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The 5 Ws For Selecting The Right Cannabis SEO Keywords

by | Jul 31, 2019 | Blog | 0 comments

Cannabis SEO

CMA Webinar Recap:

Cannabis SEO: The 5 W’s For Selection of the Right Keywords

by Skye Downie

In highly restricted industries it is crucial to use keywords to improve search engine optimization (SEO). In this Cannabis Marketing Association webinar, Scott Rabinowitz of Buoyance Digitals explains the best practices for cannabis SEO and keywords. Rabinowitz is recognized as an expert in keywords, spending over $300 million on search engine ads and display ads for his client’s overtime and has studied the traffic impact of over 1 billion keywords. His focus is now on expanding cannabis-friendly digital advertising. 

Rabinowitz describes keywords as words that are in the metadata of your website to improve your cannabis SEO, or words that are bid on, on a major search engine website. Hashtags, the 21st-century keyword, add an identifier to the keyword. “Hashtags allow us to center a conversation, thought-stream, or people around a particular subject matter that can be specified and measured,” says Rabinowitz.

Cannabis & Hashtags

Every company must develop a digital strategy, taking in to account paid traffic, organic traffic, social fans, and website traffic. Cannabis-related websites cannot always show up in the paid search results, but the selection of the right keywords can sometimes determine whether an ad will be accepted or not. Keyword selection can show your cannabis brands overall intent, and the right keywords ensure organic visibility.

Don’t forget to take into account search engines besides Google. If you are trying to target an older audience, you may want to put time and effort into looking at search engines like Yahoo and Bing. Many more mature audiences use search engines that are attached to their emails (, so checking your contact list for popular [email can help direct how much effort to put into each search engine.

Here are Scott’s 5 W’s to Cannabis Keyword Selection:

Who holds responsibility?

Cannabis & Laws

In the cannabis industry, it can be wise to have a legal team sign off on keywords, as cannabis keywords are highly scrutinized. In all industries, it is recommended to have at least two team members sign off on each word. 

The team that is chosen for signing off on keywords hold an important job. Team members should be careful when choosing keywords that relate to: 

  • Health claims 
  • Age-related (youth safety)  
  • Indications of products for sale online when not vetted for such 
  • Copyright infringement
    • Google and Bing allow to use until competitor reports, but ethically speaking, hold yourself to a higher standard 


What are Cannabis Keywords?

Cannabis marketing

The goal of selecting good keywords is ultimately to generate new leads, customers, and sales. This can be done through search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), select display advertising (through graphics and visual media), and hashtag selection on social media. Each page of your website should individually rank prominently when people search terms that not only represent interest but also intent. 

Although cannabis brands typically cannot run campaigns, the intent behind the campaign is considered. Brands that comply with search engine restrictions have a better time being accepted. Create a website and choose keywords that showcase your brand’s authenticity to improve chances of selection. 

Create a target keyword list that will narrow the volume of traffic available to campaigns, as more eyes are not always better. It is more beneficial to seek a high conversion rate, with low cost and high profit. 


Cannabis SEO

First, start by looking at keywords that already work for your company. It is important to pull from as many different sources as possible to diversify your keyword pool. Before finalizing your keyword list, do your homework, as the broadest set of keywords are the most successful. 

Scott’s favorite tools are… 


When to Use Cannabis Keywords?

Cannabis & Keyword Research

It is crucial to compile a solid base of mission friendly compliant keywords to launch your company’s website. After launch remain relevant by checking and updating your keywords (recommended) twice monthly. Improve your website’s ranking by staying up to date on current trends, catchphrases, and slang, and implementing them into your keywords. 


Cannabis & Culture

Context is everything. Who are you trying to market to and what are your goals? While some audiences may be more prone to searching terms like weed, pot or kush, different audiences may be more inclined to search terms like cannabis, or medicine. Consider both age and usage when compiling your cannabis keywords. To hear about longtail keywords and actionability keywords listen to (34:25 – 40:55) of Scott’s webinar on our member video portal.    

Questions to ask when evaluating advertising options (agency, staff, etc.)

Are the vendors #youthsaftey compliant? In the cannabis industry, youth-safety is of utmost importance. Check that your vendor understands what youth-safety compliant means, and that it is a top priority of theirs. 

What is their review process for compliance? Ask the ad vendor what their review process is for compliance. Compliance is often dependent on the product that is being promoted, e-commerce, infused product, accessories, etc. Ask upfront about what they will be looking for when determining compliance. 

Listen to (41:00 – 44:22) for Scott’s other three questions to ask here

When to use digital media buying

Cannabis SEO

Get help. Make sure that your team is educated in cannabis compliance. It can be beneficial to have previously worked with age-restricted advertising. 

Set a plan and budget. Set goals and metrics that will validate your objectives. Create a budget that has room to test and change. Plans and budgets will help ensure that your Lifetime Value (LTV) to Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) ratio is balanced. Through careful planning, your business can follow your customers to make sure that your spending is aligned with your goals.  

Listen to (44:20 – 45:36) for Scott’s other tips on digital buying here

In the cannabis industry, your content marketing strategy is crucial since paid advertising options are limited. The selection of the right cannabis keywords can completely change your search engine optimization and further your cannabis business. With curiosity spinning around cannabis in the US, this is the time to optimize your keywords. As the US society continues to become more open and curious about cannabis, they search more, and having a high ranking website now, could mean the success and longevity of your cannabis brand.

To learn more about keywords and cannabis SEO, become a CMA member today!

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