As we’ve seen over the past 10 months, technology is becoming more and more important in our world and especially the cannabis industry. More states are legalizing recreational and medical marijuana sales, which means increased competition. On top of that, national cannabis powerhouses are going to infiltrate new markets and therefore, from a marketing perspective, they’ll already be ahead of the game.
Whether you’re a cannabis brand, dispensary, grower, or consultant, as the industry continues to exponentially expand, so does the importance of your organization’s search engine optimization (SEO). The purpose of this blog is to explain why SEO is so important to cannabis, and how it may apply to your particular niche within the space.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization,” which is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. The most common search engines are Google, YouTube, Amazon, Facebook, and Bing, but there are plenty more.
In order to increase the quantity and quality of website traffic, one must execute a routine to play that is friendly with search engine algorithms. Since Google holds a majority of the search engine market share, we tend to focus a lot of our efforts on playing friendly with its algorithm. We do this by optimizing the website’s meta data, images, adding blogs, updating content, and creating backlinks to other trusted sites, along with a series of other actions that Google and other search engines like to see.
What Makes Cannabis & Non-Cannabis SEO Different?
In the non-cannabis sector, in addition to organic SEO, businesses can also execute targeted advertising. Targeted advertising is very limited in the cannabis space, making organic SEO, social media, and email marketing efforts that much more important.
A great example is Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, an online advertising model in which advertisers pay each time a user clicks on one of their line ads. Google Adwords PPC program is a very common business tool that is used to have websites rank for particular keywords on Google above their competitors, unless competitors outbid them for those same keywords.
Although there are certain PPC solutions for some cannabis and hemp organizations, it’s hard to get them to go through without complicated loopholes, if at all. Although organic SEO is a long game, it’s smart for long-term cannabis organizations to focus on it from the start and continually do so in order to consistently outrank their competition on search engines. Now that cannabis has been deemed essential during Covid and the industry is becoming more technology driven than ever, SEO is a smart move for cannabis organizations.
How Does SEO Apply to my Niche Within the Cannabis Industry?
SEO is great for any site’s searchability and user experience (ie. load times), but it can also be particularly useful for each niche of the cannabis industry in the following ways:
If you’re brick and mortar, for your local clientele and tourists, it’s always great to pop-up on local search results over your competition. If you’re in a place like we are, here in Denver, Colorado, the competition is tight, both from a local perspective and because we’re also a heavy vacation destination. But, although tourism is down, sales are up, and dispensaries now use their websites more than ever for online ordering.
Websites are a compliant place to host pricing, specials, key product information and a store locator. For example: if you’re an edible brand in Los Angeles, California, it’d be great to rank #1 in the city for a search term like “LA Best Edibles.” Our client, Lazy River Products, is ranking #2 in the state of Massachusetts for “Massachusetts Best Edibles”, and they’re not even open yet!
Growers are typically looking to wholesale as a brand to dispensaries or to contract manufacturers for extra cash. In both cases, buyers are using search terms like “organic cannabis Colorado,” (our client Pot Zero ranks on the first page of Google for this search term). In addition to sales, SEO also helps with brand credibility.
Cannabis contract manufacturers are currently limited to state to state sales. In most cases, hemp contract manufacturers are not. In both hemp and cannabis, it’s smart to outrank local and national competition. Some of the top manufacturers in the country receive a majority of their inquiries from Google searches.
Consulting & Technology
Not being limited to state to state sales, cannabis consulting and technology organizations can target locally and nationally. There can be a lot more that goes into a cannabis tech SEO program, but there can be a lot of opportunity that arises from strategically picking markets to target. For example, we target a lot of the newer states who are just coming online and need folks who are experienced in cannabis marketing. Just like ourselves, there’s a bit more room to find a strategic targeted advertising solution in addition to the SEO program when you don’t directly sell cannabis for consumption.