Want to tap into two of the biggest sources of website traffic with one simple strategy? Well, today I’m going to show you how to leverage both Pinterest and SEO for your blog.
In the world of blogging, it’s getting increasingly tough to drive quality traffic. The savviest bloggers know that you need to have both social media and search engine optimization (SEO) working for you.
With over 1/3 of the world’s population using social media, the traffic-driving potential is undeniable.
And did you know that Google processes 3.5 billion searches every day?
But what if you could knock out two birds with one stone?
What many people may not know is that optimizing your website for Pinterest is actually a great way to optimize for SEO as well.
The ingredients are as follows:
- Great images
- Use of alt text
- Great descriptions
I’ll cover all of those in this post. So lock in, grab a notepad, and let’s begin.
But First, Pinterest is a Search Engine
The first thing you need to know is that Pinterest is a search engine. People are on Pinterest to search and find things that interest them, or they need help with.
So, just like Google, Pinterest needs to have as much information as possible about a pin to show it in search results.
This is why good Pin descriptions are crucial to your success.Pinterest is a search engine and your Pin descriptions are your key to ranking well in it.Click To Tweet
Great Pin descriptions feed Pinterest’s search the information it needs to put it in front of the people who are looking for it.
And since Pinterest is a visual search engine as well, it’s very important that you adhere to some visual best practices as well.
So this is why you need two things for both Pinterest and search engines—images and text content.
Start with a Great Image
Now before anything else, it’s important that you know what makes a great Pinterest image. After all, if you don’t have an image that captures people as they scroll through the feed, you’re dead in the water.
The first thing to know is that tall images rule Pinterest. Period.
If your image is taller than it is wide, you’re off to a great start. Experts have recommended for years that the ideal size is 735px by 1102px.
Use the image below (right-click, Save As) for a template if you like.
Use a tall image (at least 735x1102) to maximize your Pinterest engagement potential. Click To Tweet
You also want to keep in mind that the content of the pin needs to compel people to click. That means:
- If your pin has words on it, make sure they’re legible on smaller screens (most of Pinterest’s traffic is mobile)
- Use high contrast elements, so they don’t all blend together
- Brighter colors are ideal as they tend to stand out more and get more engagement
- Try to think of a way to make the visual “helpful” in some way (i.e., not just a title of your post)
It also helps to have great basic design principles at work in your visuals.
And if you’re looking for some more advanced tactics to boost your Pin engagement, Social Media Examiner has a great article on the subject. Our friends over at CoSchedule also have an in-depth Pinterest engagement article.
You can also choose to have multiple pinnable images in your blog posts to maximize the likelihood of people pinning multiple times.
Once you have at least one great pinnable image for your blog post, now it’s time to make sure it’s as optimized as possible.
Putting SEO Power Behind Your Images
There are three things you should do to get the most optimal image possible.
1. Optimize Your File Name
This might not be something you’re used to doing, but having a well-named image file is said to have a positive effect on image SEO.
Simply name your image file something relevant to the image. For example, if your image is about a sticky buns recipe, name the file
sticky-buns-recipe.jpg or something similar.
That’s easy enough, right?
Search engines can pick up on these keywords in the file names themselves and help inform them of the image content.File names matter if you want your images to rank well in search. Click To Tweet
2. Keep Your Images Light-weight
One thing that can tank your SEO is a slow loading site. Big image files can increase the load time of your pages dramatically, therefore killing both user experience and SEO.
People won’t stick around, and search engines will not look fondly on you for it.
So spend some time optimizing your file sizes.
Here are some of the best apps you can use to lower the file size while also not losing image quality:
- Imagify – my personal favorite which also has a handy WordPress plugin.
Using just one of these tools on your images before uploading them to your website can save you a huge amount of load time and file size on your pages.'File size is speed, and speed is SEO.' -Jason WiserClick To Tweet
3. Utilize Your Alt Text
Alt text (or alt tags) is like a description that is included in the HTML of the image. It is only seen by search engines and web crawlers, not by readers.
As a rule, every SEO expert will tell you to always fill out the image alt text. Search engines want to see this, not only because it gives them more information to use, but because of the usability aspect for the visually impaired.Always, always, always fill out your image alt text if you want your images to help your SEO.Click To Tweet
Now, thankfully, if you’re using WordPress, you’ll never have to touch a piece of code to make use of alt text.
Start by uploading your image to WordPress using the default image uploader.
WordPress gives you several inputs by default that will help you with your image SEO:
- Caption: this is something you can write that will show up beneath your photo.
- Alt text: this is very important for your SEO and usability as it is the text that will show if the image doesn’t and will be utilized by screen readers for the visually impaired.
