How To Rank In The Cannabis Industry: The Complete Guide

How To Rank In The Cannabis Industry: The Complete Guide


who have gained the insight

to 10x their business

How To Rank In The Cannabis Industry

Cannabis business owners need to be creative when it comes to advertising their businesses since their options are limited due to strict advertising laws. One way to do this is by using SEO tactics as a matter of fact this should be on the top of your list. When done correctly, SEO can help your cannabis business website rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), which can help you attract more customers.

In this blog post, we will discuss how you can use SEO to advertise your cannabis business. We will also provide some tips on how you can improve your cannabis website's SEO ranking. Keep reading to learn more!

What is Search Engine Optimization?

The best way to increase your website traffic is through search engine optimization, or SEO and it's becoming increasingly important every day that passes. What is search engine optimization you ask? SEO is the actions performed to gain website traffic from free, organic, editorial, or natural search results on search engines. You then take that traffic and turn them into prospective customers by giving them relevant content.

Why SEO is Important For Cannabis Brands?

When we look at traditional internet marketing we have owned, earned and paid marketing channels that show to search engines. With paid traffic, your options are limited to paying influencers for promotion, which can be costly and may not produce the results you want but might increase your brand loyalty. On top of that you don't have much control over how the message is conveyed.

Although earned traffic is excellent, it takes time to generate so you will need to make sure you have a marketing department. This usually comes as a side-effect of your owned channels. The term "earned traffic" encompasses social shares/mentions and product reviews. You won't be able to get it without first paving the road through your own owned marketing network.

Last but definitely not least is owned traffic. Never build a house on rented property, build it on owned land! If we own the traffic we have no one to regulate us. This includes things like SEO, email lists, CRM data, and content marketing. The sooner you get this underway, the quicker everything else will follow suit. Quality and consistency is all that matters.

3 Part System For Cannabis SEO

I'm going to show you everything you need to rank your site on the front page of Google. Here are some of the most important SEO strategies to follow in order to rank for your keywords. This will teach you how to perform all the essential things and show you how to get ranked!

The Pages You Need On Your Website

What pages do you need on your website? Here are the core minimum pages you need on your website:

• Home Page

• Product category pages

• Product pages

• Store locator

• About

• Lead Capture

• Blog

These are just the MINIMUM pages you need to even get noticed. This can get much more complicated depending on the type of company you are. Are you direct to customer? Are you direct to consumer? Do you only have one product?

Let's start from the top and address each page. On your home page you really just need a small splash page talking about who you are, the value of your company, etc. and then navigate them to the rest of your website.

For product category pages let's say you're a massive dispensary and you have 100's of products. You want to sort each one of these products into different categories. For example you want pre-rolls, edibles, flowers, vapes, etc all on their own sub-domain. If you're a single product company you obviously don't need to have this so keep that in mind. Underneath that you want an individual product page for each SKU that you carry. There should be different copy for each one of these products so searchers can find those exact products. If you want a good example of someone who does this well look at Leafly.

Whether you have one store or multiple stores each location should have it's own page on your website. If you have multiple locations you want to build a /locations sub-domain and build a page for each location for example If you have multiple stores across the country that your product is for sale in you want to have a locator that someone can type their zip code into and have all the closest locations show up. For example let's say someone has a love for your OG Kush and they want to know where to get it. They need that information handed to them so they can get in their car and go pick some up ASAP! This will also help when someone types in 'dispensary in New York' into Google for example. Your page will now show up in the maps section increasing your odds of turning them into your customer and not your competitions.

The "About" page is pretty much what it sounds like. Just craft a straightforward page that talks about your company and enumerates its key values. Keep it simple!

A lead capture page is your most important page if you're a B2B business. This is essentially a 'carry our products' page. If you can't directly sell to customers and you need to instead sell to dispensaries you need a form where dispensaries can get in touch with you. Not only will you respond but you will use their email to build an email marketing funnel which is the most cost effective funnel. Now your sales team will have a list of high quality hot leads for them to sell to instead of those frozen cold leads that never close.

Last but not least is the blog section another self explanatory page. Many individuals, in fact, do not optimize their blog effectively and lose out on a lot of money as a result. A frequent misconception is that blogs are only intended to express and discuss random occurrences in your company. This isn't what you should do! You want your blog to be addressing topics that people are searching for on Google so that your blog will direct more traffic to your site.

More digital marketing traffic = More money.

