A vital part of developing your cannabis business’ online presence is choosing and using the right keywords. It cannot be understated how important using the right keywords can be for your business. They can make the difference from both a content-writing point of view and especially from the point of view of someone (like say a potential customer) using a search engine. The right keywords can be the bridge that connects the interest of a potential customer with what you are offering as the product or service of your cannabis business.
In this article we will talk about keywords, researching them, and implementing them.
Keywords and SEO
When we say keywords we specifically refer to them in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). These are the terms and phrases people use in search engines. Whether that’s to research something that has drawn their curiosity or to purchase a product like say cannabis through an online retailer.
Search engine optimization in short is the method by which you develop the content of your website and online ads so as to obtain optimal placement in search engine results. Research has been done to strongly indicate correlation between search results placement affecting online traffic.
The basic gist of SEO is that by using the right keywords in the correct way (keyword spamming no longer works and will get your webpages penalized) that appeals to both potential customers and the Google search engine algorithms. By appealing to these two factors with the right keywords you can hopefully get your website and ads placed on the first page of search results, generating drastically higher traffic than if your web content was placed on the second page of results or beyond.
The very basis by which SEO operates is keywords. It cannot be emphasized enough that keywords are where customer interest and your brand intersect online. They are the breadcrumbs in a vast digital wilderness pointing to you and your brand. Short of a URL or already knowing your name keywords are the primary directions people follow on search engines to find you.
As with many things there is a process to keyword research. Steps and strategies that you can follow to hopefully obtain the most helpful results. Make sure to maintain spreadsheets to keep track of your research and findings.
List topics that are important depending on how they are related to your cannabis business.
Also as with many things you will begin the keyword research process by establishing goals. In this case your ‘goals’ will be somewhat broad buckets of topics that you want your keywords to rank in. Brainstorm and think about 5 to 10 topic buckets you believe are relevant and important to your business. These ‘topic buckets’ will play a part in helping you develop more specific keywords further along the process.
Think about the services and products you offer. If your website has a blog, think about the topics you discuss there. Try to recall what words get used over and over again in discussions over sales. Try to look at things from a customer’s perspective. What terms and topics would you use if you were searching for something like the product you offer?
Once you have your topic buckets try to determine their search volumes per month. Use those search volumes to figure out the importance of each topic and the number of distinct sub-topics you will need for effective keyword use.
Identify keywords that fit into the topic buckets you have created.
Once you have decided on which topic buckets you want to focus on you can start on the actual keywords that line up with those buckets. You are looking for keywords that both fall under the topic categories you have created and are what your target customer base types into search engines.
Try to brainstorm as many keyword phrases you feel are relevant to a specific topic-bucket. You are not trying to come up with a final list so instead just try to come up with as many as you can. You will narrow down the ones you will use later.
Despite the fact that Google is increasingly encrypting more keywords every day and if you already have a website up-and-running you can look into the keywords people are already using to discover you and your brand’s website. Look into website analytics software such as Google Analytics and others so as to take a closer look at your own websites. Identify the sources of traffic to your website and what keywords bring people to it.
User intent has an effect on keyword research.
Google’s (still the most predominantly used of search engines) algorithms have been refined to the point that simply overusing keywords will not only fail to improve your search results placement but actually hurt it.
Nowadays the Google search algorithms give more weight to keywords and content that respond to user intent. That addresses a problem or question a search engine user has. Since even a single keyword can have a range of meanings depending on context and topics you will need to pay extra care when interpreting your target keywords.
To get a better idea and framing of what search engine users’ intent try typing a keyword into a search engine. Look at what your keyword gets in the search results.
Look up related search teams.
If you typed your target keywords into a search engine, make sure to check the very bottom, where the related search items are listed. These lists of related search terms can provide further keywords for your lists including some you may not have even considered. You could also go a step further and look up the related search terms for those related search terms.
You may also have noticed the options a search engine offers as you type in a keyword. Look into those suggestions and see which ones are relevant to you and your marketing strategy.
Choosing Your Keywords
After you have your accumulated lists of keywords you will need to set about the task of ‘sifting the chaff from the grain’ as it were. When determining which keywords you will use there are three categories you will need to keep in mind:
Make sure that a keyword you want to use has a high MSV or Monthly Search Volume. A high MSV means many people search with and for that keyword in search engines over the course of a month. There would be little point in getting your content ranked in even first place if it is for a keyword almost no one searches for.
if your website is deemed ‘authoritative’ or an authority pertaining to a specific keyword then search engines like Google are more likely to give your website favorable placement. In order to be deemed as such you will have to make sure your site is rich with content that answers questions, provides solutions, or educates users on related topics. Doing so will hopefully cultivate backlinks and social signals directing others to your website.
You will also need to check who else has been deemed an authority over your chosen keywords. It is unlikely you would be able to dislodge any major institution such as Bloomberg Press, Times, or the Mayo Clinic from their search result placements.
Relevance is the primary measure by which Google determines the ranking of content. Relevance is tied to how much content lines up with a user’s search intent. The only way for anyone’s use of a keyword to get ranking is if it answers the needs of a searcher’s inquiry. Relevance is also determined by the quality of content using a keyword. Quality of content can be somewhat nebulous though it is often judged by how many and how often people go back to it.
Make sure you alternate between using head terms and long-tail keywords.
Head Terms: keywords that range between one and three words in length.
Long-Tail Keywords: keywords consisting of three or more words to the point of being a phrase.
It is important to have a mix of both so as to address both long-term goals and short-term goals. Head terms tend to be used much more often, thus making ranking for them far more competitive and difficult. Though there is something to be said for the sheer volume a head term can potentially direct your way.
Long-tail keywords tend to better answer the more specific search queries. Long-tail keywords offer a potential means to achieving short term goals while the head terms are more likely to see returns in the long run if at all (never be afraid to reevaluate the keywords you are using).
Once you have done your keyword research, determined the intent of your target users, and decided on your keywords- both head terms and long-tail keywords- you will need to think about implementing them in your cannabis brand.
Create articles that educate people. Not only about you and your brand but also about cannabis in general. At least in how it pertains to what products and services you are offering. Maintain a blog where you post things relevant to your business but still grab users’ attention. Post reviews and testimonials from happy customers.
Understand keywords, research them, find what’s most helpful to you and your cannabis business. Once you have done those things push yourself to be creative and informative when using your keywords so as to be an authority on what you are talking about, thus hopefully getting that coveted page 1 search result ranking.