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This is Part 1 of Cannabiz Media’s Guide to SEO for Cannabis Businesses and Cannabis-Related Businesses. Follow the link to read Part 2 – On-Site SEO, Part 3 – On-Page SEO, Part 4 – Off-Site SEO, and Part 5 – SEO Mistakes.
Did you know there are 200 Google ranking factors in the algorithm used to rank Google’s search engine results? These factors also include variations (referred to as signals) that make things even more complicated. For cannabis businesses and cannabis-related businesses that want to rank high on Google’s search engine results pages, SEO can be overwhelming.
Google’s SEO factors are often categorized based on domain, page-level, site-level, backlinks, user interaction, special Google algorithm rules, brand signals, onsite spam, and offsite spam. Again, it can be confusing for anyone who isn’t a search engine optimization expert.
Fortunately, you can make simple changes to your website and workflow to improve your search engine results.
Keep in mind, Google’s goal is always to show the best results for any search query first. If you focus on writing high quality content, making it as easy as possible for Google to understand what your content is about, and avoiding SEO mistakes that could get your site banned from search results entirely, then you’ll see your efforts pay off in time.
To leverage the power of SEO to drive targeted traffic to your website, you can start by prioritizing three factors: onsite SEO, on-page SEO, and offsite SEO.
Onsite SEO refers to the steps you can take to improve the overall technical SEO of your cannabis business or cannabis-related business website. Based on Google’s ranking factors, this includes things like your site architecture, the presence of an HTML sitemap, use of breadcrumb navigation, presence of an SSL certificate (HTTPS), presence of a terms of service page, presence of a privacy page, no duplicate meta information used across the site, and more.
In addition, your site should be mobile-friendly. Google uses a mobile-first index, which means it prioritizes mobile. In fact, Google penalizes sites that aren’t mobile-friendly. You can test your website’s mobile-friendliness with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool.
Also, make sure your site’s pages load quickly. Site usability is a Google Ranking Factor, so test your site’s page load speed and make sure visitors are getting the best user experience possible in terms of speed as well as navigation. You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to learn more about the performance of your web pages.
On-page SEO includes all of the things you can do to help Google understand what each page of your website is about so pages have a chance to rank higher for relevant searches. There are both technical steps you can take to improve a web page’s SEO as well as content steps.
For example, formatting pages and blog posts with SEO in mind by using H2 and H3 headers and keyword-rich alt tags in images can give your pages a technical boost. At the same time, publishing high quality content using relevant keywords can also help drive search engine traffic to your website.
Following are some of the technical and content-related on-page SEO factors to keep in mind as you’re writing and designing each of your web pages, including blog posts:
Offsite SEO includes everything you do outside of your website to help your pages rank higher in search engines. The goal of offsite SEO efforts is to increase awareness of your site and organic traffic as well as build incoming links from authoritative websites. You want Google to see that people value your content enough to link to it and visit, so aim for getting a variety of natural links.
Some of the ways you can build incoming links for SEO purposes include:
In addition to the above tactics, you can disavow incoming links that hurt your Google search rankings.
This article is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SEO for cannabis businesses and ancillary businesses. However, SEO is actually a long-term strategy. Yes, you can look for quick wins and exploit them to boost traffic in the short-term, but if you focus on building a highly authoritative site that follows Google’s rules, you’ll win in the long-run.
Start with a solid foundation and build from there to generate long-term, sustainable, organic growth that leads to higher website traffic, more sales, and increased revenue.