Cude Design is an award-winning WordPress web design agency based in Surrey, UK. Their expertise is creating bespoke web designs and custom WordPress development for high-performance websites.
They set themselves apart from other web design agencies by creating visually striking websites that are also functional and enhance the user experience.
In this case study, we'll take a look at one of their portfolio websites in the CBD industry.
The CBD Supplier is a UK-based online marketplace offering various CBD products catering to wellness-focused lifestyles.
They aim to provide a trusted source of CBD products, ensuring that customers receive reliable and effective products that third-party lab tests have verified.
This CBD SEO case study will detail how they were able to grow their website traffic by 557% and become a mid five figure business.
The online CBD industry is a notoriously difficult niche for organic content to rank in.
Because of its lucrative appeal, the industry attracts content publishers with significant budgets, which can hamper ranking efforts by comparatively smaller websites like The CBD Supplier.
Although it doesn't require a drastically different SEO strategy, CBD is a competitive industry and also falls under the health niche, a YMYL category in Google's search quality rater guidelines document.
Hence, it requires additional attention to E-E-A-T compliance and can take longer than other websites to rank, especially with a new domain.
CBD websites also have to demonstrate higher levels of authority and will therefore, need more volume of high quality content.
Lastly, many major digital advertising platforms have restrictions on CBD-related advertisements.
This limited their ability to use paid strategies to drive website visitors.
In a nutshell, The CBD Supplier faced these challenges,
- Competitive industry with big budget websites
- Regulated YMYL category by Google
- Restricted paid advertising
Their main goal was to increase search visibility on search engines to drive more traffic, resulting in sales.
"With improved content, you also increase the chance of being approached for collaboration as your content is reaching new audiences. This is a snowball effect as it adds further exposure with the end result of your website improving in strength."
- Wesley, Director at Cude Design
2 steps The CBD Supplier took to improve search engine rankings
We spoke with Wesley, director at Cude Design about the SEO strategy they used to rank The CBD Supplier, considering these obstacles.
Here are the 2 steps they took.
1. Targeting low difficulty keywords
Instead of chasing popular keywords with high search volume, Wesley and his team paid particular attention to blog post topics with a search volume of over 500 monthly searches and low keyword difficulty.
Using Surfer's Keyword Research tool they were able to identify potential topics that are popular among users but don't have too much competition.
By focusing on these keywords, they created content with a higher chance of ranking well in search engine results.
For example, typing in "weed strains" generated 91 ideas for blog posts.
Wesley and his team could then filter these ideas based on what they've already told us.
- Monthly search volumes exceeding 500
- Blog post ideas with business potential
Sorting these blog post ideas in descending order by the highest search volume is a good way to find topics that can attract the most visitors.
Let's remember that they were only targeting topics with low keyword difficulty.
While a KD of 9 or 8 may be challenging, "stardawg strain" in the third row, with a monthly search volume of 9680 and keyword difficulty of 7 looks promising.
It ticked all three boxes that The CBD Supplier aimed for - monthly search volumes of 500+, purchase potential, and low keyword difficulty.
To be clear, a KD of 7 isn't generally viewed as low keyword difficulty but considering Wesley's appetite for results and SEO acumen, is certainly worth considering for them.
This strategy ensured that Wesley and his team were making the best possible decisions about which blog posts to create.
It also helped them understand what their target audience is searching for and the kind of content they are interested in.
This was crucial in creating content that ranked well, engaged, and provided value to their readers.
By doing this, they ensured that they focused on areas with the most potential for success.
2. Writing high quality content
The CBD Supplier was launched in 2018 and had witnessed intermittent periods of posting blog articles. These sporadic efforts resulted in temporary traffic increases that would drop after only a few months.
Wesley and his team understood that these fluctuations were down to the lack of authority of their website and that they would need to improve their frequency and volume of posting content if they wanted to see sustained results that they could build upon.
"I decided to give myself 12 months of posting regularly and see where it led"
- Wesley, Director at Cude Design
The team at The CBD Supplier began posting a moderate 3 times a week in October 2022.
12 months later, they were posting over 5 times per month with the help of Surfer's AI writing tool, Surfer AI.
Since the health and CBD niches require large volumes of content, their quick adoption of AI-generated content in their SEO strategy was a sensible decision.
You can see how often they post by just glancing at their blog.
They published an article on a variation of the keyword that we uncovered in step 1 above.
The blog post titled "Is stardawg dangerous?" ranks in position 1 on Google for its primary search term.
But because it is so well written and covers a general introduction to stardawg strains, the article also ranks for related search queries like "What is stardawg?" and so on.
Generating an article on "Is Stardawg dangerous?" is pretty straightforward on Surfer AI.
After entering their primary keyword, the team at The CBD Supplier would have to select options around the following:
- the type of article
- their preferred tone of voice
- AI or human detection filters
- researching or using specific sources, knowledge and URLs
- analyzing organic competitors in the SERPs
Doing so would result in an outline that they could edit according to their needs.