The Content You Need To Create

Content is where most of your search traffic will come from. Your content should be designed to educate or amuse your audience. If you're able to accomplish both, you've hit the mother lode! You need to give away as much free value as you possibly can. If you can inform on things like strains of cannabis, effects of cannabis, the science behind it all this will bring you a lot of traffic.

We recommend creating at least one blog per week but the more the better. This is absolutely necessary so you can spread your footprint across Google. This will create a massive snowball effect and give you unimaginable growth. Customers will read these blogs, but other types of media may do so as well, and they will link to your blog, which improves your domain authority!

Make sure you're targeting the right part of the funnel. This all depends on what your budget is. If your budget is high it's fine to target the top of the funnel but if you have a small budget you need to target people who are ready to buy at the bottom of the funnel. Keep in mind the keywords at the bottom of the funnel are highly competitive and other websites are already ranking for them.

There is also a part of the funnel a lot of people forget about which is 'after funnel'. For example lets say you wanted to create a blog on 'How to tell if GorillaBrain Dispensary pre-roll is fake'. This type of blog will increase your customers repurchase and lifetime value. You want your customers to keep coming back and brand is EVERYTHING.

You have to make sure you're putting out high quality content for each section of the funnel.

Getting Covered By Media Outlets

Search engines count more links leading to your site as votes of popularity for your website. The more of these you have, the better. Keep in mind that not all are created equal, the more well-known the site is that's referring to you, the higher-quality their links will be. It's always better to get one relevant, strong link from a site within your niche than several links from weak or irrelevant sites so a proper marketing strategy is important. Below is a graph showing the difference between getting posted by a random blog vs. getting posted by someone relevant within your niche. Keep this in mind to gain a competitive advantage in your niche.

You can hire a PR company to do this for you but it can be very expensive but worth it. There is many ways to do this, another one is a service called HARO. HARO makes it so you can get relevant back-links from high authority sites for FREE. It does take a long time for you to get these links and you need to read your email everyday and write back to the journalists who get in contact with you. I'd recommend hiring a professional HARO writer familiar with search engine optimization to handle this for your business.

How Long Does SEO Take To Work?

Unlike other marketing channels SEO does not come into effect instantly. The quick answer is that it takes between 4 and 12 months to implement fully. The longer answer is that it all comes down to the same things we spoke about in terms of your SEO plan. After 4-6 months of targeting low-competition keywords, you will start to see results.

Keep in mind that no two websites are the same. One site may see results within one month and another might take 12 months to see results.

Should I Continue SEO after I've got good rankings?

The goal of SEO is to achieve high ranks, but this is just the beginning of the process. Changes in search engine algorithms occur on a daily basis, and your approach must be updated every day to stay competitive. Maintaining your present status is no less time-consuming than earning new ones. Your digital marketing strategy needs constant research and testing to keep your ranking in the top position.

If you stop doing SEO after you achieve your ranking expect to lose your target audiences faster than you expect.

Email Capturing and How To Do It

You need some form of a way to capture potential customers emails and put them all over your website. Come up with an offer that entices potential customers to turn them from traffic into a person in your database. Some ideas are giveaways, coupons, bundles, sales promotions, etc. Whatever offer you can reasonably make that won't break your bank to get their email needs to be done. Pepper it all over your site with pop ups so you can turn traffic into revenue. This is VERY important and most businesses miss out on this.

Email marketing is a great way to stay in touch with your customers and keep them up-to-date on your latest products, services, or promotions. It's also a great way to build customer loyalty and encourage repeat business. In addition, email marketing can be an effective tool for gathering feedback from customers and measuring the success of your marketing campaigns.

How Is Social Media Marketing?

It's not easy to have a presence on social media, but it is possible. This is why inbound marketing in this industry is so tough. Without a marketing department to oversee everything this will be a challenge in & of itself. You won't be able to use social media platforms to advertise anything related to marijuana unless you do it right. They don't just prohibit you from advertising your goods; they also prevent you from providing useful information. In addition, they do not care if your state permits recreational or medicinal use of cannabis.

Having an organic presence on social media is possible though. The platform can't control what you put on your personal page but don't expect to be able to boost any posts or pay for advertising. You can use social media to build brand loyalty and increase customer interest. You have to be very smart with your marketing strategies in this niche to make sure you don't do more harm than good.

What About Paid Advertising?

Platforms like Google and Bing will not allow you to do any digital marketing for your cannabis product. If you decide to go against these rules you will be banned from the platform. Getting unbanned is a near impossible task since Google has no real customer service for you to get in touch with. Good luck calling them they will most likely hang up on you after they see your account is banned and for good reason. If you want SEO success in this particular industry this rule is vital.

