Forget about cannabis advertising restrictions and getting your dispensary Instagram account shut down. Those days are done! We have 4 tips on how to market your dispensary using search engines and no advertising.
How To Market Your Dispensary Using Search Engines
So you have your dispensary setup, open for business, and now you need an effective strategy on how to market your dispensary on Google.
Regardless if you have an online dispensary or bricks & motor cannabis retail store, search engines like Google and Bing are most likely to bring you the most highly qualified customers.
Think about your best “new” customer. Who is this person? Is it someone in your local area who’s of legal age, ready to buy CBD oil, ready to pick up some fresh cannabis flower near them?
Or maybe it’s a person anywhere in the California or in US states where recreational marijuana is legal, and they want to try a new source to buy weed online.
Where do you think these potential cannabis customers are going to go when they’re looking for information on CBD and marijuana products or are ready to buy?
They’re not going to your Instagram page that you’ve worked so hard on and spent so much time optimizing you posts and delivery.
People who want something now, or very soon, are going to a search engine, like Google and Bing, to find answers to their questions, and products for their immediate and impulse desires.
That’s why we’re discussing how to market your dispensary on Google and Bing search engines in this article.
Below are 4 ways that you can market your marijuana dispensary or online CBD store using search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM).
What is SEO and How Can It Help Me Market My Dispensary?
Before we get into how you can market your dispensary on Google, let’s define what SEO is, and how it differs from SEM, for those new to this space.
SEO, or search engine optimization is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.
SEM, on the other hand, is short for search engine marketing. Generally speaking, SEM refers to paid PPC advertising using Google Ads. These are the Ads that appear at the top and bottom of a search results page.
The beauty in using SEO to market your dispensary is that it’s “free”. Meaning, there’s no advertising and media spend required.
With the strict and severe advertising restrictions on Facebook & Instagram, SEO becomes an effective, manageable, and successful digital marketing tactic to use to market your dispensary on Google and Bing search engines.
Just think about all the time, effort, and marketing budget you’ve spent on trying to manage your Instagram profile. Or the time and effort you’ve put into any Facebook and Instagram advertising to market your dispensary only to have your ads disapproved.
We’re suggesting you consider other online marketing tactics and channels outside of social media. SEO is a long term process, just as is using social media marketing to market your dispensary.
But SEO is something you own. You don’t own your Instagram profile or content, as you may think you do.
You own the content on your website and if you can get your content/web pages ranked in search engines, you can keep those rankings for the long term of you have a solid, ongoing dispensary SEO strategy in place.
Now let’s get into the 5 ways to use Google to market your dispensary.
1. Setup & Maintain a Blog On Your Dispensary Website
I’m betting that you have a website or e-commerce website for your dispensary but that it doesn’t have a regularly maintained, SEO optimized blog.
If you do have a blog, is your content ranking for the keywords you optimized for?
If you’re not tracking your keyword rankings, the amount of traffic coming to your blogs from organic search, and the average time each user is spending on each article, how can you measure the success of your dispensary’s blog content marketing?
As we noted in this dispensary article on blog content, SEO optimized blogs on your dispensary website will do the following for your business:
- Build relevance, authority, and trust for your website with users and search engines.
- Drive highly qualified traffic from search engines, organically and not with paid PPC ads.
- Increased search engine rankings help to build brand awareness and loyalty for your dispensary.
- Helps with ongoing lead generation.
- Create brand awareness
- Build brand credibility & trust
- Educate audiences & potential customers
- Build loyalty with existing customers
How To Market Your Dispensary Using SEO & Blogs?
Blogs and SEO go hand in hand. If you’re writing blogs for your website, you’re doing so in order to have your blog web page show up in a related and relevant Google search, right?
If you’re not using the right long-tail, semantically related keywords throughout your article, you could be writing content that may be useful, but is not properly optimized to show up in search engines for relevant search queries.
