Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 3.56.42 PMPinterest reached 100 million active users last year – and if used thoughtfully – it can help drive local business to your brick-and-mortar location.

Highly visual and easy to use, Pinterest is a platform where people go for inspiration, ideas and learning. As it has evolved it has become far more business-friendly, allowing people to make purchases right from the Pins they click on.

We’ve been talking a bit about Local Search lately and thought it would be a good idea show how Pinterest can help bring local foot traffic into your brick-and-mortar location.

1. Discover What Your Target Audience Desires
To discover what your target audience is exploring and pinning on Pinterest you must narrow your search to those categories which are most relevant to your business.

Take a dive into the different topics under each category to refine your search even more. Check out the more popular Pins and the boards they come from.

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 4.27.22 PMUse the Guided Search to find keywords and phrases that are used most often in conjunction with yours. Doing this will help you see what is currently getting people’s attention – which will help you focus on the types of products you offer that align with their interests. And help you design Pins around those products and topics.

2. Use Keywords in Your Boards and Profile.
As you start noting which topics and their associated keywords are attracting the most Pins and Shares you can start incorporating this information into your Boards.

When you are naming your Boards – focus on topics that are the most popular for your business type – for instance if you own a bakery – you might find “wedding cakes” or “birthday cakes” is always popular. If you are teaching people how to knit then perhaps “Knitting for beginners”  or “How to knit scarves” will be boards that attract your target audience. Be aware of what keywords you are using in your board titles and descriptions.

And when it comes to your Pinterest Profile you also want to include keywords  in your description – these help other pinners (and Google!) find you in searches. And to help facilitate local search – use your location or location specific keywords in your business description – like “Asheville handmade pottery” or “Tampa cigar shop”. This helps local customers and tourists not only find you on Pinterest but find you in town.

3. Local Content Helps Local Search
People in your community use Pinterest for ideas, inspiration and knowledge. Now that you have started tweaking your profile and your boards with popular search keywords and descriptions – you can really start to focus on the content of Pins you design for local search.

Design boards that focus on your surrounding community. For example, if you own a bike shop, have a board to share pictures and information about bike races taking place in your area each year. Own a bookshop? How about a board with Pins that tout local author book releases and signings? Dentist office? Create Pins with infographics and other tutorials about dental hygiene. Giving away free dental care kits at a local event? Create a Pin to show what those kits include.

When you offer useful information that is tied into your community then you are giving local prospects and customers the opportunity to curate your Pins, share them with their followers, and follow your boards. When someone follows your boards two things happen: You start building trust and you foster recognition. The next time one of your followers is driving around town and sees your sign she’ll feel more comfortable (and more curious) about stopping in to check out your business in person.

Another thing which will help expand your visibility in local search on Pinterest is if you make it a point to follow the boards of other local businesses in your area. Pin their Pins. Some of these may be businesses that you have partnered with at community events – blood drives, 5k runs for a cause, charity auctions, etc. Showcase your community connections by showing how much you like what other small business owners in your area are doing.

4. Get Visual
Don’t be afraid to have a nice mix of images and graphics on your boards. These days it is incredibly easy to make attractive graphic designs and infographics online with a service like Any graphic you create should be easy to read, colorful but not headache-inducing, and above all – informative.

You can also put up an explainer article with detailed images (think of all the Pins with makeup tutorials) or how-to videos which are still popular.

Note: Vertical Pins rule Pinterest. The desired size is 600 x 1200 pixels.

5. Increase your Click Through Rate With Rich Pins
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What is a “Rich Pin”? It’s a Pin that includes what Pinterest calls “extra information”. You have to add some metadata to your website so that the Rich Pins you create can pull certain details from your site into them. (If you are not a techie – they advise working with your tech support person to get this set up.)

Why would someone want to go to the trouble of creating Rich Pins? Because they update dynamically giving customers real-time information that helps them do something immediately – like get ingredients, cooking time and serving info straight off your Recipe Pins so they can get cooking right away. Or they can access real-time pricing, availability and where-to-buy information from your Product Rich Pins.

Currently there are 6 types of Rich Pins you can create: movie, recipe, article, place, product and app. If you need more information about how to set up Rich Pins just click here.

6. Business Storytelling
Visual Stories are key on Pinterest. Create a Board of Pins that showcases staff members or customers or something new happening at your physical location. Use descriptions to tell a business story about the person or event – and link to your website where they can learn more.

Or design a board that promotes your brand’s particular superpower – fill it with Pins of still photography, images with quotes or short videos that all support that particular message. Pins that convey meaning are often shared and pinned – they’re a nice way to connect with people – letting them learn more about why you do what you do and how important your business is to your local community.

Final Thoughts
To make Pinterest and local search work for your small business you need to create Boards that attract followers. With a little research you can create Pins around the topics and categories that your target customers are interested in as well as a profile with a clear description that uses keywords related to those topics and categories.

Next, create boards that are location-centric, focusing on community events you participate in as well as Pins you curate from other small business owners in the area.

And since Pinterest is built around what people see, your content needs to be both useful and visually appealing so that it pops onscreen as people scroll through their feed.

Pinterest is a great site to start making connections and build a following for your local business. Start exploring all the possibilities it has to offer.