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Episode 138: EBT Replay – Killer Pinterest Tips and Strategies with Kate Ahl

PINTEREST STRATEGIES: Pinterest expert Kate Ahl takes us through some key points to keep in mind when we prepare to send our content through the world of Pinterest.


Be sure to listen to all of Episode 138 because Pinterest is HUGE for food bloggers and there’s lots of nuggets of wisdom to hear!


This month’s theme is PINTEREST inside the EBT community (hence the replay of this incredible episode!), so join at the member level to get all of the Pinterest goodies we’ve created for you!

Also, we are hosting a FREE 7-day Pinterest email challenge for anyone who is looking to increase Pinterest traffic and also gain insights about what your audience craves most! Sign up for this challenge today! It begins on October 12th.


Blog Title: Simple Pin Media

Social Media:

Simple Pin Media on Instagram

Simple Pin Media on Facebook

About: Kate Ahl is the owner and found of Simple Pin Media, a Pinterest management and marketing company. She helps businesses use Pinterest to reach more people. She also hosts the weekly Simple Pin Podcast for those who want to DIY your Pinterest marketing.


Takeaways from Episode #138

  • Dig into the why of who your person is because that plays into your images and how you should share your content. You will win every time if you follow what your audience wants!

  • Pictures should be 2:3, (i.e. 1000×3000, etc) with 1260 being the longest Pinterest will accept. Try text on pictures – test for engagement! Any call to action to pin your custom pin to Pinterest is good!

  • A/B Testing – upload and pin 2 pins that have one difference to the same board at the same time. Schedule them to the boards they fit on, even a day apart is fine. Check analytics in 6 weeks-2 months to see how they did.

  • Secret boards: upload raw images into a secret board. Pinterest might line you up with pie and pound cake and this clues you into their thought process and you can use this to your advantage as you design future pins. 

  • Visit Google Analytics, then go to All Traffic Acquisition Referrals and Pinterest.com. Look at your legacy pins that are bringing traffic to your site month over month. Take cues from that.

  • Video should be less than a minute. Remember video on Pinterest is just a teaser, not the entire video. You’re supposed to get them to click onto your site!
  • Be specific with board names on Pinterest. There isn’t a lot of data on hashtags and why to use them but be specific with them to. 
  • Group boards are not necessary. There’s a greater chance of re-engagement if your reader is seeing your content alone. 

  • Take an hour a month/quarterly. Take notes, see what they like, don’t like. See what pops out and then you can create your strategy. Don’t get caught up in the “right” way to do Pinterest. Take 1 strategy and tackle it for a month within Pinterest.

  • Don’t use widgets in the sidebar of your site for Pinterest. It affects your site load time. 

pinterest graphic image for killer pinterest tips and strategies

More About This Topic

We all know that we eat first with our eyes, but what we don’t realize is that having a specific style can actually help us cultivate our audience so check out Episode 016 and find out what attract clients.


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Transcript of Episode #138

Intro:

Welcome to Eat Blog Talk where food bloggers come to get their fill of the latest tips, tricks, and insights into the world of food blogging. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll provide you with the tools you need to add value to your blog. And we’ll also ensure you’re taking care of yourself, because food blogging is a demanding job. Now, please welcome your host, Megan Porta.

Megan Porta:

Food Bloggers! Hey, if you have not yet joined the new, amazing Eat Blog Talk community, you have to go do it. You will find so much value inside, including connecting with other food bloggers in a much deeper way and having access to all kinds of exclusive value, such as bonus podcast episodes and mastermind groups, and a resources and service providers directory. And so much more. Go to eatblogtalk.com for more information, and we cannot wait to see you inside. Okay, food bloggers, have you heard of Flodesk, the new big email marketing rage? This is an amazing new option for managing your email subscriber list. It is super easy to use and it comes with gorgeous, intuitive drag and drop templates. And Flodesk does not charge based on number of subscribers, so your monthly rate will stay the same from month to month. Everyone pays $38 a month, or use my affiliate link to get 50% off and pay only $19 a month. You guys, this is a fraction of the price of other email service providers, and you’ll be blown away by the beautiful and intuitive templates waiting for you inside. Visit eatblogtalk.com/resources to grab your link. Flodesk, the stunning new option for email marketing.

Megan Porta:

The episode you’re listening to today is a replay with Kate Ahl from Simple Pin Media. She shared so many incredible tips and insights into Pinterest. Kate is a wealth of knowledge on this topic. So you guys are going to find great value in this replay. Within the Eat Blog Talk community, we are putting a focus on Pinterest this month, hence the replay. So be sure to sign up at the member level, inside the community, to get access to all of the Pinterest goodies we’ve created for you. Also this month, we are doing a free, totally free for anyone, seven day Pinterest challenge. So get on the list to be a part of that if you are looking to increase your Pinterest traffic and also gain insights about what your audience craves most from you. Go to eatblogtalk.com to join the challenge. The signup is on the top banner as soon as you go over to our website and the challenge begins October 12th so be sure to sign up before then. On to Kate’s episode. I hope you find tons of value packed inside. Enjoy. Hello, food bloggers. Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, the podcast made for food bloggers, seeking value for your businesses and for your lives. Today, I will be talking to Kate Ahl from simplepinmedia.com and we will discuss Pinterest. Kate Ahl is the owner and founder of Simple Pin Media, a Pinterest management and marketing company. She helps businesses use Pinterest to reach more people. She also hosts the weekly Simple Pin Podcast for those who want to DIY their Pinterest marketing. I can’t wait to talk about this today with you Kate, cause I love Pinterest, but before we dive into it, give us a quick fun fact about yourself.

Kate Ahl:

So great. And thanks for having me here. One of the fun facts about me is that I am obsessed with garbage day. I love, love, love, throwing things away. Like they, I get so much satisfaction of throwing stuff in the garbage. I feel kind of bad about it. Cause I know like you’re, I do recycle. So we’ll say that and I do compost, but my husband will roll out the can to the end of the driveway. And I’m like, did you fill it? Is it totally full? We got to make sure it’s full. He’s like it’s full. You can’t pack anything more in it. I’m like, Oh, I bet I can. I’m going to go around, find some garbage. So I literally am obsessed with garbage day.

