7 Essential Steps In Building A Winning Canna Marketing & SEO Strategy

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Table of Contents

How To Set Up An Effective Canna Marketing & SEO Plan For Your Business

Find everything you need to know to build an effective and competitive canna marketing & cannabis SEO strategy that will get you found by search engines and increase organic traffic.

Online shopping has taken over the world.

While people still make a run to the closest dispensary to pick up weed, the allure of buying weed online from the comfort of your home is unbeatable for many weed smokers.

Today, pretty much everything from groceries, food, snacks, clothing, household appliances, and even brand new cars, if you want it, you can get it delivered with the push of a button on a website or mobile app without even leaving the comfort of your home.

This means an effective canna marketing strategy should be the primary focus for every new retail dispensary, weed delivery service, or mail-order marijuana online dispensary business.  

This also means you need an increased focus on your dispensary web traffic and a cannabis SEO strategy is the first step to reaching this canna marketing goal.

After all, you could have the best dispensary website in the world, with cutting-edge design, optimized for ideal user experiences, and cannabis products that would make Snoop gnash his teeth in envy, but if no one ever sees it or any of your content ranking in organic search results for purchase intent keywords, what good is it doing for you?

If you operate a cannabis dispensary you need to get found online – especially in local search results. And that, of course, is why a cannabis SEO strategy is a crucial part of any modern canna marketing plan.

You want to rank highly in search engine results pages (SERPs), so you get found organically by your weed smokers in your area or by stoners who want to buy mail order weed online.

However, this is much easier said than done because of the insane amount of competition with retail cannabis dispensaries, local weed delivery services, and mail order marijuana dispensaries in Canada and the United States.

But don’t stress, my team and I at ColaDigital.ca got you! We will help you with your canna marketing strategy and your dispensary SEO.

Below, I’ll walk you through the steps of creating, implementing, and optimizing a cannabis SEO campaign that will have your site shooting up the rankings in no time and allow you to reach your canna marketing goals.

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What Is a Canna Marketing & SEO Strategy?

You’ve probably already figured out that a marijuana dispensary SEO strategy is essentially a plan for your dispensary SEO expert to make your website or landing page more appealing to Google and other search engines so that it ranks competitively for your most profitable keywords.

The goal here is to rank higher on Google and Bing search engines for weed-related terms, particularly keywords with purchase intent, and drive more of that organic traffic to your website to hopefully increase conversions/online sales.

It sounds simple enough, but there’s a big catch: Google’s search algorithms are always changing.

You Cannabis SEO expert will know that Google updates its search algorithms several times a year because they want to continually enhance the quality of its search results and provide users with better solutions to their queries.

What that means for canna marketing and your dispensary SEO strategy is that you can’t just “set it and forget it”. Once you implement a marijuana SEO strategy you need to keep it up with SEO & keyword updates to the original strategy.

You, or your cannabis SEO agency, need to regularly analyze and course-correct to ensure you’re taking advantage of the latest best practices in canna marketing & dispensary SEO strategies.

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Does Your Canna Marketing Really Need a Dispensary SEO Strategy?

I’m betting that by now, some of you dispensary owners are eye-balling your screen and asking yourself if you really need to add cannabis SEO to your canna marketing plan in order to continue to find new customers.

You likely already have a canna marketing expert handling affiliate marketing, email marketing, and maybe even paid search for your dispensary, so you’re not sure there’s much of a benefit to investing all this time into organic search. 

Please do not be one of those cannabis business owners to fall into this trap and deny free traffic for years from search engine results.

Organic search is what drives more than half of all website visits and should be an important part of any cannabis dispensary’s digital marketing strategy, whether you’re an MSO, large retail chain, or a local mom-and-pop pot shop.

And, a cannabis SEO strategy is especially important for both mail order marijuana dispensaries and retail cannabis stores. 

By providing useful content on your website that is found in organic search and drives traffic to your website, you’re not only building trust with website visitors (i.e. potential customers), but you’re matching your website with customer intent, which means higher quality leads and increased online & in-store sales.

And even better, by using Cannabis SEO you’re not paying for every click, which means a lower cost-per-conversion.

So, even if you have the world’s best canna marketing campaigns routinely driving motivated customers to your site, you’re still only fighting half the battle by ignoring organic search and not implementing a cannabis SEO strategy.

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7 Fundamental Steps To Creating An Effective Cannabis Marketing & SEO Strategy

With the right dispensary SEO strategy, your canna marketing process can be broken down into manageable steps.

