I'm hardly an expert Pinterest poster, but something is (has been) up in the Pinterest universe.
In the world of photography there's so much to keep up with, and only so many hours in a day... or week. Over the past few years I would try to post a few photos everyone once in a while to my Pinterest account, just to stay active on the social scene. I was hardly a professional Pinterest-er, but I would upload photos a few times a month.
As a result, I would get some traffic to my website from my account. It was nothing earth shattering, but I have have been receiving maybe 9,000 or so visits a year from my pins. It was OK traffic to get, but in my case Pinterest visitors are merely that...just traffic. They are not my local clients or buyers, just curious travelers looking at my galleries.
That being said, any traffic is good traffic. So, as I would remember, I kept posting a few pins here and there, and the visitors would keep coming. It was fair deal.
Then, I noticed about March or April 2018 everything came to a halt. Suddenly. My Pinterest traffic literally fell to zero. Not only that, I saw from my Pinterest analytics, my impressions on my pins, had also, literally fallen to zero. I'm not exactly certain of those numbers pre-change, and as it seems at least of the time of writing this, Pinterest doesn't let you go back that far to review their analytics (which is weird) but I'm sure it was in the tens of thousands of impressions per month.
I remember at the time back in April 2018 I did a bit of checking on this, because the change was noticeable. I think I did a few searches to see if Pinterest had changed their algorithm, but other than spending a few minutes on the subject, I didn't really pursue it.
...So my Pinterest account was dead, suddenly, and pretty much has been for over a year. I'm a busy guy! Finally, in late June I had a few spare minutes and decided to take a look at my Pinterest account. Let's take a look:
Hmm, not so great, huh. Three whole link clicks over the course of the month. Now granted, my account had pretty much been abandoned over the past year, but that's a far cry from my average clicks and impressions from just a bit over a year earlier.
My first thought was... I wonder what happened? My second thought... Was it possible to get any of that traffic back?
I started to do some poking around to see what was going on. I did some searches for boudoir photos, and I started to notice something strange... there essentially weren't any.
I did a search for "Boudoir Photos" and saw some interesting results... not really any boudoir photos. Yeah, there's a pin for a blog article or two, but upon further look, there really weren't any actual boudoir photos displaying in the results. The first photo has some sexy wedding photo ideas, but the rest were pins about Save The Date cards, camera hacks, and basically a bunch not so relevant results. ...Not to many boudoir related results. Strange.
So, I tried some other searches. What about a search for "boudoir booty poses?" That's a fairy specific search term...
Do we see any actual "boudoir booty poses" in there? Hmmm... possibly one, and as I scroll down none of the other photos are even slightly related to the search term.
I think something is going on here! I don't want to turn this post into a series of screen shots for search terms, but other common boudoir search items yielded similar results. NOW, I know I've been off Pinterest for nearly a year, but boudoir photos were a-plenty on Pinterest...and now, not so much.
Did Pinterest start hiding boudoir photos? Is that what happened last year when my link clicks and impressions suddenly vanished? I know that Pinterest changes their algorithm from time to time, and there would really be no way to know if this is exactly what happened, or if there was some other situation that occurred.
I guess I'd have to take a poll of other boudoir photographers on Pinterest to see if a similar situation occurred to them, as well.
Is it possible to get any of this traffic back?
Well, that is uncertain at this point. I have started posting and re-pinning photos on Pinterest again, with little to no change in my stats. Before the Pinterest Crash, I wasn't really doing anything special. I'd post a few pins a week, and re-pin some other boudoir photos I came across on to a board I created called "The Big Boudoir Photo Inspiration Board." (By the way the search term "boudoir inspiration" is also dead, now, apparently.) I wasn't really making any sort of a special effort...just trying to be involved a bit.
Pinterest does have an interesting feature which may help shed some light here. There is sort of a built in "related items" that comes up when you open a pin. For example. I have this recently pinned items which is a cute Jennifer Williams shot, and an interesting thing occurs when you scroll down...
When the page is scrolled down it displays a "Products like this" section... and a "More like this" below that filled with lots of other photos.
What do you notice here? None of these shots are boudoir photos. The "Products like this" section is (presumably) links to items for sale which are bikinis or lingerie... none of which are boudoir. When you scroll further down the page to the "More like this" it's just more of the same... what appear to be posts to vendors with mostly swimwear links or photos. The deeper you scroll down that page... not a single boudoir photo. Hmmm.
Let's take a look at one more pin from that board. This is a much older pin that has probably been on the board for at least two years... maybe more. This is a boudoir shot from Heather Leggett which is a pretty undeniable classic boudoir pose.
And again, when you scroll down from this pin to the "Products like this," and "More like this" sections...
Babies! Pinterest wants you to check out baby photos! Good grief. Now, in the "Products like this" section there appears to be a woman laying in a bed, but again I think this is just an ad for a robe, not a boudoir photo.
This kind of quirkiness just goes on and on for each pin on my boards. There are few, if any, pins in the "More like this" sections that are actual boudoir photos. Does this seem a bit suspicious?
What is the cause of all this squelching of boudoir photos on Pinterest? It could very well indeed be that Pinterest is censoring these photos. They may not be removing them from boards but they are certainly not displaying them in search results. Has Pinterest determined that boudoir photos are not appropriate?
Also, this could be an AI thing, as well. As we all know, a lot of all this sorting and searching is algorithm based. I'm sure Pinterest is using some sort of AI. As a matter of fact as I typed that last sentence I did a quick Google search on the subject and found, indeed they are.
It seems Pinterest is using a form of AI to make your experience better, according this article on Wired. Pinterest themselves, even have a page devoted to their Machine Learning efforts to improve their platform.
... A Few Months Later
Fast forward a few months to Sept. 2019, and what have I learned? We'll, over the summer (for a while, at least) I tried to post a few photos regularly, again. I also re-pinned a few photos to try to get in the good graces of the Pinterest algorithm.
Results? Nothing. Not a blip. It seems Pinterest is not removing boudoir photos, but it is not displaying them in any searches (for the most part.) Pinterest was such a resource for boudoir prep. I'm not sure of this, but I can imagine their AI tries to figure out what an image is... and whether it is suitable for search results, or not. I guess it deems all boudoir photos "unsuitable."
Clients typically would share board of poses they loved with me before a session. What a shame.
What has your experience been with Pinterest and boudoir photos lately? Let me know!