Megan Porta:

I can relate to you. And I think a lot of food bloggers can too. I think that’s kind of comes back to Pinterest, like recycling all the good things and getting rid of the bad things. And there’s something gratifying about having a full garbage can knowing that stuff that you don’t need can just go away from you and never come back.

Kate Ahl:

I’m always, I’m always trying to sneak things in like, what can I like throw in here? That’s not good. My friend, he’s a contractor. He has access to, you know, one of those huge dump trailers and once a year and like, Oh, can I, can you just bring that over? And I’ll just throw everything, like old backyard furniture. I mean, it’s so fun. I think my kids think I’m crazy.

Megan Porta:

My husband is like that too. He gets a, it’s called like a bagster, like those gigantic bags, at once, at least once a year. And he just shared with me that he got another one. I was like, yes, we get to throw stuff away.

Kate Ahl:

Kind of jealous.

Megan Porta:

Yes. Well, yes they are great. So I suppose we should get to Pinterest because there’s so much to discuss. I personally love Pinterest, both as a user and a food blogger. It has always been a favorite since I don’t know when exactly it rolled out, but I remember being like, this is amazing. I love this platform and the traffic that I’ve gotten from Pinterest over the years on my food blog has been incredible for my business. And I know that I am not the only food blogger who was able to say that I know it’s been huge for a lot of us. Um, and this might be a bold statement. I was thinking about this, whether or not I should say it, but I believe that in a way Pinterest is even more powerful than Google for food bloggers specifically, because of that strong visual component involved in it. People love food and the prettier food looks, the better likelihood that they are going to click over to see and make our food. And on Google, you just get like a teeny tiny glimpse of what our food looks like before clicking and on Pinterest, it’s like you get this amazing display, a visual. So it’s so different, I think. So I think it would be appropriate to start our chat off with, in my opinion, the most important element when it comes to getting traffic from Pinterest, which is those amazing Pinterest images. So Kate, can you talk to us about pin images and what things we should be keeping in mind as we build those for our recipes?

Kate Ahl:

Yeah. That and your saying was a great statement about Pinterest versus Google. And I just got done speaking at a conference and I had a meetup and there were several food bloggers. And this will tie into the images piece because I think you have to recognize your topic. Like who you’re targeting, right? Are you targeting like the at home cook or somebody who wants quick and easy and fast or somebody who wants the savia, you know, really very detailed. You’re going to go to whole foods and spend like a thousand dollars on like a spice. Right. And they love it. And I think that’s really important as you go into your photos. And one really interesting point to me, and I wonder if some of your listeners could resonate with this because it was an interesting point to me is, Oh, I can’t remember her name, but she had a blog about turmeric and she was Southeast Asian and Indian foods. And she said she actually gets more traffic from Google because she feels like her recipes are very technical because they’re different. And I thought that was just an interesting distinguisher and something to look into that if you are a food blogger that is getting more clicks from Google versus Pinterest, but I agree with you, food bloggers tend to get more from Pinterest than they do Google, dig into the why of who your person is, what are they interested in? And that plays into images. So you want your image always to be two to three. That’s what Pinterest has said forever. They haven’t changed it, two to three ratio. That could be 600 by 900, a thousand by 3000. It all adjusts to two to three on the platform. Now there was a time where people were going with longer images and Pinterest refers to those as giraffe images. And they did really good before Pinterest figured out what was going on. So you can do something like a 600 by 1260, but they’re very clear to say, if you’re going to go outside the two to three range, do not go longer than 1260. So it could be for you that 600 by 1260 works great. As opposed to a two to three. You need to do some investigative work into your analytics to see what are the images that people are clicking on. So that’s just sizing right there. The second piece is for food bloggers, alot of people are like, I hate text on images, drives me crazy. Right? I’ve taken all these beautiful photos and they don’t want texts. That is totally fine. Text is not a deal breaker if you don’t have it, but you need to really look at if you test text versus no text, which one gets more engagement. And if you find that it does get more engagement with text, you can do a couple of things. You can upload it directly to Pinterest and leave it off of your post. Or you can hide it with a plugin like tasty pins or social pug. Both are great ideas, right? It’s really just preference. There’s no trick in the book. It’s what works for your audience. Do people like with text or no text? If you’re going to use texts, we always recommend something that’s very easy to read, and numbers do well. If you’re doing a quick Roundup of something like five healthy salad dressings, the five needs to be big, right. Kind of can catch people’s eye and then continue to use that number as just the number of things that you always do. One of our clients, she uses eight all the time, does really, really well. But it’s very colorful. It’s very bright because remember your people are on their phone and they have to be able to read it because they’re wasting time on Pinterest or they’re searching for something. They want to be able to read the text. And if they can’t, well, there’s no compelling reason to click on it.

Megan Porta:

Right. Yeah. I like your idea of testing with actual numbers. I’ve never thought of that. I mean, I love that. Obviously numbers do well when you’re doing roundups, but it never occurred to me to test with like the number eight versus the number six. So that is such a fascinating idea. And I love that. Yeah. Just

Kate Ahl:

Don’t go over 10. When I see a list of like 107 Easter gifts, it’s like, Oh my gosh, I can’t, I move on. So you have to remember that your people are overwhelmed. And the way we consume media these days is very short, poppy bits, right? Like it’s, it’s not in these really intensive, long posts that you have to scroll through forever. So I think that’s why less numbers, less than 10 feel very consumable for people, it’s not overwhelming.

Megan Porta:

So I have a question about the AB testing. You mentioned doing some testing with text versus no text. You mentioned hiding one post from the feed. Is that right? Or from your board?

Kate Ahl:

Yeah. W well, not from your board, but you can do it in your post. So this is specifically for those who don’t want text anywhere on their images within their blog posts. They might hide it within the social plugin. So then when, when I come to your site and I click Pinterest, it still pops up for me.

