Last Updated 29/07/2021.
For months, years even, my Pinterest traffic had been falling. I was something of a Pinterest ninja a couple of years ago, enjoying up to 1000 Page Views per day from Pinterest. Over time this Pinterest traffic has fallen to a pathetic 150 clicks per day. Was my Pinterest broken? Had I got myself a shadowban? I’d tried everything to fix it, bouncing between Tailwind, Board Booster and hand pinning alongside a meticulously created spreadsheet. My pins were good ( I thought) and I added fresh pins regularly, I had 20,000 followers and was on some of the best group boards. I owned some of the best group boards. I know SEO inside out, I own a very big travel blog, funding a family of 4 through my website and I was adding the required Pinterest hashtags, so why wasn’t Pinterest bringing me any traffic?
There was a second element to this problem, Pinterest Analytics didn’t seem to be recording the same number of clicks to my website as Google Analytics. But I finally found some answers and I hope, maybe, I’m on my way back to increasing Pinterest traffic. I’ll just say up front here that I am not selling a course. Isn’t that refreshing? My current Pinterest strategy, which has doubled Pinterest clicks lately, is at the end of the post. But my Pinterest traffic is still pitiful compared to what it was.
Pinterest Not Working?
This first part is all about getting my head around Pinterest Analytics. I think I’ve figured a few things out and you may be able to follow your Pinterest Analytics better after seeing what’s below. Unfortunately, I published this post before Pinterest changed its back end Analytics display so my screenshots are obsolete. I’m working on removing and replacing them.
The Drop In Pinterest Traffic
Below is my Pinterest traffic over the last few years. You can probably see my problem. Pinterest traffic has been falling and falling as I’ve been pinning more and more. I’ve always made Pinterest a focus and always put in a lot of effort since arrow 1, which is when I first got serious about pinning. At that stage I was hand pinning only, using the same fledgling spreadsheet I use today. You can see how quickly my Pinterest traffic took off.
In January 2016 I hit 100,000 total page views per month and 80% of that traffic was from Pinterest. After that Pinterest traffic dropped and only now, in ( this was back in November 2017 – 2019 I’m on 300,000 monthly PV), am I hitting 100,000 monthly page views again, but this time around 10% is from Pinterest, my organic search traffic is now 75% of my total. Google loves me, thankfully.
The period indicated by arrow 2 was my Pinterest peak, I had 3 pins that went viral over several months and they are still my best performers. When I first started investigating this problem I eventually gave up. Maybe it was just those 3 viral pins that caused my Pinterest surge and maybe I’d now returned to ” normal” Pinterest traffic. Hard to believe, but that was the only conclusion I could draw. If this is the case then “normal” Pinterest traffic is barely worth having.
Halfway through this Pinterest boom period ( 2) I started using Board Booster. It didn’t seem to really increase nor decrease Pinterest traffic.
In February 2017 I bought Tailwind. As you can see it didn’t help at all, traffic continued to fall.
On October 22nd 2017 I stopped using Tailwind and returned to hand pinning. Traffic did not drop at all, I continued to monitor this for a few weeks before I switched back to Board Booster again just to test my theory that pinning tools weren’t helping.
There is a marked drop in traffic, sudden and obvious, shown by arrow 3 at April 24th – 25th 2017. I put this down to a Pinterest change, nothing I did in terms of Pinning changed on that date. On this date the new Pinterest feed was introduced on my account. This didn’t happen on the same day for everyone, but I know it did for me.
I stopped using Board Booster on the 17th July 2017. There was no drop in traffic when I stopped using this pinning tool.
Just for comparison, below is my growth in Direct traffic over the same period.
The direct traffic is hard to interpret as it could come from many sources, Pinterest on mobile has been mentioned elsewhere as one of them. I don’t know if this is true or maybe was true at one time. I now have more daily direct traffic than I do from all my social media channels combined. Could this direct traffic be mostly from the Pinterest mobile app? I found data and studies suggesting this idea but Google Analytics doesn’t help me any further than this with tracking direct sources.
It’s worth noting that I do not have m.pinterest (mobile Pinterest) as a traffic source AT ALL. The post I link to above DOES show m.pinterest as a traffic source.
Pinterest Analytics Not Working?
At first glance I thought my Pinterest Analytics wasn’t working, until I realised I was looking in the wrong place. Below is my Pinterest traffic as recorded over the last 30 days in Google Analytics.
Below is Pinterest clicks for exactly the same 30 day period as above, from Pinterest Analytics. It looks all wrong, where are the 1,000 + clicks to the Thailand money post shown above? Later I realised I’d been looking in the wrong part of Pinterest Analytics.
