Industry SEO

Ranking high in the organic search results isn’t a fluke. It presumes a long and arduous process during which you try to maximize all your marketing resources. This is why it’s crucial for marijuana businesses to implement a viable yet effective cannabis SEO strategy.

Like all other businesses, cannabis companies can benefit significantly from search engine traffic. In fact, we can say that SEO is much more important for the cannabis industry than some other fields. Due to limited promotional opportunities, these companies generally have to focus on organic website visits they receive from Google and other search engines.

However, that doesn’t mean you should jump into this endeavor headfirst. When you hire an SEO company, you’re effectively giving them reigns of your cannabis website. Having a lousy partner at your side can do more harm than good, which is why you should go with a reputable provider such as MiroMind.

In this article, we’ll talk about the importance of marijuana SEO and how it can help your business, and we’ll share some cannabis SEO tips to boot. Check it out!

The importance of SEO for cannabis companies

If you have had a cannabis business for a while, you know how hard it is to advertise your products. While these miraculous plants are legalized in most US states, Canada, Europe, and Australia, promoting marijuana is still seen as somewhat of a taboo. Unlike other industries, social media marketing and pay-per-click are unavailable to cannabis websites.

So, it’s not that search engine optimization is the best digital marketing activity for your cannabis business. It’s simply the only option you have at your disposal. And while SEO might not be your first choice, this method still carries some incredible benefits for your brand.

Simply put, there isn’t a marketing activity that can provide the same amount of exposure for your cannabis company. Ranking your web pages for lucrative search terms can provide more traffic than just about any other marketing activity. On top of that, you’ll also get numerous indirect benefits, such as improved reputation and authority within the field.

So, whether you’re a large grower or a small shop that relies on local SEO, you can gain massive organic traffic via Google. These visitors convert at a much higher rate than leads you would get from other marketing activities. As long as you have an effective SEO strategy, you can rest assured your investment will be well warranted.

The SEO challenges cannabis brands face

Unfortunately, creating a good cannabis SEO strategy isn’t as easy as some people might think. The biggest issue is that all businesses are vying for a small piece of the pie, using the same marketing approach. Even if you reach the top of a search engine results page, there’s a high probability someone will take over your rankings soon enough.

Because of that, you need to be extremely meticulous in your approach. This refers not only to your content marketing strategy but also link building processes. Furthermore, you need to create a stable working environment, with the same team handling all your promotional activities from day one.

Speaking of link building, this is the hardest marketing activity for cannabis businesses. Despite the fact this product is legalized in the US and many other countries, bloggers are generally reluctant to link to these sites. Most notably, they’re worried about the potential penalties they might receive from the search engines.

The best course of action is to create a comprehensive approach that would involve a combination of traditional and digital marketing methods. Although cannabis brands can’t use PPC and are limited in terms of social media promotions, they can still rely on billboards and other forms of advertising.

Should I hire a cannabis SEO agency?

Search engine optimization is an extremely technical process. It requires that you understand basic HTML, link building, technical SEO, and keyword research. And while SEO experts often hire writers to create website content, they need to perform all other tasks themselves.

So, as a marijuana business, it’s usually much better to hire externally or create an in-house team. The need for top-tier professionals is especially important for marijuana-related businesses as you need to face such stiff competition. Trying to do things yourself or employing half-measures is usually just a waste of company resources.

Ideally, you should hire a company that specializes in this type of product. Agencies such as MiroMind, which have already worked within this field, have various connections that could help with link building. They also have a better idea what are the popular search queries and which keyword strategy can yield the best results.

Anyway, here are a few reasons why you need a specialized company to run your cannabis SEO campaign:

  • As strange as this might sound, experienced cannabis SEO companies often have a better understanding of the market than small and medium growers. Top-tier providers have been in the business from the get-go and are well acquainted with the biggest brands and most popular products.
  • Unlike cannabis shops and growers, renowned cannabis SEO experts have working relationships with other marijuana businesses. This means they’re more likely to get links and execute certain SEO strategies than you would. Among others, other cannabis brands don’t necessarily perceive them as competition (even though they’re working for you).
  • Compared to cannabis-related companies, marketing agencies already have several working cannabis SEO strategies in place. They know which target keywords to prioritize and how to implement an efficient content strategy. Most importantly, they know what works and what doesn’t within your industry.
  • Service providers can focus on SEO tasks while you put emphasis on growing plants and improving production processes and logistics. In most cases, hiring an external company will save you money both in the short-term and long-term run.

If you’re looking for someone to implement and execute a solid cannabis SEO strategy, look no further than MiroMind. Our company provides SEO services for various types of marijuana companies, and we know exactly how to promote your brand.