I'm Just a Local Business Do I Need All Of This?

The answer is yes and no! The more you do the better results your business will get. There are certain things you want to focus on first with a local only business like getting listed on all the free directories. Having a business locator on your site will help you appear in the maps section as well.

Build your keyword strategy around your local area. If your business is located in New York, New York make sure your title tags and descriptions have that keyword included. The goal is to appear on the maps section when people are searching Google for high traffic keywords. Make sure you hire some SEO experts to handle all of this for you.

Is there different types of SEO?

Yes, the three main types of SEO are On-Page, Off-Page, & Technical SEO. Each of them is equally important! Let's talk about each one of them briefly.

On-page SEO is anything you do to the individual pages on your website to make them rank higher in Google. This includes making it easier for both Google and searchers to understand and appreciate your content.

Anything done outside of your website that has the potential to affect search engine rankings is considered off-page SEO. Building external links is only one example, though there are many other factors besides just links.

The most essential and least understood sort of SEO is undoubtedly technical SEO. It refers to measures that assist search engine spiders crawl and index your site more quickly. This goes unseen by the average visitor who isn't familiar with web development.

On-Page SEO

Let's dig a little deeper into each of the types of SEO. On-page SEO, simply put, are the things you do on your page to make ranking on Google easier. Another excellent technique to generate trustworthy and interesting content is to use keywords, word counts, headers, and pictures in a planned manner. If you want your article to rank on Google, you'll need to use specific keywords throughout the piece, and in certain quantities. This can be quite challenging if you don't know what you're doing or don't have an SEO writer.

Off-Page SEO

Anything done outside of your website that could potentially improve search engine rankings is considered off-page SEO. The most popular example is link building, but there are other factors to consider as well. Focusing on local SEO will bring you the most results in the shortest amount of time if you're a local business.

There's a lot of different things you can do here but let's just talk about a few. First things first make sure you're listed on every possible directory you can think of. There are 100's of free directories to get listed on. Off-page ranking factors are critical to Local SEO, and according to Moz, citation signals are one of the top ones to rank quickly.

Technical SEO

Although there are many types of SEO, the most critical and least recognized is technical SEO. It's essential for your site to be found by search engines. This might be a more difficult problem for non-web developers since you'll need to get access to your sites source code. Without ticking all the right boxes for technical SEO, Google won't even register your website's existence. It's entirely feasible for you to develop the ideal website ever, but if your technical SEO isn't in place, the search engine won't display your website.

Black Hat Vs. White Hat SEO

If you've been looking into SEO, you've probably come across these terms before. In general, consider black hat as bad and white hat as good. If you're using black hat techniques then your site can potentially get banned from Google so stay as far away from it as possible. You don't get second chances with Google. The problem is knowing which technique the agency you hire is using. Use this guideline; if the price seems too good to be true, they're almost certainly employing black hat tactics. Now that we know the basics of each, let's go more in depth about what they consist of.

Black Hat SEO

The term black hat SEO refers to the use of methods, techniques, and tactics that go against search engine rules. It emphasizes uncovering and utilizing algorithmic flaws.

One of the most popular tactics is buying spammy links from people on Fiverr for example. You might see 1,000 links for $100 and say "WOW this is a steal" but you're doing your business more harm than good if you go forward with that. Not only can it lead to a Google penalty but it can lead to getting banned completely on Google. Instead, you should conduct link outreach and try to establish connections with reputable journalists who write for high domain authority sites like Forbes.

Let's talk about one more form of black hat SEO but there is MANY more. This strategy includes adding keywords throughout your background, but making the text color match the background so that viewers can't see them. Google sees you have these keywords and might rank you higher for it. The problem is if they catch you doing this, GOOD LUCK! Your competition might even catch onto this and report you to Google themselves. Your business is going to get a penalty! DO NOT DO THIS!

White Hat SEO

Now that you know what black hat SEO is I'm sure you know what white hat SEO is. I'll explain regardless, White hat SEO is the use of Google-approved website optimization methods, strategies, and tactics. The intent here is to provide users with the highest possible search engine results.

Think of white hat SEO as any tactic you use that doesn't result in a Google penalty. If you want to operate a website for a long period of time, then employing white hat methods is the right way to go. After years of development, you'll be in a better position than you were before. One website and a lot of effort will go a long way.

Which Keywords Do I Use To Rank?

