Pinterest is a search engine, and I have proof. Why is this important? It's important because it means you cans top obsessing over Google traffic (if you want to). Sure, Google is the biggest game in town, but it's not the only one. Plus, even if you are a rockstar at ranking in Google, if you aren't exploring other organic traffic rankings, then you are leaving traffic (and money) on the table.
I had heard people say that Pinterest is a search engine before, but it didn't really dawn on me until I started digging into my analytics and found a really good example. I'll dig into that below.
First, I wanted to let you know why I think this is so exciting. For one, this means that if you really hate SEO, you have an entire platform where you can get awesome traffic to your blog without worrying about any type of SEO in your written content. This is great for visual people!
Second, it means that if you're doing the work and getting great SEO traffic, you can double down on your content and absorb traffic from another group of people. In other words, if you max out your search engine rankings in the top spots, you still have more untapped opportunity in Pinterest.
3 Reasons Pinterest Is One Of The Best Social Media Platforms
1. Evergreen Traffic
Popular pins you create get shared and re-shared over and over again. A single post, with a single “viral” pin could provide you with evergreen traffic for many years. Here's a look at a the traffic from pin I had that went viral two years ago.
That's 5,000+ monthly sessions from a single pin that continually gets shared within Pinterest. I'm not creating additional content for that page, or even creating new pins. This is just some kind of natural perpetual action that's going on. This is just one pin, and it's my best pin, but if you can figure out how to really tap into your audience's trigger points, then a couple of these alone could carry your site towards profitability.
2. Reusable Content
The other great thing about Pinterest is how they define “content”. Normally, when you publish an article, “content” means the written word. You shouldn't be posting new versions of your article over and over again, because you're just saying the same thing over and over again. It doesn't add “value”.
Pinterest is different. Because Pinterest is a visual search engine, you can write the same thing, but in a different way visually, and that counts as fresh content. Because you're creating a new design, even if the message is the same, your content is considered new.
What that means is that you can take one article on your site (the bulk of the work), then share it via Pinterest with a new pin design every day and it's not considered duplicate content. As long as the design is new, that's really what they're looking for.
3. Easy To Outsource
Canva is cheap. It's like a hundred bucks a year. They have tons of templates to work with, and many people are familiar with the Canva system. That means it's easy to find help doing the work to produce and share pins on Pinterest. You can produce a great pin in 5 minutes. That's 12 pins per hour. You certainly couldn't write 12x 1500-word articles per hour, could you!
The combination of being able to produce a lot, and for cheap, means it's a great thing to outsource for your business. Plus, you don't have to be an expert to make good pins. With content, to other experts in the niche they can suss out who's outsourcing content. Readers can even detect when you are writing things vaguely (not a true expert), and they'll drift off to other blogs.
With Pinterest, I don't have to be an expert in drone photography to make a compelling Pinterest graphic on the same topic. This is another reason why outsourcing pins is relatively easy.
PROOF That Pinterest is a Search Engine
Pinterest is its own search engine. Why is that a big deal? It's a big deal because it's like discovering a new gold mine. Traffic from Google is the most common gold mine to tap into. Everyone knows about it. There's a lot of gold, but there's a lot of competition too. You might get some gold there, but what happens if you are struggling to find gold, or completely get all the gold in your area?
You can start mining a new area. That's Pinterest.
I'll explain the situation I discovered with one of my affiliate blogs now.
I'm currently ranked #2 for a keyword in my niche. That means I've got a huge chunk of traffic in Google. Maybe something like more than 20% of all traffic related to this specific term. However, referral traffic from Pinterest is 150% from search traffic for this specific page.
That means even though I'm ranked very highly for this term and getting a large portion of the available traffic for this keyword, there's a unique group of people hanging out on Pinterest. Some people on Pinterest are not on Google.
To me, that means if I tap out my full capabilities in Google for a specific search term, then I can still add to my traffic options by getting “ranked” in Pinterest. It also means that I can run with some ideas without checking a keyword tool. Remember my viral pin from above, garnering 5300 clicks a month to the site? Here's the traffic statistics in Ahrefs.
Normally, if you saw search volume like that, you'd never consider writing an article on that topic. However, if there's a chance to get Pinterest search engine traffic, now you might do it. If I had followed the advice of Ahrefs, I wouldn't have given a second thought to this keyword!
If you are not on Pinterest, there's potentially an untapped traffic resource you are leaving on the table.
Downsides To Using Pinterest
Not All Niches Work Well
I've got two main niche sites I use Pinterest for. All the successful stuff you see above is for one of them. Pinterest really provides me with a lot of consistent, reliable traffic and I see a lot of potential. The other niche site? Not the same story.
I've been grinding for about 8 months now trying to get more followers, shares, and traffic. While there's growth, it's not nearly what I want for the time and money I'm dedicating towards the project. Just 1700 visits from the entirety of all Pinterest links came to the site in August 2020 (ATH), which is about 1/3 the traffic from a single pin in the other niche.
I believe this is because different niches are more or less suitable for Pinterest. This goes for any social media site. You wouldn't start a LinkedIn account for your garden blog, and you wouldn't start a Pinterest account for your tax advice blog.
Success Seems To Be Hit And Miss
All of my huge successes seem to be random. Viral pins pop out of nowhere, then disappear after a few days. There seems to be nothing specific about design, or images, or fonts, or colors which determine what makes a pin successful, other than a few basic rules like easy to read fonts, high quality images, and attractive/complimenting colors.
The process of creating pins is fun, but as I'm doing it, I'm always thinking, “Hm, I might be totally waisting my time if nobody sees and clicks this”. At the very least, when I'm writing good content, I know that I can drive traffic to that page through internal links and it may still provide some use. With Pinterest, if a pin flops, it's just kind of dead in the water and you just move on.
It's Easy To Get Locked Into Running The Content Treadmill
Because things are hit and miss with Pinterest, and because there's so much content being created, then re-created, it's not uncommon for folks to schedule 10-20 pins per day. Every day. That's a potential twenty new designs you need to come up with day after day for the lifetime of your site. That's a lot of work.
There are some pints which will stick around (like the evergreen stuff I was talking about in the beginning), but at least for me, it's a lot of throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what works. That can get exhausting. If you don't have a VA doing the work for you, it can be a real “treadmill” experience where it seems like you're stuck doing the same thing over and over again. That can lead to burnout. My advice? Just keep burnout in mind and give yourself a plan you can be happy with for the long haul. You can't just “set and forget” a Pinterest strategy.
I don't use Pinterest in my day to day life. I've got enough social media to distract me from work with YouTube and Twitter. Having worked with Pinterest in two different niches just from a marketing standpoint, I can see that it has immense potential for some niches, and should not be ignored. If you have anything visual about your niche which is worth sharing, then you should absolutely start a Pinterest account and create pins for everything you publish.
Pinterest is a search engine. That means there's traffic available inside Pinterest which is not available in any other search engine. If you are struggling to get Google organic traffic, tap into Pinterest. If you've maxed out your Google traffic for a keyword, tap into Pinterest. If you want to diversify your traffic sources to create a more robust, algorithm-resistant business, tap into Pinterest.