Search engine optimization is an industry that experiences rapid change, causing website owners to stay on their toes and adjust as it evolves. The differences in SEO for a marijuana website have become more significant than ever. Medical marijuana and recreational marijuana businesses have to be aware of these differences and plan their SEO strategy accordingly. Search engines like Google, the industry giant, are constantly releasing algorithm updates that change the way they rank websites.

Google strives to have the best, most relevant sites ranked at the top of their search engine. They want their users to be happy with the results and always find what they are looking for when they perform a search. An algorithm that always places the best sites at the top of the list is difficult when rankings are based off metrics like the number of links a website has or the number of shares on social media sites, which is data that’s easy to manipulate. Spam link building and other “black hat” SEO practices continue to challenge Google to refine their algorithm and make it better at detecting these low quality tactics. Most webmasters and SEO companies are honest about the way they do their work and don’t engage in link spam or other search engine manipulation. However, it does still exist and it’s part of the reason Google has released more updates in the last few years than ever before. For medical marijuana businesses, that means more attention needs to be directed toward these changes and how it applies specifically to the marijuana industry.

#1 – Quality, Niche Relevant Content

This doesn’t only apply to marijuana businesses, but it’s one of the most important things to understand with an SEO campaign. Quality, niche relevant content is the key to seeing long-term growth with your organic rankings. Don’t try to build links on websites that aren’t relevant to yours. Target those last, only after you’ve attempted to build links on every niche related website you can find. If you do build a link on a site that accepts general content and isn’t specifically about your niche, surround that link with niche relevant content. Write an article and make sure the website owner publishes that content on the same page your link is on. Quality, niche relevant content will boost the credibility of your links and make them more valuable. Never sacrifice on this.

#2 – Use the Long-tail Keywords in Medical Marijuana

People are very enthusiastic about medical marijuana these days. There is bound to be a high number of long-tail keywords available for you to target, especially question related keywords like “when will Florida legalize medical marijuana?” or “How do I get my green card in Washington State?” Use the Google Keyword Planner to get started. Plug in some seed keywords like “medical marijuana” and let the tool find relevant phrases. You can take some of the phrases it finds and search them on Google, then scroll to the bottom to find suggested long-tail keywords. It’s a slow process, but a worthwhile one if you want to find heaps of question-based search phrases and profitable keywords to target.

#3 – Create Content That Positively Promotes Marijuana

This seems like a given, but I’ve encountered medical marijuana businesses that have no idea where to start and it’s surprising to me that this didn’t cross their mind. Write content that speaks positively toward marijuana, such as success stories from patients that have had their lives impacted by medical marijuana. Cancer patients, children that suffer from seizures and glaucoma patients are just a small sample of individuals that might use medical marijuana and get very positive results from it. You can interview them and this type of content is great for your blog or for guest posting on other sites.

#4 – Use Lots of Images – Marijuana is one attractive plant

Marijuana is known for its great looks and great smell. Most people appreciate the beauty of the plant and it makes for some very appealing images. You can snap photos if you work at a dispensary, or use to get free images if you don’t. Nevertheless, there’s so many free pictures out there that there’s really no excuse not to be promoting your content with lots of imagery. People are more willing to share content that looks cool and enticing.

Dylan is a writer for Green Wellness, a Washington State based medical marijuana card business that schedules evaluations with doctors in the area. Patients with qualifying conditions can be seen by licensed professionals.