Dispensary SEO Tips For Mail-Order Marijuana & Cannabis Retail
Why are the dispensary SEO tips detailed in this article critical to the success of your online dispensary or retail cannabis store? It’s simply because SEO for dispensaries & local SEO for cannabis retail stores is the most effective digital marketing tactic to use to sell THC products online.
The competition in local search results for online dispensaries, mail order marijuana companies, and licensed retail cannabis stores has been intense in Canada & the USA for years, and all of the fastest-growing companies will credit their dispensary SEO agency for their success.
However, as competition increases, an effective dispensary SEO strategy that includes keyword research, blog content marketing, and natural link building can be just what your cannabis business needs to stay ahead of your competitors in terms of organic search rankings & traffic.
Alternatively, you could use digital advertising on Google search or programmatic display/banner ads on popular mainstream websites, but you will need a 5 figure media budget each month which can be very cost-prohibitive for retail dispensaries.
In this article, we focus on 12 dispensary SEO tips that are extremely effective for both mail-order marijuana companies as well as for licensed cannabis retail stores.
Dispensary SEO Tip #1: Implement a Comprehensive SEO and Keyword Strategy Across Your Entire Website
Of all the top dispensary SEO tips discussed below, this tip the absolutely essential for the success of your business in organic search.
If your website and site code aren’t optimized with a comprehensive SEO and keyword strategy you should really consider getting this implemented asap.
People are searching for information on cannabis, recreational marijuana, dispensaries near them, and many more cannabis-related topics. They search using Google and Bing – not Facebook and Instagram.
A comprehensive SEO and keyword strategy helps your dispensary be found in local search results and regular search results for a targeted set of relevant and profitable keywords.
You’ll need an experienced cannabis SEO strategist to help you with in-depth keyword research to find relevant and popular short-tail, long-tail, and semantically related keyword search phrases and search queries.
If you feel like trying this yourself, these are just some high-level items that you’ll want to review when implementing your new dispensary SEO strategy:
- Comprehensive keyword research (short-tail long-tail, semantically related terms).
- Optimization of on-page location data and keyword strategy.
- Optimization of all page titles and meta descriptions.
- Optimization of all website images including file name, file size, alt attribute, title attribute, and description.
- In-depth blog content creation and blog SEO including relevant localized content with backlinks.
Dispensary SEO Tip #2: Focus on Local SEO For Retail Cannabis Dispensaries
A local SEO strategy for dispensaries is a super effective digital marketing tactic for retail dispensaries because it allows you to market and promote your business on Google & Bing search engines just like a local law firm, local bakery, or local cafe would.
People will always search for a local business when they have the intent to purchase something close to them, whether it be legal services, fresh baked goods, a coffee, or some weed, and a local dispensary SEO strategy is how you get your store to show up on page 1 when someone searches to buy weed locally.
However, according to Search Engine Journal, local SEO for dispensaries and any local business has never been more challenging because of the following reasons:
1. A massive increase in the number of mobile devices (meaning more people are turning to their phones to find businesses near them)
2. An increasing number of dispensaries recognize the benefits of local SEO.
3. The presence of the Google Local Pack, which shows local businesses like cannabis retail stores when people are searching to buy weed close to them.
Why is the Google Local Pack Important For Dispensary SEO?
You’ve seen the local pack every time you search for a local business, product or service. You may have heard these high-profile local search listings as the “Google Snack Pack”, the “Local 3 Pack” or the “Google 3 Pack”.
The Google Local Pack is a boxed-in area that prominently appears on page 1 whenever a local search is made through Google’s mobile or desktop search engines.
Google displays the top 3 local business listings most relevant to the search query in this area.
It’s important to note that click-through from local search traffic for businesses inside of this local pack area is significantly higher than businesses outside of this pack.
Here’s what it looks like for a simple local search query from the Toronto, Ontario area for “buy weed”:
What does this mean?
Google makes it super easy for mobile phone users to find any local business in a matter of seconds.
Your target consumers can find the following information without even having to click on your dispensary website:
- Your business hours
- Your phone number
- Your website
- Your retail locations
- Your customer reviews
For your marijuana dispensary to get found in search results, you need high-quality content that answers every question your customers have about your products, services, locations, and more.
This content must be optimized for search engines before being published on your website and formatted for your users so it’s easily consumed by your customers.
That’s why a local dispensary SEO strategy is a vital digital marketing tactic for your marijuana dispensary marketing plan.
Dispensary SEO Tip #3: Claim Your Google My Business Page
One of the first dispensary SEO tips when opening a new retail cannabis dispensary is to claim your Google My Business Page.
