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Agency creates cannabis and alcohol-focused media and achieves $513,000 in new revenue in 9 months

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“I log into Semrush at least 17 times a day. I have used it religiously when planning, building, and growing Flavor Fix. We rely on Semrush for all of our SEO and content clients.”
Lavall Chichester, Founder of Growth Skills and Flavor Fix.

Business Challenge: Ad restriction for CBD, cannabis, and alcohol brands

CBD and cannabis brands kept telling Growth Skills, a NYC-based growth marketing consultancy, they could not reach their audiences using paid media on Google, Instagram, and Facebook ads, as brands in these industries face lots of advertising regulations. 

The challenge was to build a truly innovative way to solve this problem for clients and to generate leads and revenue for the agency. Growth Skills was on a mission to find a solution. Here is what they did.

Solution: Publishing platform for attracting organic traffic and creating a consumer database

Growth Skill’s solution was to build their own publishing platform called FlavorFix.com to help brands reach cannabis, CBD, and alcohol consumers. They used Semrush and their proprietary SEO & content marketing methodology to research, write, and optimize articles so these searchers can find them organically on Google

The team tailored the publications to specifically engage the intended audience, producing edible recipes, educational industry interviews, fun cocktail guides, informative strain profiles, and handy dosage calculators. 

They then used email marketing to convert the traffic into a growing database of cannabis, CBD, and alcohol consumers. 

The Process

1. Goal setting

  • Keywords: Rank on the first page for “weed strains”, “CBD Calculator” and other core keywords
  • Traffic: Get over 50,000 monthly users
  • New Biz: Sign at least one 12-month retainer contract with a CBD, Cannabis or Alcohol brand with a $120k value

2. Market research

Growth Skills started by using SparkToro to find the top publishing media properties in cannabis, CBD and alcohol to find out what is missing in the space and what value the new site could add. They then used Semrush to further identify the types of content being published, the types of keywords being ranked for, the most popular pages, additional websites in these industries, the authority of the sites and other important information. 
Below are a few important findings.

  1. Finding: Leafly, High Times and Weed Maps dominated cannabis and CBD searches
  2. Finding: Vine Pair and Liquor.com dominated the alcohol searches
  3. Finding: no site targeted cannabis, CBD, and alcohol at the same time. The agency knew this was an opportunity. MMI-Simmons study showed that millions of cannabis users also consume alcohol. The team also had much real-life evidence of this.

3. Competitive Research

Growth Skills used Semrush’s Domain Overview tool for competitive analysis.

The team compared top five competitor domains

They looked at the following metrics:

  • The number of keywords each domain ranks for
  • Their top-ranking high-volume keywords 
  • Domain authority 
  • Sites that link to competitors
  • Estimated organic traffic trend, and others. 

Next, the team checked Semrush’s Organic Keywords Trend in the Organic Research tool for each brand. They found that HighTimes.com had a major drop in rankings on Google for over 200,000 keywords:

To get more granular data, they

  • Chose the historical data period of the traffic drop in the tool
  • Filtered the chart to Declined and Lost keywords:

The tool offered the full list of lost keywords with their main metrics:

Growth Skills used this info to write content that targets these terms and made sure their cannabis strain page info was better than any existing articles. 

4. Execution

Growth Skills then built Flavor Fix as a brand that was focused on utility, offering something different than the competitors. They used Semrush’s Keyword Gap tool to identify the highest searched weed strains, their keyword difficulty and who ranked for the terms.

Semrush Keyword Gap tool lets you compare up to 5 domains’ keyword portfolio

This helped the team further improve their cannabis strain pages. For example, their pages tell what the strain helps with, how it makes you feel and the negative effects like the other site. However, they also tell you what food, music and alcohol the strain pairs best with - something other websites don’t do. As a result, they are starting to outrank competitors who have dominated the SERPs for years.

6. Content creation process

The Growth Skills team researches, writes, and publishes articles on the site daily. They use Semrush’s Organic Research tool to identify what performs well for competitors so they can weave those page and article topics into their content strategy. The tool’s Pages tab shows which pages on a competitor's website rank for the most keywords and get the most potential traffic:

The team can click on any URL to get a full list of keywords it’s ranking for:

They continue using Semrush’s Keyword Gap tool to find top keyword opportunities and new content ideas:

The team targets high volume terms (above 20,000 monthly searches) that have low keyword difficulty (under 55 difficulty) since they are just getting started and the competitors have a head start. The earned site authority will help the team rank for terms with higher search volume difficulty like the “dispensary” terms:

Semrush has helped the Growth Skills team be strategic with their content creation which made Flavor Fix quickly rank for over 30,000 keywords closing the gap on some of the small competitors, driving over 70,000 monthly unique visitors to the website and over 50 million organic impressions on Google.


7. Lead generation

Once they have enough articles on a topic, the team packages them into a downloadable ebook that people can get in exchange for their name and email. They still let them access all the articles online, but the ebook is a more convenient way to browse them. This has led to tremendous email list growth. Growth Skills continues to release new ebooks.


8. Interactive Content

The team then built various calculators to help people find the right CBD and THC dosage. This has led to additional growth in their email list. 

First-year results:

Creating the new CBD and alcohol-focused publishing platform helped Growth Skills achieve:

  • $2+ million in new biz sales leads and $513,000 in new revenue
  • 75+ million Google Search Impressions
  • 73,000+ New Unique Visitors (Monthly)
  • 9,000+ email Subscribers (an average of 200 new emails sign ups a week)

Key Takeaways:

If you are looking to build a publishing platform or create content to dominate an industry you have to do the following:

  1. Goals & Tools: Use tools like Semrush throughout the process to make realistic goals, get competitive data, and track your progress. 
  2. Competitive Research: Before building your strategy, research your competition. Find their domain authority, total keywords ranked, who is ranking for what, keyword difficulty, and what content gaps and opportunities there might be.
  3. Content Strategy: Target keywords smarter for faster results: by search volume, intent, and keyword difficulty. 
  4. Execute: Write optimized articles that are unique and offer something the competitors don’t have. Do not be scared to compete with enterprise players who dominate the industry. You can still make incredible ground if you are smart with how you use competitive intelligence.
  5. Link building: Make sure to use Semrush to identify your domain authority and build a backlink plan to grow it. Start by running a backlink audit in Semrush on your competitors and reaching out to the domains that link to them.
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