How To Use Citations and Blacklinks To Grow Your Cannabis Business Online
What are Citations
Citations help Google, Bing, Duck Duck Go and other search engines index business information for customers. In order for search engines to learn about your business accurately, they scrape the internet for consistent information about your business, and bring it all together to influence search results when a consumer is using a search engine.
Citation websites refer to those that publish critical business information such as hours of operation, location, contacts, areas of service, categories of products and more. These are key pieces of information that helps Google with regional results and essentially putting businesses that add value and align with the searchers inquiry. Citations are an important resource that Google and other search engines need to differentiate businesses servicing all Canadians, vs a specific city, local retailers vs international eCommerce businesses and more. It’s important to have consistent information across all your citations to keep it simple for search engine crawlers.
The more local citations you build from quality websites and quality website pages, the more progress you will see as your website grows and finds better position in the search results.
Keep in mind, citations come after you have optimized your internal content. While theses are indicators your website offers value, that’s only a piece of the pie. Your website content should be up to standard in order to grow closer to that #1 position on search engines. To learn more about this, check out our internal optimization guide for cannabis businesses here, the link will pop up as we publish.
Building a backlink profile
Picture citations like this. Each website holds a different set value of equity that can either positively impact or negatively impact your website. The higher value equity has the higher potential to benefit your rankings, if the information, region and your content categorically align. As a website links to your website and brand, that equity flows to your website, so whatever value that is, impacts your importance to Google. If the website linking to you is also linking to 100 other websites, that’s 100 leaks, diluting the impact that will flow to yours. This equity flow continues on to your website, but we will cover that in the internal SEO guide for cannabis businesses in a later article.
Follow vs No follow links: There is a few different types of links, but two that are very different are the follow vs nofollow link. These can be checked by right clicking on a link, and looking at the <a href rel=”nofollow” or rel=”follow” link. It is said that nofollow links do not pass equity, but are still indicators for search engines. Try to build a link profile that has a high number of quality follow and nofollow links.
MOZ breaks down local citations into 3 types of website:
- Major local – Major local citations make up the industry leading international and nation directories / databases such as Bing Places, Google My Business, Yelp, Yellow Pages etc.
- Geo & industry specific – These are smaller niche citations based on category or region. These are easily found by searching terms such as “marijuana directories” “cannabis directories” “dispensary directories” or similar searches. Likewise, “Toronto dispensary directories” “Vancouver business database” etc. We have built a list of over 250 citations for local cannabis businesses in Canada, to keep it quick.
- Wider Web – The wider web refers to supporting links from other media publications, press websites, databases such as ours here at Extract, social media profiles, and other news or blog publications.
Basic Tips For Building Citations & Backlinks
- Seek out citations that align with the theme of your website: ie. if your website is marijuana related, marijuana directories might be a good idea.
- Seek out local citations. If you’re in Canada, that means websites ending in .ca, or other top level domains focused in the region you offer services.
- PA (Page Authority) and DA (Domain Authority) are two important metrics. The higher these are, the bigger potential to positively benefit your website, pending your regions and themes align.
- The success of the website linking to you is nearly as important as the strength of your website. You want high quality links pointing, not a whole bunch of low quality citations from websites that have no authority. It’s in your best interest to promote and share pages pointing to your website as your website itself.
- One citation from a quality cannabis directory will impact your website far more positively than 100 citations from new, low ranking citations that aren’t cannabis themed, or don’t have categories for the cannabis industry.
- You want a link profile that expands to all of your important pages, not just the home page.
- Try to form an even balance of local directories, industry directories, forum contributions, social bookmarking, and all the different types of back link or citation.
- Consider changing the anchor terms (the words in your link) to symbolize keywords you want that page to rank for but make sure you’re balancing anchor terms, and don’t have a ton of 1 phrase.
Building cannabis back links the right way
Guest Blog or Review Articles
Guest blog articles are wonderful because they typically build a relationship between your team and the publishing website, but also usually allow a certain amount of control when it comes to link placement, anchor text and topics covered in the content.
In order to generate a great guest blog backlink, outreach is going to be your best friend. High authority publishers are always accepting guest content, as long as it’s original, and add value for readers. Most publications will either have a link to a submit page, or display an email in which you can contact to inquire about content submissions.
- Make sure your content adds value
- Make sure your content covers a trending topic
- Outreach to targeted blogs prior to writing your segment, and keep track of who you’re messaging!
- Make simple, to the point outreach emails, and outline your credentials + areas of focus in writing. I find including past articles eliminates the need for an extra email
- In order to find websites, search your keywords but add “submit content or “guest blog” or “submit” after, to filter out the search results accepting guest content a little easier.
- Check the domain authority and page authority of websites and focus on the high authority publications
- Keep it cannabis publications, or larger publications with cannabis categories and regular cannabis content
Finding websites that are active in posting product or service reviews in your industry are a great method to generate quick, quality backlinks. Simply locate and contact the website owners that you and your website exist. Include a few quality ideas of how you could partner to benefit eachother.