Megan Porta:

So when you’re doing actual AB testing, whether it’s text or something else in your image, what do you recommend as far as like where to upload it from or does it matter? And then do you upload it to the same board or different boards? Or how does that go?

Kate Ahl:

Yeah, so when it comes to AB testing, like automatically people hear AB test and you’re like, Oh my gosh, I need a graph and a chart and all this other kind of stuff. So there’s a few things you can do. One is upload, um, or pin both of the pins at the same time to the same board. So what I would do is, I would take, and I have two different images for, let’s say our planner. I would add them to my Simple Pin board. And then I would schedule them out to all the boards they fit on. They might even be like a day apart or so, but I would do it in a way that like, okay, they’re all dripping out to Pinterest at the same time. Then what I can do is I can go back in six weeks or two months and look at how they did. And one example for me, it was not really an official AB test, but it was kind of a change of images over time. I had one image where it was just me on the computer talking about how to clean up Pinterest boards. Well, then we created a checklist and we took a picture of that on a desk. And that became our new image. Well, then we added it to Pinterest. So it wasn’t at the same time for us, but it was a new image. And what ended up happening is this new image quickly outranked the first image it showed up in my Google analytics more and more and more. So that’s really where you’re looking is once you add these images, what are people actually clicking on to get to your site? And you have to find that in Google analytics. So it’s, I often use the phrase too, like sometimes when we’re doing a puzzle, if we’re really down at the level and we’re looking at it, you know, straight on, like we’re flat with it, can’t really see it. But if we’re looking above it, we can kind of start to see patterns. That’s the same with Pinterest. It’s hard to get an exact science of AB testing, but to just put them out there at the same time and then go back and look at how they did is probably the best way. Don’t change the description. Either keep the description the same, but just have two different images out there and then look back at how they do. And what we found for us is that we tested it again by taking a picture of a checklist and put it in the image. And then that started getting a lot of clicks too, as well. Cause our people want to see the checklist before they downloaded it. Some food bloggers might say too that like ingredients do best in their image,s because people can engage with them. Or like the number thing, like what I just was talking about, we’ve noticed with some of our clients that this number does really well for them, so that they’re going to continue to use the number.

Megan Porta:

So really like experimenting with very little things to start and not adding new things in, like keeping the description exactly the same. If you’re doing hashtags, keeping those the same as well. And as food bloggers, we could experiment with so many different things. We could experiment with angles of our, you know, camera angles we could experiment with, I don’t know, like color of placemat or background colors, or even like certain types of dishes or, I mean, there are so many different things, but not adding too much right away just doing like little things, like maybe starting with an angle, I’m going to experiment with top view of the same dish versus 45 degree angle, and then waiting, you recommended six to eight weeks.

Kate Ahl:

I do. Yeah. I recommend that long just because it takes a while for the Pinterest to like figure out what your pin is about, showing it to people, getting it distributed. And that’s also what can happen on their promoted pins site too. It takes a while for it to get into, get the juice that needs. So it’s of the best word we say for it. And then to go back and see how it’s been distributed to people who have the same interest as what you’re talking about. People who follow you, people who have clicked on your pins and then those people who end up continuing to share that for you. It’s one of those things that you don’t, again, it’s not the hard and fast science, but you brought up a really great point that I want to pull back out. And that was, when we were at Pinterest in June of 2018, there was a woman who was presenting, who is a food blogger and Pinterest has a visual search tool. And so they’ll scan the images and they will be able to offer up the person who kind of drags their cursor over whatever’s in the image. They can give them more of that. So it works best with products. Like if I see a home picture and there’s a lamp in there, I can zoom in on the lamp and it’ll give me more. But the other thing it does is when you click on a pin, underneath you have what’s called more like this. We like to call this like the black hole of Pinterest. You know, we can kind of keep scrolling, click more, like keep scrolling. Pretty soon you don’t even know how you got there. Right. Well, what she figured out was she had this really popular pin that had a blue plate in it. So then what she did is she looked in the more like this and notice that some of the same pins were there because Pinterest is visually matching it up with that blue plate. So then she decided to take more pictures with the blue plate, kind of the same angle. And so it’s really important for you to check the more like this because it shows how Pinterest is categorizing your content. I have a colleague to an industry where she talks about how you can even upload raw images to Pinterest in a secret board, and then go to the more like this and see, is Pinterest recognizing what the image is, like there’s no description or anything like that. It’s just a raw image. And she found that like, she uploaded a pie, but it was matching up with pound cake. So it’s interesting that this visual recognition of what’s in your images also plays a really significant role, just like keywords do.

Megan Porta:

What a great strategy to use that, to kind of see what Pinterest is categorizing your content as. So, that’s really great. And the secret board recommendation too, that’s amazing. Secret boards are really cool for stuff like that. Like, nobody else has to see stuff that you’re like kind of test, like secretly testing or scoping out. Yeah. That’s something I have not experimented with much, but I need to do that more. So thanks for that. And then I was going to ask your opinion on collages or even like photos with different, I don’t know, like step by step instructions. What are your thoughts on adding more than one image per pin?

Kate Ahl:

I do like them more than one image per pin, but be really smart about why you’re doing it. A lot of times I see food bloggers doing is an up close of like the dish on a fork. And then they like zoom out of the dish in a dish, right? So it’s not, you’re not giving me anything more that’s interesting or appealing. So the process shot does one thing is it allows you to see the ingredients as you go along. And there’s a mental connection that you’re making with your person. And they go, oh yeah, I have chicken breasts, I have tomatoes, I have spinach, Oh, I can make this, right. And they instantly want to make it. So even listing, I’m having a shot with the ingredients on the counter, especially if you’re appealing to the person that’s looking last minute on Pinterest for a quick and easy recipe, or they love quick and easy recipes so they’re going to save it. I think the problem gets to be with too many images, making the main image too long. So you want to be cautious of that. You want to make sure that whatever images you add in there, people can actually see them and know what’s in them. I like the stack. You know, you can have one on the top and one on the bottom, you can have a text box in the middle and you can move it all around. I think that’s great to do too. You really have to look at in your Google analytics, if you look at, I think it’s acquisition, all traffic acquisition referrals, and then Pinterest.com. That is going to be where your like legacy pins are at, the pins that are bringing traffic to your site month over month, year over year. Look at what those images are and take some cues from that, because that will tell you what your people already like. So don’t be looking at what somebody else is making and think it’s going to work for you because what ends up happening is I say, Oh, I’m going to do a stacked image with texts in the middle. And then it completely flops for me. But when I go into my analytics, I see that, Oh, my people love single images and no text. Oh, I need to keep creating that.

