Did you know that there are over 200 different factors that contribute to your ranking on Google?
Many of them are completely under your control, you’ve just got to access them.
With more cities and states legalizing marijuana every year, the industry is only becoming more competitive. An SEO strategy can help give you that extra edge your business needs to stand out against the competition in the long run.
Here are some SEO tricks to implement right now to start standing out in the cannabis industry.
Choose a Handful of Pillar Topics
Pillar topics are the core topics you want your business and ultimately your brand and website to be ranked for. They set the stage for the organization of your site and the content you’ll create both on and off the page.
For a cannabis company, think of your core products or services. Are you a dispensary that specializes in a handful of brands? Or is your niche having a large edible selection compared to your competitors?
List out about five (maximum 10) pillar topics; these should be somewhat general, like “edibles” or “terpenes.” These topics will create the foundation for your target keywords and the content you produce moving forward.
Select Target Keywords
Once you’ve organized the topics you want to be known for, you’ll start to see the bones of your target keywords take form.
Google Ads Keyword Planner will be your best friend for keyword research, and it’s completely free.
Start by placing each of your topics (separately) into the “keyword ideas” search bar.
A list of keywords and keyword phrases will populate and be ranked by how competitive the keyword is (how many people want to rank for it) and the average number of monthly searches for the keyword.
If you’re a local business that’s looking to attract local customers, you’ll want to consider including the names of cities and the state you’re servicing. Since very few cannabis product companies can cross state lines, geo-targeted keywords will be especially important to companies trying to attract customers.
If your B2B service or product can sell nationally, consider your target markets in the keyword creation process.
Be Strategic with Keywords
It’s important to choose a mix of keywords and keyword phrases. If you’re a mom-and-pop shop with plans to keep your business within your city’s limits, don’t waste your efforts trying to rank for the industry’s top keywords.
Instead of trying to rank for “cannabis dispensary,” try ranking for keywords with less competition, like “cannabis dispensary Tempe Arizona.” If you’re located in a competitive city or region like Los Angeles or Chicago, consider hyper-targeting keywords to fit specific neighborhoods, boroughs, and suburbs that are less competitive.
Search your competitors, search for your product in an Incognito browser as your customer might, and get creative with this process.
Choose five to 10 keywords per topic that are a mix of competition levels. Choose keywords and keyword phrases. At the end of this process, you should have a diverse mix of keywords that all relate to your core topics and the fundamental products and services of your business.
Build Your Website Structure So That It’s SEO Friendly
Start at the foundation of your site. You’ve got to have a website infrastructure that’s set up to be crawled. If you’re building a website, it’s excellent to establish the SEO framework in the beginning.
But if you’re rebranding, or plan to use an older website, prepare to put in some work before any further steps are taken.
Websites should be simple, clear, and resourceful to both your audience and search engines.
Build a website with your core topics in mind; each pillar topic should have its own optimized web page. You’ll also want to have the basics, like a blog feed, a home page, and an about us page.
In the back end of your site, if there are more pages than what’s listed above (with the exception of blog posts), get cleaning! This is where an SEO audit can be helpful in identifying duplicate content and extra “stuff” you don’t need on your site.
Once you’ve cleaned the back end of your site, you’ll need to optimize the landing pages to fit best practices and your target keywords. Again, think of the human reader on your website and the AI reader. You’ll need to prove your site’s value to both.
SEO Tricks for Your Website’s Copy
Create subdirectories for your topic pages and edit the URLs so they’re searchable. For example, “how to choose the right vape pen” would be a great tail for a URL that directs to a page about vape pens.
Think of each landing page as a page that can be built on as content assets are added. The vision is that once you have your website optimized and your SEO strategy up and flowing, you can build products like ebooks and guides that can live on these topic pages.
Here are some basic best practices for optimized website content.
- Choose at least one primary and a handful of secondary keywords to include on your web page.
- Choose content that’s resourceful and answers questions for your audience, versus promotional copy that boasts how great your business is.
- The website copy should at least be 500 words.
- Include internal links when it’s appropriate, like in a call to action or a link to a product category in your store.
- Use subheads of H2, H3, etc.
- Make sure keywords are used in the intro, at least one subhead, and in the conclusion paragraph of the copy.
- Optimize the robots meta tag for every page with keywords to control how the page is indexed and shown in search results.
- Make sure each page’s title tags include a target keyword.
- Keep the target keywords used in the headers of your web page copy and the title page different.
- Keep page titles under 70 characters and include your company name in them.
- Include at least two external links for every 500 words of copy.
- Place a call to action on every web page.
- Include keywords in all URLs.
- Keep meta descriptions under 120 characters and include at least one keyword and keyword phrase.
- Add a descriptive image alt text to every image on the website. Make sure it’s relevant to the specific page and also the general website. Keep the code below 125 characters and use keywords.
- Specify how you’d like your site to be crawled via the robots.txt file.
- Tell search engines which page to crawl using the XML Sitemap files page.
- Index your site with Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
- Update your website to be mobile-friendly.
Launching Your SEO Strategy
The SEO tricks on this page will set you up for page ranking success, and should keep you busy! But these steps are just the beginning of what it means to implement a complete SEO strategy.
For more tips on advanced web rankings for cannabis, follow our blog!