Forums can provide high quality back links as the domain authority of many established forums tends to be high, the page authority of high volume thread also might be high, and if the topic is chosen correctly, and it’s theme aligns with your page, search engines will grant more equity to the relationship.
With that being said, you want to build a good reputation within these forums and that doesn’t mean spamming your links. Contribute to conversations, start intriguing threads, and share your expertise with others in the community. Add value, and when appropriate, use your website as a citation, with transparency. Most forum profiles offer a signature or profile in which you can also insert your URL.
There’s a handful of high ranking cannabis forums in the Canadian and international cannabis communities that we’ve discovered and put into a convenient chart for you to compare, here’s our list of weed forums.
Social Bookmarking Links
Social bookmarking sites give you a promotional opportunity to reach others in the cannabis communities within these platforms, but also, generate a high domain authority backlink to your website. Some of these platforms have an active cannabis community, and I find can help your pages get indexed faster if you’re publishing pages or posts often.
Again, it’s important to not appear spammy, and it’s best if you mix your content in at a highly diluted ratio. Share other websites and blogs with similar or complimentary content, and mix your pages in every 8 – 10 posts at most. Build folders and categorize the content on these sites to make it more discoverable.
Here’s a list of some of the top social bookmarking links websites accepting cannabis content.
Coupon Site Links
Coupon website are valuable for two reasons. Building local and content similar links, but also directly promoting to cannabis consumers actively looking for deals, or searching terms you might not cover.
Most often these websites are optimized for “cheap” “deal” “coupon” terms, and they will do the magic for you. While some will never drive a sale, others might drive many, and I find it’s worth running a month campaign on all of them to see what works for your business.
Often these websites require you to register your brand, some might even require an affiliate link to earn revenues on the traffic they send you. These are often the websites that know they will drive traffic if you give them enough incentive to drive sales. The better the deal the more interest you will probably draw, but these sites usually accept free shipping and free item sales as well as price based and percentage discounts.
Here’s some sites focused on sharing cannabis coupons.
Guest Blog Articles and Submitted Content
Wikipedia links are super highly valued, should the link stay there. Wikipedia standing with Google is that of wisdom and knowledge, and a reference from a Wiki will signal that your content is a good reference in that category. This traditionally requires a blog, and a knowledge base of some sort.
To find Wikipedia content to reference, simply find a topic that isn’t covered in detail , or is lacking in references. Build resources that educate in that area on your website, potentially in your blog. Reference your quality content from the Wiki article that aligns with a category or theme of product you are working to promote. Now link that article to a page that aligns with the Wiki article and you’re working to increase position for.
.gov links are highly powerful in the eyes of search engines, and extremely hard to come across. I don’t really have any tips for generating these in the cannabis industry as of now, unless you are a non profit / federally organized agency.
.edu links are another way to signal search engines high quality content. These are hard to obtain and traditionally require some sort of scholarly publishing, study, research based, medical or scientific discovery, or something scholary in nature.
Scholarships provide cannabis companies without these types of resources an opportunity to generate .edu backlinks. Offering a scholarship believe it or not isn’t that complicated nor does it require a massive investment as organizations have the ability to choose their terms. Offering a scholarship is a sure fire way to get the link you’ve been working on getting from your local University.
Reddit Links, They Are Not All the Same!
Reddit is a good opportunity to generate follow links from cannabis communities to your project. Not all links are follow however, and last time we checked, a post or comment required at least 4 upvotes to achieve a follow tag to accompany your link. That ensures that website creators like us aren’t spamming and are held to some sort of quality standard when looking to grow our website link profile.
With upvotes comes non-spammy content. What is that exactly? Well it’s participating in a community, sharing multiple content sources and text posts that add value to the community without simply spamming your links.
Here’s a list of weed subreddits.
Web 2.0 Links
We’ve included a handful of Web 2.0 links that offer a profile backlink, signature backlink, or some area to insert your cannabis website URL. Web 2.0 links are just that, higher ranking domain authority websites that allow users to get a link to their site. These are not always quality, but sometimes work for supporting links. These could be say, a YouTube profile link, a SoundCloud feed link, maybe a job posting, or a Medium blog feed link, although Medium is strictly prohibiting cannabis related content in 2020.
Cannabis PBN’s are essentially a network of supporting websites that rank well, pointing links to your important pages and websites. 2 ways people create PBNs – A subdomain on a website builder – Users will make a free website on a custom host. “Buy Weed Now” is our website. WordPress (or any of the major site builders) will give you a subdomain ie. buyweednow.wordpress.com – If you look, super high domain authority. SEO’s will go a step further and buy an expired domain that alread holds page and domain authority, and fill the pages with content, holding the value and providing a platform to share equity with projects – This is a very time consuming technique, and only really is worth the time if you’re managing a bunch of different cannabis websites.
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