In any industry, search engine optimization (SEO) is vital. Millions of people turn to search engines, like Google, to find what they need every day. As a company trying to satisfy your customers’ needs, ranking near the top of their search results is essential to them finding you and not your competition.
When you SEO cannabinoid related content, there are some additional and unique challenges. SEO usually relies on a multifaceted approach, with multiple avenues of drawing people in and achieving higher standing with the search engines. Unfortunately, some of those tactics are off limits to cannabis businesses, forcing them to alter their strategy.
Facebook and Google Ads Are Out
Most businesses rely on paid advertising to supplement their organic search engine ranking. Targeted ads put your product or service directly in front of your desired customer base. It’s a powerful tool, and with some of the Internet’s top players, like Facebook and Google, facilitating, you’re guaranteed to get found.
For cannabis businesses, though, it’s not an option. Both Google and Facebook forbid advertising for cannabis businesses. It’s against their respective advertising policies, and they will catch and suspend you if you try. This is true for both legal marijuana and CBD advertising. As of now, paid ads are not an option.
Organic SEO is Key
The picture might look bleak without the possibility of ads, but there’s a more powerful tool still ready and waiting: organic SEO. Organic SEO isn’t as straightforward and simple as paying for a few ads, but it builds a lasting and meaningful presence on the web, that will continually drive traffic and sales. On top of all that, it’s completely free.
Organic SEO refers to the technique of tailoring your website and its content to appeal to search engine algorithms. Search engine algorithms determine which sites are most authoritative and relevant to a person’s search. So, appealing to the algorithm’s criteria will naturally rank your cannabinoid related content higher within search results.
Know Your Reader’s Search Intent
When you’re looking to improve your SEO, the first thing you need to take into account is search intent. Put yourself in the mind of your ideal customer, and consider what they’ll be looking for and why. Your content should match that intent. You should also be sure that titles and meta descriptions for pages also match the search intent you’re trying to answer.
Use Links Strategically
Links are key. Internal linking between pages is another major factor in search ranking. Your pages should make reference to one another in a logical and intuitive way to make the site easier to navigate and relevant information simple to find.
External links matter too. Linking to authoritative and reputable sites helps give your site credibility. If possible, it’s also extremely beneficial to have reputable sites link to your pages. Google and other search engines take the links to your content, or backlinks, as a site vouching for your credibility and improve your site’s ranking.
Do Your Keyword Research
When it comes to the content itself, everything comes back around to search intent. Once you have an idea what your customers are searching for, it’s time to do keyword research. You can use tools like Semrush or even Google Trends to test out different keywords and see how many searches they’re getting. Then take a look at the competition. Is there a lot of competition for those keywords? If so, you may want to switch it up.
There’s a trick to finding great keywords that match your customers’ search intent and don’t have loads of competition: long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are slightly longer phrases, rather than individual words. So, rather than trying to rank for “CBD,” you’d pick something like, “organic vegan CBD gummies for sleep.” You’re clearly trying to match a specific search intent and narrowing your keyword to rank for a very targeted search. Once you have your long tail keywords, pepper them into the content. Be careful not to overuse them. SEO professionals call that “keyword stuffing,” and it actually hurts your SEO.
Strong Relevant Content is King
It isn’t just human readers that can’t stand confusing content. Search engine bots don’t care for it either, and the algorithms make it known. Readability is another important factor for your content. Make sure that your content is simple, clear, and concise. You shouldn’t need an advanced degree to understand a blog post, even if the subject matter is complex.
Organization is another part of readability. Break your content into manageable sections by subject. Use clear and descriptive headings and subheadings to visually separate the sections for your readers and give the bots a bit more information to show that there are multiple subjects covered in the content.
Finally, long form content performs best. Semrush conducted a study that found articles over three-thousand words in length tended to perform best in search engine results. If you think about it, it makes sense. Longer content is likely to provide more answers and more thorough ones. Both are factors that search engines reward.
Don’t Forget The Technical Stuff
There’s a definite technical aspect to SEO that you can’t ignore. Most content contains images. Those images can either help or hurt your SEO, depending on how you handle them. Make sure that your images have alternative text that matches the content of the image in a short and quickly understood way. You’ll also need to optimize your images for speed. JPEG compression tends to work best to keep image size down, and using compression services, like TinyPNG, can get the size even smaller. If you have more technical control over the website, lazy loading is another great way to keep images from slowing down your site.
Speaking of speed, search engines reward speed. Test your site’s loading times, and make sure there aren’t any assets slowing the process down, and minimize the amount of external requests for assets.
Search engines also encourage secure encrypted (HTTPS) connections. You shouldn’t have any trouble getting the needed encryption certificates with any reputable hosting provider, and the low additional cost is absolutely worthwhile.
Organization is another important factor, beyond the content itself. Keep your site’s directory structure organized and logical. The page URLs should reflect that organization and be simple to understand with basic descriptive keywords.
It’s also a good idea to make things easier for the search engines. Include an XML sitemap of your website to make it simpler for the search engine bots to navigate and find all the pages on your site. Also include a “robots.txt” file to acknowledge the bots and provide them with instructions.
While all of this might sound intimidating, it’s actually quite simple at its core. The primary idea is straightforward. Create quality content that meets your reader’s needs, and you’ll be in a great position with SEO for your cannabinoid related content.
1- Search engine optimization (SEO) starter guide. Google Search Central. https://developers.google.com/search/docs/beginner/seo-starter-guide?hl=en%2F&visit_id=637748457136323377-4047203126&rd=1
2- Mallya S. 9 SEO practices that you should follow. Semrush Blog. 2020. https://www.semrush.com/blog/seo-best-practices/
3- What is SEO? Moz SEO Learning Center. https://moz.com/learn/seo/what-is-seo