Google vs. Pinterest: they’re both search engines, and we’re all using them. And for creators, they’re both ceilingless opportunities for traffic. But how are they different, and what insight can those differences give us to help creators get more traffic?
That’s what I’m diving into today on Writing From Nowhere. As a professional blogger and Pinterest coach, both Google and Pinterest hold dear places in my heart. Pinterest was how my blogging initially took off. Google was a slower project and took much longer to see a return on investment, but it was so rewarding when the traffic finally starting flowing in.
I’m sharing all of my ah-ha moments that I learned along the way to help you understand Google vs. Pinterest better, and how to use those insights to gain website traffic.
To accompany this blog post, I have a workbook to help you identify and brainstorm opportunities. Get it below.
Before we dive in, I want to mention: this article is not for step-1 SEO learners. It assumes that you have some SEO knowledge. It will help you understand the differences between Pinterest and Google and how to find opportunities for your content there.
With that being said, let’s get this party started!
Google vs. Pinterest: How To Use Their Differences To Drive Traffic
1. What People Are Searching On Google vs. Pinterest
Pinterest and Google are both search engines, but users behave differently on them. Understanding these key differences will help you have clarity on SEO and get more traffic.
Let’s start with pinners. Pinners reach for the Pinterest app to learn, plan and be inspired.
And Google users are googling, well, everything.
An example of searches that do better on Google vs. Pinterest are timely searches, or purely information based. Such as the news, whether or not the bank is open on Sunday, or what day Easter falls on this year.
Now, obviously, people are searching on Google for MUCH more than just those examples, but you see how those searches wouldn’t be fruitful on Pinterest?
Likewise, a post on spaghetti burgers, Halloween costumes for your pets or vegan paleo high tea wouldn’t necessarily be the hottest items on Google.
Let’s look at the stats of Google searches and Pinterest searches:
Google Top 10: 2020
- Google (yep)
- Yahoo (this one surprised me the most!)
- Yahoo Mail
- Google data source – and please note that this list filtered out the NSFW results
Pinterest Top 10: 2020
- Beyond binary
- Conscious consumption
- Finding balance
- Home hub
- Internationally inspired
- Pampered pets
- Responsible travel
- Space everything
- 90s rerun
- Pinterest data source
Now, those lists are obviously a little different in the way they were generated. Pinterest gave us a bird’s eye view of what people were looking for, and the Google list is uninterpreted data. But you should be able to glean something from those results.
2. Google vs. Pinterest: How Users Find Content
How users find your content and interact with it on Google vs. Pinterest can help you get more traffic and build your brand’s reach.
You know when you open the Pinterest app or web browser, how you see a bunch of random stuff that you also magically are interested in? That’s the Pinterest Smart Feed. Based on your search history, it shows you content that you may like.
Now, when you open Google, you probably just see the Google logo, or maybe a fun little illustration highlight a holiday or current event.
Google users must search to find your content. So optimizing your writing is THE way to be discovered by readers.
On the flipside, on Pinterest there are 4 ways that creators find your content:
- Searching (just like on Google)
- The Smart Feed
- Ripple exposure from repins
- Follower exposure
How to gain traction (and traffic) from all 4 of those streams can be summed up in 1 point: contribute quality content.
Quality content that leads people to repin, quality content that leads people to click through to your account and follow, quality content that Pinterest recommends to users in the Smart Feed.
Now, tackling Google is a bit different. Things like share count matter in the Google algorithm, but there’s only 1 way that people discover you on Google, and that is searching.
That means that keywording is your focus for being discovered on Google.
Of course, this is not the only piece of the puzzle. There are other underlying factors that improve your odds of being discovered on Google. Notably, your domain authority. But keyword writing is still where the magic lies in the beginning.
Keyword writing on Pinterest is also vital for discoverability, but it’s not the only focus.
3. How Users Interact With Search Results
Scrolling (Pinterest) vs. Clicking (Google)
The first page of Google has 10 organic search results (organic meaning not including the ads).
When was the last time you clicked through the second, third or fourth page in Google? Users almost never do that. To be exact, lower than one percent of searchers will click through to the second page of Google. (source)
Google users will generally only look at the first page, and if they don’t see what they want then they alter their search terms.
There’s an inherent sense of authority to that first page of Google. And the counter side, there’s an implied lack of authority to anything beyond the first page.
Pinners, on the other hand, will scroll and scroll far beyond the first 10 results, and this increases your odds of getting traffic immensely.
Of course the further up your content is in the results, the higher your odds of getting click-throughs. You need users to see your content and stop scrolling, which lies in your pin cover (the “book covers” for your blog post that attracts pinners to your content).
These key differences between Google and Pinterest tell us exactly what we need to focus on in order to get traffic from these different search engines.
