Growing Organically: Google Ads and Cannabis Businesses

Although legal cannabis is a booming industry in many parts of North America, professionals and business owners face many obstacles on the path to full integration. It truly says something when banks won’t touch a multi-billion dollar industry due to the illegal status of cannabis at the federal level (at least, until recently). And even though banks are starting to smell profits and lax their regulations, Google remains firm on its position against cannabis.

Cannabis SEO and AdWords

 The tech giant prohibits cannabis businesses from taking part in its paid advertising Google AdWords platform, as it violates its ToS. In this article, we are going to see:

  • What is Google AdWords and how it works

  • What this means for businesses

  • How cannabis businesses can find alternative ways to boost their online visibility. 

What is Google AdWords

Google AdWords is a paid ad system that works like an auction. You choose some keywords you wish to be found for, and bid a predetermined amount for your appearance on the search results. Each time someone clicks on your ad, you pay. The more crowded the market, the more expensive the cost per click (CPC).  

As a handy example, let’s take this website. I provide content writing services for the cannabis industry, so naturally, I want to be found by businesses. Let’s say the CPC for my chosen keywords (cannabis content writing services) is $.80. If I bid that amount, Google would propel me on the first page of the results. Every time someone clicked on my ad, I would get charged, regardless if I got the client.

 What are the costs involved?

Paid advertising with Google can cost anything from $.10 to $100 per click, depending on your industry. The more competition you have, the more expensive it gets. When I experimented with PPC on my content writing website, the average bid was $.50 for relevant keywords. Industries like insurance and finance have an average CPC of more than $15.

Based on all of the above, the average cost of Google AdWords depends on each situation, and more importantly, your budget. Although paid ads can bring a lot of traffic to your website, conversions are a different story. To do that, you need to target the right keywords and the right audience.

What this means for cannabis businesses

Google Ads is a powerful tool that can lead to increased conversion rates. Cannabis brands, however, cannot leverage its power due to outdated policies. Even if you provide ancillary services -like being a cannabis writer- you will be turned down regardless of the context. Google’s algorithm is quite proficient at discovering lexical semantics, and most workarounds will quickly be identified.

As cannabis policies evolve and get updated, there is no doubt that, for now, paid ads on Google are not a choice for cannabis businesses. But why would your overall cannabis SEO strategy depend on an auction system, when you can engage with your audience organically? 

Alternative ways to boost cannabis SEO

Although PPC should be an essential part of any marketing strategy, your cannabis SEO efforts must follow more creative routes. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing either.

Content marketing is a great way to boost visibility and increase your cannabis business search engine rankings organically. The process is slower, but a well-executed cannabis content strategy will yield better quality results, at a lower cost. On my website, you can read more about my cannabis content writing process, as well as the value of a proper content marketing strategy for cannabis brands.