I have heard cannabis marketers say that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is “free” traffic. I want to help set the record straight by letting you know that SEO is not “free.” Budgets are still needed to write content and have a SEO consultant work on a website.
There have been multiple times in my career that I needed to create a compelling argument for more budget for an SEO campaign. These types of recommendations are often challenged, yet thousands of dollars for pay-per-click (PPC) can be spent without blinking an eye. Some cannabis entrepreneurs would say it’s easier to see the return on investment (ROI) on ad spend compared to the SEO campaigns and initiatives that we are also running.
There are three reasons that SEO specialists struggle to get the budgets they want in this industry compared to their digital advertising counterparts, including:
- Making SEO a long-term strategy.
- Proving ROI for SEO campaigns.
- Running the risk of potential SEO negative tactics from previous SEO consultants.
Now is the time to learn how to showcase the importance of SEO and fight for the budget that it needs to make your website successful from an organic standpoint.
Let’s go into more detail about the top tips for getting the SEO budget that you want and need to show success.
1. Making SEO a Long-Term Strategy
The first step to getting the budget you request is educating your team and decision-makers that SEO is a long-term strategy. Of course, there are SEO tactics that you can complete. But SEO takes time to work when done correctly.
By providing education and information, you’re able to build trust from the start and set realistic expectations for all parties involved.
The competitive nature of the cannabis industry will also determine how much SEO budget you will need. In this industry, you should expect to pay more money to be aggressive to gain more visibility. Competitive industries usually take a longer time to penetrate from an SEO standpoint and will need a more advanced strategy to succeed.
Most seasoned SEO specialists can provide an estimate for when a website will see an organic benefit, especially when prioritizing tactics. From that list of tactics, you can estimate that the website will begin to see organic performance improvements within a couple weeks to months.
2. Proving ROI for SEO Campaigns
This might be the most important reason you are not getting the budget you are requesting. It can be hard to attribute success to SEO if you don’t plan on it. Tracking and monitoring your analytics is crucial to success. Often, SEO teams will report on the wrong metrics, like sessions, bounce rate and keyword rankings.
Those vanity metrics are important to track, but not necessarily the most essential metrics to share with an executive. Instead, focus on showing how many conversions were generated through organic sessions.
Then, it’s important to come to a consensus on what those conversions normally net for ROI. That way you can show an estimate on revenue from the organic campaigns, instead of monetary value.
SEO teams can also leverage information about what the company is investing in PPC efforts to create a budget and SEO strategy to rank for those keywords organically, potentially saving the company money. The money that is saved can be reallocated to other paid efforts or additional SEO campaigns.
3. Running the Risk of Potential SEO Negative Tactics From Previous SEO Consultants
Most cannabis entrepreneurs are aware of the negative or blackhat SEO tactics from the past (and present). Once the real issue with these tactics is discovered, it can be difficult to reverse the impact. More often than not, webmasters who have been hit with an SEO penalty can be reluctant to work with other SEO vendors.
Additionally, there are multiple websites online that are willing to charge a less money while providing guarantees that are meaningless. Blackhat tactics and terrible guarantees shine a bad light on the search industry.
When searching for a potential agency or partner for SEO, be sure that they are not implementing blackhat SEO tactics as they can have a long-term impact.
SEO is a tried-and-true, cornerstone tactic of successful digital marketing programs. If you’re struggling to get the budget you need, these tips above can help you secure an SEO budget that will help you meet your cannabis marketing goals.