Start Your Cannabis SEO Strategy With These 8 Steps

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Do you want to know how market CBD oil online without advertising? Are you looking for digital marketing strategies for marijuana companies, or an effective cannabis SEO strategy to get the edge over your competition in organic local search results? We’ve outlined 8 steps to improve your cannabis SEO strategy.

8 Tips To Rock Your Cannabis SEO Strategy

If you’re setting up your CBD or cannabis business you’ve likely already purchased a domain, set up an initial informational or e-commerce website, and hopefully implemented a solid cannabis search engine optimization (SEO) strategy on that site.

These are essential steps for any business owner especially in the highly competitive new world of cannabis retail stores and online CBD dispensaries.

However, implementing a sound cannabis SEO strategy isn’t an easy thing to do and does require some technical knowledge and SEO expertise. You’ll also need to consider an experienced cannabis content writer to draft your website content using strategic SEO copywriting.

Remember, your potential customers are actively searching online right now, on Google or Bing search, for information on cannabis, dispensaries, and CBD products.

You want them to find your content on your website!

A complete cannabis SEO strategy on your website is the most effective way to drive these potential customers to your dispensary retail store or website.

Good thing you’re here now, we’re going to break down the basics of Marijuana and Dispensary SEO into 8 essential steps you can use as part of your cannabis SEO strategy.

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1. Conduct an SEO Audit on Your Website

Before starting any cannabis SEO strategy it’s important to run a complete SEO audit on your website to diagnose and identify and SEO omissions and errors that may be harming your search engine rankings or website user experience.

An effective SEO audit, properly done, will provide better insight into your website, user behaviour, individual pages, and overall traffic. It’s the best way to start a plan to improve the performance of your website to rank higher in search engines.

It’s important to remember the reason or the goal of running an SEO audit. You’re doing this specifically to boost your site’s search engine rankings to attract more revenue, leads, and site visitors.

The purpose of a cannabis SEO audit is to identify as many foundational issues affecting organic search performance as possible. An SEO audit will reveal:

  • Technical SEO issues
  • Website structure issues
  • On-page SEO issues
  • Potential off-site problems
  • User experience issues
  • Content opportunities
  • Issues with internal link structure
  • Competitive marketplace insights

Our cannabis SEO team offers a 27-point marketing and SEO audit for any website. This checklist goes through all of Google’s best practices that affect the profitability of your cannabis website.

We deliver a final detailed report including comments and analysis of all 27-points of the checklist, an overall website SEO score, and recommendations on how to improve your site’s search engine optimization by implementing a new cannabis SEO strategy.

If you’re interested in more information on our SEO Audit services and report, please contact us today.

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2. Perform Comprehensive Keyword Research

Once your SEO audit is complete, you should have a comprehensive report on the overall “health” of your website and its user experience on desktop and mobile devices. It’s now time to start your custom cannabis SEO strategy for your cannabis or dispensary website.

One of the first things you’ll want to do is to take a deep dive into cannabis keyword research to determine a list of primary, secondary, and semantically related keyword search phrases that relate to your cannabis business, your dispensary, or your CBD products.

Your goal is to find keyword search phrases that are not only popular (i.e. high number of average monthly searches, but also have have low competition in terms of search. This strategy provides you with a better chance of ranking on page one for each of those search queries.

It’s important to focus on long-tail keyword phrases as opposed to short-tail phrases. Long-tail search queries are much more specific and the searchers intent is super obvious.

For example, a short tail search term is something like: “social media tips”. It’s very broad.

Whereas long-tail variants of this search term are more specific and relevant: “social media marketing for dispensaries”, “can you advertise CBD on Instagram”, and “medical marijuana dispensary marketing”, are much more specific with regards to the user’s search intent.

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By using this strategy with your cannabis keyword research, you’re able to identify the questions that best relate to your products and services. Why does this matter?

Because now you’re able to create and optimize content that answers the questions your potential customers are typing into Google and Bing search engine. Or, they are using voice search and actually asking Google/Bing their questions about cannabis and CBD.

Now you’re armed with some amazing (read: lucrative) insight to develop a blog content marketing strategy as part of your Cannabis SEO toolbox.

The question now becomes, how do you do cannabis keyword research? Does Google even provide search data for cannabis and CBD related terms?

Google does not provide keyword search data on cannabis-related terms, but there are other keyword research tools that do provide some of this data. It’s not super complete, but it’s a start.

