You’ve almost certainly heard of Pinterest, but have you started to integrate it into your SEO strategy yet? If not then you could be missing out on one of the most significant and effective social media platforms to come along in years. Whatever your assumptions and impressions of Pinterest, lay them to one side and let me explain why your business should be taking this social networking platform very seriously.

Why You Should Be Integrating Pinterest Into Your SEO Strategy Now

So What Is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a simply idea really. It’s a collection of boards to which you can pin images. That’s about it. You can create as many boards as you like, each with its own theme, and then either add your own images, pin images you come across on the web, or re-pin images you find on other people’s boards. You can add comments and a link to each image, and this is where the SEO benefits are to be found.

How Important Is Pinterest Really?

Back in January 2011 Pinterest had an extremely modest 100,000 users. In January 2012 it had rocketed to 4.4 million users, two months later that was 10 million, and as of August 2012 it now has over 23 million active users. That’s growth with a capital ‘G’!

In fact Pinterest has already overtaken two of the web’s most popular photo and image sharing sites – Picassa and Flickr, and according to a report on mashable.com it is now the third most popular social media site, behind Facebook and Twitter. Experian Hitwise has placed Pinterest in the top 30 websites in the US, and according to a traffic report published by Shareholic Pinterest is now driving not only more referral traffic than Google+, but is actually generating more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined.

With around 21 percent of people in a recent survey by PriceGrabber saying that they have gone on to make a purchase having found an item of interest on a Pinterest board, and with Google indexing people’s Pinterest profiles and boards, you shouldn’t really need many more reasons to start getting Pinterest integrated into your SEO strategy. The question is simply ‘how?’

How To Integrate Pinterest Into An SEO Marketing Strategy

The first thing to appreciate is that Pinterest is not an advertising platform. If all you do is pin images of your adverts, promotions, branded products and other self promoting images then not only will you almost certainly have little or no success, but you’ll actually be in breach of the terms laid down by Pinterest.

Whilst your business may naturally tend to lean towards the visual, perhaps related to the art world or fashion, there are of course many businesses which don’t have such an obvious visual aspect to them. However, with a little thought it is perfectly possible to capitalise on a visual aspect to virtually any business.

For example, think about the number of infographics which you may have come across, created or shared in the past, diagrams, charts and visual representations of concepts or strategies.

But as well as trying to gather your own images like these, look around on the web, and don’t forget to look around on Pinterest itself. You can re-pin images you find elsewhere, and in fact this is a good strategy and one which you need to employ if you’re going to capitalise on the SEO potential of Pinterest.

Don’t forget that not every image has to be about your business specifically, or even your industry. You can have as many boards as you like, each with its own theme, and whilst you might have, say, an infographic board, you might also have a board which simply includes images you find inspirational. Getting people’s interest and attention is important, and the more variety you can offer the more chance you have of achieving this.

Gathering images is one of the on-going tasks you’ll need to think about, but there are some specific SEO pointers to bear in mind regardless of the type of image or its source. Here’s what you should be doing right from the start:

  1. Make sure you name your images appropriately. Don’t upload an image called ‘photo_17493b.jpg’ if you can rename it to ‘keyword-phrase.jpg’
  2. Enter a description for each image. Make sure this is interesting and relevant, and don’t forget to treat this as you would any other search engine optimised text. You can include a description of up to 500 characters in length.
  3. Include a suitable backlink for each image. If the image comes from your website, then use the URL of the page the image can be found on. Otherwise use the most appropriate URL for the image. Don’t overdo this however. if every image links back to your site that is likely to look like blatant self promotion. External links elsewhere will help.
  4. Make sure each board is named appropriately – include good keywords or keyphrases, and make sure that it’s tightly relevant.
  5. Choose the right category for each image to help increase the likelihood of people finding them. Think of these as being a little like tags in a blog, or even hashtags on Twitter.
  6. Regularly comment on other people’s images and boards, just as you comment on other people’s blog posts to help foster a sense of community and increase the visibility of your brand whilst encouraging more people to check out what you’re offering, Make sure your comments are not blatant self promotion though – keep it interesting and relevant.
  7. Add ‘Pin-it’ buttons or links to your blog and your website to help encourage people to share your visual content through Pinterest. You can do this easily by simply logging in to Pinterest and going to About > Pin it button. Just copy and paste the code where you want your button to appear – no need for plugins.
  8. Link Pinterest to your Facebook and Twitter profiles. You can do this easily within your Pinterest account options, and this will mean that all of your new pins will be shared more widely. You can also link Pinterest to your Flickr account if you have one.

I hope this post will help you make more progress with this very exciting new platform. Please share this with others by tweeting this post, or through Facebook.

Are you using Pinterest yet? Have you been struggling with getting it to work as part of your SEO strategy? Please share your comments and thoughts below.