- Description: this is mostly for your internal use as it’s not shown on the page or in the source code.
Here’s what it looks like filled out:
Here’s what it looks like on the page:
And here’s what the underlying code looks like:
Now, one thing that also benefits you by filling out your image alt text is that many Pinterest share buttons, extensions, and plugins will use this alt text to pre-populate the pin description when a user goes to share it.
This is why you may find some Pinterest “experts” saying that you should optimize alt text for Pinterest. But this is a mistake!
While it is nice to have a fallback when you can’t control what is being shared, you absolutely should not treat your image alt text as your Pinterest description.WARNING: DO NOT treat your image alt tags like they are #Pinterest pin descriptions. You could be hurting your SEO. Click To Tweet
The alt text purpose is to describe the image as succinctly as possible for usability. They should be short, concise and only be used to describe the contents of the image.
So do not, I repeat, do not use alt text for Pinterest descriptions.
So, How Do I Optimize My Pin Descriptions?
Remember how we said that Pinterest is a search engine? Well, I’m sure you want your pins to show up when someone searches for things related to your content, right?
Well, here are a handful of tips to make sure you’re crafting the best possible Pin descriptions that help your pins show in search:
- Be Descriptive. You want to make sure you describe both what the pin image is and what the full article entails.
- Keywords are crucial. Use keywords from the article–things that people would be searching for– in the description.
- Hashtags are now a good thing. Previously, there was a debate about whether or not hashtags were good or bad on Pinterest. As of now, Pinterest has officially started supporting them. So use 3-5 hashtags in your pin descriptions to help Pinterest identify the interest categories your pin fits into.
- No URLs. Just like Google doesn’t want spammy content filling up the search results page, and has ways of detecting it, Pinterest does too. You DO NOT want to put the url in the pin description, because it should already be attached to the pin itself. If you do add the URL, this looks spammy, and undesirable for users and Pinterest’s search algorithm.
As I said before, you want pins to have great descriptions. But you can’t control what descriptions your blog visitors are using when they pin your articles, can you?
Actually, you can.
The first way is to manually add a piece of code to the image HTML. You would need to open the plain text version of your blog post, and then find the image code that looks like this:
<img src=“https://yoursite.com/wp-content/uploads/your-image.jpg” alt=“your image alt text” />
And add the
data-pin-description=“Type your Pinterest description between these quotes” code to it manually to look something like this:
<img src=“https://yoursite.com/wp-content/uploads/your-image.jpg” alt=“your image alt text” data-pin-description=“This is your Pinterest description optimized for Pinterest pinning.” />
The reason is because Pinterest’s API needs to find that specific
data-pin-description identifier to let it know, “this is the description for the pin.” And without that bit of code, Pinterest can only pull the image alt text as the description as a fallback.
But honestly… who wants to manually add description code to all their images? Am I right?
We weren’t having that. Not when we could figure out a way around it.
So, our flagship WordPress plugin, Social Warfare – Pro allows you to create a custom Pinterest description for your blog posts that will be applied to every image on the page.
Type it once.
Automagically added to all pinnable images on your page.
(And that’s just a fraction of what it’s capable of.)
If you’ve got Social Warfare – Pro installed, all you need to do is scroll below your post to find the Social Warfare Custom Options panel. In it, you will see both the Pinterest Image uploader and the Pinterest Description box.
Simply type your desired description into the box and when you Publish/Update your post that description will be pre-populated for any time a user uses your Pin button on the page.
It’s important to note that although the image looks cropped, it will show in full view when on Pinterest. This may just be a temporary glitch in Pinterest’s share window.
You’ll also notice that not only does your description get pre-populated, but we also automatically add your Pinterest username (as long as you’ve added it in the Social Warfare Settings).
No, Honestly, That’s It
Seriously, this is all you need to maximize your blog’s image SEO and Pinterest optimization.
You don’t need multiple different plugins to optimize your blog images for SEO and Pinterest. WordPress already does the SEO work, and Social Warfare – Pro handles the Pinterest optimization.
If you haven’t yet, try Social Warfare – Pro today, backed by our 45-day money-back guarantee. Love it, or your money back. No questions asked.
Now, let’s recap:
- Create a great, tall image (735×1102)
- Name your files accordingly
- Keep the file size small (use a recommended tool)
- Utilize alt text (WordPress native feature)
- Add Pin descriptions (Social Warfare – Pro FTW!)
If you make this a part of your blog post workflow, you’ll start reaping the benefits in no time. Look forward to increased traffic, which can also lead to more pinning… and the cycle continues.