On-Page SEO for Cannabis Business and Cannabis-Related Business Websites

This is Part 3 of Cannabiz Media’s Guide to SEO for Cannabis Businesses and Cannabis-Related Businesses. Follow the links to read Part 1 – Introduction and Part 2 – On-Site SEO, Part 4 – Off-Site SEO, and Part 5 – SEO Mistakes.

On-page search engine optimization (SEO) refers to all of the steps you can take to optimize individual pages on your website so those pages are more likely to rank high in relevant search results, particularly on Google – the most popular search engine.

For cannabis businesses and cannabis-related businesses, just like businesses in most other industries, on-page SEO focuses on two primary areas: page content quality and on-page technical SEO.

The most important thing to remember as you work to improve your site’s SEO to boost search traffic is that Google wants to quickly identify the purpose of every page it indexes. The easier you can make it for Google to figure out what each of the pages on your website are about, the better.

The goal is to be as straightforward and clear as possible, and following SEO best practices based on Google’s 200 search ranking factors can help.

Google’s On-Page SEO Ranking Factors

As mentioned above, Google’s on-page SEO ranking factors typically relate to your cannabis or ancillary business website’s content quality combined with technical configurations that provide signals to Google about your page’s purpose.

Google bases its ranking of web pages using a simple algorithm that determines each web page’s quality. High quality pages have a clear purpose and achieve it by showing Google they have three characteristics: expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Together, these three characteristics create Google’s E-A-T acronym.

In other words, low quality pages may have had purposes one that visitors would benefit from, but the pages don’t achieve their purpose based on E-A-T. Google’s ranking factors reward pages that have all three E-A-T characteristics.

With that said, on-page SEO ranking factors prioritize quality and technical signals that you can use to help Google see your page as one that has all three E-A-T characteristics.

Some of the on-page ranking factors that cannabis businesses and cannabis-related businesses should prioritize to rank higher in Google search results and improve search traffic to their websites are included in the list below.

Note that these ranking factors are not in a specific order. Also, it’s important to clarify that on most websites, blog posts are published as individual pages. That means blog posts are web pages that should be optimized just like any other pages on your website. In fact, blog posts are often the most powerful source of search traffic for websites.

  1. When possible, start your page title with your target keyword (i.e., the keyword phrase specifically tied to the page’s purpose).
  2. Include the keyword in the page description tag and title tag, which can help click-through-rates (another indicator that tells Google if a page has the E-A-T characteristics).
  3. Include the keyword in the page’s URL.
  4. Include the keyword in H1, H2, and H3 tags within the page content.
  5. Try to include the keyword in the first 100 words of your page.
  6. Write enough content to satisfy a user’s intent when they’re performing a search and to ensure Google understands the page’s purpose and ability to deliver on that purpose. Google has said that word count doesn’t reflect quality, but high quality content does go deep and answers questions comprehensively. In other words, stay on topic, don’t just add fluff to pages to increase word count. According to the researchers at Backlinko, “There is a known correlationbetween depth of topic coverage and Google rankings.” Longer pages tend to rank higher than shorter pages.
  7. Include keywords in your content, but don’t overdo it. Keyword stuffing is flagged by Google as spam and will do more harm to your site than good. Many SEO experts recommend a keyword density of 1-2% (i.e., the keyword is used 1-2 times per 100 words), but others recommend as high as 3-3.5% when word form and related keyphrases are included.
  8. Optimize images by using keywords and signals in file names, alt text, descriptions, and captions.
  9. Keep your content updated, particularly for time-sensitive topics, to show Google your content is fresh. The recency, magnitude, and frequency of updates matter.
  10. Quality content is well-written with proper grammar and spelling. Don’t publish low quality content.
  11. Do not publish duplicate content that has been published on any other web page which Google has indexed.
  12. Avoid putting content behind tabs or other tools that keep some content hidden until a visitor clicks something to reveal it, or Google may not index that content at all.
  13. Include optimized images, video, and other multimedia elements when it enhances your content.
  14. Make your page content user-friendly by breaking it up with bullets, numbered lists, and headers.
  15. Avoid including too many outbound links on a page. Instead, focus on only including useful links to quality sites that provide relevant information.
  16. Don’t allow ads, pop-ups, or anything else to block your page content or make it difficult for visitors to immediately see the content they were searching for.
  17. Create useful page titles, and avoid using shocking phrases or exaggerated claims. Google views both as indicators of low quality content.
  18. Make sure pages include information about the website and/or content creator to demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T).
  19. All of the links on the page should work and none should lead to spammy, low quality websites.
  20. Each page should load quickly in a visitor’s browser.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of on-page Google ranking factors, it does include some of the most important and some that are fairly easy to implement immediately on your website.

Top On-Page SEO Priorities for Cannabis Businesses and Cannabis-Related Businesses

Google looks for natural content, which means you need to use your keywords and SEO techniques in a natural way. Following are 10 questions to ask yourself when trying to improve your on-page SEO. If you can answer yes to each of these questions, then you’re on your way to higher Google rankings for your cannabis business or cannabis-related business website.

  1. Does the content on your page have a purpose based on search intent?
  2. Is the page’s purpose clear to Google?
  3. Have you used keywords effectively?
  4. Is the content comprehensive and high quality?
  5. Is the page content easy for visitors to see and presented in a user-friendly layout?
  6. Does the page content load quickly?
  7. Is the content original?
  8. Is the content fresh?
  9. Have you incorporated technical signals such as image alt tags, keywords in H2 and H3 headings, and so on?
  10. Does the page cover all three E-A-T characteristics?

Bottom-line, create pages that are expert, authoritative, and trustworthy (E-A-T). Google doesn’t like thin content. Its algorithm is built to reward pages with purpose that are both high quality and useful. If you want your website’s pages to rank in Google searches, then you need to build and create them with those factors in mind.

Key Takeaways for Cannabis Brand Websites

Every page of your cannabis business or ancillary business website is an entry point for Google to find it and display it in relevant search results. It’s up to you to make sure Google can find your pages, understand what they’re about, and detect that they’re useful and high quality.

Stay tuned to the Cannabiz Media blog for Part 4 of the 5-part Guide to SEO for Cannabis Businesses and Cannabis-Related Businesses series, which will discuss off-site SEO and linking!

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