How to Drive Traffic with Pinterest – Lindsay Shearer

Say it with me… “Pinterest is a search platform.” Yup, it’s true. Just ask Pinterest expert, Lindsay Shearer. She shared with us specific tips to help drive more organic traffic to your site and how turn that into customers. With most marketers turning to platforms like Facebook, that means there is less competition so the cost per click is much less expensive on Pinterest. Sounds like a win/win to me. So what are you waiting for?

Rich: My next guest is a serial entrepreneur and traffic generation specialist who’s helped over 150 brands scale to 7-8 figure sales per month. She runs a large Pinterest ads, SEO, and traffic generation community, while also running two digital marketing agencies called Pins 4 Profit and BrandRanx.

But wait, there’s more. If she’s a private equity investor in ecomm brands, software developer, and she speaks and consults all over the world. Somewhere in there she’s been featured in entrepreneur, Fox News, Newsweek, and many other news sources. Today, we’re talking about Pinterest with Lindsay Shearer. Lindsay, welcome to the podcast.

Lindsay: Hey, what’s up everybody. You make me sound so amazing.

Rich: I’m sure you are. All right. What I find intriguing about your bio, your history, is that you’re interested in Pinterest and SEO. And I find that most people tend to sit on one side of the fence or the other. Why do you focus on both in your businesses and in your community?

Lindsay: Yeah. It’s so funny. When I remember getting started on Pinterest I was running this big SEO agency at the time. It was about eight or nine years ago. And I thought, you know what, let’s just test out some Pinterest strategy and see how it goes. Because Pinterest, most people think is a social media site, but really it’s a search engine. And it’s much more about search intent and it’s the only search engine where you can actually, visually search and save images. So I was like, okay, let’s try this and see how it works together with my general SEO strategy that I was using for Google and other search engines, and so we started throwing some images up there and just testing some things out. And it was crazy the amount of traffic that was coming, and it was coming quickly, and it was sustainable. And even now I have images that I put up on my Pinterest page over five years ago that still get traffic every single week.

So I thought, okay, this is something we should definitely take seriously. And at the time, not a lot of serious marketers were really thinking much about Pinterest. And so I recognized it as this blue ocean space and was like, okay, this is definitely a viable player. Now I’m realizing it’s the number 10 search engine in the world, so we’ve really got some great opportunity here. So that’s when Pins 4 Profit was born.

Rich: All right. That makes a lot of sense. So, I’ve heard similar things from some Pinterest experts that it’s not a social media website, even though that’s usually how it’s categorized. So, I guess just talk to me a little bit about how some of your tactics for search worked well similarly on Pinterest, if it is a search engine.

Lindsay: Yeah. So, a few things. One of course, you’re looking at different keywords in the search intent. So every time we were creating content for blogs or product pages, I was always going into like our Ahefs and SEM Rush, and really looking for different search keywords to see what kind of volume and difficulty you had, like in your general SEO strategy.

And of course, your secondary SEO strategy, which is really the main strategy, is building authority on your site. So, you do that by getting additional websites to publish about you. So we were always driving links back to our pages through various media and news and different publications. And so I thought, why don’t we apply this cross ranks – that’s my trademark strategy – and actually start driving some links back through some of our social sites. And so knowing that Pinterest had this search engine component, I was like, why don’t we start driving a ton of links back to our keywords that were on our pages on our blogs, et cetera, and see what happens.

So that started building incredible authority, because Pinterest is actually considered a very high authority site. The quality of content that’s on there, the people that are engaging on there, people are really, it’s a very positive search engine. So we just started driving a ton of links back to our already existing strategy through Pinterest.

Rich: All right. There’s a lot of stuff in there actually want to unpack. So let’s start with this keyword thing. So on SEO, we know that it’s very much keyword driven. We want to make sure that we put the right words in the right places on our website. We rank high in Google; everything works out great. Can you give me an example, maybe of a client you worked with, you don’t have to mention their name, but just like a product or a service? And what kind of, you find a keyword and then what do you do? Do you go to their Pinterest account and just start creating boards with those names? What exactly is the strategy that those of us with SEO brains should be applying if we want to start doing some more work or generating some more business from Pinterest?