There are also many other ways to “do keyword research” for cannabis SEO using the free Google Trends” and “Google Auto Complete” tools.

If you need any help with keyword research, it’s one of my favourite things. Please reach out and contact me today.

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3. Identify Primary & Secondary Keywords For Each Page

So now you have a large list of potential keywords to use to optimize your cannabis website. How many keywords should you have in your initial list?

It really depends on things like the size of your website, the text to HTML ratio on your site’s pages, and how deep you need to go with your cannabis SEO strategy.

I’d suggest with a minimum of 50-250 short-tail, long-tail, and semantically related phrases. The more queries/questions the better for you to create SEO optimized content with answers.

Start up an Excel doc, Google Doc, or your spreadsheet of choice and assign each website page you want to optimize with a primary keyword, a secondary keyword, and 5-10 semantically related keywords.

A proper and complete cannabis SEO strategy requires every webpage to be optimized with this type of keyword focus in order for Google to understand what your page is about and therefore rank it accordingly.

A cannabis SEO strategy for today is not like SEO years ago. It’s absolutely not about “stuffing” a keyword everywhere on your page. Google is smart and picked up on that SEO trick years ago.

When implementing your cannabis SEO plan, be sure to have a wide variety and large quantity of semantically related keywords that you can use to write your page content and optimize the images and metadata on that page.

Pro Tip: There are a ton of things you can do to improve your website’s SEO but the smart way to do cannabis SEO is to only focus on any SEO items, errors, or omissions that affect the profitability of your website.

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4. Optimize Your On Page Copy

The next step is to put that keyword strategy you’ve just created to work on your website. We’ll start with the front-end, the consumer facing side, the on-page copy on your website.

It’s important to strategically implement your targeted keywords into the copy of your website page or blog article while keeping the reading experience natural. If it’s stuffed with keywords, it won’t make sense to your potential customer.

However, if your site’s pages keyword density is too low, you may not rank for the search terms you’re targeting. There’s a gentle balance when it comes to SEO copywriting.

You may want to consider hiring an SEO expert and cannabis content writer to help you with this part of the cannabis SEO process. There’s definitely some technical SEO to be done which will require some cannabis SEO experience and there’s also copywriting and editing involved.

In addition to adding a mix of long-tail and semantically related phrases to the copy on the page, you’ll also want to split the content up into sections of a few paragraphs that have SEO optimized, keyword rich sub-headings.

These sub-headings of your sections should be wrapped in a series of “h2” and “h3” tags in order to help Google understand the subject matter on your page. Google needs the code to be marked up/optimized in order to read it accurately.

That’s why it’s important to use your targeted keywords in appropriate subheadings. Best practices say you should only have just 1 x “h1” tag, up to 2 x “h2” tags maximum, and between 3-10 x “h3” tags, depending on amount of text in your page or blog content.

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5. Optimize Metadata: Page Titles & Descriptions

For this step, we go “under the hood” and optimize parts of the back-end code, metadata, and the Google facing part of your cannabis website. This is the part that Google’s search engine “spiders” crawl to learn about the relevance of your website.

Here’s where you’ll need to understand a little about HTML and be comfortable editing code because you’ll be optimizing by wrapping parts of your code in HTML tags.

Here’s a quick, high-level summary of the SEO tasks required to implement this cannabis SEO strategy:

  • The first thing you’ll want to do is choose an appropriate page title and wrap that in a “title” tag. Consider this your “SEO title”.
  • This will be the main title and link that Google shows in search engine results pages.
  • You’ll want to make sure you use your primary keyword search phrase is used in this tag.
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  • Next you will want to write a meta description for each page, that accurately describe the content on that page, and uses the primary keyword for the page, as well as a few related targeted keyword phrases.
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For the sake of briefly and keeping things simple, we’ll leave it at these two key areas for optimization.

It’s extremely important for you to optimize your page title and description, for each page, because it helps users understand if your site is relevant to their search query. You want that click!

The good news is there is a WordPress plugin for this that can help you do some of the optimizations.

The plugin won’t help you do everything needed to properly optimize your website, but it will help to make your site more search engine friendly, and that’s good for your overall cannabis SEO strategy.

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6. Optimize All Images on Your Site

In my experience, we’ve found that image optimization is not a big part of many cannabis SEO strategy we’ve audited.

It seems that only a few forward thinking cannabis companies are prioritizing image optimization as part of their cannabis SEO strategy.