Keyword research is very important. There are plenty of free tools out there to get this done but the one we recommend most is Google's very own tool. The first step is entering your keyword into the search bar. You'll then get a bunch of different keywords for you to look at. The trick is picking something that doesn't have a lot of competition but is on an uptrend in traffic.

This is the most common strategy for finding which keywords to rank for in search engine land. Make sure to conduct research and find the relevant keywords. Competitive research is another thing you should keep in mind. See what other businesses are doing and how they're creating content. Having a marketing plan in mind is one of the key factors to reaching your target audience.

Is Page Speed Important?

YES! Google takes your website's speed into account. To provide the best search engine results, they prioritize quick-loading websites. They've even developed a website called pagespeed that displays the speed of your websites. If your website scores anything below a 90 on this test, then you need to work on increasing the speed of your pages. Make sure to check both desktop and mobile. According to perficient almost 70% of website visitors come from mobile phones so optimize that first! Below is a picture of our sites current pagespeed ranking to show you we know what we're talking about.

Should My Site Be Mobile Friendly?

YES! Not only fast but it needs to look good on mobile too. AA common mistake businesses make is only optimizing their site only for desktop users. Because more people are visiting websites on their mobile phone than ever before, being mobile-friendly has never been more essential. Have you ever visited a site and it just looked terrible on mobile, only to leave the site instantly? Don't let that be you! Google and your target audience will reward you.

One way to ensure a fast website is to keep your images and videos compressed so they can load quickly even on 3G and 4G connections. Mobile-friendly sites are a top priority for Google, so don't pass up this incredible opportunity! Find yourself an experienced web developer to help you out if you're unfamiliar with HTML, CSS, Javascript or WordPress.

What Is The Most Popular Search Engine?

Google is the king! Google is responsible for almost 70% of all traffic on the internet. If you're looking to capture organic traffic optimize your distribution channels to lean towards Google. The downside here is that every company promotes on Google so you will have to work much harder to appear. Put the SEO work in and you will see results other sites don't!

About 30% of searches come from Bing which is Googles biggest competitor. It's smart to optimize for this search engine too so you get the full pool of traffic out there. Since most businesses don't even look at Bing to promote on you will have a lot less competition.

Design Of Your Website

There should be an easy way to navigate through your pages. If you don't even have a way to navigate through your pages, once again Google won't index you. There should be a navigation menu that can lead to every single one of your pages and a sitemap as well if your website is big and has pages not accessible through the menu.

Your website's design is one of the most important factors when it comes to ranking in search engines. If people can't find their way around your website, or if it's just plain ugly, they're going to leave and go somewhere else. Google takes this into account when ranking websites, so you need to make sure your site is easy to navigate and looks good on all devices. Having a mobile-friendly website is also essential, as more and more people are browsing the internet on their phones. Make sure your website looks great on all screens!

Search Engine Marketing Checklist

Keep this little checklist in mind when you're running your own search engine marketing strategies. This list isn't in a particular order:

  1. High-quality content

  2. Mobile friendly

  3. Page speed

  4. On-page SEO

  5. Off-page SEO

Can I Do All Of This On My Own?

This is a trick question. Yes, you can do all of this on your own but do you have the time? It's better to pass the task off to industry experts. SEO isn't something a business owner is able to spend time on themselves. This can take 100+ hours a month of work depending on where you are in the SEO life cycle. If you believe that you can manage both and still run your business, you're a superhuman!

Is All of This Worth It?

The answer is yes. The reality, on the other hand... YOU DON'T HAVE AN OPTION. You have no choice but to do it, or your business will fail.

A good campaign can cost you anywhere between $4,000 and $20,000 per month depending on what you need done. Yes, you can get by with a smaller retainer but it really depends on how much work you need done and what your niche is. Don't forget that you get what you pay for. If you're spending less, you're probably dealing with black hat SEO tactics and Google is known to penalize websites for that.

The best thing about SEO is that you can see how much profit it'll make you, so there's no risk. There's a wealth of information on how many times people are searching for particular keywords available. With this data, you can calculate potential ROI and see if this is worth it for you (it is).

The good news is that we understand exactly what we're doing and can take care of everything for you. If you're looking for a cannabis SEO agency please contact us at once if your business needs to be listed on the Google front page. Fill out our FREE proposal if you need assistance with that. Click that orange button on the side of the blog NOW!

About Robert Antonioni

Robert Antonioni is the CMO at Limelight Digital Agency. He leads our digital marketing efforts and has a proven track record of improving our clients' online presence. Robert is an expert in search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, and social media marketing.