So you’re looking to boost the performance of your cannabis company with the help of SEO. It’s a good call, given the major social media platforms prohibit paid advertising for anything cannabis or CBD-related. Building up your content to bring in organic searches is a surefire way to take your business to the next level – if done right. Below, we’ll show you how to improve your cannabis SEO in tangible ways.
How SEO works and why it’s especially important to cannabis brands
If you’re not already familiar, the term SEO refers to “search engine optimization.” It is the process of making a website or specific webpage appear high up in web searches, increasing the traffic to your website. The higher the position on Google for searches, the more often a website gets clicked on.
Well-implemented SEO can increase traffic to a website or webpage without the use of paid placements. The traffic is organic and tends to grow over time, making it a massive asset for companies looking to grow their brand without spending lots of money. In the case of cannabis companies, improving SEO is key to growth because many paid avenues are not available.
1. Conduct thorough keyword research
Conducting keyword research is key to cannabis SEO success. Some companies tank their SEO efforts from the start by not properly researching their market and audience.
There are many ways to conduct cannabis keyword research. Several paid options can pull up tons of insightful data within seconds. Tools like Moz and SEMRush are popular examples that some marketers swear by. These tools can tell users how many times certain terms are searched per month, how difficult they would be to rank for, and more.
Many people do fine with free tools, whether they be from limited trials for keyword research tools or digging through their Google Search Console and Analytics data. By analyzing the free data provided by Google, such as the search terms that bring users to the page or the length of time spent on a given page, cannabis marketers can put together a map of their audiences’ behavior and tailor their content accordingly.
2. Optimize everything: meta descriptions and images
There are so many opportunities to optimize your web pages and boost traffic. Don’t skip out on optimization of your meta descriptions and images, as these are often overlooked but extremely valuable.
Once you’ve conducted keyword research, you should have a target keyword or phrase for each piece of content you produce. Your meta description should include the target keyword, and your images should have a file name reflecting the keyword, as well as an alt-attribute.
Your readers may not pay much attention to these little details, but Google sure does.
3. Reduce load times
If your website doesn’t load quickly, you’re likely to have a high bounce rate. Google takes your bounce rate into consideration and deems a page irrelevant if numerous people click out immediately.
Even if it’s worth the wait for your loyal readers, Google doesn’t care. New visitors leaving the page immediately will count against you. And think about it, if you have to wait more than a few seconds for a page to load, would you trust the content as much as if the page loaded immediately?
Scale down high-resolution images, carefully examine the code, and do whatever else is necessary to combat slow load times.
4. Target a mix of high and low-volume keywords
Circling back to the topic of keyword research, remember to spread your keywords across multiple categories.
For example, you can target high-volume keywords such as “weed edibles” but know that many people have targeted common phrases before. Writing a quality blog about weed edibles can still be valuable for showing up in searches, but don’t expect to end up on page 1 of Google with such a broad term.
“Where to find edibles in (your city)” or “California edibles” may have a significantly lower search volume but will give you a better chance at ranking high. Aim to find a balance between these two types of keywords.
5. Link build carefully
The more authoritative sites that link back to your website, the better.
To build meaningful backlinks, you can become a source for other stories (think using HARO to respond to media requests), post unique content others will include in their blogs, guest post for other sites, and many other options. When many other reputable sites link back to yours, Google sees you as a credible source as well.
Note: While link building is an important tool for SEO, it’s also important not to overdo it and build a large collection of low-quality, spammy links. When only questionable websites link back to your site, Google will not see you as an authority on any topic.
6. Utilize internal links
As you build your content, you may notice that certain articles relate to other pieces you’ve published. Use this to your advantage by linking to other relevant articles within your article.
Not only does this keep readers engaged with your brand, but it will also help reduce bounce rates.
7. Keep your URLs short and sweet
Avoid lengthy URLs for all pieces of content. Some platforms automatically add dates and other information to individual URLs, but you can erase this content and adjust the URL to something shorter and relevant. Be sure to keep your target keyword in the URL, though.
8. Publish original, relevant, and regular content
This may be a no-brainer, but you might be surprised at how many people skip over this crucial step. If you’re trying to boost your brand with cannabis SEO tips but you’re skipping over the very human aspect of posting quality, useful, and consistent content, your efforts won’t go far.
Don’t come up with a list of keywords and then write quick, careless blogs to cover each topic. If your content isn’t providing something unique and relevant to readers, they’re not going to care. And if you’re posting sporadically, you not only leave time for others to focus on other brands and publications, you also signal to Google that you are not an authoritative source on whatever topic you cover.
9. Maintain a visually-appealing website
Have you ever found an article filled with quality information but couldn’t finish it because of how the page looked? If your readers’ eyes are competing with clashing colors, lack of spaces, tiny font, and other issues, they probably won’t stay long.
Make your posts as visually appealing as possible. Use relevant headers, ample space in between sections, thoughtful image placement, easy-to-read font, and any other tools to make the page as easy to navigate as possible.
After all, users aren’t likely to stick around and read something due to brand loyalty. They’re going to read whatever is the best combination of relevant and easy-to-digest.
10. Focus on the human first, and Google second
All these tips may have you feeling ready to boost your SEO and increase traffic, but don’t go overboard. Readers are likely to notice if you’re clearly trying to stuff as many keywords into a blog as possible because your content will not read naturally. Google is also good at identifying content that was created for the sole purpose of stuffing keywords without providing value.
Prioritize the human aspect over Google when publishing articles. Of course, use careful consideration to naturally-incorporate keywords and optimize your posts, but don’t put the algorithm first. After all, providing value to your customers should be more important.
If it comes down to writing something that flows naturally and makes sense without a keyword or writing something that reads unnaturally and contains a target keyword, opt for the first option. Valuable content is more important than stuffing a keyword where it doesn’t belong.
Our cannabis SEO tips can help your company grow its reach organically, but it will take time and consistency. It will not happen overnight. Expect to see return in a few months, at minimum.
More importantly, aim to provide relevant, unique content to your readers that naturally incorporate these tips.