4 Things to do before cannabis SEO campaign

While cannabis SEO is the way to go, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t perform due diligence before embarking on a new project. A brand should create a long-term marketing plan that would not only help the SEO provider but also serve as the basis for other processes.

Despite what some cannabis business owners might think, you need to have an active role during a marketing campaign. The SEO agency needs to understand your brand vision and mission and how you wish to position yourself on the market. That being said, it’s vital that both sides are on the same page and have an open channel of communication.

1. Analyzing target audience

Traditionally, cannabis was perceived as a recreational drug primarily used by younger people. However, as our knowledge of the plant and its chemicals started to change, so did the marketing focus. Nowadays, cannabis is promoted as a substance that can help you reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep and regulate other bodily functions.

Because of that, cannabis has a colorful customer base. These products can be used by just about anyone, regardless of their age, sex, or medical condition. So, if you wish to do proper customer targeting, it’s crucial that you have quality demographic data.

Keep in mind that the target audience can significantly vary from city to city and from state to state. Something that would work in LA, California, will not necessarily provide results in Boulder, Colorado. Of course, cannabis companies inherently know who their audience is. This is especially true for businesses that have been around the block.

Still, don’t forget that the most frequent buyers might not necessarily be your target audience. You might wish to develop a marketing strategy that focuses on a specific segment of the population, even if they’re not the “ideal customer.” This is why it’s much better for the cannabis brand to perform analysis and not an SEO agency.

2. Creating project hierarchy

Creating a structural hierarchy is vital for comprehensive cannabis SEO campaigns. You would be surprised how much time is wasted on communication during these projects, especially when you hire externally. Among others, a lack of hierarchy can cause issues when delegating tasks and defining priorities.

One of the biggest issues with outsourcing is that cannabis businesses often employ marketers from other countries. This helps them drive the expenses down while getting a similar quality of service. Alas, this leads to other issues, like not working in the same time zone.

A lack of hierarchy is especially troublesome when SEO teams have to work with traditional marketers. As both of them have their own ideas, there might be friction at different stages of planning and execution. The problem can go so deep that it can potentially affect the creation of marketing materials, social media posting, and outreach.

3. Establishing goals

Analyzing the performance of an SEO company is very tricky. Search engine optimization is a long-term approach meant to provide results after several months of hard work. In fact, if you’re a small cannabis brand, there’s a chance you won’t see any change in the website traffic in the first few months of the project.

Still, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t establish certain goals. Like with any other marketing process, marijuana companies can assess marketing performance based on KPIs. The most relevant factor is, of course, the organic traffic growth. You can also track other data, like the search engine placement of relevant keywords.

You should also remember that some of these KPIs can be very misleading. For example, a company might build numerous links and write hundreds of articles without making a real impact on your bottom line. This is why it’s so important to communicate your goals in advance while putting emphasis on conversion.

4. Defining no-go’s

Often, it’s not about things that a marketing company does right. Instead, it’s all about the things they do wrong. Because of that, you need to establish way in advance what the agency can and can’t do during a campaign.

Some marketing businesses are willing to go to extreme lengths just to provide tangible results. They might start focusing on irrelevant keywords to boost website visits. Or, they might build irrelevant links to meet the monthly quota. The most egregious example is using black-hat techniques that can not only ruin your reputation but also harm your cannabis website.

Of course, you should still accept the provider’s suggestions that would help you improve the SEO strategy. For example, if they’re firm believers in a certain methodology, you should at least hear them out. Nevertheless, you also need to draw the line at some things so that the implementation of SEO doesn’t harm your general business goals.

5 Pillars of Cannabis SEO

While marketing a cannabis company is different than promoting a shoe brand, the same SEO methodology is used in almost all cases. In other words, providers are always looking to improve the technical performance of cannabis sites, create high-quality content, and build relevant links.

Here’s the optimal optimization process that will help you reach the top of organic search.

1. SEO audit

When a marketing agency takes on a new project, it’s customary that they perform a comprehensive audit. Even if you had a full-time SEO agency beforehand, the new provider needs to ensure they didn’t make any mess on your pages.

Here are the main things cannabis SEO providers focus on during the process:

  • Improving the crawlability of your pages
  • Assessing website structure
  • Analyzing overall performance
  • Eliminating potentially harmful links
  • Fixing broken links
  • Improving internal linking
  • Addressing duplicate content
  • Improving the site for mobile devices
  • Increasing website speed
  • Addressing various code issues and errors
  • Adding extra layers of security
  • Checking the logs
  • Checking for search engine penalties

The audit is a vital process not only for SEO but also for conversion optimization and pay-per-click performance. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website or if your pages open too slowly, people simply won’t be able to interact with the content. Errors, on the other hand, would prevent them from accessing vital pages.

