Whether you’re focused on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for dispensaries, CBD, vaporizers, or otherwise, any great cannabis SEO agency will tell you one of the most important things to get started is running a comprehensive SEO competitive analysis.
SEO competitive analysis allows you to apply lessons from your competitors to ensure you’re using the right strategies to reach your target audience. SEO analysis helps you find your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, what your audience wants to see and learn, as well as where and when you’ll be able to make an impact. Sometimes, your competitors may have been in the industry for a while. If they’ve been able to build a presence, it’ll be a little more difficult to catch up right away. Don’t fret — the secret to success is to start small and make an impact where you can.
I sat down with top-notch NisonCo SEO Account Managers Tony Ham & Colten Koch to chat about the importance of SEO competitive analysis. Along the way, I also got key cannabis SEO tips on how to make the best competitive analysis to drive traffic and climb the ranks, to further get your cannabiz on the front page of Google.
Kelly Ebbert: You’re both SEO experts. Give me your best tips for a prime SEO competitive analysis.
Tony Ham: “First, you have to find companies that operate in the same sector as your business. You’ll want to identify if they are focused on Business-to-Business (B2B), Business-to-Consumer (B2C), or a combination of the two. Check and see if the company focuses on a specific location. Then, it’s important to click through their website to check for areas of optimization. Are their headers optimized? How about their meta tags? If so, are you using similar keywords to them? While doing this, utilize a tool like Semrush or MOZ to check on their rankings.”
Colten Koch: “Adding to Tony’s suggestions, a great SEO competitive analysis absolutely consists of many different factors, but my number one tip as you start would be this: Understand who your actual and true competition is. Notice if they exist in the same industry, but go beyond that. Examine organic competitors for specializations rather than general terms.”
KE: How do you identify who the competition is?
TH: “In order to identify competition, it’s helpful to know which keywords are most important to your SEO goals. Put those keywords into the search engine, and see which companies pop up. If the client is a dispensary or more focused on local rankings, we would also look into Google Maps and those rankings.”
CK: “Google your company’s main keywords and see what companies are popping up first in the organic results. It’s also useful to ask people where they shop for your products or services other than directly from your business. This is another area where using SEO tools can come in handy. Semrush and Ahrefs are excellent and help to identify your business competitors.”
KE: What key markers should you look and find for your clients while running an SEO competitive analysis?
CK: “Once you identify your top SEO competitors, look out for new keyword opportunities. Run a keyword gap analysis to see what your competitors are ranking for; Your business could also be ranking for the same keyword! Evaluate keyword difficulty by utilizing tools such as Semrush, then analyze on-page optimizations and on-site content. You’ll want to dig into your competitors’ backlink profiles to see which type of links they have (and you can get also). Finally, be sure to examine the site structure, overall user experience (UX), and site speed.”
TH: “It’s essential to check on what keywords and search terms your top competitors are focusing on. Usually, I’ll identify what my client would like to rank for, as well as other key features such as their audiences’ demographics. Using these keywords, I’ll then shift the strategy to see how to best optimize their web copy and metatags. All of these efforts can help to build up domain authority, which is key to increasing site visibility.”
KE: How collaborative should the process be? Should clients and SEO teams strategize together to find competitors?
CK: “It should certainly be collaborative between the SEO agency and the client. By working together, they can figure out who their actual competitors are. It’s awesome when clients already have an idea of their main competitors, as well. This allows us to dive much deeper with research and fill in the gaps. When you have a lot of information going in, you can get more detailed with it — but it’s crucial to gather as much information as possible. Going a step further with collaboration, it’s helpful to have your teammates look over your research and add anything else they feel might be relevant.”
TH: “Oftentimes, the client knows who their competitors are, it’s just a matter of ascertaining realistic information. For example, a start-up will view the #1 company in their space as a competitor, but it’s more important for them to focus on a business with similar traffic or slightly higher traffic to go up against first. This is why it’s important to collaborate. You’ll be able to get the information from the client and then apply it accordingly.”
KE: What are some strategies clients can use to stay on top of competition consistently over time?
Colten Koch: “Update their Google My Business with the latest info and pictures, add their main keyword to the title and make consistent posts. This along with creating diversified premium citations are easy ways to make sure name, address, and phone number (NAP) data are consistent across the web and Google loves NAP consistency.”
Tony Ham: “Something as simple as typing your target keywords into Google and seeing who/what pops up on the first page. If you want to go more in-depth there are many tools — although many are paid — that can help you to monitor your and your competitors’ keyword rankings. Many companies will see their competitors jump up in rankings and when that is seen, it is a clear indicator that they have an SEO agency working with them.”
For more information about how to do an SEO competitive analysis, check out Semrush’s comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to do an SEO competitive analysis. If you have any questions about NisonCo’s cannabis SEO services, learn more about how we can help you and check out some of our SEO successes here. When you work with a cannabis SEO agency that collaborates with you, you’re already on a path to success. Get started with us and get your SEO where you want it to be by contacting us today!