The week of August 22nd, Google began rolling out the “helpful content update” to their search algorithm. This is part of a broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.
The helpful content update will reward content (i.e., rank it higher) where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience. Content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t rank as high.
This update isn’t aimed at any particular industry, but cannabis websites will no doubt see losses and gains.
What Your Cannabis Website Should Expect
The algorithm update could take several weeks to roll out. This means your cannabis site may not begin to see any changes in rankings or traffic until sometime this month (September). It’s also possible you may see residual changes over the course of several months, for better or worse.
Content that’s unique and helpful for readers may be rewarded with higher rankings. Of course, there are plenty of factors and there are no guarantees.
Unoriginal, low-quality content will no longer rank as highly.
Cannabis content that’s written specifically for search engines (solely with the goal to rank) will no longer rank as well. You know what I’m talking about – content that’s stuffed with keywords and just doesn’t look natural.
Do you have a lot of fluffy, unhelpful content? Your site overall is less likely to perform well in search. For this reason, removing content that isn’t helpful could boost the rankings of your other content that’s helpful. Tip: Content that doesn’t rank or generate any traffic can indicate it isn’t helpful to searchers.
Helpful Content Best Practices
How do you ensure your website will be successful with Google’s new update? Create content for people – not for search engines.
People-first content should focus on satisfying the needs of the searcher while also using SEO best practices to bring more value. This has always been our agency’s approach to blogging and creating and optimizing cannabis content!
For any piece of content, ask yourself the following questions. A “yes” means you’re on the right track with a people-first approach:
- Do you have an existing or intended audience that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
- Does your content clearly show first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge? For example, expertise that comes from being a cannabis doctor or running a dispensary.
- Does your site have a primary purpose or focus? For perspective, don’t create content about car tires if you’re in cannabis.
- After reading your content, will someone feel they’ve learned enough to help achieve their goal?
- Will someone reading your content feel like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
Recommendations for Creating Helpful Cannabis Content
So, what next? Here are a few things our marketing agency has recommended to cannabis clients.
Address Customer Questions
Think about questions that your customers frequently ask or problems they often have. Create content that addresses these. Be as helpful and as thorough as possible. Readers should feel they don’t need to search again to get better information from other sources.
And don’t forget about common questions and phrases that people search for that would apply to your cannabis business. There are also tools and methods for gathering these.
Create Content for Every Stage of the Customer Journey
Does your website have content written for various stages of the customer journey? Not every visitor will be ready to buy or contact you. Meet their needs depending on what stage they’re in.
- Awareness stage: People are looking for answers, resources, and insights.
- Consideration stage: People are researching if your product or service is right for them.
- Decision stage: People are justifying reasons to buy or become a customer.
Rewrite or Remove Content That Doesn’t Perform
Unhelpful content could potentially bring down the rankings of other content on your site. To prevent this from happening, monitor site traffic on an ongoing basis to determine if any pages or blog posts can either be rewritten or removed.
Content that doesn’t get any visits from search over the course of a year, for example, is a candidate to be reviewed.
As an example, let’s say you have a blog post about cannabis sustainability. It’s helpful in theory, but perhaps the post doesn’t get any traffic. In this case, it may need to be rewritten and optimized with more helpful information.
If content isn’t relevant for today’s readers and doesn’t get any traffic, you might need to remove it.