Recently, while trying to determine what impact, if any, the latest Google update (regarding the nofollow link attribute, rel=”nofollow”, now being recorded as a “hint” rather than as a directive by Google) had on our website traffic, I noticed a pattern in the nature of the service inquiries we were receiving through our website that leaned heavily toward paid advertising, including paid search. Cannabis businesses often contact us because we have previously shared some tips and tricks for running paid search and display campaigns on Google Ads, and they want to know if we can do the same for their brand. Often a prospect finds us like most visitors, through organic search, but then they ask us about paid advertising. It’s somewhat ironic, I suppose.

What I noticed is that a lot less often we seem to receive inquiries about the impact of organic search, or SEO, or a request for a content program with SEO goals. Somehow this powerful, and relatively less expensive tactic, is not getting the interest it deserves from our prospective clients, and we think it’s time to set the record straight and talk it up a bit.

According to research by inbound marketing company Hubspot in 2019 organic search traffic from Google’s platform represents 94% of all organic traffic out there, and that according to a MarTech survey 70-80% of search engine users are only focusing and clicking on organic search results, not ads.

how paid search and organic search play together

Paid search is to SEO like the Hare is to the Tortoise. Paid search allows for the generation of clicks and quality visits to the website through targeted ads, and its nearly instantaneous. It’s also a great way to test keywords and messaging. In fact, we recommend clients test both channels simultaneously for more effective lift, but that’s a topic for another blog post.

That said, a robust content strategy with a focus on ongoing production should be the backbone of every cannabis brand’s digital marketing program. The investment doesn’t have to break the budget, even a modest, but sustained effort, 1-2 500-800 blog posts or articles per month, with a quarterly ‘anchor’ piece of 1000-1250 words can generate substantial lift. Consider a local client whose program included the development of 9 product pages at kick-off, followed by just two blog posts a month. Traffic doubled nearly instantaneously. In the graph below there’s a clear visual delineation between “before” and “after” the content program started, with the traffic volume doubling.

Cannabis Business Content Program Case Study Results

I should mention that this client came to us specifically with a request for a focus on content. They knew their media dollars were minimal, so they smartly figured where to get the most bang for their buck.

This increase in traffic was matched by a corresponding increase in engagement, time on site and lead volume, all of this being “free” traffic, (exclusive of labor costs to produce the content, naturally), but not requiring media spend.

A second client saw an even more dramatic increase, going from no visits to over 5,000 visits per month over the course of a 6-month content program we proposed and ran for them, again, the production was modest, but the impact huge. The orange arrow corresponds to the launch date of the program.

Cannabis Business Content Program Case Study Results

The additional advantage of a content and SEO program is that it is a workhorse that keeps working long after the investment is made. The content remains live and continues to send traffic to the website. Content can also be repackaged and repurposed, converted to a downloadable piece, upgraded to be used as a sponsored piece offline, distributed through social channels, shared and guest re-blogged, or added to an email newsletter you can send to your list of prospects to encourage them to come back and buy from you. In summary, the possibilities for maximizing the return on investment for a well-honed content program are endless. So, consider setting resources aside to support a content program next time you work on your marketing budget.

The matters. group team is highly experienced in developing organic and paid search programs. Our founder has been at it 20 years, the author 10, our paid search specialist 10 and our content specialist adds another 5. If you’re thinking about bringing more qualified visits to your website, we can help develop a program that fits your goals and your budget. Contact us today.

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