The legal status of cannabis in several American states brings relief to consumers, whether they use it for medicinal or recreational purposes. It also spells a lucrative opportunity for manufacturers and retailers looking to join the industry or already there.
According to the latest statistics, the US is expected to lead the global cannabis market, with the highest revenue of an estimated $39.85 billion in 2024. The per capita revenue according to this figure will be $116.60.
However, sellers still have several things to worry about, considering that the industry is highly regulated. Besides following the age criteria and quantities to be sold, marketers need to follow certain guidelines regarding promotions and advertising. You cannot expect to display billboards and run TV ads for these products because of the stigma factor.
Cannabis search engine optimization (SEO) is the best option to make your product and brand visible to your target audience without attracting attention. However, you may face unique challenges when implementing an SEO plan.
Overcome the unique challenges with the help of cannabis SEO strategies:
1. Understand the Compliance Guidelines
On the surface, SEO for a cannabis business is similar to that for any other brand. You need to research your target audience, create content, optimize it with keywords, build high-quality backlinks, and work on on-page factors such as speed, responsiveness, and metadata. However, the legal restrictions and compliance issues on cannabis pose a significant challenge when it comes to optimizing online visibility.
Your Cannabis SEO strategies should be designed with regulations and compliance guidelines in mind. For example, ensure that your content and keywords comply with local laws and industry norms. Similarly, you cannot target consumers below the legitimate age. Also, align your strategy with the evolving legal landscape to avoid potential legal complications and penalties.
Evergreen SEO notes that cannabis sellers should follow a proven approach to increase their online visibility without the fear of search engine penalties. At the same time, adherence to compliance should be a priority.
2. Stay Ahead of the Evolving Search Engine Algorithms
2023 was an eventful year for SEO marketers as it featured several major algorithmic updates. They were released in March, August, and October, with each update involving multi-week rollouts. November 2023 core update was a big one at the end of the year. The New Year will likely witness more changes. Like other businesses, cannabis SEO is also affected by these updates.
Besides major changes, search engines continually update their algorithms to ensure relevant and trustworthy results for the users. Websites failing to adhere to these rules may suffer from ranking drops. As a cannabis SEO marketer, you must track search engine algorithms and align your strategy to meet the evolving criteria for ranking.
Following the basics such as keeping content fresh and relevant, ensuring fast page loading times, and regular mobile optimization keep your plan on track. Also, be adaptable to maintain and improve your brand’s online visibility.
3. Prioritize Educational Content
According to a Forbes article, quality content and search intent were the keys to ranking high in 2023. The content you create should be useful to your specific target audience because search engines prioritize websites with a good user experience. When it comes to cannabis SEO, think beyond usability and add informative value to your content.
Another reason to build educational content is that it can win the trust of your audience. Although 24 states have legalized recreational cannabis, consumers still have a fair share of apprehension when trying a new product for the first time. Educational content provides the information they need to make informed decisions about products and usage.
However, ensure compliance with regulations while crafting educational content. Avoid making lofty claims regarding the benefits of these products unless you have research-backed evidence. Quality content also fosters community engagement and builds a positive online reputation for your brand, even in an industry dealing with skepticism.
Collaborating with reputable industry influencers and leveraging user-generated content are other measures to enhance your content strategy. With these steps, you can gain legitimacy in the eyes of search engines and consumers.
cannabis SEO faces unique challenges because of the regulatory landscape and consumer apprehension. Moreover, business owners face the regular challenges of achieving and sustaining high search rankings amid evolving search engine algorithms.
Fortunately, solving the SEO puzzle is easier than you imagine, despite the challenges you face. You can implement these strategies to rank high, build consumer trust, and stay on top of compliance requirements.