Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the stalwart of the retail and brand world.  It doesn’t matter what current phase you are in the lifecycle of your brand – new, starting to get traction or well established, SEM complements your business.  But what if you are in the gray area of Cannabis? In search, it’s more like a black area.

 If you haven’t already noticed, Google isn’t exactly cannabis’ best friend.  But it also doesn’t shun it entirely. Yes, your Google business page is up and unless you do something pretty egregious, it should stay up.  Yes, you see some people using SEM. How? Very, very carefully.

 The one safe bet about SEM and cannabis is that you will be shut down.  It’s inevitable. It’s just a matter of when. So why bother? Because it still matters.  SEM deliver all those clicks in, sets you apart from the competition and gives you a leg up.  It’s those clicks onto your site that helps drive your SEO over the short and long term, which in turn, drives your brand higher than your competitors.  

 We have a few tricks up our sleeve when it comes to SEM.  No, we aren’t going to give away our secret sauce 😁, but we do have a few quick and easy guidelines for your SEM:

  • Don’t be stupid.  Seriously. Don’t go hard at the cannabis language in your messaging.  In fact, don’t use any cannabis language, especially “weed.” This is the first flag to Google of their banned messaging.  

  • Don’t talk about direct sales in your SEM messaging.   

  • If you have an age gate on your site, that works better.  

  • Your landing page matters, that’s what Google will skim if flagged.

  • A few of the general optimization rules that are used in SEM will cause a bit more trouble in the SEM world.  You want to stay a bit under the radar so instead of traditional SEM optimization, be a little bit more prudent with your changes.

Those are the very basics.  There’s a lot more to it, but those are some of the ways we’ve found it’s easier to stay up.  We’ve run five campaigns in the Cannabis space to date and it’s been quite the ride! We will tell you, it’s a lot easier to set up your campaign right and to be prudent up front than to try to get back up once Google has pulled you!  That’s quite the ride – we’ve done it once but it was truly difficult. If you’ve argued with a brick wall for an extended period of time, it’s a similar experience. 😉

 Thanks for reading and happy SEM’ing!