In the fall of 2016, Ohioans voted to legalize medical marijuana. However, dispensaries wouldn't be allowed to open until early 2018. Seeing an opportunity to design medical marijuana dispensary websites, we launched a page on our website focused on designing websites for medical marijuana dispensaries.
We knew if we started a medical marijuana website design section on our website a full year before dispensaries in Ohio would even start thinking about building their websites, we'd have a huge jump with our SEO. By doing this, and adding blogs about how to market medical marijuana, we knew we'd show up better than other Ohio web design firms when prospects were Googl'ing "medical marijuana website design".
How we got a jump in SEO for medical marijuana website design
When we started our "medical marijuana website design" page in December 2016, we took the following steps for keyword research:
- Research what phrases people were searching when it came to designing medical marijuana websites.
Granted, doing keyword research a full year ahead of dispensaries opening, we knew there wouldn't be a lot of people searching for web design services for their dispensaries. Yet. However, there was some activity: we did find the phrase "medical marijuana website design" was being searched between 10 and 100 times a month in Ohio.
- Considered the difference between keyword phrases:
• "medical marijuana website design Ohio," and
• "medical marijuana websites Ohio"
are two VERY different searches.
People searching for "medical marijuana websites" were definitely not who we were trying to reach. However, people searching "medical marijuana website design," were.
- Know where we stood in Google when we first started the "medical marijuana website design" page.
After 2 weeks we searched the phrase "medical marijuana website design Ohio," and found we were at the bottom page 2. Not the best position to be in, but we were the first OHIO website design firm listed in the search results. And it had only been 2 weeks.
What those search results told us in December of 2016:
- For the extremely minimal work we did on a new medical marijuana website design page, we’re already showing up, though granted, on page 2. This told us no other Ohio web design firms were trying to be found for this search term. Yet. But if we keep up with blogs, and using keywords, we could only go up in the rankings.
- If we were able to write a blog every month (or even every other month), and use the keyword phrase "medical marijuana website design,” in a few months we would start moving up on the Google search results for that phrase. We figured as Ohio got closer to getting dispensaries and delivery services up and running, we could be on page 1.
Moving up in Google for the "medical marijuana website design" search
By the end of December 2016, we were showing up on page 1 for the phrase "medical marijuana web design Ohio."
By the end of January 2017, we were in the #2 organic listing on page 1 for that phrase (see the screen shot below). As a side note, when searching for something, capitalizing letters don’t matter.
What these search results told us in January of 2017:
- Google's artificial intelligence has come a long way. We knew even if we didn't use the word "Ohio" or "Medical" in our keyword phrase, Google would still rank us, and prospects would find us, because "Google knows all." Not only do they know the area you're searching from, they also know the area our Columbus web design firm is located. So using "Ohio" or "Medical" (or not) in our blogs would become optional.
- We don't have to blog as often as we thought. At least not this early in the process. It tells us no other Ohio web design firm is focusing on this area, so the competition is very low, if there's any at all. At least in Ohio. And at least early in 2017.
- That Ganjapreneur, the listing above us, has been doing something along the lines of this for quite some time. Way longer than we have. So we went to that link to see what it was, and it's a listing of marijuana website design companies around the U.S. At least those who paid $200 to be on that list.
- As evidenced from the ads that appear at the top of the search results page, "Medical website design" IS a phrase 3 other web design firms have been focusing on.
Down the road
Going forward throughout 2017, we know:
- Other Ohio website design firms will, no doubt, be looking to enter this specialty.
- The competition to appear on page 1 in Google for keywords relating to web design for marijuana websites will, as always, increase.
- We'll need to be more aggressive about adding blog posts to the medical marijuana section of our website.
Getting to page 1 for more competitive search terms
Getting to page 1 for a relatively obscure search term, such as "medical marijuana website design Ohio," is easy because there's not much competition.
Similarly, ANY web design firm, theoretically, could get to the top of a Google search using search terms with no competition. Meaning it would be easy to show up on page 1 of Google for a search for, say, "purple websites," since there's ZERO competition for that phrase. Why? Because no one is searching for that phrase. And showing up on page 1 for a search term no other web design firm is using, is easy.
When a web design firm tells you they show up on page 1 of Google, ask what the search term is they're ranking for. Then, think about whether that is a realistic search term. If it is something YOU wouldn't think to use to search to find their services, then they're not really good at SEO.
Or, you can go to Google's Keyword Tool and see how many people search for what specific keyword phrases. Or ask the web design firm to share their research with you for how many people search for that specific term. The term we found prospects are searching looking for our services were "Columbus web design" and "Columbus website design."
How we show up on page 1 of Google for "Columbus website design"
First, we've researched that phrase, and it is in fact, searched between 10 and 100 times a month, every month.
Second, the way WE do it is by blogging in-depth articles, like this one, every week. It takes time: 3 - 4 hours for each blog, but it has been working for us.
For those who can't dedicate that time to their website, there's other options:
- Have someone in your company write the blogs. But it has to be one of the smartest individuals in your company. These articles are considered "content marketing," and it's the face of your company. It shouldn't be done by someone who you wouldn't put in front of an audience of your prospects to represent your company.
- Hire a writer to interview you, do research for you on your industry's trends and issues, and write the articles for you. You'd still need to review the articles (ideally) but it will free up a lot of your time. Expect to pay between $250 and $500 for a 1000+ word article. "Content marketing" works best with in-depth articles, or
- Hire an SEO specialty firm to create scores of back links to your website month-in, month-out. Expect to pay between $2,000 and $2,500 a month for this service.
If you'd like more information about this, drop us an email and lets talk.