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Pinterest is the current darling of social media, and for good reason. According to Experian Hitwise, it is the third most popular social network in the US in terms of total visits (21.5m visits in one week in January 2012, 30 fold increase vs. July 2011).

Pinterest is primarily considered part of an overall social media strategy, but whilst doing some SEO planning for a Client the other day I realised how well it could also fit within the SEO framework.

This blog gives my approach to using Pinterest to identify potential domains for link building and find relevant bloggers/influencers to build relationships with.

It’s deliberately simple because simple ideas are quicker to implement.

Step 1. Make sure you have clear targets

These will come from the standard planning you do for any SEO project with a hit list of keyword queries that you want to go after.

Why do you need targets?

Because heading into Pinterest with no clear goal and then trying to find the most useful content would be like finding a needle in a haystack.

There are so many contributors, boards and pins that you need to be able to use the search tools to refine the information and surface content relevant to specific subjects.

Step 2. Prioritise the keywords you want to build links for

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Link building is a long-term project, so you need to set realistic targets to grow quality links over time.

To get a ‘hit list’, I like to relate this back to commercial potential. My formula for doing this gives indicative data, not absolutes, so please bear this in mind. You need to calculate two potential uplifts from linking with other people:

Higher rankings leading to increased organic search traffic

Keywords you already rank for

For these you can take data from Google Analytics or other analytics tools. Look at:

  • The opportunity gap between the visits you currently get and total local monthly searches.
  • Estimate uplift in visits based on higher SERPs ranking due to improved link building.
  • Calculate the revenue uplift assuming the same average order value & conversion rate (this works best for retail e-commerce but you can use goal values for B2B sites).

Below is a snapshot of this in practice, used for a digital marketing agency (where conversion is submitted leads/consultancy bookings etc) to estimate revenue impact at keyword level for improved SEO.

This calculates the maximum revenue potential based on getting an impression for every search made for that keyword, using existing conversion rate and average order value. 

Keywords you don’t already rank for

Here you are looking for volume/value. Use tools like the Google External Keyword Tool and Google Insights to identify monthly search volumes and which of the keywords are trending (if search activity is falling off a cliff, you don’t want to go after that keyword as a link target).

You can then calculate commercial potential in one of two ways:

Where there is a close match keyword you already have data for, plug in the target keyword to the model above and use the metrics for the existing keyword.

Where there is no close match in existing data, use the top-level metrics for your organic search data (if you have used advanced segments to drill down into head/mid/long tail, use the most relevant data set).

The output

This will give you a (very rough) calculation of keyword potential. For the keywords that have the most potential, you now need to explore Pinterest to identify potential linking partners.

Prioritise keywords into High / Medium / Low:

  • High = strategically or commercially essential for the business to be highly visible in SERPs.
  • Medium = will provide commercial gain but direct financial impact lower.
  • Low = desirable to have dominance in SERPs but commercial impact will be low.

Step 3. Use Pinterest search tools to find relevant content

This is oh so simple. In the search bar, enter the keyword query you’re interested in.

Et voila, up pop all the pins that match your keyword search. You’ll need to play around with similar keyword searches to unearth the hidden gems.

Now you need to scan the Boards and People tabs to find visual matches that satisfy the criteria of what you’re looking for. As a general indicator, pins with the highest level of activity (likes, repins, comments) indicate ‘high quality’ content.

What you’re looking for is content that has a lot of social love because this indicates that the source is good quality.

Click on individual pins and look for two pieces of information:

  • Person who pinned it.
  • Referral source of the image.

Step 4. Evaluate the options and pick the ‘winners’

My definition of a ‘winner’ is a pin where either the person who pinned it represents a high quality target for SEO, or the referral website where the image comes from represent a high quality target (in the context of the keyword hit list you are targeting).

How to decide this

For people:

Assess pinners on the following criteria:

  • How popular are they on Pinterest? If they were to pin your content, what reach could it have?
  • Are they regular content contributors or are they ‘once in a while’? The more regular the better as they are more likely to build an audience.
  • How active are they on social media? What other social audiences could you tap into if they were interested in what you have to offer?
  • How good is their own website? Is it professional and would it be a positive association for your brand?

If they can tick the box for all of these criteria, this indicates that this person is worthwhile connecting with and encouraging them to use their social influence to increase the impact of your brand.

Please note, I’m not just talking about getting them to push you on Pinterest. I mean this in the wider SEO context, building proactive relationships whereby you can build links and social sharing via their web presence and audiences.

For referral websites:

Assess websites on the following criteria:

  • Is the website professional and well designed?
  • Does it get a good level of traffic? (only possible to qualify for large volume sites unless you find a web owner willing to volunteer this info).
  • Is the content relevant to your brand, products & services?
  • Would association with this website be positive for brand positioning?
  • Is there a natural fit for links to your website that would add value to the web owners and his/her visitors?

Relating this back to link building, there are certain criteria that determine whether or not a source makes a valuable link partner. A good link source:

  • Is contextually relevant.
  • Is visible to humans and search engines.
  • Provides original, high quality content.
  • Can be followed by search engines.
  • Comes from domains with good authority and trust.