And finally generating a finished article that they could then edit and publish.
All in just twenty minutes.
The team at The CBD Supplier has obviously been very successful with their SEO strategy, and kudos to them for doing so.
If there were one thing I could add to supercharge their results from these efforts, it would be a third step.
3. Building topical authority
Topical authority is just the industry's buzzword for communicating content context and relevance to search engines like Google.
Wesley was quick to point out that this is on the cards,
"Now we are looking to post even more content, covering a broader range of topics to improve our topical authority"
- Wesley, Director at Cude Design
These are the 5 factors that Google mentions in its page on How Search Works.
When you consider what Google says in its E-EAT instructions in the search quality rater guidelines document, it's easy to see that these ranking factors must work in unison for your site to achieve the best results.
While E-EAT is more than just author bios, I'd add these two steps for The CBD Supplier's blog:
- Implement author bios that show medical expertise
- Build links from the healthcare/medical industry
Since The CBD Supplier is a UK based brand, it helps to acquire links from UK based companies and websites in the health industry, thus adding to its relevance as a UK centric marketplace in the eyes of search engines.
But more importantly, I'd start building topical clusters for their articles.
My CBD knowledge is limited to a few movies and shows, but some light research indicated that the information here lends itself well to categorization.
There are several different types, with a wealth of information on each type, their benefits and usage. So, there is a lot of scope for well organized content hubs.
For example, here's what my light research indicates a topical cluster may look like for "stardawg strains."
What is stardawg strain [already covered; pillar page]
- stardawg strain benefits
- stardawg strain side effects
- types of stardawg strain
- strongest stardawg strain
- stardawg strain review
- stardawg strain yield
- stardawg strain taste + smell
- stardawg strain for sleep
Building topical clusters via pillars and supporting pages would benefit The CBD Supplier and multiply their traffic by a significant factor.
This is commonly practiced by healthcare sites like Very Well Mind and can improve both user and search engine crawler experience.
Although clustering topics was quite a task in the past, Surfer Keyword Research makes this easy - all you have to do is enter your primary keyword.
And enable the Topical Map feature.
Inputting your GSC domain will give you better results, so I'd recommend doing so, but since I don't have access to The CBD Supplier's domain, we'll stick with "stardawg strains".
Surfer will then prompt you to select related topics and terms to build a topical map for you.
Surfer Keyword Research will generate content hubs for your primary topic in the left panel, presented with the number of articles in each hub, the average keyword difficulty and total search volume for the content hub.
Take the example of the hub for "Cookie Strains".
It has 14 suggested articles with an average difficulty of 6.4 and a total search volume of 8560 per month in the UK alone.
Here's a snippet of the topical cluster for "cookie strains."
Now that we can see a list of topical clusters and which pages to create under each cluster - right down to which should be used as a pillar page and supporting pages, we can begin writing these articles.
The CBD Supplier could continue to add their core topics and cover them to boost topical relevance to search engines, thus demonstrating their expertise on the subject.
This approach would have them rely less on building backlinks, and can rank over larger competitors.
Another area for improvement I noticed is that several of their articles have no internal links at all.
This could be underutilizing their crawl budget and leading to inefficient link flow through their website.
The good thing about using topical clusters to build content is that they also cover internal linking.
So all that is left to do is establish two-way links between the pillar page and supporting pages.
It's also a good idea for Wesley's team to link to pages where relevant but you don't want to have links between every page because that will dilute the link's weight.
And lastly, I couldn't find a Google Business Profile for The CBD Supplier.
It would benefit them to establish a profile and link to and from it, to the website.
It's good practice to communicate NAP (name, address and phone) to Google by including their address and contact details site-wide in their footer.
The CBD Supplier increased its organic traffic by 557% over a period of 12 months.
"We are also number one on Google for numerous terms all written by Surfer"
- The CBD Supplier
But even more impressive is that they've gone from generating a little over £1,000 to becoming a mid-five-figure e-commerce business for CBD products.
I can easily see this growing into a six-figure business for several reasons.
One, they have a great domain name; once they widen their depth and breadth of content coverage, they'll become an authority in the space and benefit from the exponential advantage of being recognized as a trusted website in the YMYL category.
Second, CBD products have repeat usage, so they don't have to acquire as many new customers.
Retention and keeping customers satisfied with great products and customer service will win them half the battle.
It's almost impossible to find a niche that isn't competitive anymore, but The CBD Supplier has shown that it's possible to thrive in competitive industries with the right strategy.
Instead of chasing highly competitive, high-volume keywords, focusing on low-difficulty keywords with decent search volume can help your content rank higher in search engine results.
Using AI writing tools to post high-quality, relevant content regularly can help your websites build authority and improve search engine rankings.
Combine this with topical clustering and internal linking, and you should be able to rank against larger websites with more resources.
If you have a similar story about winning the search battle with your website, let us know, and we'll take a deeper look at how Surfer can help further improve your rankings.