I’m not a newbie.. It’s not like I just jumped blindly into the digital arena and have been surprised by any of this, but the cannabis marketing industry is full of SEO snake oil and you need to be really careful who you do business with.
With over 20 years of experience and watching the same mistakes being made over and over again, desperate cannabis companies are resorting to doing deals with the devil because of the nature of the business and not knowing any better.
Marijuana is a fully regulated industry with a very specific set of rules, a restricted/prohibited substance in terms of marketing compliancy and means you simply can’t do paid advertising on Google or Facebook to bring people to your site. That leaves business owners exposed and vulnerable to that “too good to be true” email that eventually hits their inbox..
You wouldn’t believe what I get in my inbox, I’m amazed at all the people out there chasing your dollar and willing to essentially destroy your website for a quick buck. There is no honour amongst thieves.
The truth is that 99% of these offers will at some point be sniffed out by Google and ultimately leave you with some sort of penalty, of which many websites never recover from.
What we see in our SEO audits with potential clients
Before we start work with any client, we always do a full SEO audit to see what we’re working with.
Alarmingly, many clients don’t have Google Analytics or Search Console setup… They haven’t registered their sitemaps or even know how to do so..
As our team eventually gets around to the audit, we investigate their backlink history to see what they’ve done in the past. Most of the time it’s ugly…
“Have you ever tried to do SEO before” (we already know the answer)
Yeah we paid $50 last year to get a bunch of links or some other crazy scheme to improve their search engine rankings.
“Have you ever received a manual penalty from Google?”
Silence. Clients usually don’t even know if they’ve ever got a penalty before –> referring back to Google Analytics and Search Console.
We spend the majority of our time fixing SEO problems before we even start to think about finding publishers to link back to client sites. Digital marketing is complicated, most people that own and operate cannabis companies don’t know anything about SEO and that’s to be expected.
We’re always asked why our cannabis backlinks are so expensive?
It’s a funny thing. In doing our own outbound here and trying to land new clients, we get a very interesting response that’s very telling…
Basically we hear back from potential clients because of our high prices. People out there that do know what they’re doing understand that price usually equates to quality.
“I never respond to these types of emails, I get them every week. But your prices perked my interest”
You don’t need to search very hard, there are thousands of offers that will promise you the best quality backlinks.. for $25
25 DA 50 links for $15
10 super powered backlinks (DA40+) for $12
They simply ask for your URL and anchor text and that’s it… BOOM! A couple of days later and you’ve bought yourself a backlink.
We spend a few hours talking to our clients over Skype and on the phone on average before discussing links. We ask for access to your Google Analytics and Search Console. We research your best performing keywords, what posts are getting the most traffic. We encourage this type of dialogue and consider ourselves an extension of your marketing team..
In all fairness, Fat Joe and The Hoth are much better than most.. Do your research and find reputable companies to do business with.
How can you do blogger outreach properly over a couple of days?
Quick answer.. You can’t. Any company that says they do proper blogger outreach and then fills your order in a couple of days means they aren’t doing you any favours.
Most of our client orders are filled in 4-6 weeks (or longer).. Cannabis dispensary, medical marijuana, CBD products, hemp, edibles…. Every client needs are very different and finding appropriate publishers takes a ton of time and grunt work to do it right. The whole process of getting quality sites to link back to you that meet our criteria is really difficult. It’s why the big SEO agencies are increasingly walking away from blogger outreach — Too much work and not enough money..
When we first launched CannabisBacklinks, I had extensive conversations with someone that was interested in joining our team. He did outreach as his full-time gig for a large SEO agency and liked what we were doing.. Getting someone with that sort of experience sounded great to me and we went back and forth for a couple of weeks talking about the opportunity.
I explained in detail what we do and our core principles as a company, he understood and told me that he was an expert doing outreach and could land a bunch of publishers.
Eager to earn my trust, he said that he wanted to show what he could do for us and would produce a couple of example publishers by the end of that day. Wicked. Amazing.
He hit me up on Skype later that night with a couple of publishers to review. My response to him.. “You are f*cking kidding me right?”
After spending hours explaining what we look for, what makes us different than the rest of the SEO companies out there, he sent me the type of stuff that I absolutely hate about the industry.
“You are looking for the Cadillacs” he responded… yeah I’m looking for the Cadillacs..
That was the last time we spoke…
The truth about SEO agencies.. they suck
I can remember a few years back when I was working somewhere else, I had established a relationship with a small business owner trying to grow his HVAC company. He told me that he signed a deal (and contractually obligated) to have an agency do his SEO for him. It sounded great. They promised to optimize his website copy, write weekly blog posts and a bunch of other stuff… for $9000 per month
I told him that was way too much money for what he was getting in return and the agency didn’t care about him or his business.
They promised the world, we kept in contact for a couple of months before I got a call from him and told me he was shutting down. He was broken, upset and felt lied to about what that agency told him and the promises made to take his small business to the next level.. I’m not placing full blame on the agency for all of the problems he had, but the agency still went after him after the fact to get every single penny owed to them despite him going bankrupt.
Agencies aren’t honest. I get this type of email every week now from other agencies looking to work with us. Copied word for word below..
I’ve seen your rates on https://cannabisbacklinks.ca/, but I’m wondering if you can share a list of sites you have access to. I work with a couple cannabis clients for whom I’m looking to procure links, but would need to know the details of the placement before pursuing anything.
They don’t want to partner with me. They want our publishers that we work so hard to get. We spend hours and hours finding quality publishers and they want to steal those from us rather than going out and doing the work themselves.
With this particular fella, I said hey let’s jump on a call to discuss and I’ll tell you what we do here. He said he had no time to talk on the phone.
I even gave him a sample publisher with supporting metrics to the types of companies we do blogger outreach with. Never heard back from him..
Think twice before you sleep with someone..
The truth is that many people trying to make their mark in the cannabis industry don’t know much about how to succeed when it comes to marketing themselves. I see business owners getting taken advantage of after talking to them, wasting thousands of dollars on things that simply don’t work.
It pisses me off.
I never ask for money when talking to potential clients, our team earns trust and builds relationships by adding real value. We’ll continue to talk with you even after you tell us that you don’t have any budget. I get pinged all the time with questions and I’m cool with that, we often get referrals because we treat people right.
We’re honest. We’ll tell you the truth. We’ll tell you that our services aren’t a good fit and walk away from an order if it’s the right thing to do.
Do your research, look around and ask lots of questions. Avoid snake oil at all costs, because it’s everywhere.