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How to Search Engine Optimize Your Pinterest Page

SEO for Pinterest I’ve noticed that Pinterest isn’t just dominating the social media scene, but it’s starting to dominate quite a few of Google’s search engine results.

Many brands and online marketers are missing the opportunity to rank high for long-tail keywords through the use of Pinterest.

What are long tail keywords? I’m going borrow the definition of a long tail keyword from an article from Search Engine Watch:

Essentially, long-tail keywords are less popular keywords because they have less search volume and less competition to rank for. Consider the following two examples: “home remedies for bed bugs” or “how to get rid of depression.” These are each considered long-tail keywords as compared to trying to rank for the much more competitive search terms “bed bugs” or “depression”.

Why would you want to use Pinterest to rank higher for keywords?

Some long tail keywords may have low competition but your website may be new and find it hard to compete for them still. The good news is that you can piggy back off of Pinterest since it is a strong domain authority site.

A strong domain authority allows for pages to show up higher on search results for relevant searches. This gives your business more visibility and higher chances of people clicking on your Pinterest. If you have some great visual content on that particular board, then it will help drive web traffic to your business website or e-commerce site.

How do you exactly use Pinterest to rank higher for the keywords you want? Here are three tactics for marketers that want to get their Pinterest page, and boards, to rank higher in search engine results.

1) Name Your Boards with Long Tail Keywords

If there’s a long tail keyword that you would like to rank well for in Google, consider naming your board with that particular keyword without sacrificing the brand.

For example the keyword, funny advertisements, has an estimated global search on Google of about 2,900 times a month for that exact term. When I type in that keyword on Google, there is only one Pinterest board specifically titled as “Funny Advertisements” that shows up on the first page of results. At the time of this writing, it was the only Pinterest board that uses that exact keyword, which is why it ranked so high. There was no competition from other pinners.

The exact url of that board looks like this:

pinterest.com/appltncre8ve/funny-advertisements

With the board containing the keyword and also having low competition, that specific Pinterest board is on the first page of Google. When I searched for it, it was ranked number 6 in the first page of results. And yes that’s my article on 17 Funny Advertisements that’s ranked number 4.

PinterestSEO

Pinterest allows you to create up to 350 boards, though I don’t recommend you maxing the number of boards for the sake of SEO. I would suggest no more than 20 to start off since it can be time consuming to manage all. This allows you to compete in Google for 20 + additional keywords that may be harder for your own website to compete with.

2) Ensure Your Board Descriptions are Keyword Rich

One of the biggest pet peeves I have about brands that use Pinterest is their sheer laziness to fill in the description of their Pinterest boards.

This is one of the Pinterset boards from Starbucks titled, “Real Food.” From an SEO perspective, titling the board Real Food isn’t the best since most people are not searching up the term for real food. However, the name of the board needs to be aligned with a company’s brand, and it’s understandable they titled it Real Food.

What’s an absolutely travesty is that the description of the board is left blank. This can easily be corrected when you click on the edit button on the board, and to fill out the description with keywords. To help with their search engine optimization, Starbucks could have stated in the description:

“Delicious Starbucks pastries, sandwiches, and food that we love. Our board also contains some of our favourite foods and pastries that we would love to try and eat.”

Starbucks Pinterest

This would have helped their Pinterest board be found for keywords such as Starbucks pastries, Starbucks sandwiches, and Starbucks foods on Google and other search engines.

Starbucks isn’t the only one that’s guilty of this, many social media blogs tout how great Whole Foods is using their Pinterest page, which they are when it comes to posting visual content, but when I clicked on four random boards of theirs, not one single one of them had their descriptions filled in.

Always fill in the descriptions of your Pinterest boards with keywords that your business wants to rank for.

3)Put Keywords Into Pin Descriptions

This technique most likely isn’t going to get you anywhere close to the first page of Google results for keywords, though it is possible depending on the search term, but it is still an excellent practice as it can help your Pinterest boards show up on the second and third page of Google search results for keywords.

Ensure that keywords that you want to rank for are in the pin’s description, as Google search engines do crawl the descriptions of pins, and takes it into consideration for search results. The website that shows up in the search engines for those pin descriptions will not lead directly to that specific pin’s address, instead it will be list the Pinterest Board’s url on which the pin is located.

A specific pin’s url will look like this:
http://pinterest.com/pin/246290673344396313/

And a board address looks like this:
http://pinterest.com/mcngmarketing/pinterest-tips/

Here’s an example of how this works. I typed into Google the following words, “Funny pins on Pinterest.”