Megan Porta:

Yeah. And the legacy pins is a great recommendation too. And also, when you’re doing, I’ve noticed like cooking, how tos, for example, I just did a how to cut butternut squash. So, you know, if someone is looking for that, I just figured maybe they would be like wanting to know how involved it is. And I just put a few images within the main image. So I think I had like a picture of a squash and then like above it, kind of within the image, I just did like, you know, this is pretty easy. You just have to do this like a few little instructions. And I haven’t had the time yet to go back and look to see how it did, but cooking instructions, I think would be a good one to maybe include like process shots or like this really isn’t so hard. I liked what you said too about just stacking the ingredients. Especially if you’re trying to appeal to people who want a quick, easy dinner, then they’re like, Oh, I only need three cans. This is great.

Kate Ahl:

Right. And then, you know, you have it in your fridge. I mean, most people have chicken breasts in their house. It’s, you know, it’s gross to see it raw, but it makes the connection, right? You’re like, Oh yeah, I have that. I can do that.

Megan Porta:

Yeah. It does make a connection because a lot of people are on Pinterest last minute, looking for dinner ideas. And like, I don’t want to go to the store or what can I make tonight? So I think that’s a really great idea. And this kind of goes off of photos a little bit, but I was going to ask your thoughts on pinning video and jifs too. For a long time, I was doing the video sharing from YouTube. Cause that started fairly recently and I really didn’t see much traction from those. So now I’m starting to experiment with the longer vertical videos, but I don’t have a ton of them. Are those gaining traction? And what are your thoughts on video on Pinterest?

Kate Ahl:

Yeah, we’ve heard, um, we’ve heard more that they are getting traction, but we’ve heard from some people that they’re having a tough time taking off as well. So I love video on Pinterest. It’s been a big push for them this year. I would say the main recommendations are a one to one or two to three, less than a minute is going to be best. No sound can be fine, but you can also add sound too. But we have to remember for the pinner, they’re not used to video, you know, were used to it on Facebook, but we’re not used to it on Pinterest, but they are showing videos more and more in your feed. So if you search for something like how to cut a butternut squash,, along the top of your phone is all video. So Pinterest is making a push to show it to people which we love. So when it comes to adding your own, don’t add the long form YouTube one. You’re just adding something that’s a teaser, right? So people aren’t going to consume the content on the platform, which is the best part about Pinterest. They are not trained to stay on Pinterest. They’re trained to move off the platform.

Megan Porta:

Which is why we love it so much as food bloggers

Kate Ahl:

Love it. Whereas the Facebook, they want to keep you in your ecosystem and Instagram, they want to do the same. And so when it comes to those videos, think of it as just a quick teaser, something quick and poppy to show them a quick little bit about how it works and then they’ll come over for more information. So it’s one of those things because it is so new. And again, it’s probably very unique to your audience and what those keywords are. Keep plugging away at it. Try the two to three. We have heard some really good reports on that, that it does do well. Some have it where the video is at the top and the bottom is static. Like it’s, there’s a lot of room for figuring out what works for your audience here. So definitely, definitely go for it. I always tell people, if you can do video and you know how to edit and you can add them to Pinterest, go for it. I think it’s really, really smart to do. It is still, the approval process is still done by hand, which means that it’s going to take 24 hours if not longer for your video to be approved. So don’t be surprised if there’s a wait time after you upload it.

Megan Porta:

I didn’t know that. And I do like what you’ve said up, there’s a lot of room here for, you know, experimenting. And I think there’s a lot of room for creativity too, because I’ve seen those videos that you’re talking about with kind of a static image and then a video below it or above it. And I think that’s so creative if you want to kind of stick to that two to three ratio. And there really is like, this is new. You mentioned this too Kate. People aren’t used to video. So it’s just going to take some time and keep at it. Keep introducing it. If you’re making video, why not add it to Pinterest? I would like to believe that it’s just got to take off sooner or later. I don’t know. We’ll see. Yeah,

Kate Ahl:

It does. And I think one of the biggest things I see, especially in the blogger food blogger community, is that somebody talks about what works for them. And then everybody else does it. And it might work for two or three, but the other 10 are like, this didn’t work for me. So I’m not going to do it. Don’t go that route. You have to figure out who your person is and what they like. That’s the only way you’re going to continue to grow and win. You can’t step aside and look at like, Oh, she did this so I’m going to do that. It’s almost like we’re just rabid dogs about it. Like, Oh my gosh, I’m going to go crazy. Right? Don’t do that. When it comes to video, really look, what are the views that you’re getting? Are you getting any saves on it? Are you getting any clicks on it? Follow that path. And I guarantee people who do that, they will win every single time because they figured out what works for them. And that is actually what the person who shared this tip to begin with. That’s what they did. Right. And they were like, wow, I paid attention. I did this and now my people are going crazy over it. And so really hone in on your own audience when it comes to video.