Our recommended process for writing blog articles to market a dispensary on Google starts will keyword research. This is how you find the exact questions your target market is asking about consuming cannabis or about how CBD oil can help them relax.
Keyword research will also provide you with a list of semantically related terms for people who are buying weed or CBD products at dispensaries near them.
The idea is to choose long-tail phrases that ask questions about cannabis and CBD in general, or about the exact type of marijuana products that you sell at your dispensary, and use them as blog article topics.
This allows you to be strategic in what content you publish on your website and how you optimize to show up in search results.
You want to be super careful in which keywords you choose as some phrases can be broadly related to buying CBD oil at a cannabis retail store or online dispensary. For example, “what is cannabis”, “what is cod oil”.
While these keywords may be relevant to a licensed producer trying to market a chain of retail marijuana dispensaries, they aren’t as relevant to cannabis retail and should not be used to market your dispensary on Google.
Instead, effective long-tail keywords that should be used to market your dispensary in search engines could be “Where can I buy weed in [your city name]”, [best dispensaries in [your city name], and even “things to do in [your city name] on the weekend”, and “fun things to do in [your city name]”.
These long-tail terms can be spun into relevant blog articles to be published on your website, using local SEO tactics like geo-location tags, and would be very likely to show up in related search queries.
These people may not be looking to buy weed near them or online, but they are looking for things to do in your city. If they land on your website to read an article about “things to do in [your city]”, they now know about your local dispensary in the area!
Your goal for choosing keywords to market your dispensary on Google is two-fold:
- Choose the keyword search phrases that would be most profitable for your business.
- Choose the best keyword search phrases that will educate potential customers about your dispensary and associated products.
Essentially, write for people at the top of the funnel (cold audience, brand awareness), as well as the bottom of the funnel (people ready and looking to try/buy).
2. Optimize Your Dispensary Google My Business Page
If you’ve been trying to market your dispensary on Google and/or Bing, I’m sure you know how important it is for you to have an active and optimized Google My Business Page (GMB) and Bing Places Page.
You should consider optimizing your business page’s on search engines as an essential part of your dispensary marketing plan and local SEO strategy specifically.
Your Bing Places and GMB pages make your dispensary more accessible to people looking to buy weed or CBD in your city. Since you are in control of these business pages, you or your dispensary SEO agency can choose what your customers see in search results when they search for dispensaries.
If you don’t have a GMB page, it’s easy to get one. Follow these steps:
- You’re going to claim your business on Google and claim your GMB page.
- Click here to login to GMB. I know you don’t have an account, but that’s ok.
- Click “Start Now” and you’ll be prompted too login to Google. You should login using the Google account that you use to manage your dispensary business.
- Once you’re in, search for your business name and address. Look at the top left corner for the data entry fields.
- You’ll see 1 or more listings show up. You should choose the correct listing for your dispensary business.
- If your dispensary is not showing up, just create a listing to claim it. Make sure you fill out every filed and answer every question. This is not a place to get lazy and skip entering information.
- Once done, you need to activate your GMB page. To do this you need to verify with Google that you own that business. You can choose to verify using postcard, phone, or bulk verification if you own 10 or more locations.
- Google will take approximately 7-14 days to verify your business vis postcard. A phone call will get it done even sooner.
For the sake of brevity, we won’t go through each of the steps to claim your Bing Places page. It’s essentially the same as above but you go here to get started.
GMB & Bing Places Page Optimization Tips
Once your business pages are verified, you’re ready to optimize each of them. We recommend you start by adding all the relevant information each page asks for and include as much information as possible.
Be sure to add photos. GMB offers many types of photos you can upload to market your dispensary on Google. Photo’s of the inside of your dispensary, the outside of the location, pictures of your staff, and I’d even add photos of your marijuana and CBD products.
Helpful information in the form of photos and images should be uploaded as well. For example, in addition to your hours, your selling process, methods of payment, ID required, etc.
It’s important to ensure that you, or someone on your dispensary marketing team, keep this information updated regularly as it contributes significantly to your local dispensary SEO strategy.
