Pinterest has been considered a top traffic driver for many sites, most recently showing its marketing clout by launching Pinterest Web Analytics. But, clicking on an image isn’t the slam-dunk traffic driver as it may seem. And, adding a shortened link to the caption of a pin may be stopping potential traffic in its tracks.
If you spend any time on Pinterest, you’ll know that clicking on a pin only brings you to an image, and as a user, you need to click twice in order to get to the original source. Here at Marketing Land, we’ve been doing some Pinterest testing over the last few weeks, trying out different ways to include URLs in the caption that appears with the pinned image in order to make it easier to get to the original story. We’ve tested using a branded shortened URL (we track all of our social links), as well as using the original long URL.
However, when clicking on the shortened URL, we discovered Pinterest sends the user to an intermediate page that states, “Suspicious Link: This link redirects to another site, it may link to spam or other inappropriate content.”
On the other hand, posts that did not use a shortened URL linked just fine.
Custom shortened URLs provide tracking, and also look a lot nicer. But according to Pinterest’s Help area, no shorteners or redirects are allowed, including bitly links.
We reached out to Barry Schnitt, Head of Communications and Public Policy at Pinterest and asked why short links incurred a warning. His response:
“1. We want to be able to show users where a pin leads. Unfortunately, bit.ly/xyz doesn’t tell them much.
2. We want to be able to offer users more relevant content from a site (and more distribution for the site) by suggesting other pins from a site. Again, we can do that for marketingland.com but not for bit.ly.
3. Unfortunately, we’ve found that bad guys out there abuse redirects and URL shorteners to send people to malicious sites.”
This makes a lot of sense, but there are other sites using shortened URLs, such as cnet.co and abcn.ws.
Schnitt confirmed that websites that have a branded shortened URL which points to their domain (such as mklnd.com for marketingland.com) can, in fact, submit a request to Pinterest Support to be “whitelisted.” We have submitted our request and are waiting to be confirmed.
Whether adding a link to Pinterest posts increases traffic is still to be determined, but if we can directly link to the source in the caption, it makes a lot of sense from a user’s perspective. We’ll have a better idea once we can track the activity.