At Sociallyin, we’re well-known for hacking Google to remove penalties from websites that deserve better search engine rankings. We’re your trusted advocate when Google’s being [just a little bit] unreasonable. And we’re not afraid to get our hands dirty too, especially when it’s time to do a little VICE SEO!!!

-Tobacco SEO? CHECK! I made 10’s of thousands in < 6 months for a low-budget client in that space last year…on a brand-new website. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

-Need casino and gambling links? We got you! ๐Ÿ’ฏ

Our team’s not afraid of the competition in the ‘Vice SEO’ space. After all, we’ve been ‘slinging ads on the internet‘ so long that Keith and I have about 3 decades of combined experience in online sales. A tough niche is no issue at all for our crew.

…but what about cannabis SEO, eh? ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ

We got an audience with Canada’s premier home growing fertilizer brand…Reefertilizer when they reached out to us for help with declining online revenue. They were in a pickle and their website was loading way too SLOW! More on that later…

Our friends to the north had been doing pretty well with SEO on their own for a while. As early movers in the cannabis space, they had been publishing amazing content and celebrating new laws in their country for over a year. In fact, they wrote a special thank-you jingle just for Justin Trudeau that went viral on YouTube. Don’t worry, it’s safe for work according to Google because the word ‘weed’ is bleeped out:

ย 

SOOO Sorry…it’s stuck in your head now, isn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜†

Those new laws made it easier to sell retail fertilizer all across their province. They wanted to continue growing those direct-to-consumer sales with our SEO efforts, while also pursuing new B2B partnerships with retail shops and garden centers across Canada.

But instead of continuing to trend up like they always had, online sales were suddenly down?!?!?! When we first started chatting with Mike at Reefertilizer last year, I was halfway through my Moderna dosing and struggling with all the brain fog. I was wondering – WTF was going on with this client’s organic traffic? It took me a while longer than it normally would [๐Ÿ–• COVID], but we eventually figured it all out for the client.

Their content was good and the site’s architecture made a lot of sense. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary on the surface. But believe it or not, speed was the #1 issue holding sales back. Load times had increased so bad that the homepage was taking over 30 seconds to fully render by the time we started our work. It had gotten bad enough to cause a massive decline in organic traffic.

When we started work, we knew we had to reverse this trend!!! Here’s how we did so far:

before and after view of organic traffic on cannabis website last year.

Things had been flat for months and then it took a turn for the worse when Google started getting furious about slow websites…Dropping their load times to under 5 seconds reversed the trend:

Recovery from a penalty that was hurting organic traffic on a cannabis eComm website.

Load times didn’t used to really be a big thing for eCommerce sites, at least not on this level. Our client’s site wasn’t visibly that slow, but there were a lot of technical things going on in the background that were eating up bandwidth. We identified these issues by testing their homepage in GT Metrix:

GTmetrix scores before speed tuning.

Man, Mike that’s some HEAVY HTML on that page! Your site weighs a ton, bro. Even Elon’s fancy new Starship would have a hard time getting a 3.33 MB payload like that to cloud 9 in these crowded SERPs. If you want your homepage to rank higher than high, we’ll need to sort through that thick hazy cloud of 1’s and 0’s to find out what’s up with these file sizes…

 

Why is Image File Compression Critical to eCommerce SEO?

 

Even though the ‘Avoid Enormous Network Payload’ issue’s not ‘in the red’ on the report, I zeroed in on that problem first. For one thing, it’s an easy fix. It will also help to ‘green up’ most of the more serious problems if we do some good ole fashioned SEO image optimization work on the entire media library. We used my favorite image compression tool, ShortPixel, to clean up the massive file sizes on their website:

image file compression saved 1.11 GB

Other options for completing this task include Smush and Kraken.io, the latter of which you can do yourself by following this simple tutorial to install their plugin on your WordPress website. If that’s too technical, just reach out for help and we’ll take care of it for you.

 

Image Optimization Results Testing

 

We managed to clear up over 1 GB in server space with a simple plugin that can be uninstalled after the work’s done to further free up resources. That’s a big deal when you sell a product online and many of your customers are on a 4G device trying to load your page from a remote location. In eCommerce, site speed = ๐Ÿ’ต these days.

 

GT Metrix Scores After Image Compression

 

Next, we ran a fresh speed test to see how things were performing on the homepage now:

An 'after' speed test of the same homepage.

That’s a big move from just running a plugin, but plugins were actually a part of our problem…we identified over a dozen of them that were installed, yet no longer in use. That slows down websites tremendously. Additionally there were others that we simply did not need anymore because the same functionality could be achieved on the server side, without having to add so much bloated code into the WordPress install.

After cleaning up the excess plugin usage, the site sped right up! Additional work included internal linking between relevant posts, but that was about all we did to get these amazing results! We didn’t build many links or do anything else for that matter. We completed our work just in time for the next big growing season in Canada and the American legal states. So, what were the results like for Reefertilizer?

 

Key Performance Indicators for Reefertilizer’s SEO Campaign

 

Comparing year-over-year performance in Google Analytics, we were able to achieve the following:

 

  • A 51.63% increase in goal completions.
  • 16.12% higher conversion rates site-wide.
  • An 86.20% increase in organic traffic.
  • 62.64% higher revenue from organic traffic.
  • 13.42% more total sales from organic traffic.

 

Sales were up and we started seeing more customers buying the higher-ticket items like grow tents that our client really wanted to push on the eCommerce side of their business. That’s a big win from a small budget in a highly-competitive niche!!!

Is Your eCommerce Site Stuck on Page 2? Call SEO by Sociallyin

Do you think your website is suffering from slow speed issues? Reach out to SEO by Sociallyin and ask about our Google penalty removal services for eCommerce websites. We offer free initial audits, so you have absolutely nothing to lose by letting us take a look at your website to see what’s wrong.