“In a recent study conducted by Advanced Web Ranking, it was found that the websites located at the top position of the search results page of a browser received more than 30-percent click-through rate.”

In today’s increasingly digital landscape where more and more companies are conducting business online, capturing the web-based market is vitally important. Standing out from one’s competition is required for companies across industries—and the cannabis industry is no exception. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) plays a key role.

What is SEO?
SEO is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic through website optimization and other marketing tactics. SEO is the most efficient way to get free valuable traffic to your site. In a recent study conducted by Advanced Web Ranking, it was found that the websites located at the top position of the search results page of a browser received more than 30-percent click-through rate. Being on top is key to success.

SEO in Cannabis is Critical
The cannabis industry is rife with obstacles and complexities. Acquiring business permits, finding a banking partner, securing funding, and even advertising all becomes complicated, if not impossible. Because cannabis brands don’t fit into traditional advertising frameworks, SEO becomes even more critical. Platforms like Facebook and Google both ban paid communication by companies having anything to do with cannabis or hemp. It is likely to remain this way until cannabis becomes legal at the federal level.

This makes SEO and organic Google traffic the most important, if not only, marketing strategies a cannabis company can employ. Capturing top positions now will allow for valuable growth opportunities as the space continues to evolve.

This article will highlight some of the important steps to take and essential things to consider when developing a successful SEO strategy.

Create a Google Business Profile
Google does not currently allow cannabis ads on their platform, but with as many as 90% of all online searches taking place via Google, it is a spot that every business must find a way to penetrate. By setting up a profile, Google will automatically index your business’ name, address, phone number and any other information you provide across their platforms. This will allow your brand to appear when potential customers search on Google and Google Maps.

Do your Keyword Research
Keyword research is the process of learning what keywords and phrases people are using to search for businesses like yours. While you can guess which keywords to target manually, we recommend using a keyword research tool to get a clear picture of what people are typing into the search engines. In practice, if you own a cannabis dispensary, relevant keywords might be “where to buy cannabis,” “weed for sale,” or “dispensaries near me.”

Create Relevant Content
Once you know the keywords you’re optimizing for, you can build content that speaks to those concepts. Of course, not all content is created equal. It is critical that your content is relevant, authoritative and engaging. When search engines rank pages they use keywords to determine relevance, so content should be well-thought-out and strategically placed. Target consumers who may be reading your news, blog or a website page, expect to easily find the information they are searching for. Clarity is key when looking to further engage an audience.

Optimize your Site for Desktop and Mobile
Another barrier to ranking is how well your website works. This means your website should load quickly, be easy to navigate, and its foundational elements, like website architecture and URL structures, should be optimized. It doesn’t matter how good your content may be if a user is unable to access it.

Additionally, because more and more web and search traffic is taking place on mobile devices, your website must be optimized for both desktop and mobile. Google strongly recommends that sites be optimized for mobile and warns businesses that they may fall in search rankings if they don’t optimize.

Build a Strong Social Presence
All the SEO work you’ve done on your cannabis website is only half the journey. SEO also requires what are known as “off-site links”. As the name suggests, these are links to your site strategically placed on partner sites or through earned media. These links are important for helping search engines determine website and content relevance and authority. The more off-site links, the better.

Off-site links will most commonly come from other websites or news articles, but can also be increased through social media. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter can link content and encourage followers to further proliferate the link-backs, ultimately generating more organic traffic to your site.

Keep it Up
All this initial SEO work sets a good foundation for you to grow your cannabis business, but it doesn’t stop there. Building and maintaining SEO is a process. The way people engage with search engines is constantly evolving, as are the key words and phrases they are using when conducting a search. Continually evaluate and update your keyword list to ensure you are still targeting the most applicable to your business. As your keywords change, remember to update your website and content accordingly.

In Conclusion
Search engine optimization is one of the most powerful tools at a business’ disposal. In the cannabis industry, it may be the most effective tool to publicize your brand. When properly executed, a comprehensive SEO strategy will do more than bring potential customers to your website, it will improve their experience and generate engagement.

If you have any other questions about SEO, digital marketing or how MediaJel can help you grow your business, let’s start a conversation.