In addition to adding photos and images regularly, you really can optimize your local search rankings by continually asking for customer for reviews on Google. All your customers reviews will show up in your Google My Business page as well as in search results.
People love and live by reviews for products and services and it’s no different when it comes to CBD and marijuana products. Including a customer reviews program in your dispensary marketing plans will most certainly boost your local rankings and increase traffic to your website or retail store.
Pro Tip: Google rewards consistency when it comes to your NAP – name, address, and phone number. You need to make sure that your company name address, and phone number are in the exact same format on your website, GMB page, Yelp, and social media profiles.
For example, If you have a 1.800 number, format it the same way everywhere. Don’t have 1.800.xxx.xxxx on your website and 800.xxx.xxxx on your GMB page. Pick one and keep it consistent everywhere.
Same goes for your address. If you use “Ave”, always use it instead of using “Av” on some platforms.
Best practices state that when entering your address into your Google My Business profile, you should use the exact same address information used by the USPS (or applicable postal service where your business operates).
This includes room, suite, or subdivision information, a full nine-digit zip code, and anything else that makes your business easier to find.
Be sure to check for erroneous spaces and other formatting errors, as even slight mistakes in address formatting can interfere with your Google Maps ranking.
3. Optimize Your Google Maps Page & Solicit Reviews
Let’s face it. If you needed just one tip on how to market your dispensary on Google, it would have to be how to get your dispensary to rank higher on Google Maps. That Google Maps location page links directly to your website and provides your address with directions!
So can you use Google Maps Marketing to help market your dispensary on Google?
Yes, you can!
According to Wordstream, Google Maps marketing is the process of using Google Maps’ functionality to make your dispensary easier to find.
This is useful and even more, it’s indispensable for marketing your dispensary on Google. Google Maps marketing isn’t just about visibility – it’s about positioning, and not just that of your dispensary.
If used correctly (and strategically), Google Maps can play an important part in your dispensary’s digital marketing strategy.
Tips To Optimize Your Google Maps Page
Here’s an example you can use today to help market your dispensary on Google. In addition to your address, you should also include the geographic areas that you’re dispensary serves.
Your dispensary could be in San Francisco, but you may also serve the Bay Area including Berkeley, Castro Valley, Emeryville, Hayward, Newark, Oakland, San Lorenzo, San Leandro, Union City, etc.
The idea is to include the names of nearby towns or cities that your dispensary serves, or a geographic radius (in miles or kilometers) from your physical location.
A second tip to market your dispensary by optimizing your Google Maps page is to beef up your introduction/description of your business.
Think of this as a brief summary of your dispensary and the types of marijuana and CBD products you offer. It’s also a super good place to stress your competitive advantage and what sets your dispensary apart from your competitors.
You can also solicit for reviews on your Google Maps page just like we mentioned above for your Google My Business page.
It’s unclear to what extent user reviews play a part in the Google Maps search algorithm, but a dispensary with no reviews is almost certainly going to struggle to compete with a dispensary with lots of reviews, so it’s vital that you solicit and include reviews in your Google My Business profile.
4. Google Search & Display Advertising & Retargeting
The above digital tactics to market your dispensary on Google are all based on organic digital marketing and no paid advertising.
We believe it’s super important to educate cannabis and CBD business owners on considering organic marketing tactics over paid advertising campaigns. One of the main reasons is because SEO and content marketing have no paid advertising media spend or ridiculous advertising restrictions.
But, even with cannabis advertising restrictions, it’s still possible to advertise marijuana and CBD products on Google search. However, it’s always a challenge and we always run the risk of your ads not being approved.
We have been able to advertise medical cannabis on Facebook, Google, and YouTube. However, we’ve also run other campaigns where ours ads did not get approved and we were unable to run any paid ad campaigns.
One of the best ways to market your dispensary on Google is via Google Ads on the search and the display network. Even with the risk, we feel it’s crucial to at least try.