Once you claim this super valuable local search asset, your cannabis dispensary’s business profile appears right on page 1 when people are searching for your dispensary or dispensaries like yours on Google Search and Google Maps.
By claiming your Google My Business Page (GMB), you’ve just made it easier to create and update your Google Business Profile so you can stand out, and bring customers in.
You can claim your dispensary’s Google My Business page here.
Dispensary SEO Tip #4: Claim Your Bing Places For Business Account
Once you claim your GMB Page when opening your cannabis retail shop, be sure to do the same thing on the Bing search engine. As far as dispensary SEO tips go, these business pages on popular search engines are essential for your business.
Sure, Google is the world’s largest search engine but did you know that Bing search claims a 33% market share when it comes to search.
So you’ll want to optimize your local business’s information, website URL, phone number, and locations using Bing Places.
Claiming your business and optimizing your business page is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your dispensary’s SEO and search engine visibility locally.
Dispensary SEO Tips #5: Choose The Appropriate Business Category
Believe it or not, choosing the proper category for your cannabis store on Google My Business and Bing Places helps you with your local SEO strategy for your dispensary website.
When setting up your GMB and Bing Places accounts make sure you have chosen the correct categories. For best results, use as few categories as possible and make sure they are as accurate as possible.
Your GMB and Bing Places category tells search engines exactly what your business does. This is particularly valuable for searchers who are searching for a dispensary close to them.
Categories are also relevant if you are trying to rank for a set of targeted and relevant keywords on Google or Bing. Choosing the right categories can positively influence your rank in Google Maps.
Google does have a category for cannabis retail stores!
Dispensary SEO Tip #6: Optimize Your Google & Bing Business Pages With Photos
If you thought the first 3 local SEO tips for cannabis stores were easy, the simplicity of dispensary SEO continues with SEO tip 4.
One of the best ways to optimize your GMB and Bing Places business pages is to simply post photos of your dispensary and various locations.
Include photos of your marijuana products, your budtenders, and even your happy customers – with permission, of course.
Relevant business photos that are posted regularly help to lend credibility to your business and serve as a local ranking signal to search engines.
Pro-Tip: optimize your photo’s file name by including the name of your dispensary, the address, and the city in the photo file you upload to GMB or Bing Places. You must embed this data in the photo/file before you upload the image to GMB.
Dispensary SEO Tips #7: Citations: Get Your Dispensary Listed in Online Directories
A popular local SEO tactic used by many local B2C businesses for years is having their business information consistently listed on popular online directories.
As an owner of a retail cannabis store or mail-order marijuana online dispensary, you or your dispensary SEO company should be doing the same with popular online directories specifically for cannabis.
So just as you claimed your local business pages on search engines to help improve the local SEO for your dispensary website, you should also claim your business on these 10 cannabis directories, as well as many others:
- Wiki Leaf
- Medical Jane
- The Cannabis Industry
- Merry Jane
- All Bud
- Pot Guide
Consistency in your cannabis business citations is important. Make sure your dispensary’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) are the exact same format for all locations.
For example, if you use a 1-800 number, make sure you list it as “1-800”, “1.800”, or “800-”, on all online directories, business pages, social platforms, and on your website.
If your address is a suite or unit number, be sure you use “Unit XXXX” or “#XXXX” on all online properties including your website.
Dispensary SEO Tip #8: Claim Your Listing on Review Sites
Many local businesses forget about review sites until it’s too late or until they get a bad review on a public website.
Once you’ve claimed your business pages on search engines and your business in online directories, your next step is to claim your dispensary’s listing on popular review websites.
The most important ones include:
When you claim your business’s listing on these review sites you’re able to control how you respond to good reviews and bad reviews.
Dispensary SEO Tips #9: Work Hard For Positive Customer Reviews on Google
Here’s the deal with online customer reviews. Yes – they absolutely will help with your local dispensary SEO strategy and local search rankings.
Obviously, there are many SEO factors involved in search rankings but the bottom line is this: online customer reviews can be a strong signal to search engines that communicates relevance, authority, and trust – the 3 most important search ranking factors.
Pro Tip: Customer reviews directly on Google will carry the most weight in your local dispensary SEO strategy than any other popular review site.
The challenge for your cannabis retail store is to work closely with your budtenders and other customer service reps to ensure that the majority of your reviews are positive.
According to Google high-quality reviews improve your business’ visibility in local search engines and can place you in the Local Pack for local searches for dispensaries.
