Why CBD | Cannabis Businesses Should Stop Wasting Money on SEO & What to do Instead

Any good content marketing strategy has many parts.  For many CBD | Cannabis businesses, search engine optimisation (SEO) makes up one of those moving parts.  But especially for smaller businesses, it’s difficult to keep pace with the never-ending changes that are needed to optimise their content for search engines.  

Why Traditional SEO is a Waste of Money for CBD | Cannabis Businesses

In this article we are going to look at why traditional SEO is pretty much useless for CBD | cannabis businesses, and why creating useful content is the way to go.

1. Google has a lot of data + they’re utilising it

Just looking at the amount of money that Google is investing in data centres, it is no leap to realise that they are amassing and analysing a massive amount of data about everything and everyone.  This allows them to understand what users want, are searching for and looking at.

That means that they use that data to give their users what they want, not cater to you and your SEO strategists list of keywords.  Which brings us to our next reason…

2. Search Engines like Google are using a “pay-to-play” model

Google makes its money through advertising.  And their message is clear: If you want to sell directly through the Google platform, then you’ll need to pay for it.

But for CBD and cannabis businesses, this is bad news.  Even if you had the budget and wanted to pay for advertising, you’re simply not allowed to do that.

3. The SERPs Have Changed

A combination of the above two reasons means that SERPs have changed.  SERPs is  short for search engine results pages, the web pages served to users when they search for something online using a search engine. And how search engines decide what they show first is based on hundreds of metrics.

For the sake of simplicity, and because Google is by far the most used search engine of this article, we will look at Google specifically.

Search engines like Google keep the metrics they use, and how they are weighted, a heavily guarded secret. But when looking at the search results that appear for certain searches, you can get a glimpse at trends and patterns that emerge.  And from that, it’s clear to see that Google shows results based on what’s best for the user…

So let’s take a look.

Example 1: Search “Best CBD Oil”

If you look at the screenshot below, what do you notice?

seo marketing

There isn’t a single result on the first page is from a company’s website.  That’s right – there’s not a product page in sight!  Instead, what you see are different articles about the best CBD oil from content websites. 

Example 2: Search “cannabis dispensaries in Los Angeles”

Again, what do you notice?  Not a single dispensary’s website appears above the fold on the first page of Google’s search results. 

seo marketing

If we look below the fold, we again see listicles, reviews, and articles – not one single dispensary’s website. 

seo marketing

I can go on and on, but I think you’re getting the point…

So, does that mean SEO is dead? 

Absolutely not.  As long as people are searching for things online, SEO will be alive.  

But what all this means is that the SEO landscape has changed, and the days of ranking products or services for purchase intended keywords, are long gone.

If you want to capture traffic and rank on Google, there is one MAJOR thing you can do.

Produce Useful Content

When a user searches on Google, they want to get a useful response in the shortest amount of time.  That means that search engines have a vested interest in putting the best CONTENT on their first page of search results.

This is good news for us, because this means that you can stop focusing on trying to rank for specific keywords, click-through rates and dwell-time metrics over which you have little control, anyway.  

So instead of spending a fortune on SEO services, and driving yourself crazy trying to focus on these specific factors when trying to rank, creating great content will inherently and automatically check most, if not all, of Google’s boxes.

What does useful content look like?

Creating useful content is understanding what your audience wants to know. Once you have a handle on that, you can create content that solves a problem, provides answers to questions, inform and educate.

It’s also good to remember that when presenting your content, it’s a good idea to shake up how you tell your story. Go beyond the written word and think of image-rich blog posts, videos, infographics, and podcasts. 

Content is only useful if it’s in a format that’s easy for your viewers to digest, meaning it’s time to think beyond just blogs and consider other media.

Then go that one step further…

Then finally, once you’ve created your content share, share, share and share once more.

Although we focussed on Google in this article, SEO isn’t limited to Google alone.  After all, SEO stands for search engine optimisation, and not Google optimisation.

Facebook is a search engine.  LinkedIn is a search engine. Pinterest, Quora, Twitter, Instagram are all search engines.  

And each of these platforms offers unique benefits for different content.  And sometimes, people even bypass traditional search engines in favour of these platforms to get their information, products and / or services.

So how do you apply this to your website?

By understanding who our target audience is and where they spend their time, we can attack those platforms and build an organic presence.  For instance:

  • If you’re a cannabis dispensary, websites like Yelp and Weedmaps are your friend
  • If you have an e-commerce store, get your products on as many platforms where your customers are including Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest)
  • If you sell B2B services, SlideShare and LinkedIn are gold mines for connecting with other CBD | Cannabis businesses looking for information and / or services

Although my colleagues that still (and only) offer “traditional SEO services” are probably going to curse me for this article, I believe it is important to educate my clients, other CBD | Cannabis business owners and even to some extent my colleagues about how times have changed.  The days of “rank and bank” are over, and it’s time to get with the times.  This isn’t a “phase” search engines like Google are going through.  This is the way things are going to be moving forward, and if you don’t get on board now, you’re going to miss the boat completely and pay for it later.

As Google gets more intelligent, we also need to play smarter about how we approach our content marketing and SEO.  And instead of working against what are essentially unknown metrics, it’s time to use some common sense, and use them to our advantage.