Here are the first six results that showed up for my search:
Pinterest search

The determining factor that the Pinterset board, 1000 repins, showed up on the first page of the results because of a single pin’s description. The actual board name doesn’t contain any of the search words, nor the actual description of the board itself, but because one of the pins had contained the words “Funny” in it, it was able to show up as result number 6 for the search words “Funny pins on Pinterest.”

Funny Pins on Pitnerest

In order to maximize your Pinterest page and boards on Google, ensure that your social media marketing team isn’t taking short cuts. Have the boards titled after long tail keywords that your organization wants to rank well for, as well as ensuring that descriptions are keyword rich.

Do you have any suggestions or tips on how to rank your Pinterest page higher in search engines?

How I used Gamification to Engage Employees and Increase Sales by 30%

Nintendo Monopoly I first heard of the concept of gamification from Yu Kai Chou, the former C.E.O of RewardMe and one of the most amazing speakers and analysts in the world of gamification today.

Before I knew what gamification was, I was using it to engage my employees at Starbucks to increase increase sales by over 30% from one year over the next during the recession.

In this blog post I explain what gamification is, and the type of gaming mechanics that were used to help engage employees and increase loyalty among consumers to the cafe, and increase this food and beverage establishment’s profits.

What is Gamification?

I’m going to steal the definition of gamification from Bunchball. Gamification is integrating gaming mechanics into your website, service, product, community, content or campaign to drive participation.

I’ll be explaining 8 gaming mechanics I used to motivate my employees.

Why do People Play Games?

There are some fundamental reasons that people play games they include but not limited to:

To earn rewards (whether it’s intrinsic or extrinsic).
For status,bragging rights, and a sense of power.
A feeling of accomplishment or achievement.
A form of self expression.
For the competition.
Altruism (or to belong and help out a community).

I used these reasons why people play games and applied them to my own staff.

How I Used Gamification to Improve Morale and Sales

I was able to use gamification to improve employee morale at Starbucks, which was one of the vital factors that led to a 30% increase in sales within one year after the recession had hit in 2008.

Here is how I did it.

1) In Games They Make you Feel Good ASAP

Have you noticed that in the game of Mario that the first thing you get is a large mushroom after bumping a brick? Or that you get a badge when you check in on Foursquare or Yelp’s mobile app? When we earn rewards (virtual or real), especially initially, dopamine (those chemicals that make us feel good) is released into our brains. Just the anticipation of a reward can release dopamine.

New employees can often be nervous in coming into a new workplace, and that nervousness and insecurity can often be detected by customers and potentially hurt customer service. (It’s about perception after all. If the business looks incompetent, then there’s a chance you’ve lost the customer for life.)

At the end of the employee’s first day I would ask all senior staff to write a nice thank you note and hand it to the new employee to read. The employee would then be expected to post it on the wall of “Thank Yous.” This way employee feels rewarded right away for her first day on the job and dopamine is released to have good associations with the work place.

2)Create Challenges and Obstacles

In the world of video games, there are always going to be obstacles. No matter what game you play there needs to be a challenge that the player can rise up and overcome. This is no different from employee engagement.

I knew that one of the best ways to keep customers loyal to our specific Starbucks was by having all our staff comfortable having conversations with customers. This was very essential to boosting sales. When I took over, many of the staff were often giving plain service, “Hi, what would you like? Thanks so much, enjoy your latte.” How boring was that?

I challenged each and everyone, whether they were new or veterans, to have as many conversations with customers as possible. If they were able to get the other person to talk and provide an answer to a question, then that was considered a conversation.

The employees enjoyed the challenges and started to develop great relationships with customers. The best part was seeing how many of my staff became much more socially confident and assertive in their life. It was one of the most rewarding parts of my life to be able to see people change to be better.

3)Create Harder Challenges as Time Goes On

In the world of video gaming, nobody wants to play the same level again and again when they first start off. They need harder challenges that are just outside their reach to feel a sense of accomplishment or to reach the next level.

However, if you make the challenges too hard, people will abandon the game. You want the challenges to be hard enough to keep them on the edge of playing with a little frustration, but a lot of satisfaction after accomplishing the goals.

After holding challenges, and relationships with customers were being built, I knew that it was now becoming too easy for my staff to start conversations. They even told me.

The next challenge I posed for my employees was to get the names of our customers and to greet them by name. This would solidify a closer relationship with our customers and ensure that they knew we valued their loyalty.

During my four years I would hold this challenge again and again, and it became tougher to get new names. This was because we knew most of our regulars so we had to start focusing on creating instantaneous and welcoming relationships with newer customers.

The challenges became harder, but still within my employees’ reach.

