How Long Does It Take For SEO Content To Rank On Google?

How Long Does It Take For SEO Content To Rank On Google?

As content marketers, one of the most common questions we hear from clients is “how long will it take for my pages to reach the top of Google?” It’s a fair question from anyone investing in web development and content marketing, even if the answer may be quite complicated. To help demystify SEO and content marketing and explain how long it takes to see results – and what influences those results – we’ve created this handy guide that breaks down the most important factors.

How long does SEO content take to rank on search engines?

As a baseline, SEO content can take between three to six months to begin ranking on search engines like Google. The reality, however, is far more nuanced. How long it takes for SEO content to rank on a search engine, and how high up it will eventually rise, depends on myriad factors. 

We get it; “it depends” isn’t the most satisfying answer to this question. And while the three to six months baseline is a good barometer, it is just that — a barometer. Whether you rank and how quickly you do so depends largely on your ability to check lots of boxes that aren’t just about what you write, although that’s certainly a significant factor. One thing is true for all native content marketing efforts: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

What factors influence how long SEO content takes to rank?

There are many factors that influence how long it takes any given piece of SEO content to appear in search results, and how high they’ll climb in search engine results pages (SERPs). When creating SEO-driven content, consider the following:

  • Targeted keywords: The keywords that are relevant to your audience matter, and the more competitive the keywords you pursue, the more difficult it may be to rank. For example, attempting to rank for general keywords like “cannabis” are too challenging and likely present little value to your customer. Instead, choosing more specific, less competitive keywords may help your site build authority more quickly and attract more relevant online searchers to your pages.
  • Page speed: A big piece of SEO is user experience, and nothing drags down user experience than a site that moves like a sloth. Slow loading pages frustrate users and lead to a higher bounce rate, which measures how quickly someone leaves your site after viewing a single page. A too-high bounce rate reflects negatively on your site. For this reason (and many others!), search engines generally prioritize websites with faster page load speeds.
  • Mobile experience: Have you ever tried to navigate a website on your phone where you can’t read the text properly or you can’t tap on any links or buttons? It could be that your site isn’t properly formatted for mobile. With the majority of searches taking place on smartphones, an improperly formatted mobile view can ensure that even the best content doesn’t get any views. It’s critical your pages are adaptable to these platforms. Search engines know this and prioritize mobile responsive designs.
  • Content structure: The content itself is not the only important piece of the puzzle. How it’s presented to the user also matters. Structuring content in such a way that makes it easy to read and digest can help a page rank more quickly. Organizing topics in a way that reinforces the main keyword and any associated keywords you’re targeting is an essential component as well.
  • Linking: What you link to and how you link to it are also important factors when it comes to ranking on a search engine. This is particularly important when it comes to linking to other related content on your website, as it gives search engines a clear path to crawl and index multiple pages. The reverse is true, too — valuable content increases the possibility that another site links to your blog, which in turn indicates to search engines that your site is one providing worthwhile information.
  • Metadata: Elements like page title, meta description, and URL slug can help search engines better understand how to index your content. Optimizing these elements for the keyword you’re targeting can go a long way to expediting the time it takes for a piece of content to rank.
  • Domain authority: Your domain authority is a measure of the way your website is perceived by search engines. This metric was developed by third parties, and although it’s not in itself a metric weighed by search engines, the components that contribute to domain authority can all impact your performance on search engines.

Generally, we think of domain authority as a composite ranking that signals to search engines how reliable and useful your website and the content on it are to users. Building strong domain authority requires an extensive library of updated and accurate content, as well as backlinks from other authoritative sources. Even if you write the best and most optimized blog post ever written on a topic, it likely won’t gain traction unless your broader website has a healthy domain authority.

What’s the best way to improve search engine rankings?

To rank well on search engines like Google and Bing, and to do so as quickly as possible, it’s critical to apply a holistic SEO strategy that takes into account all the factors that influence what appears on the SERP. 

1. Develop a website with sound technical SEO principles

Content marketing doesn’t start with web copy and blogging, it starts with web development. Unless it’s housed on a technically optimized and secure website, any content you create isn’t likely to gain much traction. So building an optimized site from the ground up is the first critical step to take when creating a foundation for your content marketing strategy. 