Lindsay: Yeah. So in general, depending on where your competition is at, on Google we’re looking for a medium tail and longer tail keywords that we’re trying to rank for that have less competition and more volume. On Pinterest we’re able to rank for broader categories, broader terms. So in general, we can match those up.

So, say for example you have a haircare brand and you’re going to rank for shampoo. And maybe on Google you’re ranking for ‘best shampoo in Cincinnati’ or something like that, and on Pinterest you would really probably be ranking for ‘best shampoo’ or ‘DIY shampoo’ or submit another larger, broad term.

And so yes, then once you have an idea of what term you’re using and where you’re going to rank that, whether it be product page, or category page, et cetera, then you would go to Pinterest and start creating a bunch of images for that product and using that keyword in your descriptions and headlines and images. Similar to how you would on your blog page.

And then yes, we’re all about volume. We create a lot of volume. I kind of applied some of my SEO strategy to Pinterest in that I created this influencer community, basically, of folks that we can become a part of their communities and kind of share our content. It goes more viral, we get more links, we get more engagement, that raises the authority and trust factor and drives good quality traffic back to our product pages.

Rich: All right. Another thing you said in there that I thought was interesting is links. Now obviously in SEO, when we’re thinking about links we’re thinking about getting links from other websites to drive traffic to ours, but also the SEO benefits of that. I thought that all social media channels had no follow links. So talk to me a little bit about the benefits of creating links on Pinterest, specifically from an SEO standpoint, if there is one.

Lindsay: Yeah. So, there is definitely still a benefit to having no follow links. It still does build trust and authority on your site. There are a lot of sites that won’t allow you to publish some, do follow links. So we try and work in a mixture of do and no follow. And so that still creates credibility in the search engine. And the way we’ve worked around it is we do some sharing, and we work it together with our SEO strategy. So then we’re sharing our Pinterest content and we’re sharing our general blog content out to all the sources and revenues where we’re getting do follow links as well. And so it creates this multiplication factor that we’ve seen over time, where you’re getting a bunch of good no follow and do follow links. And really, search engines like a mixture. They like to see that you’re an actual site that’s creating content, not necessarily just for the do follow link, but to create good quality content. So, we were able to get a mixture of both, and I have some unique strategies that I use inside Pinterest to be able to give you a mixture of no-follow and do follow links.

Rich: So I know when using a tool like Ahrefs or Google keyword planner, that they’re telling you about search volume. Is there a tool for Pinterest that’s specific to this, or are you just basically extrapolating what you learned from your SEO tools and then using them on Pinterest?

Lindsay: So, there’s not really what you would imagine. At least on the organic side, there’s not an Ahrefs/tool where you can see the correct a hundred percent volumes. If you get inside Ads Manager, though – this is one of the techniques that I always teach in my trainings – is there’s a way to look at relative search volume inside Ads Manager. So you can go inside your Ads Manager and start searching keywords that people are looking for, et cetera, and use those inside your organic strategy. And then of course we bid on keywords like you would for PPC in Google, on Pinterest as well. And we all I have some other secret strategies that we use that involve our reps and my friend that’s an engineer at Pinterest.

Rich: All right. Which I’m sure you’d have to kill me if you told me. So we’ll just let that be right now. So when we’re developing out the organic side of things, should we be developing our own boards that are specific to the keywords? Should we have a board for every single service or product that we offer? Should we create a lot of pins? Is there a consistency that we should be going after when we’re posting new things to Pinterest? And I’m thinking mostly on the organic side right now.

Lindsay: Yeah, yeah. So for organic, we try and recommend around 20 boards. If you have, I would say more products than you want to look at product categories possibly some of your best-selling products you could put on their own boards. And yes, you definitely want to create pins for everything. Every product we do, different categories. We do recipes, we do DIY tutorials. Again, one of the other search engines I’m matching with is going to be YouTube. So there’s a mix of this DIY, education, edutainment factor that I’m always trying to recommend for our clients.

