Businesses in the Cannabis and CBD verticals have particular challenges due to the various jurisdictional legalities around the marketing and promotion of cannabis and related products.
This affects all businesses in the industry, be they a mom-and-pop collective serving a local community, a licensed grower or any other business in the value chain, such as a distillate producer or clone supply company.
Most businesses can't advertise on Google Ads or Facebook and Instagram Ads. They can't run Google Shopping Ads. Other third-party platforms such as Leafly, Weedmaps and High Times may be prohibitively expensive or they may not produce the results and ROI a cannabis business is looking for.
So that leaves SEO and Content Strategy as primary drivers of traffic for many Cannabis/CBD-related businesses. The silver lining here is that a great content strategy that produces organic search traffic will fundamentally make for a much stronger long-term web presence.
Content strategy generally entails the research of specific industry-related topics, blog post ideas, social media campaigns and various holidays & observances around which content and outreach can be built.
Businesses benefit by researching this information well in advance so that content can be planned, which would include the creation of visuals formatted for blog posts and the various social media channels, using such helpful tools as Canva.
For instance, many dispensaries have sophisticated 4/20 content strategies built around April 20th, including special promotions, giveaways, featured vendors and more.
More advanced creative might include videos posted to YouTube and infographics with easily sharable and embeddable HTML code.
In short, businesses that build a content calendar and pay attention to creating compelling content stand a better chance of engaging their audience amidst peak competition.
Topic Research can be an invaluable step in creating high-quality long-form content that comprehensively covers a topic.
Google is really, really good at understanding the context of your content. Google also rewards websites that create fresh, original, comprehensive content. Proper Topic Research can help you influence that context, giving you the best chance to compete against stiff competition. While we use a number of platforms for this research, simply reviewing the "People Also Ask" section of a Google search can be wildly helpful.
Why Are Blog Posts So Long?
Comprehensive content is necessarily long, to cover a topic in full. Google gets that. So when you do the research, you can develop a a structured “term-paper outline.” When doing this properly, there’s no more guessing on what to write about.
As part of this process, the research can reveal semantic phrases and Questions People Ask for additional depth. This is yet another way to put your content in the right context for Google, while also serving the needs of your audience. Win-win!
Do your blog posts rank just ok or do they only get a trickle of traffic? Do you have higher expectations for your content? This might require the analysis of a specific page or post on your site.
If your page used to rank great, or perhaps your content is stuck on the second page of search results, it would be worth analyzing.
There are many, many factors that go into search engine rankings, be it the site's Authority or specific issues with a page itself. There are multiple metrics you can use to analyze your target keyword phrase, and see if you’re sending the right signals.
Reviewing key SEO elements such as the following could make a big difference:
- Meta Title
- Meta Description
- Image alt tags
- Content Length
- Semantic Phrases
- Questions People Ask
- Structured Data
- Page Authority
- Internal Link Structure
- Embedded Video
- User Experience
Links from other websites are referred to as backlinks, and this web of links across the web is key to understanding Domain Authority, Page Authority and how pages and post rank in the search results.
Outreach is important. For instance, let's say a business writes an article on "How To Care for Clones." If this is the very best article for this subject on the web, the outreach process may include emails to webmasters that have linked to other similar articles. You'd share this new article as a way to keep their audience informed and to provide them the best possible information on a subject.
Another approach for developing backlinks is to write Guest Posts. These can be ghost-written, or written by someone with some authority, such as the owner of a cannabis business. Providing articles to other sites, with a link back to the author's site or blog post, is a time-honored process of backlink development.
As of October 2021, cannabis and CBD businesses can't advertise on Google Ads nor Facebook Ads (and may also have challenges simply securing payment processing for their website!). There may be some wiggle room for CBD companies to advertise on Instagram, and there may be opportunities elsewhere. Some possible third-party ad networks and website include:
- Cannabis Culture
- eHealthcare Solutions
- Emerse (EU)
- Fusion Media Group
- High Times
- Mantis Ad Network
- Oath / Verizon Media
- Smoking With Style
- Tap Native
- Traffic Junky
- Traffic Roots
Developing a Content Strategy, doing deep Topic Research, conducting Page Research, building Backlinks and finding Third-Party Ad Networks are all tools in the belt of a business looking to compete online for organic search traffic. Contact us if you're looking for a partner that can help you execute.
Last Update: October 7, 2021
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~ David Payette, PayetteForward.com