You may have the best-looking website with the most robust content, or the most illuminating videos, podcasts, and posts – but if you’re not using search engine optimization (SEO) to drive people to those assets you might as well be throwing a feast in an empty banquet hall.
In order to work the knobs and dials of Google’s evolving algorithm so people can find you online, you need to maximize your SEO power. SEO strategies are multi-faceted and include the use of keywords that get pinged when people search online for anything from “THC” to “decarboxylation” to “dispensaries near me.”
Those of us in the cannabis industry face restrictions when it comes to promoting our brand, products, and services. Radio, cable, and internet providers are regulated by the FCC and as cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, so many cannabis business owners shy away from online cannabis marketing in spite of a growing appetite in the public eye.
There are national guidelines around cannabis marketing, so you must stay tuned and adhere to applicable state and city regulations to avoid getting into hot water. Fortunately, there are effective legal ways to conduct digital cannabis marketing. Every one of them, from web content to video, rely on SEO.
Learn how SEO can help put you in front of a hungry crowd.
Keywords: SEO Special Ingredients
Keywords are the special ingredients people type into their browsers when hunting for information, products, or services. When you find out what words people are using to locate what you have to offer, you can mix them into your content. This will move the content forward in their search results and put it at the top of the menu (aka, the Google SERP).
There are a few types of keywords, but a few basics include:
- Short-tail keywords (or generic keywords) are short and non-specific “high volume” words that are harder to be recognized for. If you type in a search for “edibles,” you might see a few cannabis products and dispensaries in the search results along with ads for purveyors of edible fruit arrangements.
- Mid-tail keywords are still high volume, but they help narrow down a search. As such, they’re easier to rank for. Type “infused edibles” into Google and you’ll lose the fruit arrangements and start to see more cannabis products pop up.
- Long-tail keywords are strings of words or phrases that are lower in volume and have less competition, but are often high-intent (in other words, the customer is likely to buy). For example, “how much do infused edibles cost” can better hone your results and funnel potential customers your way.
Put yourself in the shoes of your audience and consider their intent when they conduct searches. Voice searches are becoming more prevalent, as well, so you may want to consider how people speak versus the search words they type. Someone might type “CBD oil safety,” but ask, “Is CBD oil safe?”
The Right Tools for the Task
A free keyword research tool you have in front of you right now is Google. Simply start typing something in your Google search bar and notice the auto-fill suggestions that pop up. This will show you some of the keywords and phrases people have been searching for within a particular topic.
For example, if you start typing “cannabis coffee,” even before you finish typing, you’re likely to see words like “cannabis coffee pods,” “cannabis coffee creamer,” “cannabis coffee mug,” etc. If your business sells cannabis coffee drinks, beans, pods, or related supplies, you’ve already conducted some potentially useful keyword research.
There are several online tools you can subscribe to or use for free that help you select keywords, plan SEO strategies, and analyze the effectiveness of your strategies and those of your competitors. However, if all this feels overwhelming to you, don’t worry – we’ve got your back.
At Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting, we help cannabis business owners – from single-stage to vertically integrated operations – rock their digital cannabis marketing without crossing any legal lines.
Savor the Links
When you provide links for your reader, you’re adding value. If you’re aware of an industry vendor’s exhibit, don’t just mention it; be sure to link to the website where readers can buy a ticket or become an exhibitor.
Also, if you mention medical cannabis research, cite and link to your source. Links to highly reputable sources – like gov-funded research – tell Google that you’re an authority and you’re providing immense value to your readers.
Linking to authoritative, high-quality sites increases your digital footprint and, according to SEO expert Rand Fishkin, “ups the potential to attract important, relevant, valuable eyeballs.” Remember that overuse of links can divert those eyeballs from your page, so only link where it’s truly valuable or where you need to cite your sources.
The judicious use of internal links – those within your own website – is also valuable. By pointing your audience to additional resources you’ve created, you may succeed in keeping them on your page longer, decrease your bounce rate, and potentially snag new business.
