cannabis_seo_graphic

Cannabis SEO: Ultimate Organic Marketing Guide

Search Engine Marketing

The cannabis industry is becoming very competitive in states that have established marijuana programs. Brands have to create and grow their online presence to outshine the competition. Cannabis marketers should focus on search engine optimization – it’s an effective strategy that will increase online visibility, drive quality leads to your website or storefront, and increase website conversion rates. SEO is completely organic – meaning you can generate traffic over time without spending money on advertising. 

Digital Marketing Barriers 

Marijuana marketers face taxing obstacles every year due to the strict regulation of cannabis products. Each state and digital platform has its own rules that hinder cannabis and CBD brands from expanding their reach, informing customers, and building relationships. When marketing for a cannabis company it’s important for the project manager to have a great understanding of cannabis compliance on the internet. 

Stigma 

The world has been completely brainwashed by unfair and unjust cannabis prohibition for a long time. The climate around cannabis is starting to change, but brands have a long way to go to end the negative stigma around the plant permanently.

Government Regulation

Cannabis Is over regulated under most state programs because of the negative stigma, and ignorance around medical application, cultivation, and consumption of cannabis. Most states have their own internet marketing laws, but they’re hard to enforce because there are no real internet police. Marketers must understand how state laws are enforced for cannabis marketing campaigns. 

Social Media Limitations

Paid advertising is only available to ancillary companies not directly affiliated with cannabis products. CBD brands can exploit loopholes to advertise specific products and information. Tread with caution if you plan to take advantage of these loopholes. Google and Meta won’t hesitate to ban your account forever!  If your brand is a state-licensed facility, the risk is too great. There are cannabis-friendly places to advertise, but they are not as effective as social media and search engine ads are. 

The state in which your license resides regulates social media. Your brand may be allowed to use social media platforms, but each platform has their own set of rules. For example, Snapchat removes anything cannabis related to stop illicit transactions on the platform. Accounts, stories, and comments are all reduced to virtual nothingness. Even Berner, Co-founder of Cookies, arguably the most popular legal weed plug, has problems posting cannabis related content on Instagram. 

Instagram and Facebook don’t allow people or organizations to advertise or sell marijuana, regardless of the seller’s state or country. In addition, their policy prohibits any marijuana seller, including dispensaries, from promoting their business by providing contact information like phone numbers, email addresses, street addresses or by using the “contact us” tab on Instagram Business Accounts. However, they allow people to include a website link in their bio information.

Solution: What is SEO?

Search Engine Marketing is the solution to generate traffic online – cannabis related brands must lean on organic traffic to increase their sales and brand exposure. An organic marketing strategy naturally generates traffic to your business over time, rather than using paid advertising or sponsored posts. Let’s look at a visual to see what we mean when we say organic traffic.  

(Image of SERP)

The green line represents the division between paid advertising and organic search results. Search engine users will likely click on the top-ranking URL on the search engine results page (SERP). Users hardly ever make it to the bottom of page one, let alone page two or three of the SERP, so it’s in a marker’s best interest to understand Google’s wants and needs. 71-95% of clicks come from page one of the SERP. 

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex marketing strategy with many moving parts: however, it’s a commitment that pays off in the long run. The goal is to get the top-ranked spot on Google because it will yield the most brand exposure. Sales and conversion rates increase due to the volume of qualified leads sent back to your site. SEO leads convert 14% more than leads from social media because SEO allows brands to impact purchase decisions by providing helpful information through engaging content. 

What makes a great SEO campaign?  

Mastering the art of SEO can seem complicated, but it comes down to a few key elements: 

  • Surpassing search engine standards
    • Google and other search engines’ main goal is to develop relevant, fast, and fresh search results for users. Therefore, hitting all three points is essential to exceeding expectations. 
  • Technical and on-page optimization 
    • Consider mobile-first mindset, decreased website loading time, page experience, internal and external links. 
  • Creating a user-friendly website 
    • Focus on easy to use navigation, clear design, visuals, and readability. Optimize mobile-first. 
  • Create captivating, informational, or entertaining content… mouthful
    • Utilize blog marketing to keep your customers informed about the products and services you provide. Create useful content that saves time and money. Video marketing can be integrated as well. 
  • Utilizing keywords, links, meta descriptions, and snippets 
    • Keyword research and optimization are the foundation of an effective SEO strategy. Make life easy on Google bots by providing information from your site. 
  • Boosting domain and page authority
    • Over time the end goal is to establish high domain authority. Once your customers and Google view your brand as an authority, all eyes will be on your website. Google rewards authorities with the highest ranking. 

How Do Search Engines Work? 

In the early days of the internet, it was only about the amount of clicks you could generate. The effects were bad information, spam, pop-ups, and viruses littered the web, so search engines were not providing relevant, fast, and fresh search results to users. 

