Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for cannabis businesses, particularly while many social media marketing and digital advertising tactics are still not available to them. For years, the phrase “content is king” has put businesses on notice that in order to generate traffic from search engines, they need to be publishing high-quality, relevant content on their websites.
Of course, publishing great content on a cannabis business website is just one part of an effective content marketing strategy, but its importance should never be discounted. Without content, there is nothing for online consumers who are looking for businesses, products, and services to find.
With Google’s recent BERT update, the importance of SEO and high quality content has increased more than ever. Google has stated that the BERT update will affect 10% of all search queries, so every business needs to take notice.
Specifically, the Google BERT update affects complex search queries that rely on context to deliver the best results. Through BERT, Google can deliver better results by analyzing both the context and nuance of words used in searches. BERT will be particularly effective for longer search terms that are more conversational and sound more natural.
While any Google search algorithm update is very complex, there are some key things that cannabis businesses should know about BERT to help their websites rank well in relevant searches. Here are five to get you started:
1. Websites Must be Well-Written
In the world of search engine rankings, quality content has long trumped quantity, but with the BERT update, quality writing takes on a new level of importance. While BERT wasn’t designed to hurt poorly-written sites, it can definitely help well-written sites.
To that end, pages on a cannabis business website should include enough information to be useful. They should also provide enough context clues to Google so there is no question what each page is about.
Cannabis businesses should ask themselves the following two questions when creating new content:
- What are people searching for who want to find products and businesses like mine?
- What questions do people have that are relevant to my products and business?
For content that has already been published on a cannabis business’ website or blog, ask this question about each piece: What is the point of this content? If the answer is clear and the content is useful in terms of asking one or both of the questions above, then it has a chance to rank well in search results for related queries.
2. Page Content Must be Focused
BERT will allow people to enter search queries that use more natural language, so it’s important that content is highly focused. The best way to make sure Google knows what your content is about is to stay focused on specific subject matter on each page or in each blog post.
Remember, quality matters – a lot. Therefore, it’s important to develop a content strategy that guides you in creating content which meets consumers’ needs across all stages of the buyer journey and marketing funnel.
3. Internal Linking Matters on Text-Light Pages
Many cannabis businesses have some pages on their websites that are image-heavy or video-heavy but light on text. In these situations, it’s very difficult for Google to analyze the pages and determine what they’re about. Keep in mind, Google’s algorithm tries to deliver the best results to each search query, and a page with little text and few context clues is unlikely to be considered one of the best results.
With that in mind, use different context clues to help Google understand what text-light pages are about. Internal linking (i.e., linking to different pages and blog posts within the cannabis business’ website) to relevant content can be very helpful. However, don’t include an excessive number of internal links on a web page. These links should enhance the user experience, not detract from it.
4. Some Words Need More Context than Others
There are some words that need more context than others in order for Google’s algorithm to determine their meaning, and in the cannabis industry, where there are many slang terms and unique words, context is critical.
One of the simplest examples for the cannabis industry is the word pot. Think about the various search queries people could create using the word pot. Is the user searching for cannabis, cooking pots, the pot in a poker game, or something else?
Context clues, particularly within text on a web page, give Google the information needed to evaluate and rank content for every search query, and with the release of the BERT update, Google’s algorithm is better than ever at deciphering those clues – even for words with multiple meanings.
5. Content Must Be More Thoughtful, Purposeful, and Strategic
Think of it this way – content that is thought out and focused on a strategic purpose will perform better post-BERT than content that is not thoughtful, purposeful, and strategic. Unique content that has not been published anywhere else online and answers specific questions will rank higher than less-focused, poorly written content.
That doesn’t mean every page needs to be thousands of words, nor does it mean every page must only talk about one laser-focused topic. The key is to be useful, meaningful, and relevant in content writing. While there are many other SEO tactics that can be used to help Google find and rank content, building a strong foundation should always be the top priority, and that means publishing great content that is well-written.
Key Takeaways about Cannabis Business Website SEO Post-BERT
Write for your audience, not for search engines, and in the post-BERT era, don’t skimp on working with expert writing talent. Instead, learn how to hire a writer and marketer who understands the cannabis industry, content marketing, and how to write for online audiences.
There is so much more to creating great content than putting words to a page. A highly experienced marketing and copywriting expert will take care of all of the essential details for you, so you can focus on growing your cannabis business.