Case Study: Local SEO For Dispensaries & Cannabis Retail Stores Increases Online Visibility
The retail recreational dispensary business, including retail sales, curb side pick-up, home delivery, or online sales depends heavily on search engine optimization, or SEO.
To be more specific, a Local SEO strategy is vital to any local business, especially cannabis retail stores because of the huge amount of competition in marijuana dispensaries in many major centres in North America.
While it is possible to get ahead of your competition by using paid advertising on Google search or Bing Search, many licensed marijuana stores in Canada and the United States rely on organic search, their Google My Business Page, local SEO tactics to drive traffic to the store or to the website to increase online sales or delivery orders.
This case study will illustrate how effective our local SEO strategy for dispensaries has been for a brand new licensed cannabis retail store, in a competitive market with established marijuana dispensaries, over a 6-month period.
The Cannabis Dispensary Client:
The client is Cabbage Brothers Cannabis Store in Hamilton/Dundas, Ontario.
They are one of the first 25 licensed cannabis dispensaries in Ontario but were not the first legal cannabis store in their city – Hamilton, Ontario Canada – just 45-minutes outside of Toronto, Ontario.
This marijuana store sells everything from cannabis flower, CBD, vapes, and accessories. They are located in the Dundas area of Hamilton, in between the Niagara Region and the Greater Toronto Area.
It’s important to note that there were plenty of grey-market and legacy market dispensaries already in business, in the Hamilton/Dundas, ON area before Cabbage Brothers opened their cannabis store.
Also important to note is that many of the competitors listed in this case study already had websites up, live to the public, and indexed by Google, before our client’s website was even launched live.
This means that this case study shows that even a brand new website can outranked, out perform, and be more visible online than pre-existing sites – as long as we implement our local SEO strategy for dispensaries.
The Challenge With Dispensary SEO:
This client hired us to build their website, integrate their retail operations, live menu, and implement a local SEO strategy , including optimization and management of their Google My Business (GMB) page, for their dispensary.
The purpose of the marijuana SEO strategy is to ensure the client’s website rankings and Google My Business (GMB) page show up on page 1 in Google and/or Bing search engines, for searches relevant to buying weed in Hamilton.
This meant that our SEO and keyword plan for this cannabis store had to outrank their existing competition, even though the competition has had a website up for a few months.
So, the challenge is how do we, as a brand new site, outrank an existing website that Google has already deemed relevant for searches related to cannabis stores in Hamilton?
The answer lies in comprehensive keyword research, focused competitor analysis, and an experienced local SEO & keyword strategy for dispensary websites and Google My Business (GMB) pages.
The Local SEO & GMB Page Strategy For This Cannabis Store
From a high-level view, our local SEO marketing plan for dispensaries and cannabis stores includes the following, among other cannabis SEO secrets:
- Competitor research & analysis for the client’s top 4 organic competitors.
- Comprehensive long-tail, short-tail, and semantically related keyword research.
- Research and compile relevant local directories for backlinks and/or listings.
- Research local businesses, websites, and blogs for partnerships, co-op advertising, and local backlinks.
- Baseline SEO reports as compared to competitors including online visibility and keyword rankings.
- Develop & implement SEO, keyword, and blog content strategy on entire website.
- Write & publish 4-6 x 1200-1500 word, SEO optimized blog articles with a local slant.
- Optimize Google My Business page using select keyword phrases and semantically related phrases from the keyword research.
- Download and optimize all images currently on the GMB page with keywords and NAP info, then re-upload the optimized images.
- Collect and post 3-5 SEO optimized images to GMB page per week. Images must have keywords and NAP info embedded before uploading to GMB.