1. Define KPIs to Align Your Dispensary SEO Plans With Your Canna Marketing Goals

It’s important to know where you currently stand, where you want to go and how you will measure the success of your canna marketing & SEO strategy along the way. 

So first things first perform an SEO audit on your site or connect with an experienced dispensary SEO agency, like ours, to complete a comprehensive SEO audit for you. 

What is an SEO Audit?

You may be wondering what this process entails. 

Simply put, a cannabis SEO audit is a roadmap that will guide you or your canna marketing agency throughout the website optimization journey and allow for benchmarking against your existing site as well as competitors.

Every canna marketing professional will examine a variety of aspects in a cannabis dispensary SEO audit, including:

  • Your domain (URL) name, age, history, etc.
  • On-page dispensary SEO factors like headlines, keyword & topical targeting and user engagement.
  • Content organization, content quality, and the quality of your images.
  • Duplicate content issues.
  • Website factors like architecture, schema markup, and click-through rate (CTR).
  • Past and upcoming website updates.
  • The quality of inbound links.
  • On-site factors like sitemaps, image optimization, and robots.txt.

If you need help with an SEO audit on your cannabis website, please contact us to request a quote.

Planning is the key to success. The next step in growing your dispensary business will depend largely on what you want and need, but there’s one thing that remains consistent: SEO takes time and budget. 

If quick results are what really motivate or inspire you then try using other canna marking tactics. 

However, if quality and success matter more than anything else, work your canna marketing budget so you can hire an experienced dispensary SEO professional or agency without hesitation-because investing in SEO for your canna marketing wisely pays off.

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Which Canna Marketing KPIs Should You Focus On?

During this step of the cannabis SEO process, you’ll also want to work with your canna marketing agency to define your key performance indicators (KPIs).

By defining the right KPIs for the stage of your business, you’ll be able to effectively measure the success of your canna marketing strategy and figure out what’s working and where adjustments & optimizations need to be made.

Some of the KPIs you should be tracking are:

  • Sessions from organic search
  • Keyword ranking increases (and decreases)
  • Leads and conversions/online sales
  • Pages per session by traffic from organic search
  • Average session duration from organic search
  • Page load time
  • Top exit pages
  • Crawl errors

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3. Perform Comprehensive Cannabis Keyword Research

Cannabis websites that have good rankings in the search engine results page (SERP) are typically those which use their keywords strategically, for both users and search algorithms. 

The algorithms used by major engines like Google or Bing dictate how well a dispensary website answers specific questions that potential weed customers are typing into Google searches.

When you want your cannabis dispensary website to rank higher in search engine rankings, it’s important that your website answers popular questions that stoners ask Google and accurately provides relevant information. 

A huge part of answering those questions well is to write high-quality, SEO-optimized content using cannabis keywords strategically in blog articles, category pages, and product description pages on your canna website.

A few examples of these questions include queries for weed strain reviews, terpene profiles, how to use concentrates, how to dab, where to buy weed near me, weed delivery near me, and buy weed online.

If your cannabis SEO team implements an effective keyword and blog content marketing strategy on your website, over time you’ll find your website pages showing up in top search rankings each time someone searches for information on cannabis or to buy weed near them.

From single words (“broad” keywords) to complex phrases (“long-tail” keywords with specific intent), the keywords used in your canna marketing & SEO strategy tell search engines what your content is about and if it’s relevant to the customer’s search query.

But adding keywords & implementing a “real” cannabis SEO & content strategy on your website isn’t quite as simple as simply adding in the name of the strain you want to sell and dropping in (or worse, stuffing) what you feel may be relevant keywords and phrases.

You need to do comprehensive competitive keyword research to ensure effective keyword optimization, and that means considering the following key factors for your canna marketing & SEO strategy.

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Customer Search Intent

The richness of the English language is its beauty, but it also has many pitfalls that can befall any marijuana SEO team. 

When considering search intent and what people want to find through Google searches you must think about how different cannabis-related search queries may or may not be relevant to your canna marketing strategy.

What do we mean by search intent? Search Intent (also known as “User Intent”) is the main goal a user has when typing a query into a search engine.

For example, if your canna marketing or SEO campaign is targeting top-of-the-funnel cannabis customers who are new to cannabis products in order to create brand awareness and trust, you’d focus on keywords with “Informational” intent. 

Conversely, if your canna marketing campaign is targeting those at the middle or bottom of the funnel and who are ready to buy cannabis products online, you’d focus on “transactional” intent keywords that show the user has the intent to buy weed. 

