Secrets Sauce for Making Your Website More Pinterest-Friendly

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By now, you already know why you need to be on social media. Most of your customers are there, and if you can somehow ease your way into their online lives without being too sales-y about it (not an easy task, I know), you pretty much have it in the bag, as far as online marketing is concerned. Speaking of bags, there are plenty of those on a neat site called Pinterest – which, by the way, shouldn’t be ignored by anyone who’s serious about winning over customers online.

Why Pinterest in Particular?

For a site that came out only in 2010, Pinterest has offered an impressive performance. Within two years of its debut, it became the third-most popular social networking site behind Facebook and Twitter. And it’s still going strong: As of the first quarter of 2015, Pinterest managed to grow its active users by an incredible 97 percent. That’s quite the user base you can leverage for traffic – and then some.

Pinterest Grrowth Pinterest Growing

To be fair, we don’t know the actual composition of that user base. Depending on what study (or Pinterest board) you’re looking at, women make up between 70 to 80 percent of the site’s actives. It doesn’t help that Pinterest’s head honchos are mum on the subject, though they did let slip that their active male users doubled in 2014. Judging from this data, companies targeting women have the best chance of succeeding at Pinterest, though male-oriented businesses shouldn’t rule it out either.

At any rate, there’s no doubt that this social networking site has mass appeal. But why? What does it have that its competitors don’t? Let’s break down Pinterest’s most important features:

  • Beautiful visuals. The first thing you’ll notice after logging in to Pinterest is how stunning the images are.There’s no shortage of photos that’ll make you want to “ooh,” “aah” and pin them on your board for future reference.
  • Easy-to-Navigate Layout. Even with all those images bombarding them, however, users don’t feel overwhelmed. That’s because they have the option to choose “Just my pins” if, say, they’re digging up that healthy chicken recipe they pinned several months ago.
  • Collaboration. Sure, other sites allow you to share hundreds of photos, files, and what-have-yours with contacts. But Pinterest takes it a step further, and allows multiple people to work on the same board – which makes them a little more invested in the project than your average group member.
  • Focus on content, rather than users. Take note, marketers: Just because a Pinterest user chooses to follow one of your boards doesn’t mean they’ll do the same for your other boards. So if you think content is just “important” on other social networking sites, on Pinterest it’s everything.
  • Curation. Pinterest users are more “collectors” than “followers,” really. If they see something nice, they’ll pin it on their board. You have to appeal to their collector’s instinct to click with them.

Knowing these will give you a general idea on how to optimize your website for Pinterest users. As for the specifics, here they are:

See Where You’re At

The first thing you want to know is whether people are already pinning from your site.

To find out, visit this link, and substitute “yourwebsite.com” in the url with your domain name. The site will then display the most recently-pinned images for that domain. For example, if you use “homedepot.com”, you’ll see something like this:

Homedepot.com is pinterest-friendly

Here, you can see what product got pinned, who pinned it, and what board it’s on. Pretty neat, huh?

You can also sign up for Pinterest (if you haven’t already), and verify your website to gain access to Pinterest analytics. This is actually the better option, since it takes most of the guesswork out of profiling potential customers.

Oh, and one more thing: If a lot of people are pinning from your site, that’s a surefire sign you need to optimize it for Pinterest. Otherwise, you can just skip straight to the conclusion of this article, and see what I have to say there.

Have Pinnable Imagery

You might be asking: “What the heck does ‘pinnable‘ even mean?” Good question! Fortunately, science has a truckload of exact answers.

