Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential for any business looking to gain visibility and traffic online. This is especially true in competitive industries like the cannabis industry. With cannabis legalization spreading, more and more cannabis businesses are popping up across North America. This increased competition makes SEO more important than ever for cannabis brands and retailers.
This complete guide will teach you everything you need to know about cannabis SEO in 2023. By following the tips and best practices outlined here, you can improve your website's search rankings, attract more organic traffic, and ultimately generate more leads and sales.
Why Cannabis SEO Matters
There are a few key reasons why cannabis businesses need to focus on technical SEO:
High search volume
- People search for cannabis-related keywords over 100 million times per month in the US alone. Tapping into this demand can result
in massive amounts of traffic.
- The cannabis industry is becoming increasingly competitive as more players enter the market. Ranking well organically helps brands stand out.
- Cannabis advertising faces restrictions across different media. SEO offers a way around these limitations.
- Searchers have intent - they want to buy cannabis products and services. SEO delivers motivated visitors ready to convert.
Mastering SEO best practices is crucial for any cannabis business looking to get found online and connect with customers. The growing search demand represents a huge growth opportunity.
Cannabis Search Engine Optimization Industry Trends
Like any industry, cannabis SEO comes with its own unique trends and developments. Staying aware of the latest shifts, search behaviors, and optimization strategies is key to staying ahead.
Here are some important cannabis search engine optimization trends to watch in 2023:
Local Search Engine Optimization:
More people are searching for cannabis dispensaries and delivery services near them. Local SEO is becoming more important.
With the rise of smart speakers, voice searches for cannabis information are increasing. SEO strategies must optimize for voice queries.
Over 50% of cannabis searches now happen on mobile devices. Ensuring a fast, seamless mobile experience is critical.
Conversion rate optimization:
Standing out in competitive SERPs requires seamless on-site experiences. CRO and UX optimization must complement SEO.
Authoritative backlinks remain a key ranking factor. Cannabis sites must find creative link building strategies to acquire reputable links.
Reviews and local listings:
Customer reviews and complete local business listings tend to rank well for local cannabis keywords.
Staying on top of these cannabis SEO trends will ensure your strategy remains effective and optimized for long-term search visibility. Conducting ongoing keyword research is also key for staying aligned with consumer search behavior.
Cannabis Search Engine Optimization Keyword Research
Thorough keyword research should form the foundation of any effective cannabis SEO strategy. The first step is identifying the terms and phrases that your target customers are actually using in their searches.
Here are some tips for conducting cannabis keyword research:
- Leverage keyword planning tools like Google's Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Moz, or Ahrefs to find high-volume cannabis keywords.
- Analyze your competitors' websites to see which terms they target and rank well for.
- Use "related searches" in Google to find additional keyword variations and ideas.
- Search social media sites like Reddit and Twitter to uncover slang cannabis phrases used by consumers.
- Analyze your internal site analytics and search logs to identify customer search queries.
- Speak with your sales team to understand common customer questions and interests.
- Track cannabis search trends over time - new products and consumption methods lead to new search behaviors.
Ideally, your keyword research should uncover a mix of head terms (like "cannabis" and "marijuana"), product terms (like "CBD oil" or "vape cartridges") and geographical variations (like "Los Angeles dispensaries"). Include relevant long-tail key phrases as well.
Use the data to build a master keyword list and organize by priority. This list then informs which terms to target in your content, metadata, link building and technical optimization efforts. Refresh your research quarterly to keep up with this evolving space.
Optimizing Pages for Cannabis Keywords:
Once you've completed your initial keyword research, the next step is optimizing your website pages to target your priority cannabis phrases.
Here are some best practices for on-page cannabis SEO:
- Ensure key terms appear appropriately in page titles and throughout the content. Avoid over-optimization.
- Include related keywords in the meta description to improve click-through-rates.
- Use headers like H1 and H2 to highlight your most important keywords.
Create pillar pages targeting your highest priority and most competitive keywords.
- Craft compelling title tags and meta descriptions to increase click-through rates.
- Optimize images with descriptive file names and ALT text featuring keywords.
Ensure site architecture and URL structures include keywords where appropriate.
- Publish long-form, in-depth content better suited for ranking for head term and long-tail queries.
- Use bold and italic formatting to emphasize keywords in content.
Include related keyphrases in image captions.
Follow SEO writing best practices to make the content readable and engaging. The goal is providing value for readers first while seamlessly working in relevant keyword references.
Analyze the competition to see how their on-page optimization compares. Use SEO tools like MozBar or SEMrush to spot optimization opportunities.