When it comes to image optimization for cannabis SEO, there’s 4 parts you wan to pay attention to:

(i) File Name:

  • Your file name should contain your primary or secondary keywords. Grammar and capitalization do not matter.

(ii) File Alt Attribute:

  • This tag should first contain an accurate description of the image or photo. Screen readers use this tag to describe the image to visually impaired users. Google will love you if your site is accessible.
  • This text also appears inside the image container when the image can not be displayed.
  • Your file alt attribute tags should also contain your primary keyword for that page along with secondary and semantically related keywords.
  • I also like to include geo-location terms in this tag to help with Local SEO for cannabis companies. Also important to note that grammar and capitalization do matter with alt attributes.

(iii) File Title Attribute:

This tag is used to provide a title for your image. The text you add inside the title tag will not be shown to user when an image cannot be displayed.

Instead, it is displayed in a popup when a user takes their mouse over an image. But, since Google also reads this tag, I find it provides an extra SEO opportunity/SEO boost to add semantically related keywords that align with the image.

(iv) File Size:

When it comes to optimizing the file size of the images on your site, do not skip this step. The most important point was saved for the last of this list.

The larger the file size of your image, the larger the image that needs to be pulled from your server and downloaded on to a users smartphone or laptop, and that causes your page to load much s-l-o-w-e-r.

Google recommends that webpages load within 2-3 seconds, especially on mobile phones. People don’t have the patience to wait for a site to load. Your customers won’t. Would you?

Best practices call for all images to be between 150-200kb maximum file size. If you stick to this, you can improve your website’s load time/site speed which in turn will improve your site’s cannabis SEO strategy.

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7. Develop Your Blog Content Strategy

At this point, your website should be equipped with a comprehensive SEO and keyword strategy which should help improve your online visibility and search engine rankings.

This would be a good time to run a baseline keyword ranking report to see where you rank for your targeted keywords. Once that’s complete, submit your new sitemap to Google and Bing for indexing and get ready to monitor and tweak your initial cannabis SEO strategy.

SEO is never one and done. You need an ongoing SEO plan in order to maintain the initial cannabis SEO strategy on your site. This starts with developing a content strategy using the keyword research you did back in step 2.

Segment your target keywords into those that are relatively popular and have low SEO competition. You don’t always have to compete and optimize for the most popular keywords. Just find the ones that are most relevant to your unique cannabis business.

Identify the search phrases where the user is asking a question or is searching for an answer about CBD oil, edibles, or cannabis in general and add those to a list to create blog articles.

Our content marketing services for our client’s include packages of 2-4 x 1000-1500 word, SEO optimized blog articles, with media (images/video), internal links, calls to action, and mobile formatting to provide the best user experience.

We recommend a minimum of 2 x 1000+ word articles that are in-depth, but still easily consumable by users on smartphones. You may not think that people read blog articles but I’d beg to differ.

An example from our own blog shows you that people spend anywhere from 1-minute to 10-minutes plus on our blog articles. Due to privacy agreements, we can’t show you what we’ve done for our client’s but I can assure you it’s super similar.

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If you need help crafting an optimized blog content marketing plan for your cannabis SEO strategy, contact us to discuss your project.

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8. Regular Keyword Tracking & Competitor Analysis

In an effort to maintain all the hard work you’ve put in to optimize your cannabis website by following the steps above, you’re going to want to keep up on updating and monitoring your cannabis SEO strategy.

In our cannabis SEO program, we recommend the following SEO tasks take place each month:

  • Keyword tracking reports
  • Competitor analysis reports
  • Online visibility reports
  • Backlink audit
  • Content updates
  • Ongoing optimization of new content including images

In a way, this brings you full circle to the initial SEO audit. But now, you’re able to regularly monitor the results of your cannabis SEO strategy in relation to your competitors by tracking the following key performance indicators (KPIs):

  • Total organic clicks to website from search engines
  • Average time spent on blog page
  • Average number of pages viewed per visit
  • Average time spent on website
  • Bounce rate
  • Keyword Rankings
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We Can Help You With Your Cannabis SEO Strategy

Are you ready to try an organic approach to marketing your CBD oil and cannabis products? One that doesn’t include advertising restrictions or an additional media spend?

Our team of cannabis SEO specialists are certified Google Analytics professionals who have been “doing SEO” since 2004.

We can help you grow your business online and get an edge over your competition by driving highly qualified potential customers to your website through Google and Bing search engines, instead of paid advertising channels.

Contact us today to discuss your project or to implement and manage a complete cannabis SEO strategy for your business.

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