How To Use SEO For Cannabis Marketing
As a Google Analytics and Google Ads certified search marketing professional for over 15 years, I’m a firm believer in search engine optimization or SEO for cannabis marketing.
A cannabis SEO strategy will help your website rank on Page 1 and above your competitors for relevant marijuana-related search queries at all stages of the customer journey or sales funnel.
Some of your potential customers are ready to buy your marijuana products right now and are searching Google or Bing for where to buy weed near them.
An effective Local SEO strategy will help you win at this “on-demand” search game and get these people to your dispensary.
However, other people aren’t quite ready to become paying customers and are not actively searching to buy weed from a dispensary near them. But these people but are super curious and interested in the CBD or marijuana products you sell.
This demographic uses search engines to find information and education on what marijuana products are best for them.
Implementing an effective SEO strategy for cannabis marketing will help them find your content, lead them to your website, and add new prospects into your conversion funnel.
This article will outline an effective SEO strategy that you can implement on your cannabis company website.
10 Steps To An Effective SEO Strategy For Cannabis Marketing & Marijuana Websites
Let’s get one thing straight from the get-go. SEO is a complicated science of data, website analytics, and user behavior.
It really takes a professional to implement an effective cannabis SEO marketing strategy.
However, in an effort to help educate cannabis business owners on how SEO works for cannabis marketing, we’ve broken down a series of 10 steps in laymen’s terms to help almost anyone understand the SEO process for cannabis websites.
1. SEO Audit For Existing Cannabis Websites
I highly recommend starting and new SEO strategy on an existing cannabis website with a complete marketing and SEO audit.
This process includes a 27-point website SEO analysis. It covers the following website marketing, search engine optimization, and user experience elements:
- Social Media
- Lead Generation
- Keyword Focus
- Url Structure
- Title Tags
- Meta Description Tags
- Heading Tags
- Internal Linking & Anchor Text
- Image Names & Alt Tags
- Indexing & Keyword Analysis
- Duplicate Content
- Broken Links
- Code Validation
- Page Load Speed
- Linking Analysis
- Backlinks – Linking Root Domains
- Authority & Trust
- Social Media & Visibility
- Mobile Responsive/Adaptive
- Google My Business Page
- Site Security
- SEO Recommendations
As you can see, by covering the 27 points above, you’re able to get a complete and comprehensive look at how strong your website is with regards to marketing and search engine optimization.
The final SEO audit report allows you to focus on implementing the right cannabis SEO strategy that focuses on changes that relate most to the profitability of your cannabis website.
2. Implement Technical SEO
Technical SEO is related to any SEO work that is done aside from the content. It refers to website and server optimization tactics that help search engines index your site more effectively and improve organic search rankings.
Basically, technical SEO lays a strong foundation to give your website content the best chance it can have to rank for relevant cannabis keywords and phrases.
Typically, after an SEO audit, its time to implement a comprehensive technical SEO strategy which includes optimizing and implementing the following:
- Implement a secure HTTPS server and SSL certificate
- Fix duplicate content issues
- Optimizing website page load time/site speed
- Consider AMP pages
- Consider adding structured data markup
- Ensure the website is mobile friendly
- Create an XML Sitemap
Search engines are known to give preferential treatment, i.e. better rankings, to websites that perform well with technical issues like secure servers, fast page load times, mobile friendly, etc.
As an SEO professional, I find that the technical part of SEO is often forgotten or left out by some website designers.
Always optimize the technical SEO of your website before implementing any on-page cannabis SEO strategy or any other content optimization.
3. On-Page SEO For Cannabis Website Content
On-page SEO of your cannabis content is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the process of optimizing the user-facing, on-page copy you have on your website’s pages.
There are a few parts to optimizing cannabis content on your website but the basics are to implement a digital marketing tactic called SEO copywriting.
SEO copywriting for cannabis SEO is a specialized form of writing website content that contains semantically related phrases of your web page’s focus keywords. Keywords that your target reader types into a search box to find the cannabis information they’re looking for.
It’s the combination of technical SEO and on-page SEO copywriting that helps your cannabis content rank higher on Google and Bing, and ensures you drive highly qualified traffic back to your website.
Ideally, on-page SEO is part of your marijuana marketing strategy from the beginning of your website development stage.
This allows professional cannabis SEOs to implement SEO during website development and “bake in” your cannabis SEO strategy from the start.
However, if you didn’t get the chance to effectively optimize your site for cannabis marketing when your site was first launched, you can still implement a new SEO and content marketing strategy anytime.
4. Ensure Your Phone Number & Address Are Clickable
This section could fall under the above on-page SEO section but I wanted to give it it’s own section because it’s so important for your mobile cannabis marketing strategy.
Before your website goes live, always, always, always, test your contact forms and check that your phone number and address are clickable on mobile devices.
According to official Google statements, more than 50 percent of search queries globally now come from mobile devices.
If a potential customer lands on your website from their mobile browser, looking for a phone number to call you, and your phone number isn’t on your home page and isn’t clickable, I guarantee you they will get frustrated, leave your site, and go to your competitors.
You’d think your web designer or developer would have written the proper code initially to make your phone number and address clickable, which is fair, but I’ve seen this error many times while performing website SEO audits.
