SEO can generate more online leads for your business, when executed properly using white hat techniques. The user’s experience should always be a motivating factor for an SEO marketing campaign. Although it may take a while to see results, your website will eventually gain authority and improve search engine rankings.
Make Sure You Own Your Web Properties
It is imperative that you make sure that you have ownership rights to the online services provided to you. This is why we do not advocate for Shopify or any other platform that may decide one day to no longer allow cannabis businesses to host their websites.
Once we change how cannabis is viewed on a federal level, even more traditional online marketing opportunities can open for the industry. Until then, using SEO is one of the best methods for getting cannabis businesses seen online.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
The easiest definition of Search Engine Optimization is the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when people search for products or services related to your business.
On-site SEO is the website optimization process, using content and metadata to increase the visibility of a website in organic rankings. This is the part of SEO that is the easiest for business owners to do on their own if they have high-quality content available that can be unique and helpful to promoting the brand. More essential elements to having effective on-site SEO include having a good site structure and a fast-loading site. These are important factors because you want your site visitors to stay a while and digest the content you are providing on your site.
Off-site SEO is using optimization techniques that are not done directly on your website, but are generally done on other digital properties that you do not own, that will affect your organic rankings positively. This part of SEO can be harder to do for a business owner as it requires a deeper understanding of SEO link building strategies.
Local SEO is when the search engine optimization effort is focused on getting local results for your business. This type of optimization focuses on reaching potential clients in your local area looking for products or services that you provide. The focus for local SEO, compared to national SEO campaigns, are different which makes it important to understand which one you will focus on during a marketing campaign. Local SEO will focus on optimizing your Google My Business listing along with your website in order to send as many signals to Google that will give it a good understanding of your business as well as the location you do business in.
National SEO involves servicing clients nationwide. Whether you have an e-commerce component to your business or not, you may want to do both a national and local SEO, depending on your business model.
In order to begin a national marketing campaign, the very first steps you will need to take are registering a domain name, getting hosting for your website, then deciding which platform to build your website on. If you own a site already, make sure that you are the registered owner and that you have access to the registrar who it is registered thru, as well as any other digital assets.
Always Start An SEO Campaign with Research
The first step to beginning an SEO campaign is to identify your target audience. Are you looking to reach other businesses or end users? In some instances, the answer might be both. Find out who your top competitors are online as they may not always be the same as the ones you have personally identified in the industry. If they do not have a strong web presence, then they are not an online competitor. Start researching keywords that you want to rank on. Produce a list of words that you think clients would type in when they are doing a search for your products or services.
Then, complete searches using those keywords and see if it would make sense for your business to appear in those results. If you do not already know who your competitors are online, start making notes of the websites that you see pop up consistently on those searches and note those domains.
Using An Online Keyword Search Tool
You can use an online tool like Ahrefs, SEMRush, Moz, Ubersuggest and more to perform keyword and related keyword searches. Some of these online keyword tools are free, but most of your better tools will have a monthly cost associated with them.
Ahrefs or SEMRush accounts are great options for this; they both offer a trial period to use their services. SEMRush offers a 7-day free trial that you can take advantage of. Ahrefs also offers a 7-day trial that is $7 if you cancel and if not, it will go into a monthly $99 charge. It is tough to do comprehensive keyword research without using one of these tools, or a free one.
Using Your Competitors to Find Ranking Keywords
Once you have identified your competitors, you can use a tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush and get a list of all the keywords that your competitors’ sites are ranking on. Take this data and download it for future use. You can then go through your competitors keyword lists and make note of any keywords that relate to your business and add them to your master keyword list.
Basic Offsite Optimization Tips
Basic off-site SEO strategies can be a bit trickier as it requires you to understand link profiles. You need to be able to grasp what a natural link profile is versus one that has been manipulated. Sometimes Google thinks you are building links and not earning them and that if you are using optimized anchor text to gain rankings, you will not only receive poor results, but you can easily get penalized.
Natural-Looking Link Profiles
Natural-looking link profiles include having a variety of links coming from a large variety of different types of online sites like industry-related sites, news sites, forums, directories and so on. Anchor text is the text that is hot linked for a user to click on to follow a link to your site. This should look normal in order for your sire to do well.
When your link profiles are natural, you’ll have words like “click here” or “more info,” the site’s name, the naked url and so on. (Think of how you would link to something yourself without trying to artificially put a keyword in the link). The most recommended way of link building is blending in optimized anchor text that contains one or more of your keywords in it as well as making sure you have plenty of anchor text that looks natural.
Unnatural Link Profiles
If you have unnatural link profiles, you will be penalized by Google. This means that your site contains links that have over optimized anchor text and originates from only one type of source.
For example, there may be lots of links coming from forums that say “buy cbd gummies” and all point to your main page that you want to rank on. It is important to keep the anchor text natural and the sources diverse.
Think Quality vs. Quantity
When you are looking to acquire links, it’s not about getting a thousand links. It’s more about getting quality links from quality websites. One link from an authoritative source, like Forbes, can be worth 100 links from other sites.