May 10, 2017

Get found online with smart cannabis SEO.

Time to up your technical SEO game.

It probably goes without saying, but in a wildly competitive industry like cannabis, search engine optimization (SEO) matters a great deal. It is a crucial part of the design, maintenance, and ongoing optimization of any company’s website or digital campaign strategy.

You want to get found online, don’t you?

Then let’s talk SEO. At the most basic level, standard SEO activities and considerations can be organized into three categories:

  • Non-Technical SEO
  • Tracking/Analytics
  • Technical SEO

Non-Technical cannabis SEO is where most people start. Has content been written, optimized, and structured to create optimal search visibility, visitor engagement, and business intent for the site’s target segments (dispensaries, users, consultants)? For those of you in content marketing, this is your bread and butter, and I suspect we’ll write many future blogs about cannabis and content marketing. Stay tuned.

Tracking/Analytics is one of those necessities that ensures your company can access data collected by your sites. Let’s assume you’ve set up a site analytics platform such as Google Analytics. (And if you haven’t then contact one of our friendly professionals to assist.)

But what’s under the hood?

Today, we’ll be talking about the technical aspects of your website. The foundational elements to ensure that Google will (a) crawl and index your site, (b) find what it needs to find and (c) match your site with top cannabis/marijuana search queries.

Have various technical site aspects (navigation/build structure, sitemaps, UI/UX, broken links, conversion codes, etc.) been structured correctly to prevent search engine penalties and maximize indexing/search visibility? This is Technical SEO.

Follow these 7 steps to achieve Technical SEO

  1. Index/Follow – All public pages essential to organic search and content ranking should be set to index and follow. This tells Google that these pages should be included in cannabis search results. Pretty important for SEO purposes, I’d say. Many content management systems/plugins automate this by default, but this is critical.
  2. Sitemap – All new pages should be included in the site’s XML sitemap. This tells Google how to find information on your site. Again, a lot of content management systems/plugins will do this by default, but it never hurts to double check.
  3. Meta Title Tag – This is the title of each page listed in search engine results pages (SERPS) and in browser tabs. This title should be non-duplicate, limited to 50 – 60 characters, and relevant to the page topic/keywords. Not all content management systems/plugins will automatically do this, so you might need to handle this yourself.
  4. Meta Description Tag – Similar to Meta Title Tag, this is the description that will be featured on the SERPs. This copy should be limited roughly 160 characters and provide a summary of the page and its content. Perhaps most importantly, your meta description tag should include enticing call-to-action for bringing users into your website from the search engine results page.
  5. Media Alt Tags – All media should include associated “alt” tags (limited to a few descriptive words such as “marijuana grow facility” or “cannabis dispensary in Denver”) to indicate the image’s description for crawl bots and to help have your images shown in Google’s image search. Additionally, these tags help offer secondary background as to what the page is about.
  6. Navigation – If relevant, primary pages and posts should live in a primary site navigation (header/footer) and/or within a post management area. The question you should ask is, “Will my users need to find this page quickly?” If so, do yourself a favor and put that primary page in the site nav. Again, Google rewards better user experience. Make it easy on them.
  7. Conversion/Engagement/Goal Tracking – And finally, as with all points of site contact, all new pages and events/actions (when available) should be set up in an associated analytics program and coded in parallel on the website. This will allow you to correctly track internal/external calls to action and bottom-of funnel engagement points such phone call link clicks, email link clicks, PDF downloads, and/or form submissions.

Step your SEO game up

Depending on your level of SEO sophistication and involvement with digital cannabis marketing, these technical SEO bits and tips might seem self evident, but you’d be surprised how many clients come to COHNNABIS without considering Technical SEO.

Whether you’re a dispensary, cannabis product manufacturer, or cannabis consulting firm, you can up your cannabis marketing game in just a few hours. Implementing these best-practice SEO tactics when developing site posts and pages will not only help support maximum visibility, user engagement, and digital channel integration but also create a foundation for future SEO efforts.

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