Although video, so video does better on organic than it does on paid. So I recommend if you have some videos for your Instagram stories that you’re already creating, or some of those like pin-sized images that are taller 2×3 at least, we recommend we can repurpose some of that content for Pinterest. So yes, absolutely create, but categorize it in an efficient way for sure on your profile.

Rich: Sounds good. All right, let’s get into this whole promoted pins, the ad platform for Pinterest. What should we be thinking about doing organically versus what should we be thinking about throwing money out through the promoted pins?

Lindsay: Yeah. So for promoted pins, it really depends on your object. Pinterest, because it is a search engine, even on the promoted pin side takes a little bit of extra time, I would say, versus a Facebook or Google. You’re going to get some results much faster. Every social media buying channel has its own learning phase. So you’ll have a learning phase inside of Pinterest as well. And you have a bunch of different objectives that you can go for. If you just want to get traffic to your site, you can use the traffic or a brand awareness, or they now have a website views objective where you can try and get more clicks on your website, or you can drive straight to conversion, add to cart leads if you’re doing a lead generation campaign and you can optimize for those deeper funnel objectives as well.

So it really depends on your goals, what budget you have. If you’re going to optimize for deeper funnel objectives, it’s going to be more expensive. So you would want to know your target CPA or your cost per action, your cost per acquisition of a new customer. So for example, if say you have a beauty brand, $30 is a profitable CPA for you, but your goal is to get a 2x row as. Or for every $60, you’re profitable at that $30 mark. And on Pinterest, you would need at least five times that $30 in budget per day in order to make it work. So at least $120 per day on that ad set.

Rich: Okay.

Lindsay: Getting granular.

Rich: Yes, exactly. There’s a lot of math suddenly. So a lot of this seems to be more geared, or maybe this is just my prejudice, a lot of this seems to be more geared towards e-commerce, being able to sell products. What if we’re just doing lead gen? How then do we change that balance, or how do we approach promoted pins?

Lindsay: Yeah. So lead gen is actually cheaper on promoted pins, which is nice. So again, with this target CPA, or in this case it would be a CPL, your cost per lead. So if you’re trying to get a $3 – $4 cost per lead, then you would need at least $15, $20, $25 a day on your budget per ad set. So every ad set, we break out with a different audience, a different category, maybe a different set of keywords that you want to test and making sure that you have enough budget to actually make that happen and get it through learning phase.

So yeah, I recommend trying both. Optimizing for, we do a lot of info products, too. So we may be optimizing for lead. We may be optimizing for a checkout on a smaller product. That’s maybe $7 or $15 or $27. In that case, we’re optimizing for checkout, but profitable CPA on a $30 product is going to be much lower, so like maybe $10. So then you could get away with a $50 a day budget, which is probably more reasonable on a lead gen, trying to optimize for lead gen.

Rich: So I’m thinking about the promoted pins, which again, we said is the ad platform. When I think about Google ads, a lot of times the ads don’t need to change over time because somebody is actively searching this, they’re at a specific moment in their customer journey. Kind of once we’ve honed in on that ad, it doesn’t need to change very often as opposed to say Facebook ads, that it feels like we need to be changing out the creative every week to two weeks, just to stay relevant. Would you say that promoted pins are more like Facebook ads in that regard or more like Google ads in that regard? Can we set it and forget it?

Lindsay: I wish. I don’t know that any ad should really be set and forgotten. It used to be up until about six months ago that you had a longer period of time that a creative would last inside a campaign. It’s such a hit or miss thing with Pinterest because it takes longer for things to warm up. There’s so much more delayed attribution, we call it, on the platform. When a person is seeing an image, they save it and they come back later to purchase. So it may be 10, 15, 20 days from the time a person sees an image and comes back later. And so making those edits is a much more delicate balance, the optimization strategy on Pinterest. So we give things longer, at least in the beginning, when we’re starting new campaigns and testing new creative and those types of things.

