September 5, 2019
Ask a group of marketers and SEOs what their least favorite part of SEO is and you are all but guaranteed to hear 'link building'.
Link building is the practice of obtaining backlinks from other websites. Backlinks are one of the most influential and valuable ranking factors and as a result they are not easy to come by.
Link building conjures up visions of endless emails requesting backlinks, payments without any benefit, and more often than not - being ignored and going nowhere.
It doesn't have to be that way though. In fact, you've got a secret weapon in your link building strategy: Pinterest.
We've written on some of the big social media sites, now it's time to write on one you might not have thought to use. We're talking about Pinterest. Pinterest is another form of social media that bloggers can leverage to drive interaction on their website. With more than 100M active users, Pinterest’s unique features can allow you to engage with your readership in exciting ways. So now let's get down to it: how you can use Pinterest to boost your blog.
Pinterest was launched in 2010 as a visual social network - it allows people to save images, or 'pins', in visual boards.
Remember those cork-boards everyone had in college with pictures from high school and spring break? Imagine that but electronic and you've got a good idea of what Pinterest does.
Pinterest has tons of content. From fitness to finance there are pins for just about anything. While they are best known for food/DIY/fashion/fitness content don't let that keep you away - you'd be surprised by how diverse their platform is.
Like any other social platform you'd be tempted just to leverage Pinterest to share your own content. But there is limited link building potential there. Sure, sharing content is helpful but social media sites automatically set links as nofolllw, meaning little SEO benefit (also called link juice) gets passed through.
Instead, I've got a link building strategy that is a bit more involved and can present a much bigger payoff.
When it comes to link building, Pinterest is an extremely powerful tool.
This is because of one simple feature: you can search any URL that has been shared on Pinterest, see who has shared it previously, and send them a direct message.
Not following yet?
Say we want to go after Moz. They've got a pretty good guide up on their site, 'https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo' which ranks for the keyword 'guide to seo'. I've got a guide to SEO that I wrote and I think it's pretty darn good. Maybe even better, but I'm biased.
'Guide to SEO' is a damn good keyword, and Moz has a ton of authority so overtaking them will be hard. Heck, getting on the first page of Google will be hard.
Normally I optimize the post as much as possible and then launch a campaign around it. Maybe I'd send it out via email, share it across social, possibly even run an ad to drum up some interest.
Getting backlinks organically isn't going to happen, so I'd have to do manual outreach. Gross. But remember, Pinterest makes this outreach super easy.
Plug in the competitor URL that you want to overtake, in this case it's Moz's guide to SEO. Suddenly, dozens of pins appear - even for something as obscure and somewhat boring as a guide to SEO has been shared a bunch across Pinterest.
Browse the pins and click on the ones you like, this will open the pin in a popup which includes more content, the link, and the information about the person who shared it.
This is where Pinterest is unique from other social networks. You can look up any URL and with ease find the individuals who have shared it. This brings you right to the doorstep of people in your niche consuming similar content, and they might be receptive to a well-crafted pitch from you.
One of the hardest parts of link building, or outreach in general, is targeting. Outreach is by definition obtrusive. You are reaching out into someone else's world, which can make some people feel uncomfortable (especially us inbound marketers). Thanks to Pinterest, targeted outreach is. a breeze so you can feel less guilty cold DMing someone.
Once you've found a 'pinner' you feel is a good match it's time to start a dialogue with them.
First, pin your piece of content that you want to share, then open up a DM with the person you want to share your content with.
Don't jump right in begging them to read your post. Like the golden rule says, we should aim to treat others as we want to be treated. Remember, you are reaching out to them so the burden falls on you to add value.
Here's a sample outreach email to get you started, following the theme of our Moz example our email might look a bit like this:
I came across your pin sharing Moz's SEO getting started guide, you've got a lot of great SEO content on your board! Since you enjoyed their guide so much I thought you would enjoy this pin sharing a ultimate guide to SEO for 2020 ebook.
It's short, sweet, and to the point. Ideally you could even add a bit more personalization - maybe a commonality that you share, or a specific insight from their board or website. Anything to pique their interest and keep them reading.
You can even share your pin directly in your DM so they can access it straight from the message.
Now, this isn't exactly link building... yet. But it could turn into something more. They may share your pin, or link to you as a source in a piece of content - and all from a simple Pinterest hack and a well-crafted message.
No one wants to deal with a robot, so don't be one. Effective outreach is contextual and human. It builds a connection and can transform a cold connection into a warm relationship.
You'll be tempted to reach out to as many people as possible. Cold outreach is a numbers game after all, right? Resist that urge. Instead, be as targeted with your outreach as possible. Yes, cold outreach is a numbers game but 100 crappy DMs will not be as effective as 25 highly targeted ones. Yes, 25 may just yield a handful of good leads... but so will 100 crappy DMs.
Good outreach adds value.
Strangers don't want to do you favors. Most people barely want to help their friends move - why would they read your blog post, let alone put their reputation at stake by sharing it? Add value from the get go and you'll see returns in your outreach. Otherwise, you stand a good chance at being ignored.
See, link building doesn't have to be hard.
Even a site like Pinterest can provide an effective platform for outreach and relationship building to earn links and brand recognition.
If you have not considered Pinterest as a worthwhile social media site, do so now. It may be a great opportunity to engage with a broader readership and interact with other bloggers in a less formal way than more traditional forms of outreach.