We chose the following top 4 competitors for our client, all had websites up and live to the public before our client’s site went live:
- AncasterJoint.ca (Ancaster, ON – Licensed)
- CannaCabana.com (Hamilton, ON – Licensed)
- WeedDeliveryHamilton.com (Hamilton, ON – UnLicensed)
- The NiagaraHerbalist.com (St. Catharines, ON)
Client’s Target Keywords
The client worked with our dispensary SEO team to choose the following 14 target keywords, in no particular order, that they want & need to rank for:
- things to do in hamilton ontario
- buy edibles in hamilton
- weed hamilton
- terpenes for sale
- marijuana hamilton
- buy marijuana hamilton
- buy marijuana in hamilton
- buy weed hamilton
- buy weed in hamilton
- cannabis store in hamilton
- cannabis hamilton
- cannabis in hamilton
- cabbage brothers
- cabbage bros
Some of our client’s competitors were already ranking for some of the above target keywords before our client’s site went live.
The Local SEO strategy officially started when the website launched on: April 5, 2020. The data below is most significant starting from April 5.
The Results of Our Dispensary SEO Strategy
As the data and charts below will show, our client’s website has almost 2x the amount of online visibility than their closest competitor.
The website went live to the public on April 5, 2020 with a full SEO and keyword strategy in place. However, the homepage was launched and the client’s domain indexed on March 26.
Online Performance on Organic Search
Note the steady increase in online performance and clicks from organic search in this chart from Google Search Console showing data from Mar 26 – May 19, 2020:
You can see the steady increase in clicks as the graph is trending upward and to the right. Something we all love to see!
This means that the client’s started with very little traffic from organic search at the end of March, 2020, but by April and into May, the traffic from organic search increased significantly.
This was thanks to our SEO, keyword, and blog content strategy!
Online Visibility in Organic Search
Now let’s compare our client’s traffic, rankings, and online visibility with its key competitors.
This chart shows us the online visibility of these Hamilton & niagara area dispensaries based on our client’s target keywords.
The chart above shows our client’s online visibility in green.
You can clearly see how much more visible our client’s site is in organic search for their target keywords as compared to their competitors.
Finally, let’s check out the rankings for our client’s target keywords as compared to their competing marijuana dispensaries in the same city:
Keyword Rankings Compared To Top 4 Organic Competitors
As you can see, in less than 4-6 weeks, they are on page 1 for 7 of their targeted keywords and on page 2 and moving upwards for 3 of their target keywords.
They should be #1 on page 1 for their branded searches (cabbage brothers & cabbage bros) – good thing they are!
But they are also on page 1 for highly relevant and profitable keywords such as cannabis store in hamilton, cannabis in hamilton, and buy marijuana hamilton.
You’ll also note that their top competitor, who’s had a website up for months longer than our client’s site has been live, is currently outranking our client on a few key terms like “cannabis store in hamilton”, “buy marijuana in hamilton”, and “buy weed hamilton”.
So, we do have some work left to do in order to out rank one competitor, and it can and will be done, but look at the good news.
The client is highly competitive in keyword rankings online visibility, in a competitive market, with only 4-6 weeks of SEO strategy.
This client’s website was launched after their competitors were already indexed by Google and ranking in search for relevant terms.
So, we were able to take a new website and increase it’s online visibility by 74%, and to be the most visible dispensary/cannabis store in their town!
Imagine being one of the other competitors who aren’t ranking on any of these profitable keywords for cannabis dispensaries.
That would suck, right?
It’s crucial for a local marijuana retail store or a cannabis delivery service to have a local SEO strategy, specifically for local dispensaries.
The competition for weed dispensaries in cities all over the USA and Canada is the demand for home delivery and/or curb side pick-up.
People are going to use Google to search for dispensaries near them, weed delivery near them, or cannabis delivery near them, and your dispensary needs to show up on page 1, and in the local map, for all relevant searches to buy weed in your area.
We can help you implement a customized local SEO and keyword strategy on your website and help your business grow with experienced dispensary SEO services.
Call us for a free 30-minute consult or email us to request a quote.
We’re Ready To Help You Grow!