Why Is SEO Important for Cannabis Businesses?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), simply put, is the process of optimizing your website to rank higher in search engines and be more visible to potential customers. It allows your business to receive more relevant and higher quality traffic while standing out from the crowd. In the digital age, being visible and easily found on the internet can make or break a business- big or small. This is especially important for any business in the cannabis industry. Cannabis businesses do not have the opportunity to use traditional marketing methods including paid online advertising. Therefore, they have to rely on organic methods, such as SEO.

How Can SEO Help Your Cannabis Business?

Improving your website’s SEO will help you get found online by potential customers. It is a great way to get ahead of your competitors. It will also help you get found by the right people. For example, if you’re a local store you would want people from your area to discover and visit your store, instead of receiving a lot of irrelevant traffic.

In addition, for a rapidly growing industry like cannabis, timing is everything. Working on your SEO and ranking higher in search engines will help your business stay visible as the industry continues to grow. 

How to Get Started

A great place to start is by thinking about your customers and their needs. Think of it this way; SEO allows you to match up with customers that are relevant to your business and are ready to make a purchase. To get to that point, you need to first figure out who they are, what they are looking for, and why. Do some research and use your business experience to drill down on what your customers need. You are already an expert at knowing what your business provides. Try to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and come up with a list of topics that they may be searching for online.

Another great option is to simply talk to your customers. They may not use the same terms to describe your products and may have different ways to pose questions that you’ve never thought of. 

Once you have a list of topics, think of related keywords. You can then use your list of keywords to discover other ones and see how much search volume they generate. Keyword research is crucial to the success of your SEO strategy, and there are multiple ways to do it. You can search for your topics and keywords on Google and other search engines to see what the top results are and come with some options that way. Google also has a “Related Searches” section at the bottom of the results page that will give you some ideas. There are several keyword research tools available, both free and paid. Using these tools will allow you to view detailed reports on important data points such as how many searches each keyword generates, and how competitive each keyword is.

Tips for Keyword Research

  • The more data-driven your keywords are the better. As a business owner, you may think a certain topic is popular with your customers, but to prove that it actually is you need data.
  • Consider average monthly searches and trends over time; don’t waste your time on keywords that are consistently trending down.
  • Don’t try to compete for difficult keywords. If there is a lot of competition for a keyword, it will take a ton of effort to rank anywhere close to the first page. Use your efforts to identify up-and-coming opportunities where you can shine.
  • Always think about the future and adjust your strategy. Cannabis is an ever-evolving business. Keyword research is not something you do at the beginning and forget about later. Staying up to date on trends and making sure your page stays relevant is crucial to your future success.

Where to Go From There?

Once you have your list of keywords and topics in hand there are several actions you can take to improve your SEO. Here are some important SEO strategies: 

Create Engaging Content

Having an online presence isn’t just a way to get found by potential customers. It has evolved into something much more interactive. Imagine a customer coming into your store and having a lengthy conversation with you to help identify the best products for their specific needs. Answering customers’ questions and guiding them in their purchasing experience is an important part of providing great customer service. That demand hasn’t gone away. But for some businesses, the experience has moved online. Businesses now rely on high-quality online content to make that connection to their customers. By providing content such as blog articles, videos, slideshows, etc. you can position yourself as an expert and a reliable resource.

Search engines also love good quality content. This only makes sense since their goal is to match users with the most valuable content. Blog articles are a great opportunity to use your keywords and address commonly searched questions.

To get started, select a topic and related keywords. From there, begin building your outline with different sections. Make sure to use your keywords in the title, headlines, and body. Also include variations of your keyword to reach a larger target audience. However, it’s important to stay on topic and not include too many keywords. Getting off-topic can actually hurt your SEO. You can then identify related topics and use them to create supporting articles. Creating 3-5 supporting articles and using them as backlink targets will help boost your ranking. Another thing to consider is the length of your article. Looking at top-ranked articles in your topic will help you determine what your word count needs to be. Once you complete these steps you can begin writing your article.

Tip: Make sure that all of your articles are based on factual information. There are lots of non-scientific claims about the cannabis industry as well as anecdotal evidence. Search engines are becoming better at identifying these claims and may lower your ranking if they deem your information “untrustworthy”.

Structure Your Website

Search engines like structure. Aim for a comprehensive architecture with well-planned content and topics that are grouped together. Create an outline for your website using your researched keywords with specific categories and subcategories. Make sure to dedicate certain pages to certain keywords. If you have multiple pages dedicated to a certain keyword, that can create keyword competition and lower the ranking for each page.

Use the relevant keyword in the page title and description to stand out. These are both visible to users and are picked up by search engines. There are also other places you can include your keywords that are only visible to search engines. For example, you can label your content accordingly with meta tags. Making use of all of these opportunities to include your keywords will help your website become more relevant in the search results.

Improve User Experience

Fast and easy access across all devices is very important for your online success. Your website’s page load speed not only matters to your users but is also picked up as data by search engines. Make sure to check your website’s mobile friendliness and work with your web developer to optimize your speed.

User experience is another important component of websites. Until recently, this wasn’t a quantifiable data point for search engines. But recently, Google is ramping up its focus on page experience in 2021 by introducing a new set of metrics called Core Web Vitals. According to Google, “Great page experience doesn't override having great page content”, but it is another thing that they will take into account when ranking websites. Google considers 3 main data points: how quickly the page loads, its responsiveness, and visual stability.

Use Link Building

Link building allows you to be well-connected across the web. You can use links to external websites on your pages, or backlinks (links from other sites to yours) to improve your SEO. This process helps build trust for your website. Providing links to relevant blog articles, and using your social media to promote your website content are great practices to get you started.   

Will Purchasing Backlinks Help Your SEO?

Some businesses rely on purchasing backlinks to help their link building process. This can be a quick way to increase your SEO but it may be riskier than what it’s worth. Search engines such as Google have developed complex algorithms to determine the relevance of your website to your target keywords. Unless your backlinks are of high relevance and quality content, they might hurt more than they help. In fact, it is a known fact that Google is against backlinks. So, why go against the policy of your biggest SEO partner?

Evidence-Based SEO

There are lots of claims and promises when it comes to SEO, and an endless amount of tools to help you figure out the secret to ranking higher. Keep in mind that there isn’t a one size fits all approach when it comes to generating website traffic. And it can be a confusing and complicated process. Understanding what helps your website rank higher and staying on top of any changes will help you manage this process easier. Make sure that your approach is data-driven and ever-evolving. Track your website data and continue to identify opportunities.

The knowledge you need to succeed.

Start driving more website traffic and sales for your cannabis business now.