Look at the direct traffic potential

This is a difficult one to gauge because free tools like Alexa only rank traffic for the top 1m websites, meaning many high potential blogs fall off the radar.

However, where you have identified a high traffic domain, you can check the data in Alexa and Google Ad Planner to see how their visits are trending.

Give each domain a traffic potential score from one (low) to five (high) based on what you can find and your ‘guestimate’ of how likely links from the domain are to drive traffic to your website.

It is logical to prioritise domains rated four or five as intelligently placed links on these are more likely to deliver traffic volume than links on websites with limited visitors.

Tip: put yourself in the shoes of the visitor. What type of person is likely to visit the website? Would they be looking to follow links to access more information? Or are they going to be a ‘in and out’ visitor?

Step 5. Get the ball rolling

This is the hardest part. You now need to give the people you want links from a genuine reason to work with you. This means:

  • Building a connection via Pinterest and their other social profiles.
  • Contributing to their communities.
  • Defining a value proposition.
  • Communicating this proposition once you have established a relationship.
  • Influencing them to increase the likelihood that they listen and respond.
  • Rewarding them for working with you.
  • Maintaining the relationship so the tumbleweed doesn’t set-in.

I’m not going to dive into persuasion techniques in this blog, I won’t be able to do them justice. For further reading, I recommend:

  1. Social Media Examiner - Cultivating better relationships through blog comments (relevant to your own blog + leaving comments on other bloggers' blogs)
  2. SEOMoz - Buildng awseome relationships
  3. Successfulblogging.com - 8 ways to buld relationships with bloggers online (simple techniques that work).

Of course the best way to get Pinterest link love is to produce beautiful visual content that other people pin for you. Once you are established on Pinterest, you can use the trust and connections to reach out. 

How would you use Pinterest to support SEO targets?

From your experience, does my blog hit the mark? Have you thought about using Pinterest as part of a link building plan? Are you already using it?

I’d be interested to hear from you and hear how you are or plan to use Pinterest to support link building and SEO, or if you think I’ve gone mad and am talking complete nonsense.

James Gurd

Published 25 June, 2012 by James Gurd

James Gurd is Owner of Digital Juggler, an ecommerce and digital marketing consultancy, and a contributor to Econsultancy.He can be found on on Twitter,  LinkedIn and Google+.

49 more posts from this author

Comments (26)

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My experience with pinterest:

I've used pinterest to optimize my site's ranking and it jumped from page 9 to #5 within 2 weeks.

I found that the seller named "pinterest", which ranked first when you search "pinterest" at Fiverr, has produced the best results on my websites. The seller pins my site with 75 different people, not sure how he did this, but it has improve my SERP's ranking. I've tried 5 other sellers who offer pinterest gigs on Fiverr but they can't improve my site's ranking. I don't know why.

Some known advantages of pinterest for seo:
- Google loves social media signal.
- Each pin is considered as 3 inbound links.
- Links and images from pinterest are dofollow!

over 4 years ago


Annabel Candy, Successful Blogging

Hi James,

You've covered all the bases here and thank you so much for linking to Srinivas Rao's guest post on Successful Blogging about building relationships online.

It's so crucial and yet so many people skip it completely. I get so many requests for guest posts on my blog, reviews or mentions of products of course I can't give my time to strangers. I do my best to help those bloggers within my circle who I've known (often) for years and trust.

Great to meet you here and am off to connect with you on Twitter now - it's still my favourite social media outpost:)

over 4 years ago


Michael Field

James, superb insight into the way you utilise Pinterest. I've found it difficult to gauge a targeted audience at times, but this certainly gives me food for thought in the way I can approach things from now on. All in all, it's an exciting platform to be a part of and I really look forward to what the future of Pinterest holds both personally and for brand marketing.

over 4 years ago



Hi James, pretty good article, I'm still not sure on how profitable a source could be, I mean how could we evaluate the value of the links our partner is happy to share and therefor offer them a fair offer in exchange.



over 4 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Morning all,

Thanks for the comments.

@Annabel - it would be great to pick up the discussion outside this blog about outreach techniques. I'm certainly not a specialist in this area and would welcome your advice/opinions.

For me, it's like Affiliate programs. It's all about the people. Results come from good relationships, not lazy marketing. Show people you get what they do and want to work with them, then you'll (usually) get a more positive response. Allegedly, he added:)

@Michael - glad you liked the info and hope that it helps you get more value from using Pinterest. Please connect with me on Twitter if you haven't already (@jamesgurd) and keep me updated with how you get on.

@Nico - thanks for the question. There is no 100% accurate way of valuing potential links. The model I suggest gives you a guestimation. You have to know what the value of the traffic to your website is - what conversions are you driving and what value do these add to your business? Then you relate back to source domains and think about how well their customers would fit your target audience. Usually it's a learning curve - with no history around which to base numbers, you identify the top priority link partners, connect with them, get something running and do the analysis. You'll soon learn what value you get.

