All of the wags, industry pundits and researchers continue to tout the explosive predicted growth of the CBD category. Indeed, the latest prognostications suggest that CBD sales will quintuple or more in the next half-decade.

All that ink and all those rosy projections created a green rush and a green glut in the category, driving commodity biomass and extract prices through the floor. This may be great for cannabis consumers – making the highly sought-after product that much more affordable.

But it’s hell on CBD producers and brands … sending them scrambling for some competitive edge to leverage in an extremely crowded market. There’s little question that in such markets weaker brands and weaker companies get weeded out and stronger, better established and better positioned brands prevail.

So what’s a brand to do? Well, for one, this agency would advocate you start with great brand differentiation, positioning, packaging and story. Especially in a category in which the functional benefits are difficult to discern, consumers need emotional “hooks and handles” to grasp onto your product. That’s good branding.

A second critical imperative, we would argue, is great search engine optimization to help your prospective customers find you. Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is the practice of making your online presence so delicious and distinctive to the search engines (Google especially) that it ranks at or near to top of the results page for designated searches.

Why SEO? In our experience and based on significant research, visitors who arrive at your website via organic search are vastly more likely to buy something or otherwise convert (e.g., fill out a form, subscribe to a newsletter, contact customer service). Depending on the product, visitors from organic search are anywhere from 3x for 5x more likely to act. They stay longer, read deeper, explore more and buy more. These are the best prospects for your business!

SEO is a world unto itself. In fact, there are entire armies of people specializing just in this niche discipline. There are dozens of helpful software and analytics tools as well to support the endeavor. So this blog can’t do more than scratch the surface and give you a 30,000-foot-view of what’s entailed in great SEO for your CBD brand.

Elizabeth Michael in Little Rock's Healing Hemp of Arkansas CBD Store

Bud Agency’s Elizabeth Michael in Little Rock’s Healing Hemp of Arkansas CBD Store

Now’s the Time for CBD Search Engine Optimization

With the current pandemic sending millions more people online for work, services and products, it’s the right time for your business to invest in a smart, robust SEO plan to ensure that you are attracting your share of interested CBD searchers.

It will come as no surprise that today most online users search the internet with Google. In 2020, Google claimed about 93% of all searches globally! So while there are other search engines (Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, etc.), one might argue that the only search engine you need to concern yourself with for CBD SEO is Google.  

Further data underscore the importance and value of this search-generated traffic. According to a BrightEdge Channel Share Survey, 53% of all website traffic comes from organic search and 99% of that traffic is from sites that appear on the first page.  

So … how do you secure a spot on the first page, without buying it?

Here are four tips:

Produce Regular Content

Consistency with content is key. While you don’t have to publish a new blog post or other piece of content every day,  you should target to publish something weekly. 

According to HubSpot, companies that publish 16 or more blog posts per month generate 4.5x more leads than those that publish four posts (or fewer). Remember, “content” does not have to be only text. It can be a podcast, product photos, how-to videos – any content that provides value to your potential customers. 

The reason blog posts are a great way to get regular “searchy” content on your site is that the search engines love frequency and recency of content. Blogs force the discipline or publishing periodic, regular and useful material on your site. Google recognizes this and rewards you for it. Better to publish periodic content than to dump a massive amount of material into your website once a year!

What’s critical to bear in mind when publishing blogs is this: you must write for real humans (not for search engines) yet you must recognize that the long-term value of your content is driven by its searchability. This means you must keep a vivid picture of your prospective visitor in your mind while writing, and you must follow some basic protocols that also help the search engine … that’s our next bullet point.

Create Great “Metadata” for CBD SEO

Your SEO rankings can substantially improve if you have strong title tags and other “metadata.” Metadata is a fancy word for information in your web page that is not all visible to the site visitor but is useful to the search engines. Metadata helps the engines make sense of your page and content, index it properly, and present it to searchers in the most useful manner.

Title tags are often automatically generated by sites, but can be tweaked through the admin panel and/or with the help of an SEO plugin such as Yoast. With title tags, you want to make sure to catch the attention of whoever is browsing and help them easily see what your content is, so it results in a visit to your site. Further, the search engines reference the title in their algorithms; the more neatly it aligns with the content of the page and the more “real language” it is written in, the better.

Sometimes adding small, slightly more descriptive, explanatory language to a title tag can make a big difference – especially if your website platform generates default titles based on the labels in your taxonomy and the site’s name. Default titles are ones such as “Women’s – [Your Site].” This tag is very generic and doesn’t tell the reader much about the site. Add specifics to the title tag such as: “Women’s Running Shoes – [Your Site].” 

Before you post, ask yourself, what is my title tag? Can I make it more specific, descriptive or relevant to the page? 

We love using Yoast SEO plugin on our WordPress sites because it reads and analyzes each page, offering dozens of prompts for optimization on-site … from the metadata to the reading score to the internal and external links on the page. Which brings us to the next important step in optimizing your CBD site for search engines performance.

Acquire Links

Link equity is the quantity of high-quality, topically-relevant sites that link to yours. Link equity is one of the top two organic ranking factors. One way to increase your link equity is to acquire links from referring sites.

Link acquisition involves:

  • Identifying high-value pages or sites that are topically relevant to yours
  • Determining how to make your content valuable to the relevant site’s owner
  • Requesting a link or an arrangement that would lead to a link, such as a guest post or interview

An SEO plugin like Yoast will help you count and understand the incoming links to your site. Other tools such as MOZ and SEMRush will further help you analyze the power of your links and evaluate the competitive space. You can find sites that are linking to your competitors and seek backlinks from them; this helps neutralize the competition and grow your own search authority. Beware, link building can be a full time job!

Play the Long Game

SEO is about gaining trust from search engines. It doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, a study conducted by Ahrefs found that only 1% of pages that ranked in the first position on Google were less than a year old. But by producing regular content, creating strong title tags and pursuing high quality links, you should start to see an improvement in your rankings within the first three months. For a disciplined, methodical SEO program to really take root and have a significant impact, you should be patient … it can take six months or more to really produce fruit. The payoff is worth it however, as your growing search authority will produce good traffic for years to come.

If you would like to learn more about how Bud Agency can help your CBD brand improve its SEO and marketing, contact us today at cultivate@budagency.co to schedule a meeting.