4. Comparing The Return On Investment Of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
You may think that since Google and Pinterest are both search engines, the optimization may is the same, but there are some key differences.
A. SEOing Your Content For Google (Or… Maybe Not?)
SEOing your content for Google is hard work in the beginning. It takes time to learn what to do, build the muscles, and boost your ranking. It doesn’t happen overnight.
But there is a time-saving nugget that has been a lightbulb moment for a lot of my clients: Everything you write doesn’t need to be SEOed for Google.
This may sound counterintuitive, but let me give explain with an example:
One of my clients is an Instagram coach who lives in London, Most of her content is about how to use Instagram to the fullest. But her clients are primarily travelers, and many of them ask her about the best travel spots in London. So she wrote a few blog posts on London and UK travel to serve her existing bay of readers, but there is no point SEOing these pieces for Google.
Ranking for “London travel” is very difficult on Google (it has a 54 score on Keysearch). This post wasn’t written to bait in new readers – it was written to nurture and build a relationship with the people already on her site.
Another example would be a general update from a business or brand: say, a local ice cream shop sharing that they’ve changed ownership, or a blogger sharing with her readers that she had beaten cancer.
Posts like these should still have value, but this isn’t necessarily a wise use of time to SEO those pieces to rank on Google. Does that make sense?
B. SEOing Your Content For Pinterest
On the other hand, there’s nothing to lose by optimizing this type of content on Pinterest. It takes far less time and planning, and since you don’t have to be a top 10 result to get 99% of the traffic, it has higher odds of being seen, even if it’s lower ranking.
When readers search on Pinterest, they’re more interested in the person behind the website. Many readers use Pinterest to find bloggers and influencers that they want to follow and be inspired by.
Optimizing your content for Pinterest takes much less time than it does for Google, so it’s worth the time to try to get traffic. Again, I’m not getting into a how-to on this exact topic as this blog post is a comparative piece and not a how-to. But if a how-to post on SEO would help you, let me know in the comments!
Your Big Takeaway: Not everything has to being SEOed for Google and funnel huge amounts of traffic. Some content should just nurture the audience you already have.
Your Opportunity: This week, where can you nurture your existing community better, without any attention put into attracting new readers? It could be a blog post, on Instagram, your email list, your YouTube channel. Brainstorm one way to serve your existing readers.
5. Google vs. Pinterest Content Lifespan & How To Keep Your Content Alive
How To Keep Your Content Alive On Google
Google wants to direct readers to the most useful, relevant and updated posts. That last word there is key – updated. Readers clicking through to an outdated site, being annoyed and clicking back to the Google homepage empty-handed is not what Google wants.
Knowing this, your task is simple: keep your posts up-to-date.
Here is a key difference here between Google and Pinterest: Google only sees your content as “new” when it’s originally published. As we just discussed, Google likes to see updated content but it’s still seen as the same original piece.
How To Keep Your Content Alive On Pinterest
“Fresh” content on interest is an image with a URL that hasn’t been used before. So, making a new pin cover for an old piece, or adding a seasonal twist.
On Pinterest, you make pin covers for each piece – pin covers, plural. With this insightful nugget, you can drive hoards of more traffic to your site.
I’ll give you an example of my blog post on Amtrak train travel. This is an evergreen blog post reviewing Amtrak and telling people what to expect when taking the train.
For Google optimization, I used the keywords “Amtrak review,” which this piece ranks on the first page for (#3 as of today, but the positioning frequently changes).
For Pinterest optimization, I made pin covers to touch on all of seasonal angles of this blog post:
- Spring break travel
- Summer vacation travel
- Holiday travel in the winter, etc.
The blog post is always the same: an evergreen Amtrak review. But it’s relevant to people planning all different kinds of trips, whether that spring break, going home for Thanksgiving, and so on.
On Pinterest, you’re able to tap into that seasonal search traffic, whereas on Google you’re not. This small step opens you up to mountains of seasonal search traffic that you’d otherwise be missing.
And, of course, t’s still a best practice for Pinterest to keep your blog posts as updated as possible, so that you’re as useful as possible to readers.
Exercise for Google traffic: Which blog posts on your website could use a facelift? Find 3 blog posts to update with new information: text, images and videos if you have ’em to let Google know that your content isn’t stale or out of date for readers.
Exercise for Pinterest traffic: What pin covers aren’t working for you anymore? Maybe one of your very first blog posts, or just a design or photo that’s looking a little dated.
Tip: Feeling stuck with your pin cover design? Try a template in Canva and customize it. If you’re also bored with your own pictures, browse some razor-sharp free use stock photos on Unsplash.
Google vs. Pinterest Summary
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