Megan Porta:

So you hit on two things there that I think are super important, important, not only in Pinterest, but everywhere on every platform. And that is figuring out who your avatar is, like really figuring out who he or she is. I’ve put a name to mine, an age to mine, interests. And I just like everything I do, whether it’s on Pinterest or not. I think about that person. And I think, is this going to benefit her? And sometimes it takes more work and like, yes, I need to do this because she wants that. And it’s kind of like a little bit delusional. Like I’m thinking about this weird person that doesn’t exist and I’m catering, catering to her needs, but it really does help me think through that, like you were saying, is this going to benefit them. And also digging into your analytics and seeing what is there? Because I always say this, there’s such gold hiding inside our analytics. And for a long time, I think a lot of us ignore, go on just kind of ignoring it. And like, we don’t need to dig in that’s technical, it’s numbers, but truly there is such gold waiting inside if you just decide to dig into those. So those were two things I think that we maybe I maybe should’ve started with that, like figure out who you’re talking to and what they really need from you.

Kate Ahl:

Yes. Good call out.

Megan Porta:

Yeah. So let’s move on to descriptions and keywords and maybe we can touch on hashtags as well. So give us your best advice on what words we should be using to describe our pins.

Kate Ahl:

So when it comes to describing your pins, do you want to write two to three sentences? I mean, you know, one to two is fine too. If you want to go to three, that’s great, but it needs to be complete sentences that describe exactly what it is the pin is about. And that can be something that you search for. You can use Google keywords, right? You can use the keywords you find on Pinterest and to do a keyword search on Pinterest. All you do is type in your keywords into the search box. And if they you’ll see an auto-populate there, if you type in words and there’s nothing, that means it’s not a popular search on Pinterest. So you could put in chicken and rice, click on that and then you’ll get easy, healthy, you know, all these other guided search boxes along the top of your screen. Those are more key words to use. So really, there’s no hard and fast formula. It’s just use the keywords that you think people will be searching. Again, very similar to Google reader friendly is SEO friendly. So put those in there. And at the end you can add, you know, three to four hashtags, if you want. We’re still looking to get more data and information about hashtags. But what we’re really seeing is that if you can match it up with the keywords that are in there and it has to be very closely related. Pinterest does tell us that. So if you’re talking about pumpkin pie, you want to use hashtag pumpkin pie or hashtag Thanksgiving if that’s also in there as well. So be very, very specific. Don’t go off the rails with this and do like hashtag Easter. That is something that Pinterest has said, do not do that. If you leave hashtags out, I’m on the line with hashtags. And here’s why. I don’t think the typical user uses them. I don’t even think they realize they’re there. And when we think of being a marketer for our specific sites, yes, we want to follow the rules of the platform. But ultimately we’re trying to tap into the regular pinner and how they use our recipes, how they use the platform to get to our recipes. So I don’t know. I think I’m having a moment where I’m like, eh, I hate hashtags, but SEO value on Pinterest. Just use two to three that match up with any keywords that you have in the description. But I can’t give you any data as to how they work or how pinners are using them because we just don’t know. So your description with the two to three sentences is the most important. If you forget hashtags, I’m not worried about it.

Megan Porta:

Hashtags, aren’t going to hurt us. You just mentioned like who uses them. Yeah. Who does use them? I don’t know. I don’t know anyone, I mean, aside from Pinterest, I can think of other ways that people use them, but inside of Pinterest, I’ve never used a hashtag to find anything.

Kate Ahl:

And none of my friends who are not in the online world, I’ll ask them like, do you use hashtags or. No.

Megan Porta:

That’s just so interesting. Yeah. Yeah. But I mean, it can’t hurt. And I like your idea to just like stick within what you have within your description. I tend to do like the general, like for example, I’ll do for a goulash recipe. If I don’t mention comfort food in my description, I do sometimes put hashtag comfort foods. So I should not be doing that.

Kate Ahl:

Say I would get more specific. I would do, like if it’s going to be bread or pasta, I think that’s more likely to have a better engagement than just comfort food.

Megan Porta:

Okay. So like video, keep doing it. And maybe sometime, or someday down the road, we’ll be like, okay, this is why I kept up with those hashtags and the videos.

Kate Ahl:

Or then Pinterest is like, we’re not using hashtags anymore. Who knows?

Megan Porta:

Well, for the longest time they didn’t have hashtags and they were like, we’re not doing it. And then it was literally like, there you go. I felt like it was overnight. They’re like, here’s hashtags. And then we’re like, okay, what do we do with these?

Kate Ahl:

They’ve made a few changes over the last couple of years. They introduced a beta program for story pins. And that felt very odd too, because it felt very much like Instagram. And I think it was their attempt to keep people on the platform. But that’s what makes Pinterest so unique is people don’t want to stay on the platform. They want to move off to what they want.

Megan Porta:

So talking about keywords, do you have recommendations for keywords within like boards and descriptions? What should we do with those?

Kate Ahl:

Yeah. For board names, those are very important. So you want to be very specific with your board names. So instead of like breakfast recipes, you want to be specific about what type of breakfast recipes. Gluten free, vegan, healthy, easy, the board name, the board description and the pin description, all match up to tell the algorithm what that, well, here’s an example. So Susie, let’s say she pins a pin and it’s on the vegan breakfast recipe board. This tells the algorithm that Susie’s interested in vegan breakfast recipes. And they’ll show Susie more pins from that board because she’s interested in it. Even though she might not follow you. Right? So that in her smart feed, in her home feed, Susie has exactly what she wants because she’s searched for it. This is why we get very specific in our names. If it was something like best blogger recipes, while the second or third pin that Susie served up, might not even be close to the first one that she liked or saved or clicked on. Right? So we want to be specific with our board names because it helps the algorithm serve up more of our content to the people who are interested in this particular topic. So for board names, three to four words, it doesn’t have to be crazy long, but it should be specific. And then board descriptions, one to two sentences, don’t put hashtags in there. They don’t highlight. They don’t matter. So just leave them off. And then we just talked about the pin description and how you do that. So those are all three of the places where you want a keyword.

Megan Porta:

What do you think about profile description? So I have like one sentence in my profile and I do have some hashtags in there. Is that worthwhile to have those?

