Pinterest has become a major source of traffic that is not to be ignored- especially if some of your audience is comprised of (white, under-50, with some college education) women.
Sites that successfully garner traffic from Pinterest have images that are optimized for the site. By utilizing the tactics below, you can increase the odds that people will pin images from your site (and hence give you added visibility, a growing traffic source, and the ability to attract more of your target audience).
Share Original Images
Sharing images that you created will make a far more significant impact than sharing others’ images (anyone can do that!).
Make a point of working at least some original photos and self-produced graphics into your work. These photos need not be exclusively shared on Pinterest. If you share a vacation photo on Instagram that you realize would also make a lot of sense on your Travel Inspiration board, upload it.
Give Original Images Descriptive File Names
When uploading an original image, give it a descriptive file name, such as “diamond-necklace.jpg” instead of “IMG139593.jpg.” This makes it even more likely that pins of your image will show up in searches on Pinterest (another way to increase these odds involves including an accurate description of the image’s subject in a pin’s description).
We recommend giving images descriptive file names regardless of their destination online as doing so makes them easier for sites and search engines to serve them in relevant search results. To learn more about optimizing images for the web, visit our guide to image optimization for search engines.
Make Sure Images are Sufficiently Big
In its best practices guide for businesses, Pinterest encourages pinners to share images that are at least 600 pixels in width.
Images that are small may appear pixelated and don’t contribute to a very enjoyable user experience. Images smaller than 100 by 200 (or 200 by 100) pixels simply are not pinnable.
Go for Square or Long Images
Pins compete for attention amongst a sea of other alluring images. Do not shoot yourself in the foot by formatting images in a manner that minimizes their virtual real estate. Because images within visual Pinterest feeds have a fixed width, but not a fixed height, landscape-style images enjoy the least real-estate, whereas portrait-style images enjoy more visual prominence.
For this reason, square and long images do best on Pinterest. Long images get significantly more real estate than their square counterparts (see the screenshot to the right) even though long images are truncated after a certain length.
Make Images Alluring
When competing for attention within a never-ending feed of already-attractive images, only the most alluring images succeed. Make sure the images you pin to Pinterest (or encourage others to pin through your website) are alluring by:
- Choosing attractive colors and fonts for graphics (spend ten minutes on Pinterest and you’ll get an idea of what works well)
- Make sure photos are well lit and well framed
- Go for shots with a shallow depth of field (blurry background)
- Canva: Canva is a simple drag-and-drop, a software design that is completely online and free to use. People seem to like it: have been around for just over a year and already has 1.4 million users.
- Pinstamatic: Designed specifically for Pinterest, this free web app enables you to add captions and filters to images (as an added bonus, you can also use this app to create quote/map/date-based graphics, share images of your Twitter profile, create a Pinterest-friendly snapshot of your website, and pin Spotify tracks)
- Pixlr: Offers beginner, intermediate, and advanced editing tools online, enabling you to alter images with varying degrees of ease and control
- Pho.to: Beyond basic image editing features, Pho.to offers a wide range of collage and framing options, as well as all-in-one image fixing options that save you the time and trouble of adjusting several different elements of an image (contrast, lightness, etc.) independently
- FotoFlexer: Has very convenient photo import options (you can pull images in from sites like Facebook, Photobucket, Flickr, Picasa, and MySpace) as well as all the features you might need to make an image sufficiently Pinterest-friendly
Also consider editing your images directly from a free mobile app. Some of our favorites include:
- Instagram: The perk of using Instagram is that photos you create using the app contribute to your presence within the Instagram community
- Aviary: With tech that is used in many other photo editing apps, Aviary is easy to use and provides a wide variety of features
- Color Effects for iPhone or Android: Great if you want your Pinterest style to leverage creative, distinctive use of color, such as images that are black and white save one splash of color
- BeFunky: Offers all the effects you might need (image editing, captions, frames) through tools that utilize the perks of a touch-based interface (e.g. you swipe your finger along an image to adjust elements like saturation)
Many of these applications give you the option to add captions: something we definitely recommend doing!
Captions add context and information to an image that can increase its stand-alone value as a pin and encourage pinners to click through to the original source.
Should someone pin your photo of an apple pie from an apple pie recipe you shared on your food blog, other pinners are far more likely to click through to your recipe if the image has an attractive caption that reads “Crispy Apple Pie Recipe.” Why? This lets people know there is more information behind the pin, which might otherwise lead to a random apple pie photo someone posted on Tumblr.
Should you overlay your image with ingredients and instructions or present a series of connected progress images from your apple pie recipe, overlaying each one with simple instructions, even more people will be likely to engage with your content, as it provides full instructions right from the pin.
When adding captions as overlays to images, make sure that you do not detract from the original images’s attractiveness or make it too busy. Choose an attractive and distinctive- but readable- font.
Make Your Style Distinctive
Just because your content is pinned to Pinterest does not mean that people will come to recognize your brand or content.
