scientist looking at marijuana plant

A GUIDE TO PRUNING: HOW DELETING YOUR CANNABIS BLOGS’ BAD POSTS BOOSTS TRAFFIC

For many regulated businesses, blogging is a primary communication channel. It showcases your brand’s unique personality, keeps a record of your growth, gives your customers a pulse on the company, and when done well, has the potential to drastically increase your web traffic. That’s why with the revolution of content marketing for cannabis companies, many marketers consider blogging a must-have content distribution channel. After all, it’s the only distribution platform that will be 100% controlled by your company.

cannabis plant growing out of computer keyboard

Now that cannabis blogs are widely accepted as a key channel for communication, many websites have built up a blog archive full of posts that are outdated and irrelevant to their audience. At one time, marketers believed that more posts covering the same topic with similar keywords gave a website more opportunities to rank for that keyword. Today, Google handles queries a little bit differently. Not only does Google count the quantity of your links, it also judges the quality of those links, and poor performing pages hurt your search ranking. To combat this rank decay, top cannabis blogs have turned to pruning.

Here’s how it works:

WHAT IS PRUNING?

Pruning is a strategic process for removing low-quality content from your website or cannabis blog. The process is broken into 5 parts:

  1. Content Audit
  2. Immediate Pruning
  3. Consolidation
  4. Improvements
  5. Evaluation

HOW PRUNING HELPS GROW YOUR CANNABIS BLOGS’ TRAFFIC

It’s time to admit that some of your cannabis blogs are hurting more than helping. The way the Google algorithm works is simple; great cannabis content that answers people’s questions, gives them complete information, and leads them down a path that makes sense for their buyer’s journey is ranked higher. Unfortunately, it also penalizes low-quality content with symptoms like low click rates and high bounce rates. Chances are you have a good amount of cannabis blogs that aren’t driving traffic to your site and as a result, they’re diluting your link equity.

3 SIGNS YOUR CANNABIS BLOGS COULD BENEFIT FROM PRUNING

  • You’ve been blogging consistently for over a year
  • Your blog pages get impressions but not enough clicks and you have a high bounce rate
  • You have lots of short blogs (2-6 paragraphs) about the same topic

5 TIPS FOR PRUNING YOUR CANNABIS CONTENT

1. Use these categories to guide your cannabis content audit.

  • Keep As-Is: These are your top performing pages. You can find these by organizing your page visitors, conversion, or click data from highest to lowest.
  • Prune: These are your no-brainer pages. If they fit the symptoms (low in pageviews, inbound links, organic traffic, and conversions) they go in this category, and you can prune them right away for a quick win.
  • Improve and Consolidate: After you’ve decided which content pieces are great as-is and which pieces aren’t salvageable, you’re left with a healthy list of pages that add content value, but hurt your SEO efforts. These pages can be improved by updating with relevant information and asking how you could better cover the topic, utilize keywords, and add to the market’s existing knowledge base. Sometimes, when you have lots of short-form blogs that cover key elements of the same topic, they can be consolidated and republished as a new blog that completely covers the topic in one place.

2. Start with the “no-brainers” first.
When you pull your website analytics data, it should be obvious which cannabis content pages need the axe immediately. Symptoms of a low-quality page will include low visitor rates, time on page is less than 30 seconds, and bounce rates are higher than 70%. The no-brainers will be pages that hit at least two out of three symptoms. A page that has one symptom, but not the others, has a better shot at converting on Google with some strategic changes to improve the page’s quality. Google considers content marketing for cannabis companies as high-quality when it is relevant, readable, answers questions, and is needed or interesting in the marketplace. One of the best indicators of high-quality content is when a piece gets quoted, linked to, and shared across relevant platforms. It can be a challenge to look at your cannabis blogs alone and determine the quality. After all, you wouldn’t post a bad blog on purpose.

3. Use “noindex” tag for low-performing pages that serve a purpose.
Noindex tags are used on low-performing pages that meet the criteria for pruning but are needed on your site for navigation or organization. Examples of noindex candidates for cannabis blogs include FAQ pages, blog archives, and author bios. Using the noindex tag lets Google know that their bots shouldn’t crawl that page, which reduces their negative impact on your SEO.

4. Don’t delete your cannabis blogs’ posts; unpublish them.
Never forget — there’s a chance you were wrong. In the event you misread the data or conditions around content marketing for cannabis companies change, there may be a time when you need to resurrect an old blog post. When you delete a blog post in your CMS, it removes all the content, the url, and any link equity that it may have generated. Instead, unpublish the post (this should be an option in any CMS system you use) which will make it inaccessible from a web browser, but will retain all the content and the original url.

5. Redirect for unpublished and consolidated content.
Whether you delete or unpublish, you’ll need to redirect those urls to a related page or (if absolutely necessary) use a 404 redirect. When you remove cannabis blogs in your website’s backend, Google won’t know right away. The page you just took down will still be flagged in the search engine for the same terms. 404 redirects tell Google that this page no longer exists, so you won’t be penalized for having them. However, be wary of how many pages you 404 redirect at a time. Google will sometimes flag sites for an unusually large amount of 404s. Instead, some webmasters compound their results by redirecting the unpublished urls to a well-ranked page that covers the same topic.

Pruning can be an effective tool at getting the most out of your efforts around content marketing for cannabis companies. It allows you to maintain your cannabis blog’s search rank with Google while improving your relevance with visitors. But it isn’t a silver bullet. Pruning, at its best, is part of a larger digital marketing strategy that includes content, SEO, programmatic advertising, and more.