I have written and spoken about Cannabis SEO many times in the past, but I find myself talking about it now more than ever. This is because competition is surely becoming much more fierce across the legal markets.
What’s more — there has been a tremendous amount of innovation in cannabis tech over the past few years — and it’s not slowing down any time soon. Due to this trend in tech corresponding with Covid, consumers are now using dispensaries and even brand websites more than ever.
Therefore, factors like popping up on search results, having a great website, and utilizing modern tech are more important and valuable now more than ever.
The industry will only continue to grow, and consumers will only become more educated, so we don’t see this SEO and tech trend stopping any time soon.
PufCreativ works with cannabis dispensaries, brands, and other ancillary businesses all over the U.S. and in other countries — I find myself in a lot of consulting situations where clients want to differentiate at a local, national, and even global level.
It’s interesting just how much pitching around cannabis technology I need to do so early on in the project life cycle because, decisions (like even a POS System) could drastically impact your SEO, marketing, and overall business in the future.
Read on as I explain cannabis SEO in a nutshell, how it applies to your niche in cannabis, and how your business can get ahead.
Cannabis SEO CliffsNotes
Once PufCreativ executes its onboarding for an SEO client, we take a deep dive into discovery and competitor analysis. We then create a custom six-month game plan and master keywords list.
Subsequently, we plug this information into a SEO data program that integrates with our clients’ Google Analytics. Our monthly Moz reports give clients direct insights into the following information:
It’s good to know how easily internally and externally-searchable your site is each month. Once we see a site’s searchability data start to increase, we’ll then start to see a corresponding spike in organic traffic.
Our reports rank your searchability against your top 2 competitors you want to track.
2. Domain Authority
This is a search engine ranking score on a scale of 0 – 100 that predicts how likely a site is to rank on search engine results pages. Time, trust, and SEO strategy are what can help your domain authority increase over time.
The higher your domain authority, the better the organic traffic compared to competitors.
3. Total Traffic
The following are traffic funnels we analyze in our reporting:
- Organic – This is traffic directly related to our SEO program.
- Social Media – This is traffic directly from social media channels.
- Direct – This is the traffic of folks who regularly visit your site or directly type in your url.
- Referral – This traffic is typically from external links directly related to PR hits, business directories, paid ads, etc.
4. External Links
Not only do more external links from outside sites mean more traffic opportunities, but Google loves to see links to your site from other high domain authority trusted sites.
The more links, the more opportunity and trust for your site. This is another area of the reports we stack up against competitors in our tracking.
Knowing which keywords you rank for at a local and national level, stacked up against your competitors, is very valuable information. The keywords are what a user types in order to find an offering.
The more strategic keywords on your site, the better. If you’re not happy with your rankings, you’ll know where to put more effort into your SEO program. We track how many searches keywords receive before implementing them into a formal program.
6. Mobile vs. Desktop
We love to see what percentages of users are on mobile vs. desktop because it helps make informed strategic decisions when it comes to advertising, as well as making us more proactive about the mobile experience.
If a majority of users are on mobile, it could be smart to work with mobile-specific ad strategies and also have our team prioritize our time on the mobile experience a bit more than normal.
The Importance of Setting the Right SEO Foundation
From my perspective, each one of the facets above piggybacks off one another, so it’s important to have the right SEO foundation in place so each facet works in harmony with one another as your business and digital presence grow.
We typically include a blog in our SEO package to help boost our SEO efforts from a clicks, links, and keyword perspective. Search engines love fresh content.
I look at about anywhere from 30 – 40 SEO reports every month, including my own business’s. I believe that over time, there are certain things you can do as a cannabis organization to differentiate yourself from an SEO perspective.
Now that you know what the base of our reports dive into, here are a few specific suggestions:
1. Quality Website Designed & Dev
The first step to having a quality and long-term SEO program is having a well designed and developed website. We take over a ton of sites that are limited SEO-wise due to poor design or a horrible backend.
The better the design/development, the better set up you’ll be for success in your SEO program. Stay tuned to our upcoming blog on our preferred Content Management Systems (CMS).