You can reach out to affiliates or someone in a related business and ask them to link to your website from their website or blog, when appropriate. This can bring more traffic your way and when you have several trusted websites pointing to your website through links it can increase your Google ranking. Get creative with ways to create mutual value between you and other businesses.
In Cannabis Marketing, Don’t Forget to E-A-T
You need more than keywords and links to rank well with Google and your audience. You must provide helpful content that demonstrates expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, E-A-T.
One of your most powerful cannabis marketing tools is the content on your website. In an industry where traditional advertising is largely prohibited, this is the place to show what you know and talk to your audience.
Lastly, remember: Content is never “one and done.” Feed the internet beast by regularly posting fresh content. Google likes it and so do your readers.
Dinner + A Movie: Video Worth a Thousand Words
People are gobbling up video content now more than ever. As of just under year ago, 72% of consumers preferred videos over text marketing, a percentage that’s certain to rise.
Consider that Youtube, owned by Google, is the world’s 2nd largest search engine (no surprise: Google is #1). Just because your videos aren’t in text format doesn’t mean you can’t score some serious SEO points by search optimizing your Youtube videos
While video is grabbing a lot of internet real estate, you still need SEO-rich text to direct people to that media. Wherever video resides lies an opportunity to serve up effective keyword text via descriptions and titles that can drive people to all your online assets.
The same is true for podcasts. You can publish SEO articles about your series and employ keywords in your podcast notes. Of course, podcasting comes with a whole other set of requirements, so if you plan to go down that path, get informed before you get started.
SEO + Social Media Mingling
There’s a reason why many businesses have a designated company or team to manage their social media. It’s an indispensable tool for cannabis marketing, if done well. There are direct and indirect ways in which social platforms assist your SEO, so optimizing your profiles is key.
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn reflect your brand and funnel people to your website and sales platforms. Google looks at – aka, “crawls” – and indexes social media pages much in the same way it does websites, which may place your profile in a search results page.
For instance, if you google Oprah Winfrey, you’ll likely see several of her tweets pop up. Google can’t keep up with indexing every tweet – and the odds are low of having your tweets appear in a Google search until you substantially grow your Twitter authority – but top-performing tweets and those shared by more “famous” profiles get extra credit.
More Places To Be Seen
First and foremost, master your own house – that is your website content. There are nearly infinite ways to tweak and improve things “at home.” Give thought to every piece of content and every image by making sure all alt tags and meta descriptions are filled out with SEO keywords.
Your budget and whether you provide consumer products or business services help determine where you want to be seen – as does whether you’re in medical or recreational cannabis. If you work primarily B2B, you might want to buy a business profile in a cannabis-specific publication like Leafly. While cost is relative, you’ll pay a fair amount for this type of exposure, but it may pay for itself if you use it right.
It’s a big plus if you can get an article published on a site like Marijuana Business Daily or Weedmaps. Forbes has a spinoff site called Green Entrepreneur for content that is strictly cannabis-related. You can always pitch an article or guest blog post to online publications and Medium is a great free non-cannabis specific outlet to consider, too.
Cannabis Marketing Can Overflow Your Plate
Remember that your customers and clients have many choices. They will see through marketing that is done poorly, appears outdated, or doesn’t provide useful information. But if done the right way, it can fill your pipeline with a consistent stream of new business and opportunities.
Competition is fierce, so it’s not enough to say “We have the best marijuana.” Everyone and their mother has the best marijuana. You need to provide more.
When it comes to cannabis marketing, if you’re going to do something, do it right. If you’re busy managing a dispensary or grow operation or any other cannabis-related business, you’ve probably got your hands full. Marketing a cannabis business can be a full-time responsibility all its own.
When your plate is full and you’re spinning 10 others, it makes sense to hire someone to help with your marketing efforts. Placing your marketing in someone else’s hands isn’t a choice to take lightly. You need to vet agencies carefully. Ask for examples of their work and any data on their past results.
Above all, make sure they have experience in the cannabis industry – it’s unlike any other. Ask potential marketers cannabis-specific questions including those specific to regulations around cannabis marketing.
Looking for more details on marketing your cannabis business? Feel free to reach out to us at Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting to schedule a consultation.