In 2012, Pinterest was the big story in social media marketing. In 2013, it will be huge in search marketing, too.
With 104 million visits in March 2012, Pinterest became the third most-trafficked social media site
, moving ahead of LinkedIn (86 million), and trailing only Facebook (7 billion) and Twitter (182 million).
With so many visitors and so much potential for sharing content and expanding your reach, Pinterest offers plenty of ways to build your brand's online visibility and boost your search engine optimization (SEO).
Here are 15 easy opportunities to take advantage of:
1. Fill out the "about" section.
Sure, filling out "about" sections isn't as much fun as pinning images, but the 200-character section is vital for SEO. Use keyword-rich text that succinctly states who you are and what you do. This enables search engines to find and group your profile, boards and pins with the proper search results.
2. Get a verification badge.
Website verification allows Pinterest users to certify that the website on their Pinterest profiles is theirs. To verify your site, go to "settings" and click the "verify website" button. Verified websites have checkmarks next to the domain in search results, and can increase SEO rank and traffic to your pages.
3. Fill out SEO hot spots.
On Pinterest, search engines scan certain areas of pages like they do on Google+. Optimizing these will help you be more visible on search engines. Fill out your SEO title on Pinterest and name your individual boards with keywords.
4. Link across platforms.
Someone intrigued by your Pinterest page will likely want to see more of your offerings. Give people every opportunity to browse your content. Include links from your Pinterest profile to your website, blog, and other social media platforms. Use strong calls to action like "See more now!" to drive users to where you want them to go.
5. Become visible to search engines.
Pinterest can be a waste of time if people can't find your work, and Pinterest has an option that hides pinboards from search engines. Take a second to ensure fans and prospects can find you by going to "settings" and turning off the "hide from search engines" option.
6. Prepare for local search.
The meteoric rise of Pinterest means it will become more relevant to local search results. Prepare by creating a board that highlights local attractions in your organization's city or region. Include landmarks related to your business, like your storefront. This information illustrates your connection to the area and lets local customers know where to visit you.
7. Create a variety of boards.
The more boards you create, the more likely search engine spiders will notice you, especially if the boards cover a variety of topics and have titles with strong keywords. Have you already created boards without keywords? Go back and edit them.
8. Categorize your boards.
Failing to categorize your boards means visitors won't find them when they choose to browse the site by category. Go to your profile, click "edit" on any board, and choose a category that fits best.
9. Stay above the fold.
Pinterest browsers often only see the top row or two of Pinterest boards. Move up your best boards—the boards with the most pins, that show off what your brand is known for and are visited most often.
10. Add keywords to file names.
Cameras often create odd, nondescript file names for the images they capture. Turn those images into search engine spider magnets by renaming them with keywords. Add your business name and a name of what's in the picture—especially if it's a product.
11. Create good pin descriptions.
Pinterest provides 500 characters to describe each pin. Take advantage of this space to boost SEO with active, keyword-optimized descriptions. In addition to including descriptions in new pins, go back and add keywords to previous pins for even more SEO.
12. Use high-quality images.
Search engines like Bing and Google look at the quality of pins, much like they scan websites for quality text and images. Use high-resolution images and pin them to the appropriate boards.
13. Research what people pin.
Search engines consider engagement with pins when they calculate rankings. Research what customers and followers want to see by examining what they pin. Consider asking followers and fans what they want more of, and then provide it.
14. Diversify your sources.
It may be easy to get stuck in the Pinterest universe, but branching out and using images from outside the social network plays a role in building SEO. Fresh content brings more attention than repins that may have already been seen on other pages.
15. Include prices and links.
It's a great idea to show off products in your pins, but you can do even better. Tag pins with the price of the product, and it will appear as a banner on the pin. This will make it more likely to get likes and land on users' gift pages. Make buying easy by adding a link to the picture that will take interested viewers directly to the product page.
Brian Conlin is a copywriter at Vocus. A version of this article originally appeared on the Vocus blog.