Top 20 Local Search Ranking Signals For Your Weed Marketing Strategy

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Table of Contents

Level-Up Your Weed Marketing Strategy With These 20 Local Search Ranking Factors

When crafting your weed marketing strategy, don’t forget about Local SEO. Google’s Local Pack is a great way to get your business in front of local customers.

To increase the chances, you should optimize for 20 ranking signals that are important according to Google’s guide and there are many more tools available on how one can do so!

Google’s ranking algorithm is becoming increasingly difficult to beat as more and better local SEO for dispensaries and weed marketing strategies come into play. 

The three main reasons for this are:

  • An increase in mobile searches because people use their phones exclusively now to find pot shops near them, or for retail dispensaries with weed delivery.
  • A surge of new local retail dispensaries and weed delivery services that recognize the value of having high rankings on Google Search and visibility in the Google Local Map Pack for local searches.
  • Google Local Pack was once the top seven local businesses and is now just showing the top three weed dispensaries for purchase intent weed searches.

In this article, you’ll learn about 20 specific local ranking signals for your weed marketing strategy that search engines use to determine where your dispensary appears in local search rankings

If your goals for your weed marketing plan include ranking in the top 3 for competitive local searches for pot shops, read on to discover how our cannabis dispensary marketing strategy helps to get your pot shop in front of people who are looking to buy weed near them now.

Let’s start this weed marketing session by taking a closer look at how new changes with Google’s Map Pack/Local Pack are a game-changer for cannabis businesses and online dispensaries.

Recent Google maps changes for dispensary SEO and weed marketing strategy. Cannabis dispensary SEO agency.

Recent Google Map Pack Changes Dispensary’s Need To Know

The Google Local Pack is an essential tool provided by Google for cannabis dispensaries (and other local businesses) to implement in their local SEO strategy. The Local Pack provides local results to searchers who search to buy weed near them or to find a dispensary near them. 

Google’s algorithm shows the top 3 most relevant dispensaries, weed delivery services, or online dispensaries in the Local Pack, with location pins on a Google Map, at the top of the page 1 search results. 

It’s important for cannabis business owners and weed marketing strategists to understand that this Local Pack is constantly being modified by Google based on user needs and feedback, making this tool invaluable for your cannabis dispensary marketing strategy.

Google is always making it easier than ever for weed smokers to find what they need online. They recently announced that they are rolling out this Local Pack search interface on desktop. 

So now, when people search on a laptop or desktop computer instead of their smartphone for pot stores nearby, using a query like [dispensary near me], they’ll easily see local results on the left and a map on the right side.

Here’s an example of how a search for “dispensaries near me” on desktop, in Niagara Falls, Ontario, would look:

New local map in Google search for cannabis dispensaries local seo and cannabis marketing strategy.

Why is Google’s Local Pack so important for your weed marketing strategy? 

Imagine a world where you can instantly know the name, location, and website of any cannabis dispensary near your current location. Google’s Local Pack makes this possible with just one search!

With such an easy and convenient way to find local weed dispensaries, more people will be inclined to visit those dispensaries in person or order from an online dispensary’s website. 

The Local Pack also provides detailed information about each pot store or online dispensary including hours, phone numbers, website addresses, as well as reviews from other consumers who have already tried them out themselves.

Local SEO is the key tactic to form the foundation of your cannabis dispensary marketing strategy and ranking well for your business in Google’s Local Pack. 

There are no exact formulas and competition with online weed marketing is huge, but this article will outline important steps you can take toward building a strong online presence and increasing your chances of getting your dispensary ranked in the Local Pack.

local search ranking factors for cannabis dispensary's weed marketing strategy.

What Are The Top Local SEO Ranking Signals For Dispensaries?

In order to organize the critical SEO ranking signals for dispensaries we’ve split them into two broad categories:

The Basics: This covers the most foundational ranking signals. These are the low-hanging fruit and the fundamental factors that must be addressed for any cannabis dispensary to rank for SEO.

The Advanced: This outlines the more advanced local ranking signals that you’ll need in your weed marketing strategy in order to move to the top and outrank a competitor. 

If you own an online dispensary or retail cannabis store, these cannabis dispensary marketing tips will be an integral part of your weed marketing strategy.

tiles spelling the word simple. basic weed marketing tactics

The Basics of Weed Marketing

The following 12 local search ranking singles are what we call “basic”.

These are fairly simple local SEO tactics for every dispensary’s weed marketing strategy that can easily be implemented by you or someone on your dispensary SEO team.

If you haven’t optimized all 12 of these, you should add that to the top of your weed marketing list.

1. Your Google My Business Page & Google Business Profile

If you’ve been in the weed marketing game for a while, you likely know Google Business Profile by its previous name, Google My Business.

It is easy and free to claim your Google Business Profile.

This is one of the simplest and most effective ways for cannabis stores to improve their local SEO weed marketing strategy.