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Relevant Keywords

The key to getting your website found by search engines is identifying the right keywords and phrases that people use when they conduct searches to get information about cannabis products or when they want to purchase them online.

This means you should narrow down your high priority/most profitable keywords and phrases and not try to target everything to everyone in one large campaign. 

It can be tough crafting an effective keyword strategy when doing cannabis SEO so you may want to consider hiring an experienced cannabis SEO agency to handle this part of your canna marketing.

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Keyword Phrases

These are short phrases consisting of two or more words that people type into search engines to find specific content.

For example, someone looking for THC edibles lessons may use “buy edibles online”, “buy edibles near me”, or “buy edibles in {city]”. 

Keyword Research Tools

The brainstorming process is an excellent place to start your cannabis keyword research, but we’d highly recommend you use a paid SEO tool in order to find the right keywords for your canna marketing plan.

Free keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword Planner are fine from a basic level, but the accuracy and depth of data provided by paid keyword research tools like SEMrush, SpyFu, and Moz, are worth the price of creating an effective marijuana SEO & keyword strategy.

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Long-Tail Keywords

These are the types of search terms people use to find exactly what they’re looking for. 

They tend to be longer, more precise and often come from those who have already made up their minds about which type of cannabis product will best suit them at this time. 

An example of this would be “cannabis dispensaries with delivery in [city]”, which would most likely be used by someone who wants to buy weed or other cannabis products in a particular city and maybe get them delivered to their house.

Search Volume

A keyword or phrase’s average monthly search volume is a key factor when building a keyword strategy for your canna marketing plan.

This metric lets you know approximately how many searches of a particular cannabis-related keyword are run through search engines each month, which provides canna marketer’s with an overall view of the keyword’s value, competitiveness, and profitability.

“Dispensary Near Me” is a super highly competitive term with a massive monthly search volume. It has over 2.5 Million searches per month, on average in the USA, and over 260,000 average monthly searches in Canada.

“Online Dispensary” is another highly competitive, popular, and profitable term for canna marketing with mail order marijuana companies. This keyword has over 26,000 searches per month in Canada and over 10,000 in the USA.

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3. Creep Your Competitors & Perform a Competitive Analysis

If you didn’t have any competition with retail cannabis stores and online dispensaries, there would be no need for SEO. 

But as long as people want to buy weed, cannabis businesses need to find ways to differentiate themselves from the many others.

To complete a competitive analysis for your canna marketing strategy here are a few high-level steps.

You absolutely must creep your competitor’s location and online spaces so you know exactly what they are doing. This tactic will help you position your dispensary for the best results in your targeted geo-areas.

If competing dispensaries are outranking you for some or all of your target keywords, you, or your dispensary SEO expert must figure out where, how, and why you’re being outranked.

You then need to identify & implement tactics to increase your online visibility so you can start to outrank your competitors instead and drive that “free” organic search traffic to your dispensary website.

In order to implement these tactics effectively, you’ll have to have identified the cannabis keywords that are most competitive (and least competitive) so you can see where you have opportunities.

Finally, make sure your marijuana SEO company has some understanding of your top competitor’s backlinking strategy and website structure, so they can optimize your site for the best possible search rankings.

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4. Plan Ahead For User Experience & Technical SEO

It is no secret that people are turning away (bouncing) from websites with pages that load way too slow or have too many bugs and errors. 

Your site structure, both technically in terms of URL structure and siloing content, to the site’s user experience (UX) or how users interact on your page, can make or break online sales.

Don’t overlook this crucial factor! Make sure your site is fun, easy, and straightforward to use for customers of all ages. 

Don’t rely on the best content or keyword strategy in existence if it’s not going to be user-friendly enough for potential customers.

The architecture and user experience of your cannabis website should be carefully considered prior to development and going live. The goal is to ensure that potential customers are taking your desired actions. 

Likewise, any technical issues such as broken links or slow page load times should be identified and fixed, asap, before they can cause issues for users who are ready to buy cannabis products online.

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5. Align Your Cannabis SEO Strategy With Your Sales Funnel

Your canna marketing & SEO strategy should align with your customer funnel to help you convert website visitors into returning/recurring revenue. 

If there is no one buying from us, then we have nothing but empty hands and an air of failure surrounding our business; it’s as simple as that.

The key to success in the cannabis dispensary business is making sure you have customers. If it weren’t for your potential stoners, there would be no revenue and thus no way of running a successful cannabis company.

