Pinterest Panorama

You can't deny Pinterest is a power-player in social media. Despite only launching in 2010, it's the third-most used social media site in the United States. A visually-oriented medium seems like a no-brainer for brand building and indirect marketing, but no one seems sure how best to capitalize on Pinterest's popularity.

Part of the problem lies with the search engines. No one knows how much weight Google gives Pinterest boards, or what types of boards meet with its approval. What we do know is Google responds to user interest, and right now millions of people are expressing interest in Pinterest. With this in mind, here are some common-sense strategies to optimize your Pins.

Create Unique Boards

When you create a Pin board, give it a specific, keyword-rich name. Not everyone does this. Need proof? Run a search for "Things I Love" boards. You'll find thousands of them, making the term useless for search engine optimization.

Instead of "Things I Love," give your board a name reflecting the images pinned on it. "Luxury Bathroom Accessories," "Mosquito Trap Review Images" or "Retro 1960s Fashion" are well-named boards with appropriate keywords, so those boards are more likely to show up in search engine results.

Edit Your Descriptions

Edit the description of every image on your boards. Editing gives you the opportunity to add links and descriptions to your Pins.

Links have obvious advantages. You can link to company websites, blogs, and other social media feeds. Pinterest also provides space for a 500-character description, which you can pepper with keywords. Well-written descriptions will get your Pins ranked on Google Images.

Optimize Image Names

Does your image filename give a clear indication of the image, or is it a jumble of letters and numbers like d676ewe_89hh_uyter.jpg? If it's the latter, you need to change the name.

Strings of letters and numbers tell search engine algorithms nothing about the image, and no one searches on them. Instead, use strong keywords to name the image file. Rename a picture of a chocolate-covered strawberry to chocolate-covered-strawberry.jpg.

Make Repinning Easy

As of this writing, we have no evidence Google considers likes, followers or repins when considering your Pinterest presence. Expect this to change. The search engine already considers the "social presence," or how connected a website is to social media feeds.

The number of people following your boards and repinning your images is a direct measurement of your influence on Pinterest. Chances are good Google's search algorithms will eventually reflect this. So make it easy for people to repin and follow you by adding Pinterest buttons to your website, just as you use Facebook Like and Share buttons.

Play the Pinning Game

Social media campaigns work best when companies avoid direct advertising, opting instead to increase brand reputation and start conversations with their target audience. In this respect, Pinterest is no different from Facebook.

Repin, share and comment on other people's boards. Follow boards relating to your interests and brand, and allow people to post on your own boards. Companies using Pinterest solely to advertise won't catch people's attention, and Google's canny enough to notice.

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