If you already have a website and want to begin content marketing, it’s a good idea to perform a site audit first. In addition to web development services, CannaContent offers a thorough site audit that covers dozens of important technical SEO elements to make sure your website is well-positioned to rank before publishing a single blog. After all, why spend the time and effort creating content if you’re not set up for success?

2. Conduct comprehensive keyword research

Once your website is optimized, you can dive into the keywords that your audience is using in their queries on search engines. Choosing relevant keywords that have a good balance between competitiveness and search volume is key. Doing so will help you capture a significant amount of traffic from users that are also interested in the information, products, and services you offer.

Properly performing keyword research requires getting into the mind of the average user in your target audience. Called searcher intent, this explores what and why of an online search. It also involves some creative thinking and data collection, which can be time consuming. That’s why at CannaContent we build keyword research into our content marketing process, using some of the best SEO tools out there to help devise a keyword strategy that will boost your brand’s content to new heights.

3. Create helpful content with on page SEO in mind

When users are searching for information, they want answers, not sales pitches. That’s why it’s important to create your content with education in mind. Google recently unveiled its Helpful Content SEO update and explicitly stated that content users found helpful and informative would be prioritized in the SERP. This means answering questions directly, succinctly, and completely, providing users with a positive experience and leaving them satisfied that they were able to find the information they needed. This is still true, even in the era of ChatGPT and other AI-assisted writing tools.

In addition, helpful content means considering how users are searching for it. While many still type queries into a search bar, the rise of voice assistants like Alexa and Siri mean more and more users are relying on voice search to access web content. Structuring your content in a way that takes this into consideration will be key to competing well into the future.

4. Share your content far and wide

Once your content is published, be sure to share it with your entire network. Distribute the link on your social channels and in email newsletters. Not only will this help drive traffic to your website and promote your brand as an expert in your space, it will also increase the likelihood that other sources link to your content — and backlinks are critical for boosting your domain authority. 

When you work with CannaContent for both content marketing and social media management, this becomes a seamless process. Our content and social teams are tightly integrated, so one hand always knows what the other is doing. Once a piece of content is published, it can easily be added to the social calendar to ensure as many people in your target audience see it as possible.

Work with an expert SEO team for the best results

Content marketing is a full time job and it can be difficult to properly manage when you’re trying to run a business. If you want to implement an SEO strategy that helps you rise to the top of the SERP, your best bet is to work with a team of professional SEOs and content creators. By outsourcing your content marketing strategy, you can take the burden off your internal team and ensure that you’re consistently publishing high quality content that is perfectly optimized. And, when it comes to cannabis content marketing, you’ll want to partner with industry specialists like the team at CannaContent. If you’re looking for the best content the hemp and cannabis industry has to offer, we’ve got your back — contact CannaContent today.

Google’s Helpful Content SEO Update: What You Need To Know

Google’s Helpful Content SEO Update: What You Need To Know

Google is constantly updating and tweaking its algorithm in a bid to drive more value for users and advertisers. A recent staple of these updates has become the helpful content update, a type of algorithm update designed to get users to the most useful, accurate, and succinct content needed to answer their questions. 

Since the helpful content update has returned as an annual update, it’s important to develop your content strategy with it in mind. This guide will explain what we know about Google’s helpful content updates, as well as how to ensure the content you’re publishing is truly helpful to users.

What is Google’s helpful content SEO update?

Google’s helpful content update is an annual algorithm update intended to elevate content that Google finds helpful to answering user’s search engine queries, while de-emphasizing content that is primarily written to try and game the search engine system, so to speak. Content that is effective at answering user questions and providing actionable insight (hopefully like this one!) will be better-positioned to rank on page one of the search engine results page (SERP). 

Helpful content is created for an intended audience and provides a depth of expertise that goes beyond common knowledge and isn’t immediately accessible just anywhere. This content should provide a satisfying user experience (UX) that educates readers enough to help them achieve their goal. This goes beyond any single page; Google will reward sites that have a primary focus and demonstrate authority in that focus area across multiple pages.

In other words, Google’s helpful content update is all about surfacing content that is helpful for people and that is written by people, not AI algorithms. Content that is purposefully created to answer questions, educate users, and help them take whatever action they’re interested in will benefit from this update.

When will Google’s helpful content update take effect?