Kate Ahl:

I would take them out. I have also added like a Bitly link there. It doesn’t hyperlink and it very few people copy it and click on it. In fact, I’m probably going to take it out for, I mean, you can leave it in there, like click on my website for like a freebie that you have, but, um, for profile descriptions, you just want to describe what it is, but you have to remember too, is that adding those words probably in your profile name is more important than your profile description. Because Pinterest, when you search for something, puts the keywords, then they put the people, then they put board suggestions. Sometimes it kind of fluctuates every once in a while. So when it comes to your profile, very few people visit it unless you call them to action to visit it, like in an email or on your site. So you just want to put your description to so that when I come onto your profile, I know what you’re about.

Megan Porta:

Yeah. And again, the hashtags aren’t going to hurt, but maybe not help either.

Kate Ahl:

Yeah. I would say in there, it’s not going to help at all. It’s just, it’s, it’s not even gonna factor into anything. The only place you want to put hashtags is in your pin description.

Megan Porta:

Um, and to kind of go along with this while we’re on the topic, are group boards a thing anymore? Are those something we should invest time into or are they dead?

Kate Ahl:

Okay? So what I tell people about group boards, cause you remember algorithm and how, you know, Susie works and all of that. Really what we want to um, really want to be focused on is where is our content going to serve people best and group boards. It used to be that you could join it. And then all of a sudden there would be a ton of people who would see your pins because it had a ton of followers. Well, what if Susie pins something from that group board? And they get served up someone else’s stuff. It’s not like we’re not going to pin other people’s stuff to our boards, but there’s a greater chance of re-engagement with our content instead of a bunch of other people’s content. I do think group boards can work only if you have a few. I recommend that it’s very much just like, I want to say 20 or 30% of your profile and then maybe the rest. All not maybe yes, for sure. The rest, all personal boards. I’m just not a big fan of group boards anymore. I think. And here’s why. Tribes, Facebook, share threads and group boards. They all work based on reciprocity. But what I’m seeing in the industry is people aren’t doing that. They’re either pretending like they’re pinning people’s stuff, they’re pinning it to a secret board. They’re pinning it to a junk board. It doesn’t fit their stuff. So the ecosystem of how it’s supposed to work, isn’t actually working. So yes, you can drop a pin in there and take off, but that’s not what it’s designed to do. So I say, if you’re not willing to participate in con, you know, adding and then, you know, adding to your boards, that whole reciprocity piece don’t have to be a part of them, don’t do it.

Megan Porta:

So there should be an element of sincerity behind all of that. A lot of people are in it for themselves. Like I want the pins. So I’m going to do very little for you. And I want everything back. And that kind of leads me to that 80 20 rule that we all followed for a really long time, that people, the experts were telling us pin 80% your content and 20% others content. Is that kind of the same?

Kate Ahl:

Pinterest had said in something like, it was some weird document that people kind of like latched on to. Right? They had said something about sharing other people’s pins could potentially be something in the algorithm. Well then in April of 2018, they came out and they were like, no, no, no, no, no. Like, don’t worry about pinning other people’s stuff. Really just focus on your stuff. That’s okay. It’s not going to dock you in the algorithm. So that gave us full freedom to where, if you have a ton of content, Pin all your content, it’s totally fine. I only pin other people’s stuff that I really want to support. I have other colleagues in the industry that I love what they’re doing, and I think they are sharing sound Pinterest advice. So I’m going to add those to my board because I just want to be really supportive of them. Not because there’s an algorithm trigger to it. You also want to be conscious of your user experience. I don’t want to come onto somebody’s board and have 10 pins in a row. Right. So you want to have variety. So it really goes to, how do you really serve your people in a way that makes them feel like you’ve curated your content and some other people’s content well. So yeah, there’s no hard and fast rule for this. There’s no hard and fast rule for the number of pins per day. It really goes back again to what we were talking about with the images piece, what’s resonating with your people. Somebody could say to you, uh, you need to pin 30 times a day. And you’re like, uh, I don’t have enough content to support that, but this seems like a rule. So I’m going to pin 30 pins a day and I’ve got to like completely blast my people. But then you pull back and you go, well, I still do really well with 10 pins a day. I’m gonna stick with that.

Megan Porta:

Yeah. What you’re saying is actually really refreshing because before it was like, Oh no, what if I am 70 30? Or what if I am doing 90 10? Am I going to get docked? Am I going to get put in Pinterest jail? Like you just always wonder if you’re going to be in trouble somehow. So it’s refreshing knowing that it really does come back to you being authentic and you being you and you serving the people who love your stuff. And really that’s like what we all want, right? We want to be ourselves. So that’s really refreshing. And I have one question to ask you this literally just popped into my head. It comes from a conference I went to a couple of years ago. It’s been probably two years now. And somebody, a bigger blogger told me there at that time that Pinterest was putting a pin limit on accounts. So I think she had said like, there’s a limit of 200,000 pins that you can create. And after you pin those, then you have to start a new account.

Kate Ahl:

Yeah. That was going around for a while. I have to double check, but I think they pulled back on that for business accounts. I think they still have it for personal accounts. But I think back in April of 2018, when Pinterest was becoming more transparent, we had a creators conference there in June. They started to hear from people because they realized the longtime pinners, Pinterest is 10 years old, right. Starting 20, you know, 2009. So they have all these pins out there, especially these power pinners too. So it’s something they have to deal with. And from what I understand, that has been lifted or increased for business accounts.

Megan Porta:

Okay, good, good to clear that up. Cause I was like, Oh no, should I like pull back?

Kate Ahl:

And remember that really started when a lot of people were using the older program board booster and they were pushing out 90 to 120 pins per day. They’re just like killing it, right? They were getting close to the limit because they were doing so many pins per day. If you’re not doing that many pins per day, you’re good. It would take a long time to hit that limit.

Megan Porta:

And what as a food blogger, what is a good number of pins or does that just vary? I mean, like you were saying before, for some it could be 30. For some, they kill it with 10. Does it just totally depend?

