Blogging can be such a fickle mistress. One day you are sailing along on cloud nine, your page views are up and you are beating off new subscribers with a stick. And then something happens and your whole blogging world falls apart. Your page views plummet, and it feels like you will never get traction again.
And as you stand in the rubble, looking around, you find yourself asking, “What the hell happened, and how did I end up here?” Something changed and everything you thought you knew now seems wrong.
For me, that something was Pinterest.
I’m a DIY, Crafts and Food blogger, so Pinterest used to be my page view gravy train. I’d write a new post, pin it to my boards (with tens of thousands of followers), and then just sit back and watch the traffic climb. It was almost too easy. I didn’t really have to work at it.
What made it even better was that Pinterest was fun. Even if I did spend hours pinning stuff, it didn’t feel like work. It was a feast for my eyes and got my creative juices flowing with hundreds of beautiful projects streaming right onto my screen.
Most of the pins I saw were from bloggers I knew and loved, names and URLs I recognized, and it was all quality content I was thrilled to find.
The more I used Pinterest, the higher my blog’s page views climbed, and so it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. I had a decent Pinterest following and was all about pinning great content with other like-minded pinners.
I would share a project, it would do well, and people would share it. Those shares would result in even MORE followers and the cycle would continue.
Back when it began happening I never really intended to put all those eggs in that one basket, but somehow it just happened that way, without me really thinking about it. I never really realized how much I was neglecting other traffic sources since so much traffic was coming in from Pinterest.
Until it wasn’t.
In February 2016 everything changed. That month will be a dark spot on the statistics of many Pinterest-loving bloggers, since that is about the time when easy Pinterest page views came screeching to a halt.
Suddenly my blog, which had half a million page views the month before, was struggling to even get half of that.
I immediately turned to my other social media channels to figure out if they were a viable source of page views that I had been neglecting. I have long suffered with the headache we call Facebook. Performing that delicate dance to get anything shown to my page fans.
I was spending hours looking for that perfect content that would be engaging enough to stand up to Zuck’s scrutiny. But, unfortunately, there was no way it could match that Pinterest-type traffic. My blog fan page just wasn’t big enough.
And now even Instagram and Twitter appeared to be heading in the wrong direction of non-chronological feeds and a pages full of boosted or sponsored content. It was all feeling so hopeless. No matter what I did, and which tricks I tried, I couldn’t get my page views back to where they had been.
(Don’t get me wrong, I still get some traffic from Pinterest but nowhere near the numbers I got when the feeds were chronological.)
It was all so disappointing, and it felt worse since I knew it was ALL MY FAULT.
I had given all engagement power to a platform that was still evolving. I joined Pinterest when it was brand new, back when you needed to be “invited” by someone to join. In 2011, they were still a relatively small startup and were still figuring out how they were going to monetize the platform.
They were more focused on growth and keeping users happy versus making the platform a money maker. But by February 2015, this was no longer the case. Pinterest grew its revenue by 500% in 2015, and there are rumblings they are an IPO candidate this year.
It is pretty clear how Pinterest is making that money. Now my feeds are filled with unrelated (and sponsored) content I’m not interested in, pins from people I don’t follow, as well as plenty of pretty pins disguising undisclosed affiliate links. This has slowly squeezed out the organic content from people I actually signed up to follow.
I’m sorry Pinterest, but your shark has been jumped.
Getting content from pinners we chose to follow was the reason we all loved Pinterest so much in the first place. That is no longer how the Pinterest algorithm works. I detest using Pinterest these days.
I have completely automated my pinning schedule, and I never look at my feed anymore. I am a core user who has actually left the platform, even though I still appear to be pinning thousands of pins per month. (All without ever actually seeing them.)
Now I’m not in a place to tell Pinterest how to run their platform, but I know a lot of other users who are a lot like me: Disenchanted and disappointed. And although I still may look like a power pinner to Pinterest, I’m not.
When they pitch investors with their huge statistics about how many of pins are going through their platform and how many people use Pinterest every day, they better exclude me (and everyone like me) since my numbers aren’t real.
Sure, I continue to pin and repin with automated schedulers to squeeze any last traffic out of the years of investment I put into the platform. I join groups and do pin swaps and cycle my content in and out of boards over and over and over, but I rarely even look at the content.
I’m not sure I’ve clicked on a single pin in the last 30 days. I can’t stand what shows up in my feed these days. I have even come to despise my own feed, with content that cycles in and out, day after day, like an endless crafty treadmill, where you keep moving over the same three feet of track, over and over and over, without ever actually getting anywhere.
So what am I doing now? How am I recovering from my loss of blog traffic?
I am focusing on DIVERSIFYING my content. Instead of spending hours a day on social media, I have focused a lot more on growing my email list, which is the only way you can be sure you have direct access to your readers. I worked on my SEO and studied up on how to get my posts ranked on search engines.
And while my Pinterest traffic remains stagnant, my organic search traffic is higher than ever.
Google has been around a lot longer than Pinterest, and the platform is not in its infancy. And although Google makes plenty of money monetizing their search engines, it is a much more level playing field. They have worked out a tolerable balance between paid and organic search.
When you optimize your content for search engines, you know what you are getting into. The goal of search engines is finding high quality content and sharing it with people who want to see it. That is exactly what I want to focus on. I want to write quality content that people want to read and get off the social media treadmill of pandering for page views.
For me, search engine traffic is untapped goldmine of page views and potential new subscribers. When you consider the fact that Google alone gets 40,000 search queries PER SECOND (or 3.5 BILLION searches per day), you quickly realize that I can easily target a much bigger pool of readers.
For perspective Pinterest only has 100 million users. Barely a drop in the bucket. And even bigger platforms, like Facebook, have one third as many logins (1.5 billion) every 30 days.
Most bloggers just barely get by with the most basic SEO strategies and don’t consider it a priority when developing and publishing their content. They tend to focus on other ways of promoting their blog, like social media and via interaction with the rest of the blogging community.
But DIVERSIFYING is the only way you will survive the heartache of an algorithm change. And by studying SEO, I have figured out how to bounce back from my lost Pinterest traffic.
Is it easy? Well, it isn’t hard.
Is it fun? Meh. I won’t lie and say yes, but it isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
Does it work? MOST DEFINITELY.
And even if search engines change their algorithm, I have focused on producing quality, valuable content, which will, at the end of the day, always be what readers are looking for.
I am marking up my entire relationship with Pinterest as a learning experience. Just like a bad breakup with a boyfriend you thought was Mr. Right but turned out to be Mr. Not-So-Great. It was great while it lasted, but I’m going to be smarter next time.
And as for those easy-street page view days? Well, I’m not crying because they are over, I’m smiling because they happened.