Shopify says “In today’s digital age, 93% of customers say that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.”
The three main benefits of getting any type of customer reviews for your cannabis retail store:
- You’re able to acquire real testimonials from real customers that you can use in your dispensary’s social media marketing plan.
- You’re able to better understand your customers, what your dispensary is doing right and/or wrong as a local business. This information can help you get more positive reviews if you use it effectively.
- You’re able to improve the visibility of your cannabis stores on search engines like Google and Bing. More visibility leads to more website traffic and more in-store foot traffic.
Dispensary SEO Tip #10: Social Media Produces Social Signals
If you didn’t know that an engaging social media presence helps your dispensary’s SEO and search rankings you’re about to find out how and why.
- Social Media in Search Engine Results Pages
Social profiles for local dispensaries can and will show up in local search results if your profiles are optimized and have a decent engagement rate.
According to Google, “When people search for your business on Google, they may see links to your business’s social profiles included with your other business information in the knowledge panel in Search…Social profile information is automatically added to listings for eligible businesses.”
- Social Signals Contribute To Google Rankings
Another bit of SEO magic that can develop from your dispensary’s social media marketing strategy are “social signals”.
Google pays close attention to social signals because they provide the search algorithm with details on what users are talking about and what topics are most relevant for what search queries.
Social signals are the likes, shares, votes, pins, or views people place on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media sites that filter out to the various search engines.
Social signals indicate that your brand is being talked about by consumers, and this improves your SERP ranking because search engines view social signals as trusted “recommendations”.
Your dispensary marketing plan should include a Facebook Business Page, and Instagram Business Page, and a LinkedIn Business Page.
I’d also recommend having an active presence on Twitter and YouTube if you have the internal capacity. If not, you should consider outsourcing our social media management to an experienced cannabis marketing company.
Dispensary SEO Tip #11: Your Website’s Mobile Responsiveness
An often overlooked local SEO factor is the customer’s experience when on your dispensary website. This is typically called user experience (UX).
A mobile responsive website that displays exactly the same on desktop, tablet, and smartphones is pretty much the standard for any business website today.
- Over 51% of smartphone users have discovered a new company or product while conducting a search on their smartphone. (Google, 2018).
- 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site (socPub).
- 89% of people are likely to recommend a brand after a positive brand experience on Mobile (Google, 2017).
The bottom line is, make sure your cannabis retail store website provides a seamless user experience on all devices, particularly on smartphones.
Dispensary SEO Tip #12: Host Your Site On a Secure HTTPS Server
Is your website secure?
If you sell products and/or take any personal information using forms on your website, your website must be on a secure HTTPS server with a functioning SSL certificate.
An HTTPS server, or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, is the secure version of HTTP, the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and the website that you are connected to.
The ‘S’ at the end of HTTPS stands for ‘Secure’. It means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted.
HTTPS is often used to protect highly confidential online transactions like online banking and online shopping order forms.
Web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome also display a padlock icon in the address bar to visually indicate that an HTTPS connection is in effect.
SSL Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details.
When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the https protocol and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser.
Typically, SSL is used to secure credit card transactions, data transfer, and logins, and more recently is becoming the norm when securing the browsing of social media sites.
The bottom line here is that if you own or operate a cannabis retail store and have a website, make sure your site is on a secure HTTPS server with an SSL certificate implemented.
Having your site on a secure server helps your SEO by boosting your trust score with Google. Google feels comfortable ranking HTTPS websites because they know those are secure websites.
For more information on how to move your site from HTTP to HTTP, please see the article from our brother agency VPDM Digital Marketing titled: Switch to Google HTTPS & Increase Your Site’s Search Rankings.
I’m hoping you’ve realized how important these dispensary SEO tips are for your cannabis store or online marijuana dispensary business.
Not only will these dispensary SEO tips help your website show up in local search results if implemented correctly and with a relevant, popular keyword strategy, they will also help you grow your dispensary’s brand awareness with local customers, and hence increase your online sales.
With the strict advertising restrictions surrounding cannabis promotion and marketing, having your website content found online for relevant search queries with a comprehensive dispensary SEO strategy is one of the most effective ways to market and promote your business.
If you’re not sure how optimized your website is or if your current SEO strategy is working, please contact us for a free website SEO audit with a detailed report.
Our comprehensive 200-point checklist will diagnose the current marketing, SEO, and profitability of your website and include recommendations on how your site’s SEO and search rankings can be improved.
If you need help with any part of the digital marketing strategy for your cannabis retail store, please contact us to request a quote or call us for a free 30-minute phone consultation.
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