There was a shift in Google’s mission. Instead of looking for sites that had a search phrase pop 

up 100 times on a site, the focus transitioned to providing relevant, trustworthy, and essential information that allowed regular people to obtain the information they were searching for. 

When running a search engine like Google, Yahoo, Bing, or Baidu, it takes the key phrase or word entered (e.g., cannabis near me) and crawls a database of billions of websites and content in search of the information most relevant to the inquiry. 

How Can SEO Help Your Cannabis Brand Grow?

Brand awareness is the main reason cannabis and CBD companies should perfect SEO. Your brand’s ability to stand out is vital to the longevity of your business. Brand visibility will lead to more qualified traffic to your website – which will spark higher conversion rate, and increase revenue.

Using best SEO practices gives your brand an edge over competitors. There is limited space on the SERP, competition increases for specific keywords. You need to ensure you do your SEO well. In the over-regulated world of cannabis, it is vital to dominate search engines. West Coast markets are saturated with cannabis brands; SEO is a way to stand out from the noise. On the other hand, it’s wise to start developing your SEO while the cannabis industry is still in its infancy. It will take 6-12 months to achieve optimal results with SEO. 

Keyword Research 

Keywords are the word phrases or inquiries a person enters into search engines. Furthermore, keywords act as the stalk to hold up the fire content canopies. This combination is the center of SEO; once you harness the power of keyword analysis, your ranking will start to increase. They are indicators to search engine crawl bots that generate the results. 

Using the most relevant and trendy keywords in your content and copy starts with using free tools like Google trends, but if you want to take it to the next level, work with powerful tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, or Moz. 

Cannabis knowledge is the starting point of cannabis keyword research. Understanding the little nuances in the cannabis industry will enable you to develop stellar content. Evolve your keyword list as the industry rapidly grows, and you will be on your way to becoming known online. 

Fire Content 

Cannabis brands have to keep customers informed about strains and products. Unfortunately, there is a real lack of knowledge due to sketchy disappearances of cannabis knowledge that date back to ancient times. We are not pointing fingers, but the point is that your brand should provide insight on how to use cannabis products as a medicine correctly or teach a stoner a new method of consuming concentrates. You could also entertain audiences with video content. People love to scroll through social media when they’re high. Give them something valuable that they can absorb at that time. 

Target specific customer personas that you want to engage with your content. For example, dispensaries targeting “the connoisseur” who shops in the midwest markets might write a blog post titled “Best Premium Cannabis Brands in Michigan.” This particular keyword targets a particular client – it’s effective if you’re a dispensary in Michigan because Michigan dispensaries can capture out-of-state sales and reap the benefits of prohibition in neighboring states.

Local SEO: 

Your customers need to know how to locate and contact your business. Google maps and Google my business are powerful additions to your SEO campine. By optimizing these free tools you can guarantee your customers can physically reach your geographical location. Google won’t block your business information, so make sure it’s updated. Directories and archives will help your business rank high for navigational search queries. 

On-Page SEO vs. Technical SEO

On-page Seo is the practice of optimizing web pages entirely. The goal is to increase usability and increase the chance to appear in the search results by utilizing keywords. The elements on on-page SEO are: (Insert On-page SEO infographic)

  • ​Featured snippet intro
  • Answers to burning questions
  • UX for desktop and mobile devices
  • Table of contents (if applicable)
  • Proper title tags
  • Easily shareable URL
  • Image alt text
  • Keyword optimization
  • Proper word and character count
  • Meta description
  • Author or publisher attributions

Technical SEO is the practice of optimizing the “back end” of a site so that search engines like Google can better crawl and index the website. The elements of technical are: (insert Tech. SEO infographic) 

  • An XML sitemap
  • Correct URLs
  • Internal backlinks
  • Outbound links
  • Proper images
  • Google analytics capability
  • Structured data
  • Correct title tags
  • Correct meta tags
  • Easily rendered coding
  • Intuitive design and organization
  • Schema markup

Background Knowledge needed for Cannabis SEO

When planning and executing an SEO campaign, it is important to consider the skills required to achieve positive results. The primary skill sets for cannabis SEO are:

  • Extensive Cannabis Knowledge 
  • Public-relations 
  • Data Analytics 
  • Strong writers and content creators 
  • Marketing strategist 
  • Project management 

Final Thoughts 

You now understand why you should be practicing SEO. Now you must consider two options; to do in-house SEO marketing or outsource the work to an agency. It can be challenging to build a team with this skill overnight. The initial investment for in-house SEO can be upwards of $300,000 per year or more added to your payroll. An agency would be way more affordable and valuable because an agency has extensive experience applying in-depth industry knowledge to content-driven SEO marketing campaigns. Team up with Dagga Digital Marketing if you are ready to grow cyber roots and take your brand to new heights.