The most recent helpful content update rolled out in September 2023. In that update, Google relaxed its guidance around AI generated content, such as that created with ChatGPT and Bard. Additionally, Google issued warnings about making fake updates to pages to present a false image of freshness. Finally, Google also emphasized Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EEAT), recommending that content be reviewed by “an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well.”

How to tell if your website’s content is helpful

If you’re wondering whether your content is helpful or not, there are a few questions you can ask yourself. These questions come directly from Google and illuminate the differences between helpful and unhelpful content, so you should take them to heart when considering how the helpful content update may impact your site’s rankings. 

Your content may be helpful if you can answer “yes” to the following questions:

  • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
  • Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
  • Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
  • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
  • Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
  • Are you keeping in mind Google’s guidance for core updates and for product reviews?

If you answer yes to the following questions, your content may NOT be helpful:

  • Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
  • Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
  • Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
  • Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
  • Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
  • Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
  • Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (It doesn’t.)
  • Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
  • Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?

How to write helpful content for users

At CannaContent, our mantra has always been to “write for people, not robots.” And while everything we do is infused with the latest SEO best practices and a tailor-made search strategy unique to each of our clients, our No. 1 goal on every single page is to provide visitors and leads with the information they need. Whether they’re looking to make a buying decision or simply educate themselves on a new topic, our first consideration is how to best serve them — only after that do we implement SEO strategies to help surface the content we create on the SERP.

Here are some useful tips to keep in mind to ensure your content marketing strategy meets users where they are and delivers them the information they’re looking for.

1. Consider your audience’s needs

Think carefully about the type of content you’re about to create and why a user might want to read it. Then, do your best to meet those needs.

For example, a long-form blog post might serve to answer many different questions users type into a search engine, but many users will seek out long-form articles for more comprehensive education. So, instead of creating a long FAQ list that’s not particularly thoughtful, you should structure the article in a way that offers readers a holistic understanding of the topic. 

Another example is an “about us” page, which is less geared toward consumer education and more towards introducing your brand, philosophy, and team. An about page should contain concise information about the company and its leadership, which is delivered immediately without much preamble. 

Whenever you set out to create a new piece of content, before you write a single word, ask yourself: “Who would want to read this page and why?” Let the answer be your guiding principle as you move forward.

2. Perform keyword research

While we want to avoid writing purely for SEO reasons, it’s critical to know the keywords and phrases users are looking for in their searches. This will help you understand more than just what keywords to include in your content; it will give you insight into the way your audience is thinking.

For instance, you can use keyword research to gauge the level of education they already have on this topic; based on the questions they’re asking is this a 101 audience or are you speaking to users who already have a great deal of knowledge under their belts.

And, of course, it’s important to infuse your content with keywords and phrases that are relevant to the topic. Avoid keyword stuffing or incorporating keywords that aren’t relevant; instead, focus on naturally weaving the most relevant keywords your audience is already searching for into your content, with the goal of answering their questions and giving them the information they’re looking for top of mind.

3. Create a strategic outline

Sometimes it is tempting to just dive in and start writing to see where a piece of content takes you. Resist the temptation and take the time to sketch out a strategic outline that includes the H2s and H3s you intend to use to organize your piece. Incorporate those relevant keywords from your research into these subheadings, and consider how arranging them in different orders will change the user experience. 

When creating your outline, try to answer their most basic questions immediately in succinct, digestible sections. Then, elaborate in more detail below to further educate your audience or answer higher level questions a more educated consumer might understand. Always take some time with your outline to determine whether you’re delivering information in the most logical and efficient order possible.

4. Draft, proofread, and revise your content

Sometimes overlooked in the world of content marketing is the critical importance of clean copy. Clean copy doesn’t have grammatical errors, punctuation mistakes, or typos — sloppy content is not helpful content.

Your content should also make logical sense and read clearly to a reader, even if they don’t have much knowledge of the topic when they first land on the page. Drafting and proofreading your copy is an absolute must — we recommend you proofread your own copy at least twice. If possible, have an editor read your copy as well. 

Editors bring fresh eyes to your draft and can approach it just like a reader landing on your page for the first time. If something is confusing to them, it would be confusing to a reader as well. Once your editor is finished, revise your draft accordingly and proofread it again. Ask them to challenge you on what needs to be in your content and what doesn’t. Always work to cut the fluff.