2. Niche Keywords
A lot of folks focus on very general keywords with their website without getting granular to the specific location, demographics, etc. The more educated the market, the more likely the consumer has something specific they’re looking for.
We see this in cannabis all the time. As consumers and business owners become more educated, their keyword search becomes more granular. The sooner you rank, the better.
3. Niche Blogs
Same goes for blogs. Folks pick very general topics, where we see the most clicks, niche keywords, and link opportunities with blog topics geared towards a very specific demographic. More clicks, links, more niche keywords, means more traffic and trust.
4. E-commerce and Tech Partners
The best part about the future is technology always gets better. Online ordering for dispensaries and brands used to be limited to i-frame e-commerce and non-data driven experience.
Our partners, like Dispense and Tymber, offer our clients Native menu and data transparent online ordering options, which is better for SEO and long term marketing strategy. We even see spikes in certain traffic funnels when clients utilize customer loyalty programs like our friends at Alpine IQ.
A lot of these decisions depend on your POS system, so we’re planning to write a blog that highlights our favorite cannabis tech partners in the coming months – since there are so many options.
5. Authentic Content Pages
Google loves content and it also provides opportunities for keywords, links, etc. The more authentic the content, the more likely the click, time spent on the site, etc.
Here are some examples of authentic content pages we love:
- Social Justice
Unique Product Offerings
- Proprietary Strains
- In-House Brands
- Niche Services
About & Our Story Pages
- What makes you different?
- Why did you get involved?
- What are you planning to do in the future?
Pay-per-click advertising hasn’t been an option for cannabis businesses in the past, but we’ve had success with ancillary and dispensary businesses (if done the safe and proper way).
PPC is more immediate and direct traffic than SEO, but really helps with organic traffic over time. We see a lot of success with a PPC & SEO program stacked up together.
7. Quality Niche External Links
WE LOVE LINKS! On top of links from high domain authority sites, we think quality links from within your specific niche and around your location can be super helpful.
Public Relations is a great way to get press hits that are targeted. For example, if you’re a dispensary in a competitive area, it’d be smart to get PR hits from both local and national media.
This helps with local search, increasing searchability and trust of your website, not to mention direct traffic from the articles.
Implementing a Granular SEO Strategy
I know some of the list seems straightforward, but the fact is: cannabis consumers and business owners are only going to become more knowledgeable.
With a granular SEO strategy, you can ensure your business remains competitive in the fastest growing industry of all time. When all of these items work together, you see the best results.
How Does This Apply to My Business?
Some of you may be thinking that this SEO ideology does not apply to your business, while others may already be wanting to reach out for assistance.
Even if you’re already content with your business, do you not want to strive to make more revenue or get ahead as the industry gets more competitive?
Here’s a variety of different niches we work with in the cannabis, non-cannabis, and psychedelics spaces:
Fully Integrated Multi-state Operators
What’s crazy is there are so many subsidiaries to each of these niches it’s kind of mind boggling. As you can see, no matter what type of cannabis business you operate, SEO can certainly enhance your business.
The sooner you get started on a tailored cannabis SEO strategy, the sooner you’ll find value in your business’s online presence.
How Can My Cannabis/Hemp Business Get Ahead?
Your website is the central hub of your marketing platform and digital presence. So, there is no better time than now to work towards a better website and implementing a strategic SEO program – especially as a cannabis organization.
The sooner search engines trust your website and reward you by increasing your domain authority, the better the analytics you’ll see over time.
PufCreativ: Your Business Development Accelerant
Working with an agency like PufCreativ, our years of experience in cannabis-specific SEO can immediately accelerate your business development.
We’ll audit your existing website and/or create a brand new custom designed and developed site that fits your business model (and is built to help you reach your goals).
Our team has extensive knowledge/experience regarding each niche within the cannabis industry. Therefore, we know the strategies and have the partnerships to make your website more searchable and rank higher on search engines, all while ensuring a quality user interface and experience.