Search engines like Google and Bing have made online advertising difficult for players within the cannabis market. With strict paid regulations in place, ads are practically impossible to place. Which has lead to many companies focusing a large majority of their marketing efforts into organic tactics. Luckily, these grassroots methods like SEO and organic social marketing have proven to be an effective and safe solution for advertising cannabis-related products and services. 


So let’s discuss SEO. 


Any good SEO campaign is seeded in keyword research, and while keyword research isn’t hard in theory, gathering useful keyword research is tricky. So if you’re going at it alone, here are some data-backed tips to help guide your research in the right direction. 

Step 1: Using the Right Tools 

Google is by far the king of the internet, collecting over 70 percent of all online traffic. Your ideal starting point might be in Google Keyword Planner or Google Ads. However, Google blocks users from seeing keyword volume and competition for words and phrases directly relating to cannabis. 


Introducing dilemma number one. 


Therefore, users need to get creative. Tools from platforms like SEMrush, Ahrefs, LSI Graph, and Moz, all offer better insight to cannabis-related keywords. While the data will still not be 100 percent accurate due to Google shielding the precise numbers, these platforms provide a trustworthy indication of what is being searched for by the public. 


Keyword Magic Tool Searching Cannabis

(Keyword research tool inside SEMrush)

Step 2: Mapping Your Market Position 

Every cannabis business is going to have a slightly different role inside the market. Therefore, your client base is going to be unique. Before pulling data from a tool like SEMrush, it is critical to diagram your business within the cannabis market. 


Mapping out your market position helps you better understand exactly who your target audience is, what their intention is with their queries, and therefore what keywords will attract and funnel potential leads. 


This holistic view might look something like this…

Cannabis Keyword Strategy Bubble Map

Step 3: Extracting Data 

Now comes the keyword research. You’ll be inundated with lists of keywords surrounding the term “cannabis” or “cannabis grower,” or whatever specific keyword you decide to start your research of with. But the most important part here is sifting through the results and identifying the right words/phrases that are applicable to your company. Determining these words is crucial, as all your SEO strategy stems from their value. So what should you look for? 


Well, it depends on your company’s domain authority and timeline to start. It’s going to be extremely hard for a company in its infancy to rank for a competitive keyword over a ranking difficulty of 20. Regardless of a company’s domain authority, it is going to take time to rank on the first Google results page for a highly sought after keyword. 


When analyzing your possible keywords, also pay attention to search volume and click-through rate (CTR). These two factors are good indicators in the value and use of a keyword. For example, it is going to be hard to rank for terms with a high search volume (short-tails). Long-tail keywords are normally four or more words that spell out a specific query. These types of keywords have lower search volume, but convert leads at a higher rate due to users being further along in the information gathering process. 

Moz Keyword Research Tools Cannabis Search


(Moz keyword explorer breaks down keyword competition, CTR, and search volume.)  


Additionally, CTR gives a quick idea of how well a keyword is interacted with based on the number of organic impressions it receives. No sense in trying to rank for a word that people ultimately don’t engage with at a high rate — unless those who do interact convert at a high level. As you can see it’s not a perfect science. 


At the end of your keyword research, you’re going to want to walk away with at least 250 keywords/phrases you deem extremely valuable to your company. From there, you can begin to draft strategy around these terms. 

Step 4: Understand Keyword Intent 

As you begin to dig deeper into your list of hand-selected keywords, it is important to perform plenty of critical thinking. One of the big misses constantly seen in keyword research is user intent. You really need to put yourself in your target audience’s shoes. 


  • Why are they using XYZ term? 
  • What information are they wanting to gather? 
  • How does this term apply to their business or personal life? 


If you can properly connect the dots between user query to keyword intent, you’re already doing better than most… and on your way to developing a good SEO strategy. 

Step 5: Cross Reference Results 

Lastly, it’s always nice to check your work. By this point in the development of your business, you’ve identified some competitors. Now you don’t necessarily want to just copy their keywords, because after all, their keyword research might be awful. However, it might point you in a good direction for possible avenues to reach more qualified customers for your business. Here are some tools that can help you find the keywords your competitors are targeting, and then cross-reference with your own research. 


  • BuzzSumo  
  • SpyFu 
  • SEMrush 

Need Help Building Your Cannabis Brand?  

Elevato Marketing is a full-service digital agency specializing in cannabis advertising. With a team of experienced professionals, we are ready to help connect your products and services with the right clients.

Contact us to see how together we can benefit your business!