Doesn’t hurt to double check.
5. Create a Google Analytics Account
This may seem like a no-brainer.
Or, like above, you may have assumed that your website designer or developer has already created a Google Analytics account for you and has properly implemented the proper code on your website to capture all the data.
You know what they say about assuming things.
First of all, let’s define what Google Analytics is: it’s a software that is connected to your website through a piece of tracking code.
The account holder, or typically website developer or SEO, generate this code and then places it into the HTML back end of every single page of your cannabis site.
This is absolutely essential for any business website as this is where all your valuable website data comes from.
You need Google Analytics on your cannabis business website because it provides you with valuable statistics and analytical data to maximize and optimize your search engine optimization and cannabis marketing.
Best of all, Google Analytics is free, you just need a Google account!
6. Create a Google Search Console Account
Google Search Console is another free cannabis SEO tool provided by Google. It allows business owners and/or their SEO agency to check the indexing status and optimize visibility of their websites.
Our cannabis SEO team loves using Search Console because of the huge amount of accurate insightful data it offers for free!
For example, Google Search Console allows cannabis marketers to:
- Submit and check a sitemap and also helps the webmasters to check if there are any errors with their sitemap.
- Check and set the crawl rate, and view statistics about when Googlebot accesses a particular site.
- Write and check a robots.txt file to help discover pages that are blocked in robots.txt accidentally.
- List internal and external pages that link to the site.
- Get a list of links which Googlebot had difficulty crawling, including the error that Googlebot received when accessing the URLs in question.
- See what keyword searches on Google led to the site being listed in the SERPs, and the click through rates of such listings. (Previously named ‘Search Queries’; rebranded May 20, 2015 to ‘Search Analytics’ with extended filter possibilities for devices, search types and date periods).
- Set a preferred domain (e.g. prefer example.com over www.example.com or vice versa), which determines how the site URL is displayed in SERPs.
- Highlight to Google Search elements of structured data which are used to enrich search hit entries (released in December 2012 as Google Data Highlighter).
- Receive notifications from Google for manual penalties.
- Provide access to an API to add, change and delete listings and list crawl errors.
- Rich Cards a new section added, for better mobile user experience.
- Check the security issues if there are any with the website. (Hacked Site or Malware Attacks)
- Add or remove the property owners and associates of the web property.
It just takes a Google account to access these fabulous cannabis SEO tool.
7. Setup & Optimize Your Google & Bing Cannabis Business Pages
You may have already claimed your business on Google and Bing and created your business profile, but do you regularly optimize each page?
Optimizing your Google My Business and your Bing Places for Business pages is essential for your cannabis local SEO strategy.
It’s not something you want to set and forget.
An optimized business page on search engines like Google and Bing ensures your cannabis business profile appears right when people are searching for your business or businesses like yours.
8. Publish High-Quality Cannabis Related Blog Content Regularly
So, at this point, if you’ve followed the 7 cannabis SEO implementation tips above, you’ve essentially implemented an “initial” cannabis SEO and keyword strategy on to your website.
There are still a few more steps to this cannabis SEO marketing plan but this one regarding publishing regular blog content is a super important one for the long term success of your SEO strategy.
SEO optimized blogging is a vital content marketing tactic that should be used in any cannabis SEO plan. Publishing regular cannabis blog content helps your website stay relevant, authoritative, and trustworthy for the long term if implemented strategically.
Your blog content should focus on answering the questions your target customers have about your dispensary or ancillary cannabis business.
Educational content that provides high-quality and relevant information is super valuable to your potential customers as it is to your cannabis business’s long term growth.
The actual monthly search volumes for cannabis-related search terms aren’t provided by Google, Bing, or any other SEO tool.
So how do you find out what topics are most popular with your potential customers? You can find this information from performing detailed keyword research using paid SEO tools.
But, you can find out how popular common search terms (i.e. blog topics) are by noting the total number of searches returned from any search query.
9. Submit Fresh Sitemap
If you’ve arrived at this point of the SEO process, with your new cannabis SEO strategy implemented on your website, you’re ready to submit your new sitemap to both Google and Bing.
This will ensure your newly SEO optimized website gets re-indexed by both search engines sooner than later.
You want Google and Bing’s “spiders” to recrawl your site and index your new optimized pages, not your previously unoptimized page versions.
10. Focus on Getting Reviews
If you really want to boost your SEO after you’ve implemented a new cannabis SEO marketing strategy, focus on your in-store and online customer service and getting positive online reviews.
When your dispensary shows up in Google Maps, or in a Google search listing, or Google local map pack, you want your Google reviews rating to show up in the map/search listing as well, right?
People are more apt to click on a relevant search listing if the company has a 4 or 5 star Google review ranking. Same goes for users who search on Bing.
If you want your cannabis business website to show up in search results for popular/profitable cannabis related search queries, search engine optimization is the answer.
Using SEO as part of your cannabis marketing strategy should be at the top of the website development stage of your cannabis marketing plan.
The good news is it’s never too late to implement SEO into your marijuana marketing strategy.
People are actively searching for information about CBD oil, CDB products, and other cannabis-related products and services, and we can help drive them to your website with SEO and content marketing.