By Amber Mayo
Google updated their algorithm for search last month – this is standard operating procedure for them and they do it a few times a year. However, this one was a big one. While Google never gives away the secret sauce, this latest update may have bigger impacts on cannabis businesses than previous ones. Google is placing great emphasis on “EAT” – which stands for expertise, authority and trust. They’re saying…don’t try to game us. Show us your receipts and prove that you own EAT in your area.
Here’s a bit of what to look out for:
More Mobile. Your site, especially in cannabis (and especially stores!), should be optimized mobile first. Google is putting a lot more emphasis and credit to those who are. The primary optimization of your consumer facing site should be mobile first. In some instances, we’re seeing 60-75% of a brand’s site traffic come from mobile. For stores/dispensaries, that number can be higher. We work with a store in a high commuting area – 80% of their site traffic regularly hits from mobile devices. Make sure your content shows up, you aren’t blocking content with pop ups and that your menu is also optimized.
Blogging. In cannabis, we’re more likely to blog to get those keywords loaded up. With so many other difficulties marketing, can you blame any of us? Nope. But Google seems to be tightening this up – to the benefit of experts and the detriment of blogging for blogging’s sake (back to EAT). This means that if your blogs have a ton of outbound links, they are going to ding you. Think of this as a content strategy element and revise your approach. Be the expert, interview the expert, showcase the expert, don’t link (as much) to the expert.
Link on/Link Off. You still want as many global, national and local links to hit your site as possible (quality backlinks, not bad backlinks!). Many forget the power of local. As an example, if you don’t have your business set up with a Google Business account (if possible, unless safety is an issue), then set that up ASAP. That’s critical for a few reasons. First, Google will love you more. Google loves Google, remember that and exploit it and you will be in great stead. Second, it’ll drive greater results all the way around – people often forget about the power of Google Business as a business and traffic driver. For stores and dispensaries, we’ve found that Google Business drives significantly more return and impressions than Instagram or other social platforms.
Spend time reviewing your backlinks, see what’s happening there and if it could be perceived that you are gaming the system (especially backlinking from sketchy, spammy sites). If they find it, they won’t be happy and you will be penalized.
That’s just a tip of the Google iceberg, but if you stay focused and above-board, the hard work should be rewarded with some better rankings!