Kate Ahl:

It totally depends. Yeah. And it depends on how much content you have. So if we have clients who have been blogging since 2007, you know, it’s 12 years worth of content. And if they’ve posted five times a week, we can easily do 30 pins a day of different content seasonal and not even scratch the surface, right. But if you’re a food blogger that’s been around for two years, you have a hundred recipes. You can’t support 30 pins per day. So you can probably only support 10. There really is no number. And I know people really like numbers and that’s kind of the hard part with teaching Pinterest marketing, is that it, you can’t have one. Like it’s really just the algorithm doesn’t work on a number. And a lot of people take what they know about Facebook and they bring it over to Pinterest or what they know about Instagram. They bring it over to Pinterest. You can’t, like they’re very, very different platforms. So you have to go back to your person. They’re really the only thing that’s going to give you clues and looking at your content and looking at what’s resonating with them. And that’s where you really source your own strategy. That is actually, I guess, algorithm proof. If you want to call it, that is, that’s what your person wants. Keep giving them more.

Megan Porta:

You do have to dig a little bit and I think, think on it too and use your intuition a little bit. And I think a lot of people just want an answer, like you said, like give me a number, please. There has to be like Yeah. Give me that magic number and then I’ll go do it. But it actually requires a little bit of effort and thought on our end. Okay. So moving on to kind of, goals for using Pinterest, as you know, Kate, it’s so easy to get caught up in just the general commotion of social media and you know, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest. And then we get so caught up in that, that we forget what our goals really are for each individual platform. Can you help us to put some clarity on what our goals should be each time we dive into Pinterest?

Kate Ahl:

I always tell people, think of Pinterest like that funnel. We hear that term in marketing a lot like, Oh, what’s your funnel, right? But if we really think of it, like actually like a funnel you use in cooking, Pinterest is putting people into the top and they’re coming to your site and it’s our job to connect them and pull them in. Pinterest users are very bouncy. They, you know, come over, they come away, they come over, they come away and you never know when you’re going to build a lifelong reader. Right. And so I would tell people, take like an hour a month. It doesn’t really take that long. And just sit there and make notes, take a notebook paper or whatever, and make notes about what people are clicking on, what they like, what they don’t like and begin to start to have that pop out to you there. And that’s really the way to create that strategy for you, I guess.

Megan Porta:

So maybe even creating a spreadsheet for Pinterest. And I liked the way you phrase that, just taking notes, what doesn’t have to be like, okay, you need to log this amount of people. You know, you don’t have to do anything formal. Just what are you observing? And jot those down, put the date on it and then revisit in a month, like maybe the first of every month or something.

Kate Ahl:

Yeah. And you could even do quarterly if you wanted. We have, um, our collective, which is our membership community. We taught our students how to do a Google analytics deep dive quarterly. We said, just go in, make notes, look at it. Don’t, don’t get too caught up in doing it the right way, which I think is the big block for people on Pinterest, is just tell me the right way to do it. And it’s like, well, we can’t.

Megan Porta:

There’s no right way. So that kind of leads me to, do you have recommendations for someone who might be wanting to really dive into their Pinterest account and figure out what is the right thing for them? Are there courses, are there obviously you have an amazing podcast that people can listen to for free. What other resources are out there?

Kate Ahl:

Yeah, I would say, well, we do have the collective with the deep dive, that’s one. And then tailwind has some great resources within their scheduling tool. They have some great analytics there about how your boards are doing, how your pins are doing. Go look in there. And then they have great tutorials about how to use the tools that they have in there. And then Pinterest analytics is just been updated back in July. And it’s really good. Go in there and look at, um, you know, who your people are saving, what they’re saving and what boards they’re saving your pins to. Look at the names of those. And, um, just kinda, those are your basic tools right there. Google analytics, Tailwind analytics, Pinterest analytics. And looking around to see how many repins or saves things are getting seen. How many clicks, what boards, those are probably the best and just like, like, you know, make the notes and then go from there. The podcast, obviously. Tailwind has a blog too. And there are a lot of Pinterest courses out there, but what I would always tell somebody before they take a Pinterest course is one, are you a course person? Do you have time? Right? A lot of us buy courses and they just sit there. I often recommend if you’re not a course taking person, set up a consult with somebody. You can easily book a one hour. And a lot of my one hour consult calls, people walk away with like five pages of notes, but they’re able to sit in front of somebody and ask all their questions. And then if you need to book one six months later, do that as well. So, you have to evaluate the type of person that you are, and then you can also join some Facebook groups. I have a big free Facebook group where people talk a lot about Pinterest. Go search those groups for the topics that you’re looking for and go from there. But don’t try to figure it all out at once. Take like one thing and tackle it. Okay. Like this month I’m going to work on images. Okay. We’re gonna master how we feel about images. And then we’re going to work on keywords. And, and then we’re going to go to strategy after that. And usually what happens is after you figure out images and keywords, your strategy just starts to develop and strategy is different than tactics. Tactics is 30 pins. This boards all of that, strategy is what’s my goal in using Pinterest? Why are you using it in the first place? If you don’t know that, you do get caught in the tactics and your end up chasing your tail and wondering what is the right way. But if you go, I use Pinterest to get more ad income, to grow my email list and to sell affiliate products, which is going to build my business, that’s a strategy.

Megan Porta:

That was all so well said. I like your suggestion too, to just tackle one thing at a time. And I think food bloggers are terrible at that, honestly.

Kate Ahl:

Yes. Well, because we hear all these stories, right. And we’re like oh my gosh, I have to go over here.

Megan Porta:

Yeah, we do. And there are so many groups, there are amazing groups and forums that we look at all the time and we hear all of these new tactics, like you were saying, and strategies. So we want to employ them all for our own businesses, when maybe they’re not right for us. So, just focusing on that one thing, like whether it’s a photo, like what testing do I want to do this month? And just implementing that. And it’s so hard to do that because we want to see growth and we want to see growth quickly. And honestly, we’re just, we’re kind of impatient people. But you mentioned Tailwind. What are your thoughts on Tailwind? Is that a good thing to get into? I know it’s a paid service. I use it and I love it. And I also know people who don’t use it and are fine with that. Do you recommend Tailwind?