The customer journey starts when they are first exposed to your brand. The sales funnel is essentially a summary of all the touchpoints cannabis customers have with you as they move through stages such as awareness, evaluation (interest/decision), purchase, and post-purchase.

Your canna marketing & SEO strategy can fit seamlessly into every stage of this purchase cycle:

Awareness: In today’s world of buying cannabis, most of your target demographic will first hear about your dispensary through their friends, or more likely online through a Google search.

Interest: This is where customers start doing research on the cannabis products they want to buy.

And what better place to research weed strains, cannabis concentrates, weed edibles, vapes, and other cannabis products than your dispensary website?

Decision: The customer wants to buy some weed or other cannabis products and is trying to decide if they should shop from your online dispensary, one of your competing mail order marijuana shops, or from the local dispensary in his city.

Your optimized meta description mentioning free shipping or free delivery, that they’ll read in your search engine results, could be the thing that sways them to buy from you.

Purchase: Ecommerce continues to grow. Having a search engine optimized point of sale makes it easy for people searching to buy weed online to purchase from your dispensary.

Post-purchase: Google reviews from happy customers, both on your website and on Google (or on a third-party review site) are a great way to build trust with new and existing customers, boost online sales, and increase your relevancy for cannabis-related keywords.

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6. Set Realistic Expectations & Review Reports Regularly

In digital marketing, it goes without saying that reporting and tracking KPIs is essential to success and ROI.

Reporting on your progress allows you to accumulate and analyze accurate data that can be used as a measuring stick for the future success or failure of your canna marketing campaigns.

If you don’t report it – or if there isn’t a report with KPIs, did it even really happen?

We know that marijuana SEO can be difficult to understand. It’s even more complicated when you’re trying to find out why your site has been ranking so well or what areas of your canna marketing strategy need improvement.

Creating detailed reports monthly will help with both aspects by identifying the factors behind your SEO campaign and keyword rankings as well as identifying where your dispensary SEO agency could do better.

One of the most common mistakes people unfamiliar with cannabis dispensary SEO make is expecting overnight results.

And because of the variables involved with the competition, inbound links, and the content itself, it’s nearly impossible to provide a definite time frame.

It’s best to start a canna marketing & SEO strategy with an understanding that SEO takes time and the more competitive (i.e. profitable) the keywords your marijuana SEO company is targeting, the longer it will take to climb to outrank your competitors.

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7. Local SEO For Retail Dispensaries & Local Weed Delivery

This final step to creating a winning canna marketing and SEO strategy is primarily for retail dispensaries and/or local weed delivery services.

These types of local cannabis businesses serve a local area in a city (cluster of cities) and can benefit from a local SEO strategy, which is similar to a regular SEO strategy but includes marketing tactics designed specifically for all local businesses – including cannabis.

Local search is powerful for small businesses and particular for cannabis dispensaries.  

Hubspot says that 46% of all Google searches are looking for local information, which means if your business isn’t optimized for local search, you could be missing out on potential customers who are ready to shop in your area. 

In short, local SEO is critical if you want your business to stay relevant and maintain a significant online presence for local searches from people looking to buy weed and other cannabis products near them.

Your Google My Business (GMB) page and profile are an essential part of a local SEO strategy as it’s your GMB page that shows up in local searches if you have an SEO optimized canna marketing strategy in place.

Google Maps, Google Reviews, links to your website, your social platforms, and reviews on third-party sites like Yelp or Trip Advisor are all included in your GMB profile along with your business hours, address, and contact information.

Customers can even message your dispensary directly from your Google My Business page in a Google search!


We Can Help You With Your Canna Marketing & Cannabis SEO Strategy

No matter what your background or experience level is in the world of canna marketing and marijuana SEO, like your dispensary business, there’s always room to grow. 

Canna marketing professionals know that starting off strong with a well-executed dispensary SEO plan can lead their clients to all kinds of places they never thought possible!

It all comes down to establishing a clear understanding of how search engine algorithms work in order to fully understand why certain cannabis marketing tactics won’t work.

In this article, I’ve given you seven steps to craft an effective canna marketing strategy using SEO as the foundation. But as I’m sure you’ve guessed, this is just the start.

Your cannabis dispensary business needs a customized canna marketing & SEO plan that will work specifically for your unique needs.

If your retail dispensary or local weed delivery service is interested in a customized local SEO strategy to add to your existing canna marketing plan, please contact us to request a quote.

We’re Ready To Help You Grow!

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