Blogging experts have long hailed Pinterest as the holy grail of blog traffic. (Even posts here at Pretty Little Grind have focused on building steady blog traffic through Pinterest.) However, updates to the Pinterest algorithm in 2020 have enormously changed the game and negatively impacted millions of blogs. If you’re wondering why your Pinterest traffic is down, you’re in the right place.
Before you start reading, know that I’m not going to give you the same “just make fresh content” schpiel that has inundated the Internet.
I’m not going to get you to sign up for Tailwind or for a Pinterest traffic course.
In this post, I will only share some theories on why Pinterest traffic is down for bloggers lately, no matter how much fresh content we put out.
Initially, I sat down today to write about ways to drive traffic to your blog other than Pinterest. But as I started prefacing the problem, I realized there was a lot to unpack!
That being said, I do plan to publish “7 Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Blog Other Than Pinterest” later this week. So, stay tuned for some updated strategies!
Pinterest Problems for Blog Traffic
If you have taken any blogging course in the last couple of years, you’ve likely heard the following: Pinterest is the best platform for new bloggers to get blog traffic!
This message is also found all over Pinterest and Google when you search, “drive traffic new blog.”
Highly Recommended Pinterest Strategies:
- Set up a Pinterest business account
- Apply for rich pins
- Design 5-10 Pin designs per Pin
- Use Tailwind to automatically pin 5-8 times a day
- Join group boards
- Join Tailwind Tribes
- Use keywords in your Pin title and Pin description
- Start getting thousands of monthly views!
Many new bloggers are doing all of these steps, but still not seeing much traffic generated. In fact, some veteran bloggers are also seeing dips in their views, clicks, and impressions.
The number of impressions for each pin represents the number of people who have seen the pin. For new blogs, Pinterest impressions have been incredibly low in recent months. Many bloggers are only receiving between 5-10 impressions per pin – a low number.
With only 5-10 impressions, clicks and saves are even lower.
So what are new bloggers doing wrong?
Honestly, probably nothing. Let’s take a look.
Changes in the Algorithm
On June 25th, 2020, Tailwind and Pinterest went live to discuss the updated algorithm and Pinterest strategies. You can find the Facebook live stream here.
The summary of this hour-long stream boils down to two words: fresh content.
Pinterest announced that it would be pushing more fresh content in search and home feeds, rather than ranking pins according to their number of repins.
So what is fresh content exactly?
According to Pinterest, it is a new pin image. The text overlay of a pin can stay the same. Apparently, only the background image must be different to be considered a fresh pin.
Obviously, this seemed like great news for new bloggers! Pinterest appeared to be saying that they wanted to prioritize new content over old content, opening the door a bit wider for newcomers.
However, fast-forward three months later, and this is arguably not the case.
Pinterest Traffic Is Down for Bloggers!
For the last several months, my blogging groups on Facebook are filled with complaints and concerns about low impressions and even lower traffic! The recommended Pinterest strategies are just driving traffic for most.
On August 17th of this year, I voiced my own frustrations in a blogger Facebook group. I’ll share some of the comments of this thread throughout this post to show you how a large number of bloggers are being negatively affected.
“Not giving up, but extremely frustrated. For the last three months I have been:
- publishing new content 3+ times a week
- priming my pins and posts for SEO (green light only!)
- creating 10+ pins for each post
- scheduling my pins through Tailwind
- pinning automatically 5-7 times a day (80% my own content)
- posting to about 6 different group boards
- adding 110+ pins to Tailwind tribes monthly
- testing out different pin designs
- paying for exclusive stock photos so my pins stand out from other stock photos
- using professionally-designed pin templates
- writing excellent posts over 2.2k words
All of this, every day, for three months. My pins are being seen by NO ONE. The only reason I have traffic at all is because of promoted pins, and I can’t keep paying for that. Otherwise, I get maybe 15 views per pin. Zero repins.
Also, my account is about 10 years old, and I have 800 followers. Grew the last 100 within the last month and growing every day.”
I’m not sure what Pinterest meant when they said they would promote fresh pins, but it’s undoubtedly not benefitting many bloggers. Time will only tell what the algorithm will do in the long run! What I do know is that many bloggers are jumping ship and focusing on other forms of traffic.
Here’s one blogger’s response to my post. (There were over 50 responses, all with similar frustrations.)
“I used to get over 1,000 blog views a day from pins. It was amazing – the Pinterest strategies really did work! HOWEVER, over the past few months, although I have changed nothing (I make fresh content, use Tailwind and do manual pinning), I now get single digits in Pinterest views per pin.
My only pins that still drive any traffic are ones from over a year ago!
Overall, I am giving up on regularly using Pinterest as my source of traffic. I have not had a single pin in over 8 months that drove more than 10 people to the blog.”
If you’re reading this blog post, chances are that you are having similar experiences with Pinterest! Know that you’re not alone and that many bloggers share your frustrations.
I know I sound a bit conspiratorial, but allow me to put on my tin foil hat for a moment!
The fact that Pinterest traffic is down has had a significant impact on the blogging community. It has worsened to the point that hundreds of bloggers are directly emailing Pinterest. They want to know why their accounts are performing so poorly.
They generally receive one of two responses.
In the first response, Pinterest informs the blogger that their account was flagged as spam. (This is interesting, considering that most bloggers use Tailwind to avoid being marked as a spam account.) While in the past, Pinterest informed an account when it had been flagged, it seems like the new approach is much quieter. Shadow-banning, if you will.