Kate Ahl:

I do. And I recommend it simply because it has great analytics and is a great productivity tool for your business. I am going to forget to schedule. I don’t want to get on my phone to schedule. I just need something that’s going to make it really easy for me. So I find that they are, their a preferred partner by Pinterest so I love that. And they stay ahead of the curve on features and resources that people need. And I appreciate that when I’m looking at a tool, they’re not going to just stay the same, but they’re going to merge and change.

Megan Porta:

It does simplify our lives in such a profound way. When you can just sit down once a week or once a month and get all of that taken care of or hand it over to a VA to do. Versus like, Oh my gosh, I have to get on Pinterest and pin all these pins today that it gets to be a lot. So it is a huge simplification for my life. I love Tailwind. So what do you think about pins that are posted from Tailwind versus directly to Pinterest? Is there a difference in engagement or is it the same?

Kate Ahl:

Nope. No difference. They look exactly the same.

Megan Porta:

Perfect. That’s exactly what I wanted to hear. Is there anything else you wanted to touch on with goals? I just have one question for you before we wrap up, but I wanted to make sure that you got through those goals first.

Kate Ahl:

No, I think the biggest thing is set your goals and don’t be distracted by other people’s goals. Because you’ll, in fact that was part of the talk that I gave last week is like, you’ll quickly leave your own party. Like, and you wouldn’t really leave 10 people in your living room. So keep focusing on those people.

Megan Porta:

I love it. Okay. My question just, it came to me in the middle of the night. I know that’s weird, but I think about food blogging all the time. So I woke up thinking about this. I’m like, Oh perfect. I’m talking to Kate today. I can ask her, go back to bed. So the thought I had was, you know, how within a blog post, some food bloggers take their actual pin and they post it within the post. So it’s a very nice vertical image that is easily pinnable from the blog. I have never done that. But what I do is I have always gone to the Pinterest developers widget builder, and I just create like a custom widget or a custom pin based on that, whatever that recipe is, that I embed into my blog post. So it has like save and then it shows you how many saves it has. And then it has all of my custom information, like my description and everything built in. So is there a preferred method? Should we be doing one or the other? Both. What are your thoughts?

Kate Ahl:

Um, no, I like that. I think you can do that. Um, the only time I tell people not to use a widget is in the sidebar. Um, they also have a custom widget that you can do with the board. Like you can pull in a board and highlight in the sidebar, but we’ve heard from several developers that that affects your site load time, because it’s trying to keep loading the top 30 pins and refresh it. So when it comes to just adding one pin in your post, that’s fine because the site is not trained to load all the data. So you can do that too. I mean, I have done that before, where I’ve tested putting a custom pin from the developer site in there. And then I’ve also not done it. And so it’s really just, if you’re seeing that you’re getting more shares from it, any call to action to share your pin, to pin it to Pinterest is always good. So whatever way you can do that and call your people to action, go for it.

Megan Porta:

So really either would be fine, kind of play around with it and see what works for you. And then I liked that you mentioned taking the widget off the sidebar because I did that fairly recently and my site speed changed pretty drastically. I was like, Oh my gosh, I’ve had that on there for years.

Kate Ahl:

I have one on my site. I created a custom one. Myanna is her name, with blog aid. She had a great tutorial online that you can watch and you can see it in the sidebar, it’s Simple Pin media, under Simplepinmedia.com/blog. I created my own with her tutorial. So it looks like it’s a Pinterest widget, but it’s not. It’s just for static images. It’s really cool. It doesn’t affect your site load time.

Megan Porta:

Okay. Well, I’ll include that information in your show notes too. That’s really great. I think a lot of people will jump over the all over that opportunity. So thank you for mentioning that too. Is there anything that we’ve missed discussing that you think we should touch on before we say goodbye, Kate?

Kate Ahl:

No. I feel like we, we went deep, which is good but I feel like we covered a lot of good stuff and have some good takeaways for people.

Megan Porta:

I have probably more notes in front of me than I’ve ever had during an interview. So yeah. Job well done for sure. Well, thank you so much for being here today and for taking the time out. I know you’re super busy and uh, we just really appreciate your insight, Kate. So thank you, thank you. Before you go. I like to ask all of my interviewees, if they would have anything they would like to share as far as a favorite quote or words of inspiration. Do you have anything to share with food bloggers today?

Kate Ahl:

Yeah. I think one thing that’s guided me a lot throughout the years has been don’t chase other people’s success. And I think that applies a lot to what we’ve talked about today, is that it’s easy for us to look at somebody else’s success and growth and say, I want that, but we’re really missing out on what’s in front of us. And there is success and growth for each one of us. It’s just going back and looking at our own page and not chasing what somebody else has. Which gets us into the comparison trap, which as we know that quote, comparison is the thief of joy. And I just think that all tumbles together and we want to make sure that we are continuing to serve our people well.

Megan Porta:

Oh, I love it. Thank you for sharing that. Kate has a list of favorite resources relating to Pinterest. These can be found on her show notes page at eatblogtalk.com/kateahl. Kate, tell my listeners the best place to find you online.

Kate Ahl:

Simplepinmedia.com. We have every resource under the sun. I feel like for Pinterest and we have a weekly Wednesday newsletter where we’re, I go super in depth onto the latest stuff that’s happening with Pinterest. So that’s the best way to begin to connect with me.

Megan Porta:

I have been reading your newsletters recently and I love them, super valuable.

Kate Ahl:

Thank you. Thank you.

Megan Porta:

So thanks again for being here, Kate, and thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you next time.

Intro:

We’re glad you could join us on this episode of Eat Blog Talk. For more resources based on today’s discussion, as well as show notes and an opportunity to be on a future episode of the show, be sure to head to Eatblogtalk.com. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll be here to feed you on Eat Blog Talk.


Megan
Megan

Megan started her food blog Pip and Ebby in 2010 and food blogging has been her full-time career since 2013. Her passion for blogging has grown into an intense desire to help fellow food bloggers find the information, insight, and community they need in order to find success.

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