And don't think that you have to offer financial value to people you want to link from. Value means so many things - for a blogger, it could be exclusive previews that he/she can write about and seem ahead of the competition, or competitions & give-aways that add value to their audience. The best way to understand value is to ask people - "I really like what you do and we'd love to work with you - what could we do for you in return?".


over 4 years ago


Michael Crabtree

James, very interesting article, though it would be good to get your views on how the quality of photographs will affect people looking at your page - when you get to step 3 you will see a wealth of pins and it is a question of whether a strong picture will attract the attention of the browser. Also, how much captioning the picture in the IPTC data will increase the possibility of the link/pin improving the SEO for he pin?

over 4 years ago

Tom Howlett

Tom Howlett, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai

I think if you aim to regularly keep your Pinterest profile updated, focus on content that is shareable and participate within the Pinterest world it can be beneficial in the long run.

Definitely a good platform to increase your online presence within your industry.

over 4 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Thanks for the new comments.

@Michael - I can't validate my opinion with facts here but I'd say image quality is hugely important. Poor quality images have proven to have a negative impact on e-commerce conversion, so I think it's safe to assume that a poor quality image won't attract the viewer as much as a high quality one, leading to fewer clicks. As a website owner looking for prospective link partners, I wouldn't be reassured that someone is happy to post bad images - what quality of content would they then surround my content with?

Re SEO for the pin, I don't think pins should be thought of in terms of direct SEO. Any SEO benefit is a side-effect of using quality content - the aim is to engage through compelling visuals and stories. That said, you should use all possible data formats to append relevant keywords to describe what it is you're adding. Then if those data formats have an influence on SEO, box ticked.

@Tom - thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think you're right and the same thinking applies to Pinterest as any social channel - make it relevant. If you're relevant, people are more likely to pay attention and share what you've pinned.


over 4 years ago

Graeme Benge

Graeme Benge, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai

I like how Pinterest (at the moment) is in the main a real soft sell platform for brands. The images take the lead for capturing a consumers appetite for a product more so than a pitch. Can imagine this changing but I wonder if there are many brands that had their eyes opened to how people perceive them.

over 4 years ago

Alec Sharratt

Alec Sharratt, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai

Thanks for the nice post. I can some other Koozai guys have posted here to, we use Pinterest for link building and when you foster a good account for a client, keep it updated with new images its easy to get them shared around, repinned etc. Absolutely great site for general use as well as link building. Love it!

over 4 years ago



Hi James,

Informative post, thanks. Building relationships is the way to go and something recently covered by UK agency Distilled. For me Pinterest is isn't currently generating much traffic. Despite some use of keywords, good descriptions, link in the description, repinning and likeing other peoples pins that relate to my subject matter.

I will go through the steps you have covered with more vigour and watch my analytics carefully.

over 4 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Afternoon all,

Thanks for the additional comments.

@Alec - care to share any specific Client examples, so we can whet our appetite and check them out on Pinterest?

@Gareth - glad to hear your getting traction with Pinterest. Please share with us what you have found to get the most impact in relation to shares, repins etc.

Has everyone seen this blog on how Uniqlo has set the bar for creative innovation on Pinterest?


I highly recommend reading it and checking out Uniqlo - great example of the potential impact of content.


over 4 years ago


Tyler Robertson

Nice post James. I agree Pinterest is currently a really nice way for Small Business Bloggers to reach and network with others for link building. It's like a cocktail party online. As long as you know not to take in too much and provide some value to the conversation in return you came come away with some valuable relationships.

over 4 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Tyler & Gene,

Thanks for joining in the discussion.

Glad you found the blog interesting. Please feel free to share your experiences and any learning you've gained from using Pinterest.

I've barely scratched the surface of it's potential yet.


over 4 years ago



Hi everyone, it's my first go to see at this website, and paragraph is actually fruitful for me, keep up posting such articles.

about 4 years ago



Quality articles is the crucial to invite the visitors to visit the web site, that's what this site is providing.

about 4 years ago



There's certainly a great deal to learn about this subject. I really like all of the points you made.

about 4 years ago


Fiverr alternative

nice post but i prefer gigserr.com for link building.

about 4 years ago



Yes! Finally someone writes about greek dishes.

about 4 years ago



Thanks for such a good article, learnt a little from comments, but sure most will learn more.

about 4 years ago


The Flying Couponer

Merci beaucoup! Amazing article!

almost 4 years ago



I have started using Pinterest recently and have been amazed at the results. Although my own website receives a trickle of traffic, one of the customers to whom I had recommeded the site to have already started to receive significant traffic within the first month of using it.

almost 4 years ago



Thanks for sharing great ideas with us.fine tips for link building. iam using this information.

almost 4 years ago



My family always say that I am killing my time here at net, but I know I am
getting know-how daily by reading such pleasant content.

almost 4 years ago



Fastidious replies in return of this difficulty with real arguments and describing the whole thing
concerning that.

over 3 years ago


FODUU Website design, Website design company at foduu

Excellent post, Matt! I really appreciate the specific step by step instructions on how to implement getting backlinks.

over 1 year ago

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