But I will say they did a pretty significant algorithm update in correspondence with all the iOS updates in May. And that has got our creatives burning faster than they ever have before. So now we’re definitely having to switch things out more quickly and try and find winners more quickly. But in general, it’s a much slower burn.

Rich: This is maybe a really strange question. But if somebody saves a promoted pin because they may come back – maybe they’re planning their wedding or they’re planning anything, and you change the creative – when they go back to that pin, did they save the original thing they saw or is that pin automatically updated because you went in and made a change to the ad campaign?

Lindsay: They saved the original pin. So, we still keep the original pins on usually a hidden board, so people can still save them and come back later. And you’re still going to see it versus switching it out. And then you won’t see it in your safe section, like you would on Facebook, unless you go to the Facebook ads library, and it’s still, it still happens to be up there. But no, I’m Pinterest we create a specific board to save those images and make sure that they never get deleted

Rich: Alright. I know you’ve already said that Pinterest is more of a search platform than a social platform, but I had written down this question anyway so I’m going to ask it. I know that on Facebook and other social channels, it’s a good practice to stick around after you’ve posted something organically to engage your audience. Pinterest does feel different. What should we do after we posted content to Pinterest? Can we just walk away, or should we stick around for any sort of engagement?

Lindsay: I would walk away. There’s not as much engagement. You’ll get some, but it’s not like, people are not commenting really.

Rich: It’s not as conversationalist a social a media platform as intended to be.

Lindsay: Yeah, definitely not. They may DM you or they may like it, but it’s not going to be something where they’re asking conversation publicly. Usually.

Rich: If we’re just getting into Pinterest or if we’ve got limited time, maybe because we’re a small shop, whatever it may be. What activities do you recommend we focus on in Pinterest and maybe which should we sacrifice, at least initially?

Lindsay: Initially, just get some pins made. Create some pins for your best-selling product, your bestselling landing page, highest converting offer. Maybe start with 5 or 10, and it doesn’t need to be necessarily a ton of different messaging. But try some different types of creatives as far as design is concerned, and put them up and see what happens, see what people are engaging with. Check out some different keywords and see what’s working, and then you can create more like that.

Rich: What level of engagement should we be doing on other people’s pins, other people’s boards? Should part of our activity be engaging with other brands or people who might have similar interests to what we’re offering, or is that just unnecessary on this platform, and it’s really just a display and discovery platform?

Lindsay: It’s really more of a display and discovery platform. We do that as part of our plan for our clients so that you guys don’t have to worry about it. But yes and no. I would say if you really wanted to get serious about it, you could start messaging folks. I would definitely not worry as much about liking, commenting, and all that kind of stuff. In fact, those comments, you can’t really see them. They kind of disappear. It’s not really like an Instagram live or an Instagram story where you’re seeing the comments and everyone’s engaging with each other. It’s really not the same. So if you want to engage with a specific person, I would say you could message them and find out what they’re about. But definitely have something that you’re ready to do, not just for arbitrary conversation.

Rich: Lindsey, when we’re thinking about our approach to Pinterest, are we going after the people who are just generally searching for something and they find the answer on Pinterest, or are we more focused on regular Pinterest users?

Lindsay: Pretty much everyone that’s on Pinterest is a pretty regular user. So you’re going to hit a good amount of category that 63% of the people are on there every week. So the kind of folks that are on Pinterest are going to be on there regularly engaging, they’re looking for tutorials or looking for ideas, or spending time just browsing around different images. They’re looking for a lot of solutions to their issues, whether it be a home decor problem or a mom problem. Or what they’re looking for it right now is big planning for gifts season. So they’re saving gifts, trying to find great gifts for hard to find hard to buy for people. So we’ve got some really cool products that are in that niche to try and help give people ideas and inspiration for all different kinds of steps.

Rich: So if you were talking to somebody and you said, look, this isn’t for me because my audience doesn’t use Pinterest, what would you say to them? Yeah, you’re right. Or, there’s another way of looking at this?

