Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Cannabis business in simple words is all the effort that a company is putting in driving more organic traffic to its website. And we know what you are thinking – “there is nothing simple in SEO”, but we want to show you otherwise. There are many articles out there that will try to convince you that SEO is for highly technical people. Others will try to explain that there is no need for putting effort into your cannabis SEO if you pay for ads. SEO is still a very powerful tool that can help you increase your website traffic, which if you utilize in a smart way will lead to sales and growth of your cannabis business.
In order to understand how cannabis SEO can help your business grow first, you should understand how the search engine works. Understandably, we will focus on Google since it is the largest and most commonly used search engine with a 92% market share.
Tip 1: Understand How Google Works
Google is the best search engine simply because it gives users the most relevant information and answers to their questions. As soon as the users type in their questions in the search bar list of websites load. The number 1 website will have the most relevant information and will be the one bringing the best value to Google’s users. This will be the reason that it is number 1 in the SERP results. The number 5 top results on Google will get about 70% of all search queries. The most traffic means more revenue since this is how Google monetizes their users by selling ads on the search results page. The top results will be the most recent, relevant and helpful and this is why we will go on that website to look for our answers. They will be the ones bringing the biggest revenue to Google and clearly, this is what the search engine is looking for. So it is simple to help Google make money and they will help you make money 🙂
Tip 2: Understand What the Users Are Looking for
This process is called keyword research and it is vital to the foundation of your online cannabis business. Keyword research is an important step and must be done with lots of understanding and patience. You must do your keyword research soon as you have the idea of your business, its name, and domain. This way you will be sure the foundation of your cannabis business will be laid out properly. The keyword research is not a one-time deal and it is a good idea to do it once or twice a year, so you are up to date and understand what the trends are. You can do it with different tools, but the big idea besides it is to understand what your future customers are searching for and to give them the right answers, products, or services.
For example, you are a dispensary owner in the area of Sun City, Arizona. You have to think about what your customers will be searching for online when they will be in need of services like yours.
A great idea will be to start with trending keywords like “dispensaries near me”, “best dispensaries in Denver” and everything around that (keyword research tools will have ideas for you). You have to create a list of all the keywords you want to rank for. Take into consideration how competitive they are and what their search volume is. Also, consider your resources. Do not go after the whole list, but make a plan which is the ones that matter the most for your business, based on the KW difficulty, the search volume, and your brand goals. The next step will be to start creating content that will give your future customers what they are looking for.
In order to go in more depth with how to do your keyword research we have prepared for you suggestions of cannabis SEO tools that you can use for free:
- Google Keyword Planner is a free Google tool that helps you find keyword ideas. However, it doesn’t show the absolute search volume for each word.
- Ahrefs Keyword Generator has a base of 8 million queries where you’ll definitely find relevant keywords for your business.
- Moz Keyword Explorer not only helps find profitable keywords but also organizes them into lists.
Tip 3: Conduct an SEO Audit on Your Website
Before implementing your website SEO make sure your resource is compliant with search engine requirements.
Google must index only one version of the site. Speaking of All Green Dispensary, there can be 4 different versions of its site:
Set up a proper redirect for all these versions, or Google will index them as separate sites and it will lower your overall search rate.
Delete all zombie pages on your website as they have no value for the visitors and just hang on your site with no purpose. Google doesn’t think “the more content the better”, instead of this it encourages resources with less but more relevant content.
Delete broken pages that show error 404 and create a 301 redirect to relevant ones. Once you submit the sitemap to the search engine, broken pages may be a problem.
Tip 4: Think One Step Further When Writing Your Content
Now, after you have a great understanding of what your customers need, based on the knowledge of their search intent it is time to give it to them. Ideally, you will be able to give it to them nicely wrapped. And what we mean here is not only to start writing content with your keywords but also think about 1 step further in your customer’s journey and what funnels you want to take them down. For example, let’s say your customers are searching for “dispensaries near me” and your website shows on the first page of Google and the users come to your page. What will be the first thing they see? What kind of information are you giving them and what do you expect them to do next? Do you want them to come to your location? If so, it is a great idea to give them a map and working hours. Do you want them to order online? Then show them your products online with prices and delivery options.
Tip 5: Do Good SEO On-page-optimization
Writing your content for your cannabis business based on your keyword research is the best you can do, but it will only be ranking high on Google if you do a good on SEO On-page optimization. Even though it sounds technical it can easily be done by anyone with a basic understanding of SEO optimization. Your cannabis SEO can be done by a specialist, by your marketing team or even by somebody in the office, who has the minimum knowledge of it.