To give you an idea of what the “perfect Pinterest picture” looks like, here it is:

Perfect Pinterest Picture

Seems like your typical, artsy still life photo, doesn’t it? Well, that artsy photo was able to get 307,000 repins, 8,000 likes and 300 comments – and counting. All because it has these qualities:

  • No human faces. As we mentioned earlier, Pinterest is used to collect. If you think about it, a Pinterest collection of close-ups of real human faces is a bit unsettling, which probably explains why these types of pictures get repinned 23 percent less than the ones about things.
  • Plain or little background. The less your background stands out, the better. Specifically, keep it at or below 40 percent of the total image area. Otherwise, your repins will go down by 25 percent, or even as much as 50 percent.
  • Multiple colors. If you use a variety of colors that blend well with each other, such as grays, pinks, greens and reds, you can triple the repins on your image.
  • Red/Orange colors. Since red arouses passion and orange incites interest, the combination of these two makes users more likely to repin your image than if, say, it came in colors like blue, indigo or violet.
  • Moderate Color Saturation. Images with a 50 percent color saturation get repinned several times as much as images with color saturations on the extreme ends of the spectrum.
  • Tall Orientation. Because Pinterest has a vertical layout, vertical images naturally get more traction on the site. Also, if the aspect ratio falls between 2:3 and 4:5, that’s a plus.

By the way, you can find that perfect Pinterest picture on the Paula Deen Network, where it’s called “Aunt Peggy’s Cucumber, Tomato and Onion Salad,” so check it out!

Make Images Easy to Pin

Even if you have the most beautiful images in the world, they won’t mean squat if Pinterest users have to scramble to find the “Pin” button.In fact, adding that button can septuple repins on your images, especially if they’re on an e-commerce product or a blog post.

Let’s take example from our very own Designzzz.com. I’ll take an example from my previous article of methodologies for female-centric designs. Here’s the big bright pin button:

Pinterest Button

You don’t have to settle for boringPin It” buttons. You can also use:

  • Pinterest Pin It Button For Images. When users hover their cursor over an image, a button with the words “Pin it” will show up, allowing them to post the image directly to Pinterest.
  • jQuery Pin It Button For Images. I use this plugin on many of my sites! It is similar to the above plugin in that it adds a pin it button when you hover over an image, but you can customize the appearance and alignment of the button, as well as determine when the option appears and what text it pulls to populate the default description.

Again, it’s about making your desired actions clear to your customers. You can use this principle in other ways, like the ones we’ll discuss in the next section.

Make Your Pinterest Account Accessible

What if a customer suddenly dropped you a line, and said: “Hey, your site has really nice images. Where can I get more of those?”

Fortunately, you don’t have to manually redirect everyone who asks you this question. You can install the following plugins on your WordPress site instead:

  1. Follow Me Badges. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a big red button asking customers to follow you on Pinterest.
  2. Pinterest Pinboard Widget. This displays all your recent pins on a sidebar.
  3. Pinterest RSS Widget. With this plugin, you can pull images to a post or page, and customize them accordingly.
  4. Alpine PhotoTile for Pinterest. This is my personal favorite, since you can configure tiles in six different ways. Also, it speeds up loading times by pulling image files directly on your site, instead of sourcing them from Pinterest.

If you don’t believe that these buttons work, check out this screenshot from Home Depot:

Pinterest button example in footer

I don’t have the studies to prove it, but I’m pretty sure that contributed somewhat to the company’s 327.8k followers on Pinterest.

Apply for Rich Pins

If technology doesn’t send you running for the hills, rich pins are an awesome way to add meta information to your images. After all, your customers need some sort of context for every image you post. Rich pins fall under six categories: app, place, article, product, recipe and movie.

The NY Times exemplifies this with their board “Things to Do in NYC“:

Pinterest friendly NYTimes articles

These are article pins, which include headlines, author, and story descriptions right on the card as well as the source logo, making it easy for you to quickly pin what you’re looking for.

To apply for Rich Pins, follow the instructions on this page. The HTML might look intimidating, but once you get used to it, it’s really not that hard.

Closing Thoughts

If you want consistent, quality traffic for your website, don’t be afraid to explore every possible way to do so – especially if it’s through a high-potential site like Pinterest. The site has already caught up with Facebook and Twitter once. What’s to stop them from doing it again?

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