- Because people who engage with pins do not necessarily click through to the original source
- Because people who pin content will not necessarily attribute you as a source in their description
- Because content you pin to a board that is directly related to your brand may be re-pinned to other boards
- Because content you pin that contains information about your site may be given a different description when it is re-pinned
- Because pins featuring your content may only be seen amongst a feed of many other pins; viewers who are just scanning will not stop to read about the origins of an image
To make it easy for your content on Pinterest to tie in more directly with your personal work and brand, distinguish your work by giving it a unique, but cohesive feel.
Some simple ways to make your content stand out from the crowd:
- Use the same, unique font or font color across all of your images’ captions
- Add a specific filter or patina to your images that gives them a recognizable theme or style
- Add an unobtrusive* and attractive watermark to your images
- Utilize a repeating visual, such as the same model in all fashion shots, a small figurine that appears in every food shot you share, or a repeating, identifying background
*It is important that any watermark you use be attractive and not disruptive. Ideally, any watermark you use will add visual appeal to your images. Large, jarring watermarks will dissuade people from pinning your content in the first place.
Create a Template that Can Be Re-Used
Should you regularly add captions to your images to make them Pinterest friendly, or should you decide to apply a distinctive style to your pins to augment their branding value, you can save a great deal of time by creating a re-usable template.
This template may be in the form of:
- A custom-made template in an image editing program populated with pre-set filters and text overlays in various layers that you can quickly apply to new images
- A specific filter-blur combination on Instagram you have memorized and always use
- Specific settings and features within one of the free online image editing websites mentioned above
- A set or background you regularly use when photographing new objects
Not everyone’s content revolves around stunning visuals, however even those who specialize in written information can still find success on Pinterest. All you have to do is exercise some willingness to play the sound bite card.
Visit Pinterest’s Quotes category and you’ll see what we mean.
All you have to do is:
- Draw a particularly insightful or powerful sentence from a post or article
- Choose a cool font and background image
- Overlay the quote over the background (making sure your text is still very readable)
- Integrate it into your posts and articles
This practice is by no means new. Many traditional print publication highlight quotes within articles to emphasize themes and insights while providing a visual break within a densely-worded layout.
While it would be great if you had original backgrounds to use behind your quotes, and while you may be able to present a better visual when working with quotes using image editing software, you do not necessarily need images, software, or expertise to create these graphical quotes.
- Quozio: Enables you to quickly enter a quote and a source, then select a style for your final image (you can also install a bookmarklet that enables you to snag and create visuals from quotes from any page online)
- Recite: Accepts one block of text (there is no separate source field) and provides some of the best-designed visual options; one major drawback is that each result includes Recite’s watermark
- Pinstamatic’s Quotes Feature: Offers several basic visual styles for quotes (which may include optional source names)
Resist the urge to share your sound bite directly from these services. Instead, download the image, upload it to the post containing the quote in question, and pin it from there. This ensures that your pin links back to your personal site and not one of these three services (another alternative is to upload the image to Pinterest directly and add a link before pinning).
Just as sentences can be made Pinterest friendly through careful use of overlays and attractive backgrounds, numerical data and research can be made pinnable when it is presented as an infographic.
- Visual.ly: While many infographic creation tools can feel initially overwhelming, Visual.ly offers simple (yet quite attractive) templates and a creation wizard that helps you pick your format, style, stylistic form, and layout.
- Piktochart: Though you have to sign in to create infographics on the site, and while not all features are free, Piktochart’s free themes work as excellent starting points and will likely suit your basic needs (as an added bonus, the drag-and-drop editing interface is very easy to use)
- Easelly: Though Easelly offers themes, one can also easily start from scratch and drag icons and other assets onto a blank, far-from-overwhelming canvas
By no means should you feel obligated to create a fancy infographic using advanced tools just so that you can increase the odds that your data-based content will be pinned. You do not have to use high tech solutions to create compelling, data-based graphics.
The following low-tech solutions may work just as well:
- Photos of napkin sketches
- Photos of whiteboard illustrations or drawings
- Photos of diagrams drawn on pavement in chalk
- Photos or scans of sketches and graphics made with pen and paper
- Photos or scans of graphs or diagrams created using paper cutouts
- A vertical, connected (in one image) series of photos (with text overlays) showing numbers indicated by hands holding up fingers or piles of beads/burgers/cupcakes/shoes/etc.
- A graph created using spreadsheet software
- A graph created using the National Center for Education’s graph generator
These approaches may help to set you apart from other infographics that follow mainstream design fads. Images with similar graphic design tend to blend together, so a photo of a napkin diagram that took all of five minutes to make and upload may actually do better than a Visual.ly graphic that took five hours to produce.
Add Pin It Buttons to Your Content
While this should go without saying, it helps to have Pin It buttons on your site- ideally as close to Pinterest-optimized images as possible. The more convenient you make the pinning process, the more likely it is to happen.
A good example of a site that has used the Pin It button well is HubPages. In addition to presenting a Pin It button that scrolls along with readers in a sidebar, Pin It buttons appear every time a reader mouses over an image, giving him/her an additional reminder that the content can be shared on Pinterest.
What’s nice about this approach is that it is not overly pushy. Large banners saying things like “SHARE THIS ON PINTEREST!” may make you look desperate and detract from the value of your content.