information; ideas to help plan their wedding, vacation, dream home..whatever.
While there’s nothing you can do about the first group, your ability to help the second group is what’s really going to drive traffic to your blog. With that in mind, curating your Pinterest profile so that it’s a helpful resource is likely to encourage people to keep coming back over and over again. Definitely repin content from other people, but make sure it always adds something to your profile.
For example, if you’re a travel blog, creating boards for different countries might be a helpful resource for some people. Don’t just pin every nice pin you see, pin interesting posts that round out your board on a subject. For example, if you’ve got a China board, don’t pin a hundred posts about the Great Wall; hunt around for different places and topics that might be interesting to someone trying to plan a trip!
Also organize your profile so that it’s easy to navigate. Use easy titles and have an order that means people can find things they’re looking for. I have boards relating to countries arranged in Alphabetical order so that people can immediately find what they’re looking for!
16. Have multiple specific boards
The more boards you have, the more likely people are to find your content. Make sure each board serves a purpose though and that each one is specific. Vague travel boards are so unappealing to me because I’m usually searching for something in particular and don’t care about half the things they’re pinning.
For example, if I look at a vague “travel” board and find it’s all “Kid friendly guide to X”, I’m going to leave because it’s not at all relevant to me. Having multiple specific or niche boards is the most helpful way you can display your information.
But, having multiple boards can be hard when you’re starting out with very limited content. Our advice is to keep your board secret until it has at least 20 pins! As soon as you’ve got enough pins, make the board public and share all your hard work with the world! Yes it will suddenly make your feed full of the pins from that board, but don’t worry, the algorithm won’t allow you to flood other peoples’ feeds with your pins.
17. Pin regularly
Pinning regularly is critical to keeping your content front and centre.
Pins tend to have a shelf life and the traffic will eventually curtail as more and more people are exposed to it. It also often takes a while for its reach to grow. You might also have a pin with almost no views for months and then suddenly it’ll go viral for a few days! Results from pins are totally unpredictable, so the best thing you can do is pin constantly.
- Pin good content on a daily basis
- Pin to all of your boards regularly
- Repin your old pins over and over
Pinning constantly means you’ll have a constant stream of new pins that can create traffic for your boards and your blog. Repinning your old content gives you a chance to push your pins back to the front of everyone’s mind. An influential board could also pick it up at any time, and repinning it over and over will give you the best chance of that happening.
18. Optimize your profile
Just as your pins need search engine optimization, so does your profile. Make sure people can immediately identify what your page is about and also fill it with a couple of keywords that will help it show up in searches.
See that on our board it’s immediately obvious what we do, and that our page has a chance to show up on any travel blog searches. Similarly, let your profile photo show what your page is all about! You probably only have seconds to convince people to look a little further.
19. Join and Pin to group boards
Group boards are a fantastic way to get your pins out to a wider audience. A group board might have thousands of followers and therefore is likely to give your pins a lot more exposure. If possible, try to join boards that have lots of followers but that don’t have an absurdly high number of pins. For example, if the board has 300k pins, your pin is likely to get lost in a sea of other pins.
Tailwind, the scheduling app, has a fantastic section called “Board Insights”, which shows you how much engagement each board gets (pins, repins, comments etc), and gives a board a virality score. Ditch the poor scoring boards and focus on the ones that will get you the best return on your efforts!
To join group boards, the admin will usually issue a set of instructions to be accepted (send an email etc). Usually if you can demonstrate that you can add value you should be accepted.
When pinning, make sure you pin your new pins to the group boards as well, but ensure that your pin fits the group board niche! Also make sure you don’t pin rubbish that people aren’t interested in otherwise you might risk getting kicked off!
20. Pin your blog board to the top of your Pinterest page
You can do this very easily by featuring your blog’s board via your settings. Close to the top you’ll see a section called “Featured Boards”; Choose your blog board and make sure it’s the first thing anyone sees when they visit your profile. This will maximize your chances of having your own content reposted rather than someone else’s. On that subject, make sure that you have a board that only consists of your own content. That way, people can browse your content without risk of being diverted to someone else’s blog!
22. Use Tailwind to schedule pins
Staying on top of our pinning schedule is tough, so I schedule everything for the month all at once. I spend probably an hour or two and then forget about it for a month. Tailwind is the best place to do this that I’ve found, and I can happily recommend it from personal experience. Here are the best features IMO:
- Pin to dozens of boards at once – Instead of posting to individual boards, Tailwind allows you to pin the same pin to multiple boards at the same time.
- Schedule your pins to suit the time your followers are most active, and post at regular intervals throughout the day.
- Connect your Instagram feed to pin directly from IG.
- Get feedback on your Pinterest’s performance and which pins have done particularly well.
- Tailwind Tribes
Tribes are an amazing invention that groups Pinterest users together into ‘tribes’. Each tribe has a theme and a set of rules, and the members essentially agree to post each other’s content to their feeds. If you’re creating great content, you chances of having your content repinned is going to go up dramatically.
Each Tribe provides statistics about the reach of your posts, and how many of your pins have been used by other users. You can join up to 10 tribes and you can leave tribes at any time to join better performing ones.
Tailwind is a fantastic tool but a paid service. If you’re interested in learning more about their pricing, click here.
23. Use Pinterest Analytics
Pinterest Analytics are pretty basic, but they give you a good insight into the amount of traffic your site is getting, as well as which pins in particular are performing well. The numbers shown in the overview tend to fluctuate dramatically, so take those numbers with a pinch of salt.
Audience Insights, however, are enormously useful as they show you exactly what your audience is interested in. Our page shows that most of our readers are interested in Travel, but within that it also shows more specific travel related interests. This is interesting for us because it can help us tailor the content we create towards what the majority of our readers are interested in. There are plenty of insights to be gained from the Audience Insights, and we highly recommend checking them out to try and understand your readership better.
With these tips, your Pinterest growth should skyrocket! Happy pinning!