Can we grow new channels and SEO at the same time?

Keen to understand how we linked 20,000+ organic sessions from one pin on Pinterest? Keep reading!

By Kalee Fambrough

TL;DR The US Growth Team at Skyscanner utilized Pinterest for an experiment which involved sharing an article on a trending topic (Stranger Things) to drive traffic to our site. As a result, we saw a spike in organic sessions, which have only increased since, and gained crucial insights into the nature of the relationship between Pinterest and Google. Now, the team is aware of the impact Pinterest has on SEO (and vice versa) and has begun to integrate it into their content distribution strategy.

Skyscanner US’ Travel Inspiration Pinterest board

At Skyscanner, we’re all quite aware of the importance of SEO as an acquisition channel.

But what if I told you there was a new channel/platform that Google highly favors and can assist in boosting organic traffic free of charge?

Well it exists, and its name is Pinterest.

What is Pinterest and how did we use it?

Pinterest is, in essence, a search engine, as people go here to discover travel guides, destinations to visit, packing lists, and so on. Also, content on Pinterest tends to rank extremely well, with Pinterest generating 300+ million visits monthly from search.

Over the summer I performed a Pinterest experiment to see if we could increase traffic to our site.

At that time the second season of Stranger Things was about to drop, and the show was generating a lot of buzz. I remembered that we had an article documenting the locations where filming had taken place. I decided to play off the series’ popularity with a pin linking to this article. I shared the pin on our profile, a group board we have set up with over 50+ influencers, other group travel boards we are a part of and more. I never boosted the pin, so this was all organic distribution. What we noticed, almost immediately, was a spike in organic traffic to the article shared, and it only increased from there.

At first, there was confusion because we expected to see Pinterest as the source of traffic instead of Google, but what happened next was actually rather surprising…

The article only had double digit sessions before being shared on Pinterest. Once shared, we saw a 2200% increase in sessions and the source of traffic wasn’t from Pinterest — it was from Google.

I then noticed that the article shared on Pinterest was now being featured in the snippet on the first page of Google, which popped up when people searched for ‘stranger things filming locations’, and the geographical location “Jackson, Georgia” appeared.

A snippet of a snippet

Pinterest + SEO

I did some further research and came across several articles that discussed the relationship between Google and Pinterest and suggested that Google favored Pinterest articles because of their high SEO value.

Source: ‘How Pinterest Boosts Your Google Rank’, Belle Balace, Business2Community

Essentially, if we pin interesting content that people enjoy or find helpful, it will naturally get re-pinned and consequently it will increase traffic. With the increase in traffic, we will land a higher page rank on Google. This was my hypothesis when I noticed the original spike in our organic traffic.

While I can’t be 100% certain that my hypothesis is correct, it seems highly likely to be given that the article (about Stranger Things filming locations) wasn’t being advertised anywhere else and was only being circulated via Pinterest. Since sharing the article on Pinterest last November, it’s received over 20,000 sessions from Google.

It’s also worth noting that pins have a long lifespan; a pin can live on average for 7 months (compared to Twitter’s 7 minutes). There is also the paid side to Pinterest that we haven’t really tapped into as a company. Pinterest has historically delivered a solid ROI to the retail sector, has outperformed other measured channels, and scales effectively.

So, can we grow SEO & new channels at the same time?

These findings can be beneficial to businesses looking to save money in marketing spend because Pinterest is free of charge (unless you boost a pin or run an ad). If we, as a company, want to be front of mind with users at every touch-point throughout their travel journey — we need to start taking Pinterest seriously. To answer the question in the title of this article, ‘Can we grow new channels and SEO at the same time?’, I believe that with this particular channel, the answer is a definite yes.

We are currently following up on the experiment described above in quite a few different ways:

  • Trying to 100% validate our theory regarding the sessions coming from Google
  • Initiating ‘rich pins’ in our Pinterest account for increased engagement
  • Customizing Pinterest boards and images based on high keyword volume — which could potentially increase Google rank
  • Pinterest paid initiatives

….and so much more!

If you’re interested in learning a bit more, please reach out. I’m a Pinterest advocate all the way so happy to have a chat!

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Kalee and I’m part of Skyscanner’s US Growth Squad, where I primarily work on app growth. I thoroughly enjoy having the opportunity to work on different projects as well as developing my growth mindset. Skyscanner is a fantastic place to work and challenges me regularly in new and exciting ways.