Nowadays, most cannabis companies have well-polished sites, so making technical improvements won’t necessarily help you rank higher in the organic search. It would just put you on the same playing field as other businesses.

2. Keyword research

After doing the audit, it’s time to find phrases that will become the focus of your cannabis SEO strategy. Thorough keyword research helps you understand what people search for and how hard it’s to rank for these phrases. Ideally, you should find keywords that have low difficulty and that carry large search traffic.

When it comes to length, SEO experts differentiate between short-tail and long-tail keywords. The first group represents phrases that consist of one or two words, while the second group includes phrases that have three or more words. The general rule is that the longer the keywords, the less traffic it brings.

Nowadays, you can easily perform the analysis with a keyword research tool. Aside from assessing potential search traffic, you can get from each phrase, these programs also analyze difficulty. Some of them even assign scores to each keyword, showing you with ones to prioritize.

User intent analysis

User intent analysis is the subset of keyword research. It helps you understand what visitors are looking for on a cannabis-related website. When people browse these sites, most of them are looking for general information about the plant or cannabis niche. However, there are also those looking to make an immediate purchase.

Analyzing user search intent provides additional insights beyond online traffic and difficulty. Basically, it tells you what kind of an impact a phrase will have on your bottom line. For example, so-called “money keywords” are the best phrases to rank for, as they are more likely to result in sales. By comparison, “brand keywords” will help increase brand awareness.

3. Content planning and creation

Once you have all these phrases in front of you, it’s time to create content that will help drive valuable traffic. During content planning, you create a schedule prioritizing phrases that can have the biggest impact on your brand. Ideally, you are looking to make as many quick wins as possible.

Aside from creating a work schedule, the planning process is vital for clustering and interlinking. Basically, you try to organize articles into funnels and clusters, thus increasing the likelihood of ranking. This logical structure is also vital for driving leads through your marketing pipeline, from informational articles to product pages.

Content creation

When marketers talk about content creation, they primarily refer to written articles. And while this form has been around for quite a while, it never stops evolving. Here are some of the best practices that will help you create quality articles for your cannabis site:

  • Create titles that are intriguing yet properly describe the page content.
  • Make sure that meta descriptions help build that interest.
  • Each article should be broken down into smaller, logically-arranged sections.
  • Furthermore, paragraphs and sentences shouldn’t be long or interfere with the user experience.
  • If an article is part of a larger cluster, add internal links to other relevant posts.
  • Add nice cannabis images made by professional photographers.
  • Given the skepticism surrounding this niche, add as many references to cannabis medical studies as possible.
  • Write CTAs that will prompt the user into action.
  • Use content optimization tools, but be careful with AI generators.

When creating cannabis articles, your main focus is to provide readers with something they can’t find elsewhere. Not only should you provide unique information, but you should also give unique opinions.

Nowadays, search engines utilize engagement data to assess the quality of web pages. They analyze how much time your readers spend on your site and how they interact with articles and other content. So, it’s necessary to give them something that will keep them interested.

4. Link building

Link building is a critical yet hardest phase of cannabis SEO. It’s the element that will help tip your content over the top spots in search results.

The biggest issue with cannabis link-building is that no one wants to participate. Basically, your competitors are unwilling to give you a boost no matter how much you pay them. On the other hand, other sites are too afraid to promote anything mildly drug-related. Whatever the case, here are a few strategies that might help you out:

  • Find websites that promote various substances or natural living. These are more likely to link out to your site. Focus on those that allow guest posting, as this is your best chance.
  • Ideally, you should get links from sites that are closely related to the cannabis industry. Furthermore, make sure these are good-quality links that won’t harm your business.
  • Competitive analysis is an excellent way to reverse engineer an efficient cannabis link-building process. Pitch the same sites they’ve pitched.
  • Due to the industry’s peculiarities, you’re less likely to get links from complete strangers. So, instead of trying to build links, try to build relationships and wait for organic connections.
  • Find link builders that previously worked with cannabis industries. They can provide the most relevant links.

5. Local SEO for cannabis companies

While local SEO might not be that important for large cannabis businesses, it’s vital for small local shops and growers. The local optimization relies on best optimization practices but also requires a few additional actions:

  • By adding your company to Google My Business, the search engine can classify your organization as a legitimate business. This will also show your business on local maps.
  • Add your business profile to other major cannabis directories and forums. This provides additional signals to search engines that they’re dealing with a real company.
  • Make sure your data is the same in all directories. If there’s any change, make modifications across all platforms.
  • Add Schema Markup. This code is vital for receiving featured snippets, including the local ones.
  • Try to create as much content revolving around local neighborhoods and city-related topics.
  • Get as many positive online reviews as you can.
Industry SEO
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