Technical Search Engine Optimization Best Practices for Cannabis Sites
With a sound content strategy in place, the next priority is getting the technical foundations right. Follow these technical SEO best practices to help cannabis sites maximize their organic visibility:
- Ensure your website is mobile responsive and fast loading for all devices. This is a core ranking factor.
- Implement AMP to improve page speed and user experience on mobile devices.
- Maintain a sitemap XML file and submit it to Google Search Console for better indexing.
- Implement SSL encryption and switch to HTTPS URLs sitewide. HTTPS is now required.
- Use tags like schema.org and JSON-LD structured data to enhance listings.
Eliminate excessive redirects and fix broken links across the site.
- Optimize page titles and meta descriptions for each page. Don't copy-paste content sitewide.
- Set proper 301 redirects for any changed or removed pages to preserve link equity.
- Minimize internal site linking architecture depth to improve crawl efficiency.
- Add alt text to all images to improve accessibility and SEO benefits.
- Leverage rel="nofollow" as needed for untrusted links to avoid penalties.
- Disavow past toxic backlinks as needed via Google Search Console.
Conduct periodic technical SEO audits to catch any creeping issues before they impact rankings. Core web vitals and site speed should be continually monitored and optimized as part of regular SEO.
Link Building Strategies for Cannabis Sites
In competitive cannabis SEO, link building remains among the most important ranking factors.
Here are some of the top link building strategies for cannabis websites:
- Promote your cannabis blog content, grow your audience and attract links naturally over time. Prioritize owned media.
- Secure guest contributions on niche cannabis blogs, news sites and relevant publications. Ensure high domain authority placements.
- Connect with cannabis social media influencers to generate brand mentions, backlinks and co-marketing partnerships.
- Establish expertise by responding to cannabis questions on Quora. Include backlinks where relevant.
- Utilize Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to connect with journalists working on cannabis stories and earn high value news links.
- Claim and optimize key cannabis business listings on sites like Leafly, Weedmaps, Yelp, and other directories.
- Carefully structure site architecture using strategic internal linking to pass authority to key pages.
The focus should be on building links slowly from reputable, relevant sites over time. Avoid manipulative schemes and private blog networks which can lead to penalties. Evaluate new links using metrics like domain authority and spam score.
Optimizing for Local Cannabis SEO
More and more consumers now search for cannabis stores and deliveries options near them. That makes local SEO hugely important for multi-location dispensaries, delivery services and retailers.
Here are some top local cannabis SEO tips:
- Fully complete and optimize Google My Business listings for each location with photos, hours, attributes and services.
- Build location-specific landing pages and optimize content for geographic keywords including city names or neighborhoods.
- Encourage customer reviews on Google My Business and other sites like Yelp and Facebook. Maintain a strong reputation.
- Ensure local schema markup is implemented sitewide using JSON-LD.
- Register brand name Google Knowledge Panels to showcase locations.
- Publish detailed city-specific guides with recommendations geared towards locals.
- Sponsor local events and partner with local charities to build community connections and PR.
- Link internally to location pages from the home page and other relevant sections of the site.
Ranking well locally depends not just on technical optimizations but also on establishing your brand as an authentic part of the city's culture. Earning trust and word-of-mouth within the community will foster great local SEO results over time.
Tracking Cannabis SEO Results
The final key step of any effective cannabis SEO strategy is tracking the right metrics to gauge performance.
Here are the main SEO KPIs cannabis brands should monitor:
Monitor rankings for your target keywords in tools like SEMrush to measure visibility gains.
Analyze Google Analytics to see overall traffic growth as well as landing pages and keywords driving organic visits.
Beyond traffic, focus on website conversions generated from organic channels and monitor SEO ROI.
Track CTR from search engine results pages to gauge relevance and user experience.
Mobile vs. desktop metrics:
Break down key metrics by device type to understand optimization needs.
Page load times and core web vitals like LCP should be continually optimized based on data.
Schedule time at least once per quarter to fully analyze your cannabis SEO progress and identify areas for improvement. Conduct A/B tests to optimize SEO elements like titles and meta descriptions.
Let's Wrap Up Cannabis Search Engine Optimization
Implementing a comprehensive SEO strategy is a must for cannabis brands looking to drive qualified growth online. With the right localized content, technical optimizations, link building approach and analytics focus, your cannabis site can gain impressive organic search visibility over time.
Follow this cannabis SEO guide's best practices to outrank competitors, attract more customers, and ultimately boost revenue in this booming industry.
Just remember - scaling cannabis SEO efforts takes time and dedication. But the long-term rewards are well worth the investment for your brand's lasting success and growth online. Kief Studio can help with your cannabis search engine optimization. Let's get started today!