Wreck it Ralph 4)Novelty of Challenges and Unexpected Surprises

Games need elements of surprise. If there’s no elements of surprise or a feeling of novelty then our brains get bored quickly.

I would hold a series of different challenges for my staff that ranged from upselling, getting names of customers, to who sold the most coffee beans. I would often offer mini challenges every other week at random times that would combine goals such as, “sell the last two remaining muffins and get two names.” If they accomplished the goal then I would write them a thank you card for their efforts to reinforce the positive feedback.

If you give the same challenges, or the same rewards all the time, then people stop playing the game in the long term. But when you create novelty and a sense of unexpectedness then it keeps employees on their toes and mentally fresh when dealing with customers.

5)Create a Leaderboard

Remember playing those arcade games and you would see who had the highest score? It was always had someone like AAA or BAC or VIC. Those leaderboards are great motivators to get the hardcore gamers to keep playing the game.

In order to know how well the staff were doing in the challenges, I encouraged all my staff to keep track of the number of conversations and names they received and have them posted on a wall for all staff to see.

The challenges wouldn’t run for approximately one month, and then we would take a break for a month and start another different challenge.

During the one month period that the challenges were running, employees would often check to check each others’ scores. If I found someone was falling behind the leaderboard I would hold that staff accountable to get more names and have more conversations to increase their score.

This provided motivation for staff to do better. This worked effectively well near the end of the challenges as everybody would get as many conversations and names in as possible to win the prizes that were being awarded.

6)Intrinsic and External Rewards

Let’s be honest, nobody plays games like Halo and Call of Duty for real rewards. The rewards that are given are the good feelings we get inside. These intangibles are often power, status and the ability to feel connected to others.

Knowing that your better at something than someone else gives your ego a boost. Intrinsic rewards such as these are the number one reason why social games are such a big hit.

External rewards are great too, but are always secondary. Real world rewards are nice, and a combination of both is great. The effectiveness of real rewards takes prominence only when a game provides players with a very poor status or power.

This is how contests or draws that involve money work. “Enter your e-mail for a chance to win $500 gift certificate.” People will do it, but they’ll do it to win the prize not because of the status. However, chances are if you offered a prize for a speaking role on the hit T.V. show Big Bang Theory, then that provides status, because then you can brag to your friends that a few million people saw you on T.V.

The challenges I created allowed my staff to carry a sense of internal satisfaction and achievement in being a better person. Most of the winners of the challenge didn’t brag, but they did get status and were recognized for their hard work by all their employees at our meetings. Many of them were awarded employees of the month.

The winners did get real rewards for their hard work. I would offer $50 gift certificates for shopping, or for smaller challenges, the winner would get a complimentary lunch paid by the boss. Larger challenges would involve a nice team dinner at one of the swankiest restaurants in Vancouver.

World of Warcraft 7) Offer Immediate Feedback

In games when you do something wrong, you either die or you get punished. If you do something right, then you get to advance game and move on to the next level. You receive immediate feedback. Employee engagement is no different. Offering more frequent and immediate feedback will lead to higher productivity.

During the time that challenges were taking place I would provide immediate feedback. I would let employees know when they did a great job of engaging customers. Or when I noticed that they weren’t playing the game with heart any more I would provide feedback and challenge them with a different task, and then get them back on track. If they successfully completed the mini challenges, they would be rewarded, if not, then they wouldn’t be rewarded.

8) Create Teams

I’ve never played World of Warcraft, but I do know that guilds are formed to complete missions. Great games will often involve teams to pit against each other. There’s something thrilling that boils the blood for the us versus them mentality when it comes to games involving groups.

Once every 6 months I would create team challenges. I pitted my afternoon staff versus the morning staff. This would lead to fun competition that would drive customer engagement through the roof. I found that staff would continue to help support other team members in accomplishing the team goals and that it created a much stronger bond among all employees.

This built authentic relationships within our Starbucks store which allowed us to create authentic relationships with our customers. If you can’t have authentic relationships with your own staff, how do you expect them to do it with customers?

Results of using Gamification at my Starbucks Store

I implemented this strategy over a two year period but the first year results were what were most impressive.
Sales increased over 30% comparatively from the previous year. Sales increased across all product categories.

Over 600 names of regulars were gathered over the 2 years.

We were nominated as the best store in Canada for our district.

How do I know this worked?

After I stepped down as manager to pursue my career in marketing, sales plateaued and employee morale was down. Former employees had expressed feeling unsatisfied with the work. Immediate positive feedback was not provided as often and new and creative challenges were not thought of to provide a sense of novelty.

Gamification when done properly will make employees happy and most of all increase productivity and sales, and there are many other ways to make a restaurant profitable.