How To Use SEO For Cannabis MarketingAs 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 WebsitesLet’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 WebsitesI 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
2. Implement Technical SEOTechnical 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
3. On-Page SEO For Cannabis Website ContentOn-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 ClickableThis 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.
6. Create a Google Search Console AccountGoogle 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.