Lindsay: It’s possible. Now over 40% of new users are men, which is an interesting statistic. Most people ask me all the time, “Isn’t Pinterest just for women?” And I say, no, it’s actually a growing men’s market. So if you have a product that you maybe weren’t 100% sure of, I would definitely get on there and do some research and see if there are other products like what you have and what kind of audiences engaging with them, and definitely test it out. You never know. I’ve been surprised on a few things over the last year and a half, especially with all the new users and people flooding from some of our traditional platforms that are getting expensive, and all the iOS updates and people are definitely looking for more solutions in places to hang out. So Pinterest is a super viable option.

Rich: So with Google we’ve got Google Analytics, we’ve got those metrics. Plus, if you’re doing something with Ahrefs or SEMrush, whatever it may be, you’re getting a lot of metrics, a lot of data. What kind of metrics do we get from Pinterest, both on the organic side, as well as on the ad side?

Lindsay: Yeah. So for ads, you’re going to have all of your traditional metrics that you would have on Facebook. The same as engagements, views, clicks, CTR (click through rate) on your images, ROAS, CPAs, checkout conversion numbers, all that kind of stuff. On the organic side, it doesn’t really play as nicely. Our setup does it with Google analytics.

There’s a lot of reasons for that. It has to do with how we pixel things and stuff like that. But inside Pinterest has its own a really good quality analytics platform. So it’s the best that I’ve seen for organic on any social channel, really. And they’re improving it more and more and they’re actually about to roll out an even bigger platform at the end of this year, beginning of next year.

So, I’m really excited. Hopefully that’ll work a little bit better with Google analytics. They changed basically API about a year and a half ago, and so Pinterest doesn’t really play nice with Google analytics anymore, so we use the native on channel ads, manager, analytics platform for organic.

Rich: Earlier on, I think you mentioned something about influencers. Do you have a specific recommendation or approach to working with influencers on the Pinterest platform?

Lindsay: Yeah. We’re just looking for folks that have engaged communities that are sharing good content. Because it’s a curated content platform, you’ve got a lot of different types of content, so we look and see who are they letting into their community. Is it going to be a fit for our ideal clients are, do we think are our ideal clients for this particular brand are hanging out in that space? Are they engaged, that kind of thing is what we’re looking for.

Rich: What can you tell me, that you haven’t maybe already, about your Pinterest course?

Lindsay: Yeah. So I feel like I always tell my clients, I’m like, if anyone can give you your best possible chance of success on Pinterest, I feel like it’s me. I’ve given so much of my life to understanding the buying behavior on there. And because I have a unique background in mergers and acquisitions, and I understand this value of the first look of a new brand. And I know that 93% of searches on Pinterest are unbranded. So you’ve got a massive opportunity to become the first layer of trust for your brand in your solution solving on Pinterest.

So it’s very exciting. And I know that we take our very unique cross channel approach. Like I was mentioning before, our cross ranks approach, where we’re looking at all the different search engines and really giving you a strategy that’s going to be not just Pinterest specific, but is really gonna raise your general brand in all search.

Rich: All right. For people interested in your course, or just to learn more about you, where can we send them?

Lindsay: Yeah. Pins4profit.com, you can come and check it out. We’ve got a lot of different, cool stuff. And then we’re also on all social channels under my name, Lindsey B. Shearer. And I just teach about a lot of different stuff, not just necessarily Pinterest. But I feel like now especially, we’re really in this cross-channel marketing environment, we’re trying to be omni-channel and really learning how to engage in different types of behavior on different platforms, and how they work together and how Pinterest integrates into this unique strategy. And so I’m always teaching on all different kinds of stuff. We just did a bunch of really cool events. You can find us on our Facebook pages.

Rich: All right. Awesome. And we’ll have links to all of that in the show notes. Lindsey, thank you so much for coming on and sharing all you know about Pinterest.

Lindsay: Yeah. Thanks so much for having me. Happy pinning everyone.

Show Notes:

Lindsay Shearer and her team help their clients take their Pinterest game to the next level with targeted marketing strategies that get results. Check out her website for more info on how they’re helping clients achieve their marketing goals, or to check out the courses she offers.

Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.