Search engine marketing and digital marketing, in general, have so far been the bane of the cannabis industry's existence. Even industrial hemp—the kind that makes seeds and fibers, not CBD—and ancillary supplies, such as growing equipment brands, are not immune to censorship. It all gets caught up in the fray when companies like Google and Facebook work to avoid the pitfalls of the Reefer Madness mindset resulting in censorship of pay-per-click and pay-per-impression advertising. And who can blame them with potential federal racketeering charges looming?
What’s a cannabis brand to do? Search Engine Journal recently offered some advice.
In her primer on SEO for marijuana brands, published by Search Engine Journal, Viola Eva, founder and SEO consultant for Flow SEO, a boutique SEO agency, lays out a basic strategy for content and organic search marketing for the cannabis brands.
According to her bio blurb, Eva “is known for public speaking on SEO and online entrepreneurship. In 2017/18 she gave more than 50+ practical workshops and talks, including Search Marketing Summit Sydney, DMSS Bali, and ungagged Las Vegas.” The woman apparently knows her business.
And according to Eva, organic Google traffic and SEO are “the new best friends of the cannabis industry.”
So what’s her advice?
Keyword Research Tricks for Cannabis
Eva starts by pointing out that detailed keyword research will “uncover where everything is at.”
“A nice trick,” says Eva is “using the content explorer of [Google’s] tool and setting referring domains to below 5,” reasoning that you will find “creative content ideas that rank without many links.”
As an example, Eva turns to target keyword “cannabis tincture” which enjoys a keyword difficulty of only 13/100.
“This keyword mainly works for eCommerce stores with transactional modifiers as ‘buy online,’ ‘prices,’ ‘best,’ etc.,” writes Eva, but it could “also make a great educational piece or skyscraper.”
Her research reveals that Google considered “cannabis” and “marijuana” to be synonyms and, therefore, search results will include both “cannabis tincture,” as well as “marijuana tincture.” Because of this, Eva recommends publishing one page per target keyword cluster in order to avoid keyword cannibalization and “several pages of your own competing for the same keyword term.”
To optimize your results, Eva suggests a review of the following metrics:
Average monthly searches and the trend over time.
Search intent: Does the keyword match your service/product?
Page 1: Position changes in successful websites.
Domain and page authority of the ranking pages compared to mine.
Eva’s trick to find keywords that will perform well is to pull a ranking report, then filter by rankings between 1 and 10 (or 1 and 5 if you have many successful keywords). Then import the resulting keyword list into Google’s “keyword explorer,” export the results, and then calculate the average keyword difficulty. “From there, you can start to plan a page outline and supporting articles.”
Identify relevant questions
In this age of digital personal assistants (think, Siri and Alexa), speaking questions has become a common form of searching for answers. For example, while in the past a consumer might type into Google, “cannabis tincture effects,” these days more and more consumers are asking questions such as “what are the effects of marijuana tinctures.”
Tools such as Answer The Public, claims Eva, “allow the ability to identify relevant questions that users have around your topic of choice.” Once you’ve gathered results, you can use those keywords to spur ideas for targeted content and a structure for skyscraper content, as well as supporting content.
For cannabis tincture, Eva suggests the supporting articles could be:
How to make cannabis tincture
Marijuana tincture recipe
How to use a cannabis tincture
Another handy tool, says Eva, is Page Optimizer Pro which uses statistical relevance to compare pages against top ranking websites. The app offers up exact instructions on what you’ll need to do to outrank those pages.
Suggestions include factors like word count, how to best optimize headings, how many times to use a keyword, and insights on the usage of page elements such as images, videos, and lists.
For a deeper dive into this topic, along with numerous screenshots of charts and graphs, Eva’s article can be found here. And for tips on digital marketing for cannabis brands, take a look at “How to Grow Your Cannabis Brand with Digital Marketing.”