This is where I should have been checking my Pinterest clicks in Pinterest Analytics, the figures below DO tally with Google Analytics data.
I was originally looking at numbers of clicks from box 1 below ( Your Pinterest Profile) when I should have been looking at clicks from box 3 ( Activity from my website). An easy enough mistake to make and totally my own fault. The first box only deals with clicks from pins on your own boards, the third box deals with pins from anywhere on Pinterest.
How To Check Pinterest Traffic in Google Analytics
In Google Analytics go to ” Acquistion” and then “Overview” in the left-hand menu. In the chart at the bottom of the page select ” Pinterest”.
Once you have your Pinterest data you can find out which pages your Pinterest traffic is landing on by selecting ” Secondary Dimension”. Under secondary dimension find behaviour and landing page to see a list of posts on your site that Pinterest traffic is landing on.
The secondary dimension button is useful in many ways in Google Analytics, it’s worth familiarising yourself with how it works.
Tailwind, Board Booster or Hand Pinning? Which is Best?
For me Tailwind was absolutely useless in terms of raising traffic and was by far the worst user experience. This was the first time I tried it. After that I deactivated my Tailwind account and swore I’d never use it again.
The second time I tried it, all of the bugs and speed issues miraculously resolved and now it worked faultlessly. Who knows? I don’t have a clue why this happened.
I used Board Booster for a long time and really liked the tool. Unfortunately Pinterest have forced Board Booster to shut down. It’s gone and you can no longer use it.
So, reluctantly, I went back to Tailwind after months of just not using Pinterest at all because I was so sick of it not performing.
I’ve realised that all the big pinners are on Tailwind and you’re not going to get any sort of boost from them unless you’re in their tribes. Tribes are useful. Tailwind Analytics is very useful. Still though, I’d rather hand pin if possible and just use Tailwind to span the gaps.
Also, I’ve learned from scanning through the tribe feed to repin other people’s work to my own boards, that a pin has to have certain characteristics. It needs to spell out in big bold letters what the pin is about. In the travel sector it must clearly state the country, not just the town or city. More general pins are better, countrywide rather than narrowly specific to a certain small town or attraction. Also it must be a bit spammy to get people to click. Entice them, with the words on the pin, to want to open your post.
So Pinterest is back on the up for me, finally, using a tool that I swore to never go back to. If you want to join Tailwind, do so here. It is absolutely vital to pin at the right times, globally. I’ve finally figured that out and with global travel shut downs and domestic travel being the current priority, this is make or break.
Finally! It’s on the up! I re-joined Tailwind on 12th of July and already my Pinterest traffic is increasing.
Tailwind tribes are a LOT less hassle that joining those Pinterest Facebook sharing groups and you only pin the pins from your tribes that you like. Nothing poor quality, nothing outside your niche, nothing to damage your SEO. Save your time and get better results by getting yourself into some tribes right now!
Pinterest SEO is a Nightmare and Thoughts on Pinterest SEO
Pinterest SEO often just doesn’t seem to make any sense.
I searched the word “worldschooling” in Pinterest a few days ago and several of my own pins appeared. Some were relevant but some had nothing to do with worldschooling whatsoever. The world ” worldschooling” didn’t appear in the title, description, alt tag of the image or even the post.
One idea I had to explain this is that people have pinned my pins to worldschooling boards and this is considered by Pinterest as part of the pin’s SEO.
Another theory of mine, and one that I’m seeing more and more evidence to support, is that the image itself is part of Pinterest’s SEO algorithm. If the picture looks like the thing you’re talking about, it somehow counts towards the pin’s SEO. So if the pin is of children exploring the world, even if the content is non-worldschool related, Pinterest is somehow seeing that pin as being about worldschooling. Test it out for yourself, go search a few things in Pinterest and you’ll see what I mean. Look at how visualy similar the pins that appear in your search results will be.
I’ve learnt a new trick lately, you have to help Pinterest figure out what your pin is about by initially pinning your fresh pin to the boards that most closely match the pin’s SEO. This helps Pinterest not get quite so confused by its visual SEO element. If, say, your pin and post are about Thailand with Kids, pin it to your best Thailand board, or the best travel with kids board. Also, of course, make your image LOOK like it’s about Thailand with kids.
In October 2017 Pinterest announced that hashtags were now required and like a good pinner I’ve been methodically adding them. I saw no improvement, but they say you should, so you should.
Pinterest Favours New Accounts and New Content
I have no documented evidence to support this new account theory, but as I work with new bloggers I can tell you that almost without fail, new Pinterest accounts do well at first, if the owners really decide to work hard on their Pinterest game. It’s impossible to not see this pattern and I’ve talked to many other experienced bloggers and professional social media managers who say the same thing.