Cannabis SEO On-page-optimization consists of a few things:
Keyword or keywords that you want to optimize the page for. We will continue with our example with a dispensary in Sun City, Arizona, named All Green. Every page can be optimized for more than 1 keyword. So, in this case, we will be choosing 2 keywords – dispensary and our brand name – All Green.
Keep in mind that the keyword density should be about 4-5 keywords per thousand of words. If you overwhelm the page with too many target words, Google will consider it as a spam tactic.
Include your targeted keyword in your URL. An example of the chosen keywords above for URL ideally will be www.allgreen-dispensary.com. This can be the homepage of your business.
Use your keyword in your Title Tag. Your title tag is what the users will see as the title of your page just like this: what does a title tag look like for cannabis business:
Add Your Keyword to Your Meta Description, make it compelling and add a Call-to-Action to it. Your Meta Description should be less than 160 characters. What does meta description look like for cannabis business:
Add Your Keyword to Your H1 Tag, and make sure to only use one.
The next and last thing is the body of your page. You have to make sure that your text is easy to read, give the customers the value they are looking for and lastly, use your keywords at least 3 times in the body of your page.
Include external links in your content to help Google understand what your page is about. Don’t clog the page with too many links so Google doesn’t think your page is another link spam. Also, avoid links to “bad” sites that Google considers spam, or your search engine rankings may suffer. Instead, always link to reputable site, for example:
Internal linking is also important. When you publish a new page or blog post:
- Add the links to existing pages of your site relevant for the subject of the article.
- Insert at least five links in old pages to your new one.
Make sure to add anchor text that should describe what your target link is about. This will help users better navigate through your website and rise up your rank for Google.
Image Optimization consists of the following steps:
- Image resizing without losing the quality. The best size for all your images is under 100 kb as it doesn’t slow down the loading of the page.
- Optimizing image file name according to the target keyword.
- Adding your main keyword as the alternative text. This allows Google to index your content properly.
If you want to improve the overall technical performance of the website, onsite cannabis SEO is crucial. The optimization is based on the ranking factors which Google considers when crawling the site:
Architecture is how the pages of a website are structured. It helps users and search engine crawlers find easily what they are looking for.
Breadcrumbs are website links that allow users to track how far they are from the home page. You will find them at the top of the website or right under the navigation bar.
HTML sitemap helps the crawler to find all the content and identify the most important pages.
SSL (HTTPS) certificate prevents the stealing of visitors’ data and shows them that the site is safe from hackers.
A Terms of Service page and a Privacy page are necessary for any site as you collect the personal data from the visitors (number of sessions, pages per session etc.). Google will trust your site more if you have them because this way you show you have all the procedures in place to handle users’ information with care.
Delete all duplicated meta information. Though duplicated metadata does not affect your site ranking, the visitors may consider the information less valuable and get the wrong impression of the site.
Also, your site must be mobile-friendly even if the percentage of the visitors who use mobile devices is low. Google sets mobile devices as a priority and uses a mobile-focused index. Even more: if your site is not optimized, it can be easily punished, so it’s time to do a Mobile-friendly Test produced by Google.
Google cares about the users and doesn’t want them to wait long till they get the information needed, The download speed of all your pages is the key factor for cannabis SEO as well. You can test it with PageSpeedInsights.
Tip 6: Do Good Off-Site Optimization
Off-site cannabis SEO includes everything you do outside of your website to help your pages improve their rankings. Its goal is to improve awareness about your site by means of organic traffic and get natural links to your site from reputable resources (which shows Google that you provide valuable information people want to refer to).
You can get incoming links in few ways:
Guest blogging. Reach out to the blogs your target audience may be interested in and ask if you can write a high-quality blog post for them without direct promotion. It’s perfect if they provide a do-follow link to your site.
Outreach: Write a blog post and insert the links to other experts’ opinion. Link to their sites and ask them to promote and link back to the post.
Directories: Add your business to reputable cannabis business directories. Also, list your business on Yelp, Yahoo, and Google My Business.
Social Media activities encourage your audience to share your posts to generate organic links. This is one of the most effective ways to get more traffic as paid ads is prohibited for the cannabis industry.
We know that every cannabis business owner wants to succeed with his online business and ideally, this can be done with some knowledge and understanding of how the searches work, how Google uses information, and how the users think. Give the users the right information, services, and products, do a good job with your cannabis SEO and you will get ahead of your competitors.
Radina is the Marketing Manager of Cannabis Stack. She has been in digital marketing, branding and company growing management since 2011 and has a proven record of wins with different sectors. Her passions in the canna-businesses are the cannabis culture, fast-developing solutions, and the challenges the field is offering.