A successful cannabis SEO strategy consists of two parts:
Below is a detailed step-by-step instruction about how to realize these two steps. We use the Ahrefs keywords explorer for this purpose.
There are many good keyword explorers out there. Still, we highly recommend using Ahrefs because it has some unique features:
When looking for keywords, keep in mind which of the two above mentioned goals you’re trying to achieve.
Most people are looking for keywords with a high search volume. But targeting keywords with a high search volume is useless if they don’t allow you to reach your goals.
Keywords with a high search volume tend to be very competitive. That means that it’s difficult to rank for them.
Also, despite a high search volume and ranking for it, the traffic they generate can still be low.
The click rate indicates how many people not only search for a term but also click on the results.
Many search queries can be answered without reading the articles. The question might be answered by reading the meta titles or the featured snippet.
So when you try to find keywords that allow you to rank in Google, you should look for easy keywords that still generate a lot of traffic. “Easy” is always relative and depends on your DR. The higher your DR, the easier you can rank for keywords, even if they have a higher keyword difficulty (KD).
But high volume, competitive keywords can be useful to generate backlinks. When trying to increase your DR through backlinks, you look for the most difficult keywords.
So let’s take a closer look at both strategies:
Because cannabis and CBD keywords are highly competitive, an easy way to find good keywords is to check what works for other websites in your field. To do this, you first need to find websites that are similar to yours – competitors’ websites. The goal is to find websites with a DR similar to yours or lower and find out which keywords they rank for.
There are three tools you can use to find these websites:
These three steps should give you a good overview of your competition and enough material with which to work.
Look at your list of websites and pick one with a low DR and high traffic.
In our example, I found one with a fairly low DR of 25 and very good traffic of 18,000. I typed their domain into the site explorer and checked their top pages.
(You can see that their best pages rank for local search terms, which might not be of interest to you if you’re not from the area or selling your products only online.)
Let’s, therefore, pick a non-local search term. “Pink runtz strain” might be an interesting keyword, especially when this strain is part of your portfolio.
Typing “pink runtz strain” into the keywords explorer, you can see that it has a low KD of 1 and a decent global search volume of 3.9K. The click rate is 59%, so most people who search for it also click on the results.
Looking at the SERP overview, you can see that two low DR sites (DR < 25) rank for it and get good traffic. You should add those two websites to your competitors’ list for further keyword searches.
The DR 19 page is even in the first position and has a traffic of 1,577. And both rank for them without any backlinks to the page.
Looking at the keyword ideas, I notice “white runtz strain”, and “runtz strain” which might be interesting related keywords.
“White runtz strain” also has a low KD, a high search volume, and a good click rate. Also, for this keyword, two websites with a DR < 25 rank for it and get good traffic.
“Runtz strain” has a bit higher KD of 20 and a high search volume of 17K. But even for this keyword, there’s a DR 19 site ranking for it and gets good traffic from it.
Are there more runtz strains that would make good keywords? Looking at the keyword ideas under “Having same terms”, you can see “purple runtz strain”: KD 6, search volume 40. It doesn’t seem to be a great keyword.
Looking at the SERP overview, we see that the DR 19 site from above is also ranking for this term.
It’s difficult to say if it’s worth having a separate page targeting “purple runtz strain”. But when writing about different runtz strains, it would make a good secondary keyword.
These related keywords are ideal candidates for a content hub. A content hub consists of a number of articles. They cover the same topic, and are internally linked to each other.
Articles that are part of a content hub tend to rank higher than stand-alone content.
Ideally, you have an overview page covering a parent topic and then pages diverting from it covering subtopics. In this case, you would have runtz strains as the parent page and the individual runtz strains as subtopics.
You could even have a more general page covering the most important weed strains.
You can also try to find good keywords for other weed strains to grow your hub even bigger.
You can repeat this process for other websites from your list.
Make sure to always add competitor websites from the SERP results to the list. Like this, you can generate a growing pool of keyword ideas.
When creating the content, take a closer look at the pages ranking for the particular keyword. Your content should be of higher quality, i.e. more detailed or longer, more informative, offer a unique perspective, and explain the topic better than the competing articles.
Infographics and embedded videos are also a good way to increase your content’s quality to outperform your competitors.
When picking keywords, keep in mind that they should be relevant to your business. Generating traffic won’t help you if people landing on your websites are not interested in your products.
In the present example, it makes sense to create a hub around weed strains when you’re offering different weed strains. You can then use the pages to educate your potential customers about the differences between weed strains and include a call-to-action to your products.
The higher your DR, the easier you rank in Google. One of the most important factors that influence your DR is the number of backlinks your website has. If there are many other websites linking to your pages, it tells Google that you have high authority, providing trustworthy content.
The keyword strategy for content that is likely to receive many backlinks is quite different from the above strategy.
Keyword topics that receive many backlinks tend to have a high search volume and are highly competitive. That means that ranking for them is more difficult, but this is not the primary goal.
When looking for keywords to create content for backlinking, you have to keep in mind that people prefer to link to informational content over commercial content. So the goal is to find a keyword with a high search volume that allows you to write high-quality informational content.
Let’s take a look at one of the most competitive keywords with a huge search volume: Marijuana. Question keywords are always a good start for informational content.
Looking at questions related to marijuana, you can see “how to grow marijuana” and “where is marijuana legal” at the top of the list. Both have a very high KD and a huge search volume.
But looking at the SERP overview, you can see that pages that target “where is marijuana legal” have much more backlinks than pages for “how to grow marijuana”.
So you could write an informational article about the legality of marijuana in different countries and states. Because the legal situation is constantly changing, writing an article containing up-to-date information is of high value.
Make sure that the page is high-quality, ideally outperforming competitor’s pages.
You can then approach websites and ask them to link to your page. A great way to do this is the skyscraper technique – an automated email outreach where you approach websites that currently link to a page that is similar to the one that you created.
A successful cannabis and CBD SEO strategy is much more than finding keywords with a high search volume. It has to consider how likely you will rank for these keywords and how much traffic they generate.
At the same time, you have to increase your DR to make ranking easier. An SEO strategy is only a small part of a cannabis marketing strategy.