What is on-site SEO?

Posted on April 20th, 2021 to Learn

In this article

On-Site SEO

On-site SEO is an all-encompassing term that references the practice of improving a website’s likability on Google through:



We’ve said it before, and we’ll likely say it many more times… content is king! In today’s digital landscape, you can learn whatever you want about anything in just seconds. So, your dispensary needs to take advantage of this. Let’s break it down a little further.

When your potential customers are on Google, what are they looking for? Usually, they’re looking for the answer to a question, or information about a subject. But which questions are being asked and how can my dispensary answer them? To answer these questions, it takes comprehensive research and understanding your customer segment, followed by strategizing content that will reach (& resonate) with them.

A few blog ideas that would make for great content:

If your target audience is searching for it, you should cover it.


Your website’s content should be focused on specific keywords that your customers or potential customers are searching. While “weed,” “cannabis,” “marijuana,” and “dispensary” may be relevant, the sheer number of searches for those exact queries make them difficult for your website to rank for. They also don’t have as much of a conversion-driven intent as a keyword like “weed for sale”. This is where the content strategy we talked about above comes in. You want to build content for people that actually want to buy things. And for people that are generally interested in your business.

Since you’re here, we’ll give you a tip: creating killer content isn’t just about writing about a specific, relevant topic; it’s also about genuinely understanding searcher intent. What keywords do you expect your content to show up for? What is the person searching those keywords looking for? What will resonate with them? Put that on your website!

Short-Tail Keywords (SEO help)

Short-tail keywords are typically very high in volume, super competitive, and often less conversion-focused. However, that doesn’t mean they should be ignored. Some short-tail keywords may be more beneficial to rank for than others. For example, according to SEMrush, there are roughly 135,000 searches/month for the word “cannabis,” but only 12,100 searches/month for “cannabis oil.” This means cannabis oil might be less competitive to rank for while there is still a decent amount of traffic to gain if you were to rank for this term. So write a blog about cannabis oil. What questions regarding cannabis oil are being searched? Which questions are being searched more than others? Is there another keyword associated with those searches?

Long-Tail Keywords (how do I improve my on-site SEO?)

Long-tail keywords are typically keyword phrases that provide more context about a given search and are a great way to capture searcher’s intent. Someone searching longer-tailed queries is likely looking for more specific information as well. Here’s an example of a long-tail keyword: “edibles for sale near Boston, MA.”

This tells us (1) the searcher is near Boston and (2) is looking to buy edibles. This would also be considered a low-funnel search term ie. this person is ready to make a purchase decision. If they searched something like “what are CBD edibles?”, they may still be in the research phase of the buying process. All this means is that different content will be necessary in order to rank in search results AND to satisfy each of these individuals.

So, what should you do about it? Create a page on your website designed for the exact query!

choose a head tag Heading Tags

Heading tags are the best way to tell Google what your page is all about! This type of HTML code helps Google index (learn) your page’s content. To do this effectively, you’ll need to break down the content on your page by importance.

For example: The primary content on your website (variations of the keywords you’re directly targeting) should be implanted into H2 headings, followed by secondary and tertiary information being inserted into H3 or H4 tags, depending on your content. A few suggestions…

  • Use just one H1 tag
  • Use H2 tags for “dispensary, [city name]” and other featured keywords
  • Use heading tags on every page on your website

Meta-Title/H1 Tag

Meta-titles act as a name tag for your website. The meta-title is the big blue underlined link that you click on, on Google. Quality meta-titles include high-value keywords and an enticing call-to-action. These are important for all pages on your website as they’re the first thing searchers will read upon viewing a search results page.


Meta-descriptions are found underneath the meta-title on a search results page. These are very important to provide Google with more information about your page content and (if done correctly) can entice human searchers to click the link.

We recommend making sure the keywords your dispensary is targeting on each page are always included in the meta-description. The information you provide in the meta-description should make searchers feel inclined to click and learn more.

How? Provide just enough (keyword specific) information to entice readers, but not too much as you want them to visit your page to find the rest. Leaving meta-descriptions blank isn’t ideal, however Google will find a snippet from the website and use it in place of a human-optimized description.

Internal Linking

Internal linking is a large factor when it comes to on-page SEO. There are 2 schools of thought here.

  1. Internal Link Credibility – Links referenced in the header and footer of your website hold more value in the eyes of Google. If you have to dig through a website to find a specific page, odds are it will also be difficult to find on a search results page.
  2. User Experience – How many pages did your last user visit? How long did they view each page for? These questions can help you tailor which links should be used, and where they should be placed. For example, if your dispensary writes a blog about types of strains and you reference “terpenes” in your content, it would be ideal to link the word terpene to a blog on your website about terpenes.

URL & Slug

Every page of every website has a URL, and each page has its own specific address. The slug is the portion of the URL that follows “.com/”. Every URL on your website should make sense for the content that lives on that page. For example, if your blog post is “Best CBD Salves in 2021,” your URL might look like this: yourcannabrand.com/best-cbd-salves-2021.

Page Path

If you had to click through a few categories to end up on a page, the page path you took to end up on that page will be apparent in the slug.  You’ll want to be thinking about page path for SEO considerations. Optimizing page path is similar to internal linking in that this is largely done to improve the user’s experience. A solid page path structure is largely determined by the layout of your website and the way users interact while they’re on it.


According to Google, PageSpeed is becoming increasingly more important when it comes to SEO. How do you find out your page speed? Use Google’s tool, called PageSpeed Insights.

As an SEO specialist, PageSpeed is difficult to improve because it is LARGELY dependent on your website’s developer and the quality of hosting services. But here’s something to remember, the goal of any search engine is to satisfy the user’s query. So, focusing on providing visitors with a great user experience will help your dispensary in search engine results even if you can’t control your hosting or certain site codes like javascript.

Image ALT Tag

Image ALT tags provide Google with information about the content in an image. While Google is really good at scanning text, it has trouble with images. But don’t worry, labeling images in ALT tags provide another way to garner visibility. How? Have you ever come upon a website as a result of clicking an image found through Google images? Yep, us too.

Adding image ALT tags is just another way to gain search visibility. So show off that brand new storefront and cool glass pieces and watch those pages get more traffic!

Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design means the content structure and layout of your website change automatically and seamlessly depending on the screen size and orientation of the device viewing it. Google uses user navigation data to provide a user experience metric. So if your web design isn’t responsive and viewers instantly click out of your page, it will negatively impact your search visibility.

Having a website that looks good and functions well on all devices will help you drive more customers and keep them there longer. Interested in a responsive web design?

Mobile-Friendly Design

According to Statista, 62% of all organic searches come from mobile devices. So, even if you think your website looks and performs well for desktops, you’re only optimizing for 48% of your potential users.

Outbound Links

With so much effort going into getting people to your website, why send them off of it? Great question!

Outbound links work as a source of credibility for your content. For example, if you write a blog and claim the hemp plant has “over 100 cannabinoids”, it would be best practice to toss in an external link from a reputable website. This is called a backlink, and it shows Google your content is relevant and backed by facts.

One thing to be wary of is to make sure all of your outbound links are relevant to the cannabis industry. You’ll want Google to understand you have established trust and/or relationships with other sources.

VP Digital Marketing, CMO

This post was written by Zach Santarsiero.

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