SEO for Cannabis & CBD Businesses
Cannabis / CBD Industry
Cannabis and CBD customers come to Foundation First because we offer SEO sprints which tend to see results faster and shorter-term than engaging with an agency on an ongoing basis. For example, we offer convenient monthly sprints that can be done month-to-month or quarterly as needed. Predefined SEO sprints mean the customer is saving on the internal meetings, project management and custom strategy that comes with a long-term agency comittment. Don’t be mistaken, the 6-12 month SEO contract is the right fit if you want to dominate the SERPs. Most cannabis and CBD websites are looking for a quick SEO boost from a local SEO package and plan to return later for a more thorough organic effort.
Many of the major online advertising platforms (e.g. Meta and Google) have restrictions on cannabis and CBD.
Niche product or service for SEO. Your chosen product niche needs to be low-competition, something other shops might offer but are not heavily promoting.
What makes cannabis & CBD different?
For the most part, doing SEO for both cannabis and CBD is no different than any other ecommerce site selling a product; audience personas, local search trends, motivations, etcetera. But, the major difference is that many of the major online advertising platforms (e.g. Meta and Google) have restrictions on cannabis and CBD.
Although cannabis and CBD sales are legal in many places, there are still gray areas that advertising platforms prefer to avoid – for example: cannabis can be legal in a state yet continue to be illegal at the federal level in the United States. With limited paid traffic opportunities, the cannabis and CBD industry relies heavily on organic search to drive traffic.
The Typical Cannabis/CBD Customer
Most cannabis clients fall into one or both of two categories: brick-and-mortar shops who also sell online, and ecommerce sites offering products only online. The brick-and-mortar shops tend to have more sophisticated marketing and larger budgets as opening a physical location with inventory on-hand already requires a significant investment, compared to an online sales shop that might put up a simple dropshipping website.
Not only do the brick-and-mortar shops tend to have a budget advantage, but being pinned to a public address also makea it easier for Google to verify their authenticity. A brick-and-mortar shop also has the advantage that Google will prioritize their site in search results and the map pack for users nearby.
Shops that only exist online have a tougher time, as they are immediately thrust into the national market. Strategy meetings should begin with a difficult discussion about focusing on a product niche or other specific market segment, especially when just getting started, rather than selling everything to anyone and everyone.
New Cannabis/CBD Brands
For a new brand, it’s almost always best to start by establishing rank in a low-competition niche: get some low-competition keywords on Google’s page 1 even if they have low search volume and traffic. A common mistake that most businesses are consistently making with thiers websites is going after high-value keywords too soon; often the websites on page 1 for any industry are long-established and trusted brands who have been doing SEO for many years; don’t think your few month-old Shopify dropship site is going to unseat them anytime soon.
On a positive note for online cannabis/CBD businesses is that most of your competition will give up the struggle for Google rankings after a short period of time and shut down – simply staying in the SEO game longer than them is an advantage in its own. Once even a small amount of organic search traffic starts coming in to your business, it has a snowball effect and traffic volume tends to continue to increase. This new organic search traffic also gives you important SEO data to work with – you'll start to see what keywords Google likes you for, what searches drive the most traffic and revenue and you can begin to develop a search strategy based on this information.
Tips For High Success
If you're a cannabis and/or CBD business, start by focusing on a niche product or service for SEO. Your chosen product niche needs to be low-competition, something other shops might offer but are not heavily promoting. It will be a difficult decision, but ignore sales and revenue opportunity and decide purely on ability to get a keyword on page 1. Worries aside, this is only temporary, once this landmark is established, traffic and authority will begin to flow, putting higher-value keywords within easier reach soon after.