Why? Becuase sometimes it works and Google allows cannabis related ads.
This local service in St. Catharines, Ontario Canada is marketing their dispensary by using paid Google PPC ads on the search network.
Here’s what came up when I searched “weed delivery st. catharines” in an incognito tab in Chrome. See the Google PPC Ad?
Not everyone can be as lucky as the online dispensary noted above. But the point is, you actually can market your dispensary on Google using PPC advertising.
For further proof, check out a search I did using a very broad term, “buy weed”. How many PPC ads do you see in these search results?
If you’d like to try advertising your dispensary or CBD brand on Google, we can craft and manage a geo-targeted search campaign on Google or Bing. Contact us for a free consult.
What’s The Difference Between Google Search Ads & Google Display Ads
If you do decide to try your luck with Google Ads, here’s some insight into each of Google’s advertising platforms and their differences.
Google Search Network:
Ads in “Search Network” campaigns appear at the top and bottom of Google search results and other Google sites when people search for terms that are relevant to your ad’s keywords.
So if you run a local dispensary, a “Search Network” campaign lets you show your text ads to high-potential customers right when they’re searching for “weed near them” and other similar terms.
This advertising format is incredibly effective because it targets an active searcher, who is on a mission to find something that you offer at your dispensary.
Google PPC ads more robust than regular organic search listings. They allow your dispensary to include ad extensions with additional links, phone numbers & addresses.
Since the Search Network connects dispensaries to people actively looking for their products, search campaigns typically drive more conversions than display campaigns.
Google Display Network:
Ads on the Display Network are image ads/display ads and not text ads as we use on the Search Network. Businesses place display ads on a huge network of sites across the internet.
The Google AdWords Display Network is the largest and most visited website group on the internet. In fact, the Display Network has the ability to reach 90% of Internet users worldwide and includes more than 2 million publisher sites.
When users are on the GDN, they may not necessarily be in “shopping mode.” Instead, they are going about their daily internet activities—catching up on news, reading blog posts, watching video clips, etc.
Clicks are generally a bit lower on the Display Network as compared to the Search Network but ad space is plentiful. GDN is the ideal space to promote brand awareness, increase your online visibility, and generally market your dispensary online.
By increasing your dispensary’s visibility, you may reap more clicks on organic listings or see an uptick in brand-specific searches. These clicks are also less costly than clicks on the search network.
Google Ads are a risky digital marketing tactic for dispensaries but it is something that every dispensary should try, at least once, when using an experienced Google Ads agency.
If you’ve tried Google Ads yourself and you’re not an expert PPC marketer, we highly recommend you test PPC ads to market your dispensary but use a professional SEM agency that understands cannabis advertising, creative, and copywriting.
We Can Help Market Your Dispensary on Google & Bing Search Engines
So as you can see, there are plenty of way to market your dispensary on Google and many do not require any advertising. Every local business, including your dispensary, needs to be easily found online because your customers will use Google and Bing to find what they’re looking for locally.
If you’re not using Google to market your dispensary now is as good a time as any to get started. Think of it as a first mover advantage.
Imagine if you can get your website ranked on Page 1 of a search result and in the Google Local Pack with a map to your dispensary. Just think of the amount of retail store traffic you’d receive daily.
An ongoing Local SEO strategy will help your site claim this lucrative page 1 position on Google and Bing.
If you own an online dispensary and don’t have a retail store, SEO is still the best way to market an online dispensary.
Publishing regular SEO optimized blog articles on your website will develop you site’s relevance and authority when it comes to online cannabis and CBD, which will result in higher search engine rankings for your dispensary website.
Are you ready to add SEO and search engine marketing to your dispensary marketing strategy and invest that media spend into a channel that doesn’t require advertising?
We can help you implement an SEO and/or Local SEO marketing strategy on your website to increase your website traffic and online/retail store sales.
Contact us today for a free consultation or to request a quote.
We’re Ready To Help You Grow!