It could simply be because Pinterest loves new content. Pinterest has publicly said this (April 2018). So you need to be pumping out new pins on your new and old content. If you consider that all new users’ content will all be new, this could explain a lot.
Also I know my 6 or 7 year-old account is far too bogged down in old pins with too few shares and repins. I think counteracting that is going to be hard and without Board Booster Analytics I can’t see which ones they are to delete.
Every Pinterest “Expert” Says Something Different
This is the incredibly frustrating part of Pinterest. No 2 people who claim to get good Pinterest traffic do it in the same way. Some Pinterest experts are riding the back of virals and not realising that their Pinterest strategy actually has nothing to do with their success. Some, like me, are obsessive with analysing Pinterest data and multiple Analytics sources – I can find no pattern.
I could write you a step by step guide on how to get good traffic from Google but Pinterest – nope. It’s a mystery to me still. The hours and hours I’ve poured into Pinterest and no clear pattern emerges.
No 2 pinners follow the same strategy. Pinterest is random and unpredictable. I have friends who swear by group sharing threads, others who swear by Tailwind, some only pin to Pinterest when they release new content, what works for one person may not work for another.
A Pinterest Strategy That Works in 2018
When I wrote this ( end of 2017) I saw no point in sharing my Pinterest strategy because it wasn’t working. It’s certainly improved, not massively, but things are better than they were now, in 2019.
How I Increased My Pinterest Traffic (Finally!)
It’s not a huge increase in terms of numbers, but I’ve doubled my Pinterest traffic since Christmas.
- Fresh pins, lots and lots of fresh pins, on old content and new content.
- Big fat clear text that people can read easily in tiny feeds as well as plane image pins and video pins.
- Finally solving the schedule time mystery globally.
- SEO, SEO, SEO. A makeover on my account, my boards and my pins.
- SEO based on Pinterest’s own search terms. Type your ideas into the Pinterest search bar and see what pops up.
- Tailwind scheduling of every fresh pin to every relevant board if I’m unable to be online to hand pin. I would still prefer to hand pin.
- Tailwind tribes keep my pins in the feed when I’m in the Himalayas.
- Prioritising the best pins, the ones that I know go well on Pinterest and resharing them regularly ( They are often technically the worst pins, too small etc., but they work. NOTE the old size rules have gone out of the window, square or any 1:3 ratio is now recommended by Pinterest, 600 x 900. I tried square- they flopped).
- Launching new pins in the first few days or weeks to all boards of mine and group boards they belong on with a focus on SEO of the board and power of the board. Pinning to a useless board is pretty pointless and I worry it could harm the reputation of the pinner and the pin. Tailwind Analytics is great for checking on the usefulness of boards.
- I’ve left the sharing groups and threads. Pinning other people’s non-relevant, poor-quality stuff wasn’t helping my authority as a pinner nor my SEO. Neither was hosting huge random group boards, they’re gone.
- Cleaning up my boards, removing the dross ( size of the pin hardly seems to matter by the way, some of my best pins are “too small”)
- All new pins have images that show the destination or subject clearly to help with the visual element of Pinterest SEO.
- Re-pinning the most productive pins ( as determined by Google Analytics and/or Pinterest Analytics) to any boards or group boards I have not yet pinned them to, as well as resharing often to the “power” group boards. Popular pins never seem to stop performing.
- Finding the most re-pinned versions of my pins and repinning these pre-loved pins with thousands of interactions on them already. Pinterest likes pre-loved pins more.
- Spending more time actually on Pinterest. But for me with a travel lifestyle, this is hard.
- I deleted my biggest group board full of “junk” pins. A bold step. Instead I have more niche group boards with strong SEO and smaller groups of pinners who understand that they need to keep that board strong. I’m still working on reducing my number of boards, I just couldn’t pin to over 100 different boards regularly, so I’m culling and focusing more.
Read in more detail about what’s working for me on Pinterest in June 2020 in this post.
So if, like me, Pinterest has dropped your traffic in recent months or years what’s your take on it? Why is this happening? I must admit, it’s not a massive big deal for me, my traffic grows despite social media not because of it. So what is it, has Pinterest changed so much that it’s just not useful for travel bloggers anymore? Was I doing it all wrong for years? I know the recipe bloggers still do well and I have friends in travel with huge Pinterest traffic. 2018 will see big changes as Pinterest moves more and more towards becoming a sales platform. Wouldn’t it be great to have an extra 1000 clicks per day from Pinterest again? I’ll let you know how it goes.
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