As bloggers have shared this information among themselves, more and more content creators are sending similar emails to Pinterest. I’m not sure what effect the blogging community’s mass complaints will have, but it’s interesting to note.
The other, more common response from Pinterest is that nothing is wrong at all. A fellow blogger says:
“I finally emailed Pinterest and asked if they had me flagged as spam because I usually get about 3-20 impressions on each pin.
They emailed me back and told me I wasn’t flagged as spam in their system, but they are “making a ton of changes right now.” The rep told me to just keep pinning, and I should see results in about a YEAR. I’m fed up with Pinterest at this point.”
A year?!? But isn’t Pinterest supposed to be the best way to get fast traffic to a new blog?
Looks like it’s time to invest in some other strategies. The good old days of dependable Pinterest traffic for beginners is a thing of the past.
Paid Exposure Priority
It seems apparent that the push for paid ads has arrived at Pinterest. While Facebook and Instagram dove headfirst into promoted content, Pinterest felt like the last equal playing field on the Internet for many years.
Sadly, those days are behind us as promoted Pins begin to take center stage.
Anyone with a Pinterest business account is familiar with daily notifications reminding us how much traffic we can buy for a $10/day promoted pin. These notification pushes are a clear marketing ploy at generating ad revenue for Pinterest that, frankly, I do not appreciate.
Another blogger says:
“I think Pinterest is now going the way of Facebook and Instagram in that it’s shifting more towards paid advertising to gain exposure.
The glory days of that source of traffic for bloggers seem to be over!”
Unfortunately, I agree with this assessment. With a massive cash grab on the table, I don’t see why Pinterest wouldn’t be pushing for more ad money. Lowering impressions for creators seems like an easy way to get them hungry for clicks and start throwing money at the problem.
When organic Pinterest traffic is down, the quick fix for many creators is to promote their pins.
Low Average Session Duration
The other issue I have with Pinterest ads is equally concerning: decreasing my average session duration.
Your average session duration is a blog analytic that tells you how long the average reader spends on your blog before leaving. Databox asserts that a good average session benchmark is between 2-3 minutes.
During the months that I had several active promoted Pins, my average session duration took a major nosedive. I’m not sure what kind of users Pinterest is showing my content to, but the numbers seemed very suspicious to me. My ASD time got so low that for several months, it was between 8 and 20 seconds.
Perhaps I’m mistaken, but that seems like some bot shenanigans to me!
Since I stopped sponsoring my Pins a few weeks ago, my traffic has been noticeably low. However, my ASD time has suddenly jumped from 18 seconds to over a minute.
Because of their negative effect on my average session duration, I have stopped using Pinterest ads as one of my Pinterest strategies.
I’m interested to know what you think about the relationship between paid traffic and low average session duration. Let me know in the comments!
Big Bloggers Are Buying Ads, Too
Also of interest is that I’ve seen many six-figure bloggers promoting pins in the last months. This could be because they simply have allotted budget money for Pinterest ads. On the other hand, I tend to think that even the most prominent bloggers have seen significant drops in traffic this summer and are compensating with ads.
Again, I could be mistaken. But I have noticed way more ads from six-figure bloggers than I ever remember seeing before.
Pinterest Traffic Is Down Indefinitely…What Now?
I will be publishing a post all about alternative blog traffic strategies before the end of the week. Stay tuned for some different traffic options you can start working on soon!
In the meantime, here are a few quick tips for blog traffic success for when your Pinterest traffic is down:
Automate, Automate, Automate
If you’re using social media to drive traffic to your blog, automating posts will save you some headaches! Whether you’re using Later or another post automator, scheduling your social media ahead of time is always a good idea. You can also use the dlvr.it app to automatically post new blog content to Facebook and LinkedIn.
Auto-Pilot Your Pinterest
Yes, I just spent the last 2,000 words complaining about Pinterest. But do I think you should stop using it altogether? Definitely not.
We never know what changes are around the corner on this platform, and it’s always best to get your content out there regardless. While it seems to be taking longer to see any kind of payoff, I strongly discourage completely abandoning your account.
Instead, sit down once a month and schedule all your Pins on Tailwind. As Tailwind pins for you automatically, you can invest your energy in building traffic elsewhere.
SEO Prime Your Posts
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It basically means formatting your blog posts in a way that Google likes. Most bloggers use the YoastSEO plugin that gives them a checklist on exactly how to get an SEO “green light” from Google.
Having well-optimized posts means Google has more incentive to rank your blog posts highly in their results.
Google SEO is much more complicated, but you will be doing yourself a favor by ensuring every post has the Yoast stamp of approval.
Build Your Brand
Your brand is the overall message or theme of your content. It is how your readers or clients talk about your blog. A reliable brand communicates who you are and what you provide to your audience.
Consistent branding drives traffic to your blog as your readers get to know you better. It takes time to establish your brand but will pay off big dividends in the end.
Check out my favorite branding resource, “Building a Story Brand” by Donald Miller, below.
If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to toss out that strategy and try another. Adjusting is the name of the game in blogging! That’s why many bloggers are trying new methods after seeing that their Pinterest strategies are not working like they used to.
Take a long hard look at your blog analytics for a better understanding of your traffic sources! Your analytics will show you what platforms are driving the most traffic to your blog. Remember to focus on what IS working and not worry about the rest.