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Pinterest metrics; a picture is worth a thousand visitors

As part of the ever evolving world of social media, we recently started including Pinterest into the data sets of social analytics here at Searchmetrics. It’s no secret that they’ve shot up over the last year to be one of the top networks along side of heavyweights such as Facebook, Twitter and to a lesser extent, Google Plus and LinkedIn.

But what does it mean? How does it play into things? Over the years the search marketing commnity has often taken the view that search elements such as Google Image search aren’t all that important as it’s not a core converting factor. Sure, you can get on page one with an image universal, but it didn’t generally warrant a whole lot of targeting in the average marketing campaign. Pinterest is a game changer.


I can haz revenues?

Yes, you heard me right, REVENUES. For those using Pinterest effectively they are not only driving referrals to their sites, but actually creating sales from it. In fact, I know of situations where Pinterest is indeed creating more revenues than even Google.

One of the biggest differences between Pinterest and other sharing sites is the large number of people that will follow you if they like your pins.” wrote Steve Gerenscer of Steam Driven Media, adding that “This creates a potentially huge audience for things that you find interesting. “ In talking to Steve they have indeed seen some great results (revenues) by investing time into the social platform.

You shouldn’t be spamming Pinterest, but if you engage properly, there are indeed sales to be made.

Pinterest is the new

Another interesting phenomenon is the fact that people are using Pinterest not only as a way to share images, but also as a social bookmarking tool. This means that content driven websites shouldn’t be ignoring it either. We have seen non-descript images shared by Pinners into boards with names like “SEO Reading” “Google News” and other related naming conventions.

This implies that they are indeed just sharing the articles or saving them for later. Obviously if you work harder at creating compelling imagery, it will increase the liklihood of your informational content being shared and gaining new referrals from the social graph.

Pinterest as a Bookmarking tool


Big Media; who’s got the chops?

For those familiar with Searchmetrics, you’d know we’ve a long standing reputation for comparing Panda/Penguin winners and losers as well as for the ‘freshness’ update and also playing with social data ranking correlations.

It’s fun having huge data sets.

This time around we thought it might be interesting to take some of the more well known new media outlets and get a sense of how they’re making out on Pinterest. Here’s what we came up with (data from Searchmetrics Suite Pinterest analytics);

Website Using Pin Button Pins Pins/week # on most pinned page
The New York Times NO 537,850 45,739 19,329
Los Angeles Times YES 324,848 28,567 44,105
The Wall Street Journal NO 262,262 25,140 174,682
San Francisco Chronicle NO 193,995 20,999 79,847
Chicago Sun-Times YES 164,680 7,264 156,450
The Washington Post NO 101,669 7,401 10,459
Daily News (New York) NO 71,111 5,228 6,012
USA Today NO 69,046 5,671 5,616
Chicago Tribune YES 40,733 3,759 7,364
Philadelphia Daily News YES 3,200 292 690
Newsday NO 1,551 118 54
Detroit Free Press NO 1,530 105 206
The Seattle Times YES 106 6 15


Now, as far as I am concerned, diversity is king. In looking at the Chicago Sun Times we see that a full 95% of the pins are to a single page, (and it isn’t the home page). The same issue occurs with The Wall Street Journal at 66%. At least with the WSJ I can somewhat understand it given the nature of the demographic reading the publication.

We compare that to the NYT, which has a measly 3% for the most pinned page, and you can see that they’re indeed doing a great job of getting a TON of content in front of the pinners. And what about their actual accounts on the site? We looked at that too;

  • NYT – not really pinning much, lots of followers.(no Pin button)
  • LA Times – small following, great engagement. (has Pin button)
  • WSJ – good following and engagement.(no Pin button)
  • SF Chronical – low following, low engagment.(no Pin button)
  • Chicago Sun Times – couldn’t find one. Hmmmmm (has Pin button)
  • Washington Post – weak following and egagement (no Pin button)
  • NY Daily News – very weak following and engagement (no Pin button)
  • USA Today – average following, good engagement (no Pin button)
  • Chicago Tribune – weak following, reasonable engagement.(has Pin button)
  • Philadelphia Inquirer – weak following, good engagement.(has Pin button)
  • Newsday – weak following and egagement. (no Pin button)
  • Detroit Free Press – weak following and engagement (no Pin button)
  • Seattle Times – weak following and engagement (has Pin button)

Interestingly it seems many of the accounts we looked at really haven’t grasped Pinterest yet. Surely they have social media marketers on staff no? Are they living under a rock? Again, this isn’t always about the images. It is also being used to share and bookmark articles.

Pinterest and big media


Competitive Analysis for the win

And this all plays back to my last (series) posts on competitive analysis among NFL teams. By doing some competitive analysis in your own market you can start to establish who is using the channel well and who isn’t. Start to dig in deeper and see if they have pin buttons on their site. The locations of them. How active they are engaging users on Pinterest and more.

Again, this is a great channel on many levels, not just to get people looking at pretty pictures. You can drive traffic. Drive page views and indeed, drive sales.

If you’ve ignored Pinterest because you thought it was just about sharing images, you’ve most likely missed the boat. This is indeed about far more including traffic to informational offerings and sales as well. With Google’s ongoing penchant for changing things up (Panda, Penguin, Exact Match), can you truly ignore any quality traffic source NOT named Google? Methinks not.

NOTE: something I also realized just now, is that Pinterest treats a sub-domain as being a different site. Be sure to look at that when doing your own analysis.

More Reading;


David Harry

David Harry

David Harry is Sifu at the SEO Training Dojo and the president of Reliable SEO he works mostly in a consulting capacity to large corporate teams and agencies as well. He has been writing about the world of SEO (and information retrieval) since 2005 and also does podcasts and webinars on the topic.

5 thoughts on “Pinterest metrics; a picture is worth a thousand visitors

  • Tanya McGill Freeman 2012/10/22 at 8:25 pm

    Wow – excellent points & info here. I especially appreciate …”Again, this isn’t always about the images. It is also being used to share and bookmark articles.” Great reminder for all-brilliant! Thank you.

  • Thanks Tanya. It was something I’d noticed was happening a lot on informational (news) type sites over the last while. That people were pinning them to boards that seemed like ‘reading for later’ types. Added to that was the fact that they’d pin the site logo, not the images from the post. So indeed it’s not as straight forward as some might imagine. And it’s not just the domain for the ecommerce/transactional spaces either.

  • Yeah David, really great post. But with all honesty Pinterest is not a traffic driver. A picture is not worth a thousand visitors at all. We had at a certain point a beautiful board w/ over 20,000 followers in our account which resulted in an average 100 – 150 visitors/month and many re-pins.

  • I guess it depends on the experience my friend. We’ve got known documented cases where it is indeed doing so. While it does concert poorer than say, Facebook, total sales are still higher. As with most things, situational. I would consider rethinking the engagement strategy.

  • Michael@SEO Organics 2012/11/28 at 9:05 am

    Awesome ideas!I’ve used Pinterest recently and the result were good.I’ll still be using it for it gives positive impact to my travel website.Informative post.Thanks for sharing.

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