Have you noticed your traffic from Pinterest has taken a nosedive? Usually changes (positive AND negative) of this nature indicate changes in the Pinterest algorithm.
Maybe you haven't noticed. I've been pretty removed from Google Analytics recently (I know, right?) that I didn't notice anything until I heard people asking questions in Facebook groups.
So, I took a look at my own Pinterest referral traffic.
I measured my traffic from February 1 2016 to February 8 2016, then compared that against the last week in January.
I was expecting to find that my traffic had dropped, since that seemed to be the common theme among people asking questions.
And it did.
The Pinterest Algorithm Change
Here's what my traffic comparison looked like (to get here yourself, go to Acquisition–>All Traffic–>Referrals, and click on the Pinterest link):
The orange line is the last week in January, and the blue line is the first week in February.
Now, I haven't been posting as often as I'd like, so in a vacuum (aka without having other blogger friends), I would chalk up the drop to that, and start posting more regularly.
But it is a BIG drop, as the chart tells me when I scroll:
YIKES! Almost 27%? In a week?
That, combined with the knowledge that other people are going through this very same thing, means it's not me, it's Pinterest.
Why I'm Happy the Algorithm Changed
Look, losing more than a quarter of your traffic from your top social referrer isn't going to make anyone's day. But remember: Pinterest, like all the other social networks, changes their algorithm to improve user experience and that's ultimately what we want.
A better user experience for Pinterest users means more quality traffic headed your way, provided you do things the way Pinterest wants.
Now, how do we figure out what, exactly, Pinterest wants?
Pinterest Wants Popular Pins: How to Make Yours Popular
Okay, because we know that Pinterest wants to show their users the most relevant content, and we know they like popular content, we want their robot to know that everything we pin is popular.
How do we do that? Two ways:
1. Delete Pins That No Longer Represent Your Brand
Your pins look awesome, dear. How do I know? Because mine used to look like giant pieces of internet poop, and since I've been creating pins (for myself and others), I've gotten better. I am proud of how far I've come, and I definitely don't want to show my viewers my humble beginnings. So, I'm going to go through and delete all the old pins that don't have the “look” I'm going for, and I think you should, too.
2. Repin Strategically
Let's say you pin a post about… oh, I don't know… the Pinterest algorithm change. You have your board where you pin all the content from your website, right? Then, you pin the article to your relevant group boards. Now, instead of hitting the “pin” button on your website, pin it once, then from Pinterest repin it to your other boards.
That way, you're increasing the number of times that same pin gets repinned, which is telling Pinterest how popular your pins are… at least, how popular they are with you.
Follow the 80/20 Rule
Just like real life, Pinterest does not want to hear you talk about yourself all the time. So, for every post of yours that you pin, pin at least five other pins from content that does not belong to you.
That way, you're showing Pinterest your activity, your level of engagement, and what a good dinner party guest you are.
In Catapult: Pinterest Strategy for Bloggers, the first thing we recommend is pinning 30 things (primarily not yours) to your different boards, as well as following ten people. We are telling our students to do this every single day.
You should, too.
I don't know the math behind it, but I do know there's a strong correlation between how engaged you are with other people's content and how much your own content gets shown to your followers.
Consider Boosting a Pin
I haven't experimented with Pinterest ads, but I think it stands to reason that since they're taking away some (a lot!) of our free traffic, we could counter those effects by “paying to play” so to speak.
The costs are low, and now's a great time to see if it will make an impact on your traffic. If it does, it'll be as obvious as my Google Analytics snapshot above. I'll experiment with boosting pins in the weeks and months to come, so I'll keep you posted.
Remember, This is Pinterest's Sandbox
It's easy to get frustrated with a social network that changes the rules. I still remember two years ago how mad people got about Facebook's algorithm changing.
Some bloggers lost half their revenue, seemingly overnight.
I hope you haven't lost any money.
But let this update serve as a reminder: this is Pinterest's sandbox, and they're allowed to change the rules as often as they want.
That's why I want everyone to buy their own domains.
See, For Profit Blogging is my sandbox and I get to decide exactly what goes here. I'm allowed to share my toys in other people's sandboxes, but I'm not allowed to decide how the game is played when I'm not here.
So, my advice?
Delete some pins, repin the same pin several times to give it a number bigger than zero, and think about paying to play.
And, as always, keep moving onward and upward.
Cream rises to the top.