The SEO Benefits of Pinterest – Don't Get Excited Just Yet
Pinterest recently took the world by storm (and by complete surprise), seeming to come out of nowhere. According to Shareaholic, The social bookmarking site, which gives users the ability to share photos that they find on the web, sends more traffic to websites than Twitter...a pretty phenomenal stat considering Twitter's relative age and notoriety.
This puts Pinterest in a unique position. While seeming relatively small, it's the third biggest source of social media traffic behind Facebook and StumbleUpon. Part of this is due to the fact that the site's target demographic, women in central American states, is very different from the tech-centric culture of most other social sites.
All of this means that you're an idiot if you don't jump on Pinterest today, right? Not necessarily. As a search engine optimizer and a marketer, you'll need to weigh the pros and cons of investing in this platform. Here are a few considerations.
1. Pinterest Generates Backlinks, but They're NoFollow Backlinks
When somebody pins an image on your site, you get a link. If it that pin goes viral, you can get an enormous number of links. From an SEO standpoint, the problem is that these links are nofollow. Traditionally, this means that the links are useless when it comes to rankings.
There are reasons to believe that nofollow links from Pinterest have some value, however. At least one high profile experiment suggests that nofollow links can influence search engine rankings, and many are starting to speculate that Google is directly measuring traffic and engagement as a ranking signal, meaning that a viral image on Pinterest could boost your site's rank on Google.
Regardless of whether the links directly influence search engine rankings, traffic is traffic, and there's no reason to ignore a site that sends out more visitors than Twitter. This traffic can be leveraged in many ways, including for other parts of your SEO strategy.
2. Pinterest Can Help With Indexing
There is no doubt that a storm of links from Pinterest will get your pages indexed faster. Especially if you run a blog and leverage Google Trends, rapid indexing is a key part of your strategy. It can also help guard against duplicate content problems, ensuring that your content gets indexed before the scrapers.
3. Pins Could Send Relevance and Trust Signals
Pinterest has the potential to send relevance and trust signals. While the impact here is likely small, it's worth taking into consideration.
Pinterest users organize their photos into boards. If your photos are consistently being placed on boards with your keywords, this gives the search engines another relevance signal. What's more, if your images are pinned alongside images from established and trusted websites, that could be viewed as an indicator that your site is equally trusted.
4. Pinterest's Future Could Be Bright
Thinking a few months down the road is an important consideration when evaluating the current SEO benefits of Pinterest. The introduction of Google Plus is a clear indications that Google values social media data. Pinterest is rapidly becoming a significant source of social data, and assuming Pinterest can manage their recently publicized spam problems, Pinterest could be yet another website Google and Bing reference in their "social web" calculations.
5. Why Not?
With all of this in mind, why wouldn't you invest in Pinterest?
- The ROI of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, email marketing, and more traditional SEO is likely higher than the ROI of a Pinterest campaign.
- Like all things social, the winds shift pretty quickly. If you make a massive investment in Pinterest, you're taking a bit of a risk, as there's no guarantee Pinterest will be popular even a few months from now.
- If your company doesn't have a social media strategy, Pinterest probably isn't the place to start. Facebook sends far more traffic than Pinterest, and there are far fewer concerns about Facebook losing their influence overnight.
- Pinterest's audience is very specific. If your industry doesn't fit in with the culture of the site, you may find that investing in Pinterest has a terrible ROI.
Generally speaking, the best marketing recommendation for Pinterest or any other new social media platform is to dip your toe in the water and run a few tests. If the ROI of test Pinterest campaigns approaches that of your other established marketing tactics, great. If not? At least you can say you tried.
What are your opinions on Pinterest? Have you been able to kick off a successful Pinterest campaign?