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Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about taking steps to help the pages in your website rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) when people type relevant queries into search engines. You can learn all about on-site SEO, on-page SEO, and off-site SEO in our Guide to SEO for Cannabis Businesses, but there is another piece of the puzzle to consider – organic vs. paid traffic.
In simplest terms, there are two types of traffic that you can bring to your website – organic and paid. As the name implies, paid traffic is any traffic that comes to your website as a result of a pay-per-click ad. On the other hand, organic traffic comes to your website after performing a search on a search engine – no ad required.
Considering that PPC advertising on Google and other search engines is still extremely challenging (if not impossible) for businesses working in and with the cannabis industry, organic traffic is crucial to building a brand and growing a business. It’s also something that very few cannabis brands are investing in right now, which means there is currently a big opportunity available to businesses that prioritize content and organic traffic in their marketing budgets.
Following are five of the most effective tactics you can use to start increasing organic traffic to your website:
The most important thing you should do in order to boost organic traffic to your website is to start a blog. Note that the blog must be on the same domain as your website, not a subdomain or a separate domain, to get SEO value for your website and more organic traffic.
Blog posts that are well-written and relevant to your target audience create new entry points for people to find your website through search engines. Think of it this way – if your website includes 20 pages, that’s 20 ways for Google and other search engines to find you. Now, imagine you publish a high quality blog post every day for a year. After 12 months, there will be 385 ways for Google to find your website.
As mentioned in #1 above, the blog posts (and web pages) you write should be high quality in order to get SEO value from them and increase organic traffic to your website. Search engines reward well-written, comprehensive content with higher search rankings, so quality matters a lot.
In addition, you should publish new content to your blog often. I recommend a minimum of once per week, but twice per week is better. To maximize organic traffic, publish 16 high quality blog posts per month. This is very important because Google typically ranks newer content higher than older content in SERPs.
Every web page and blog post you write should be written with SEO best practices in mind. However, when you’re trying to optimize organic traffic, you should write for your target audience, not for search engines. Think of the types of questions your target audience members would type into search engines, and then, answer those questions in new blog posts as thoroughly as you can.
Furthermore, format your content following SEO best practices. Use short paragraphs, H2 and H3 headings, internal links to other pages on your website, alt-text in images, and strategically placed keywords (e.g., in the title H1 heading, in at least two H2 headings, in the first 100 words, naturally throughout the body content, in the image file names and alt-text, and in the meta title and description).
You need to promote your content to generate interest in it and jumpstart traffic to it. At a minimum, when you publish a new blog post, you should share it across all of your business’ social media channels and promote it in an email marketing campaign. For B2B brands, LinkedIn is a must, and for B2C brands, Facebook and Instagram are essential. However, the more you can spread your content, the better.
When you share your content across social media and email marketing, more people will see it. They could click to visit your website to read the entire blog post or web page, and they may even share the link with their own audiences. As a result, even more people will see it and share it, which will boost organic traffic to your website in the long-term.
To increase brand awareness and organic traffic to your website, you need to be visible online. Choose someone from your organization to establish as a thought leader, and start reaching out to other websites, blogs, and podcasts asking for opportunities for that person to contribute content and/or appear as a guest.
This serves two purposes. First, it extends your brand’s online footprint and puts your business in front of wider audiences. Second, it creates more incoming links to your website, and search engines use backlinks as an indicator when ranking search results. The assumption is sites that get a lot of backlinks from authoritative sites must be publishing quality content or no one would link to them.
Keep in mind, search engines have to be able to “see” the backlinks that lead to your site. Therefore, incoming links should not include the “No-Follow” HTML tag, or you won’t get the SEO value from them.
Building organic traffic to your cannabis business website is a long-term strategy. It takes time, a lot of great content, and lots of sharing, but if you stick with it for one year, I promise you’ll start to see a measurable difference in your organic traffic.
The best thing about organic traffic is it’s far more sustainable than paid traffic, so investing the time and money into content creation and sharing today will pay off for many years to come.