Ensuring your content has relevant internal links throughout can help readers navigate to related content they might be interested in after reading your page. Links should be affixed to anchor text that makes sense and gives the reader a clear idea of what page they would land on if they were to click through. 

Linking is also how bots crawl your site and index pages for search engines. The more links you have to related internal content, the more likely those bots will follow those links and index those pages. More frequent indexing improves your odds of ranking on the SERP. 

Helpful content marketing drives success

The more helpful content you maintain across your site, the better you are likely to fare in the wake of this update. Not to mention, user satisfaction should always be a major focus when creating or updating any content. While Google’s helpful content update is a great reason to audit your site and update it accordingly, helping to answer user questions and meet their needs should always be at the heart of all your content marketing efforts. After all, the point of a search engine is to help users find what they are looking for, so do your best to offer up relevant, useful content at all times.

How Will Voice Search Impact Your Cannabis Business?

How Will Voice Search Impact Your Cannabis Business?

The rise of voice search is on the minds of every cannabis marketer, as voice assistant technologies continue to influence how your customers search for products and services online.

One in six people in the U.S. owns a smart speaker such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home. That influence carries over to smartphones, with 44 percent of speaker owners engaging their phone’s voice assistant feature more frequently out of habit. When all is said and done, experts predict that half of all internet searches will be conducted by talking to Siri or Alexa by 2020.

While 2020 may seem far away, that time is not a luxury: organic search takes months to shift, and that means preparing for future trends around the bend. Being ahead of the curve ensures that your business stays on top in this increasingly-competitive cannabis industry, and voice search and cannabis is the perfect place to begin.

What does the rise of voice search mean for cannabis businesses?

People speak differently than they type. A customer looking for a dispensary in Massachusetts’ soon-to-be-legal adult-use program, for example, may type “dispensary near me” or “buy marijuana Boston” into a search engine. However, someone speaking to a device may ask, “Alexa, where can I buy weed in Boston?” or “Siri, what’s the best cannabis dispensary in Cambridge?”

The key term here is ask. (What a throwback: we haven’t asked Jeeves in years.) Internet searches have become conversations with our devices, asking questions of our voice assistants in our regular, everyday voices. This means that cannabis slang such as “weed” or “pot” may rise in popularity as a search term in the months and years ahead. The difference looks subtle to most, but it represents an enormous shift for search engines.

Voice search also impacts local search results, which is especially relevant for plant-touching enterprises that rely on a regionally-locked customer base. Serious customers want to act — where can they go and what can they do right now to get the information, product or service they need. Since most voice search technologies pull results from local listings, business owners can capitalize on reaching the local market. Voice search and cannabis truly are the perfect fit!

  1. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Whether you’re a new cannabis business building a new website or redesigning an old website, it’s an absolute must to be mobile-friendly.
  2. Claim your Google My Business and Apple Maps listings. Google is still by far the most-used search platform, and Google places great emphasis on your complete and up-to-date Google My Business listing. A customer that asks about your dispensary’s hours of operation, for example, will prompt voice search to locate your Google My Business listing.  Plus, more than 85 million people in the United States own iPhones, which makes an Apple Maps listing just as important as Google My Business. It’s one of the most productive steps to take for optimized voice search and cannabis businesses.
  3. Claim your other local directory listings. If your business was automatically listed on platforms such as Yellowpages.com, make sure to “claim” these listings and fill them with relevant information. Make sure your business also appears on cannabis-focused directories such as Weedmaps.
  4. Brush up on your website’s FAQs. Many website have a “frequently asked questions” section. Since people ask questions of their voice assistants, properly optimizing your FAQs will go a long way in helping to pair your webpage with the searcher’s inquiry.
  5. Ask questions in your content and answer them directly. Pull a Jeopardy! and turn your statements into questions. Instead of writing “Menu” on your dispensary’s menu page, for example, write “What’s on [name of dispensary]’s menu?”

Organic search techniques are always evolving. The best way to stay on top is to stay ahead of the curve. When you work with CannaContent on your organic search strategy, web design, content, social, or brand identity, you’re working with professionals who work on the cutting edge, constantly incorporating new developments and putting them to work for your cannabis business. Got a project in mind? Get in touch today — or ask your voice assistant to do it for you!