There are two ways a dispensary owner or weed marketing professional can do this:

Option #1. You enter the name and address of the business and choose it from the search results.

Option #2. You find your business on Google Search or Google Maps and click “Claim this Business”.

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2. Categories Available For Your Dispensary’s Google Business Profile

Your dispensary’s Google Business Profile offers you a choice of Categories to categorize your business on Google search. This is an important step for your weed marketing strategy. Do not sleep on this.

Categories describe your cannabis business and help you connect to the customers who are looking to buy weed online or buy weed near them.

Choose a primary category that describes your business as a whole and be specific.

For example, if you are a licensed cannabis retail store in Canada, Google provides a unique category meant just for weed stores – “Cannabis store”.

Google-Business-Profile-Category. weed marketing strategy. local seo.

3. Add SEO Optimized Images & Photos On Google Business Profile

You can add photos or videos to your Google My Business Page. These could include your dispensary’s location, product selection, retail staff, and even customers (but make sure you have their permission first).

Photos can add interest and credibility to your listing and also serve as a local ranking signal. 

Make use of this local SEO weed marketing tip by repurposing content you shared on your social platforms as posts on your Google Business Profile.

4. Bing Places For Business Can Benefit Your Weed Marketing Strategy

Google is the most commonly used search engine, but Bing still holds a small share (about 7% of the world market according to this source).

Cover all the bases by setting up your Bing Places for Business.

5. Cannabis-Related Online Directories/Citations

Claim your business in other popular online directories, such as these:

  • Weedmaps
  • Leafly
  • Yelp
  • Trip Advisor
  • Apple Maps
  • Yellowpages
  • Foursquare
  • Yahoo’s Localworks

6. How Many Positive Reviews Does Your Weed Dispensary Have?

Every cannabis dispensary owner should know how important accumulating positive reviews are for their dispensary and that interacting with your customers by responding to their reviews is equally important.

According to Google, from a weed customer’s perspective, high-quality reviews for cannabis retail stores and online dispensaries help customers by improving your business’s visibility in organic search and increasing the likelihood that a customer will visit your website or retail location.


7. Reviews With Keywords & Locations Can Level Up Your Weed Marketing Strategy

When it comes to online reviews and your weed marketing strategy, it’s important to know that not all reviews are created equal.

When reviewers use the city they live in or inadvertently add weed-related keywords to their reviews, it sends signals to Google that you are a trusted local dispensary or online mail-order marijuana dispensary.

Since your pot shop has many products in different categories, it’s recommended to have your customers post reviews individually and according to the specific product or service that they have.

8. Cannabis Dispensary Marketing 101: Respond To All Reviews! Reviews With Responses

Owner responses to Google show that the page is actively managed and that you are engaged with them.

We highly recommend that cannabis retail stores and online weed dispensaries reply to all of their reviews – both positive and/or negative. Add this rule to your weed marketing strategy and stick to it.

Google has also indicated that your replies are important because reviews build trust.

Just Do It!

blond woman with red lips and word no on face. Cannabis dispensary marketing strategy.

9. Negative Reviews & The Percentage Not Responded To

So, as it turns out, since the number of reviews with responses counts, so do negative reviews with no responses from the dispensary owner.

It’s common to receive negative feedback, and even though it can be frustrating when you’re trying your best for your cannabis business – don’t lose hope! Handle these negative reviews with care by following the steps in this article.

Google has set up a system to help dispensary owners deal with negative reviews if you feel that someone has left an inappropriate or negative review on Google and want to get it removed.

10. Setup Messaging on your Google Business Profile

Did you know that your people can get in touch with you in real-time from your Business Profile on Google? It’s true! It acts just like Facebook Messenger but from Google search!

You can answer their questions, tell them your specials or daily deals, and attract more customers to your dispensary or website store. 

Chat works best as a conversation between your business and your customers. To ensure the best experience for your customers, follow the chat guidelines provided by Google.

Once you turn on chat, customers will find a “Chat” button on your Google Business Profile and will be able to message you at any time.

  • Messages will appear in your Business Profile on Google. You’ll receive notifications for incoming messages. 
  • You can customize the automated welcome message that customers will get when they message you.
  • You can share photos with your customers in the chat.
  • If multiple people own or manage your Business Profile, each one can chat with customers.
  • Customers will find your Business Name in the chat dialogue.

Respond promptly (time requirement)

When you receive a new message, you should reply within 24 hours. This may promote trust and encourage engagement with your business. To support timely responses, Google may deactivate chat for your business if you don’t respond within the time frame. 

This requirement is for any business that uses chat on their Business Profile.

contact us concept. consistent name, address, and phone number (NAP). dispensary marketing strategy.

11. Consistent Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP)

Keeping your business name, address and phone number consistent on every medium (website, social platform, press release, directories, etc) will help Google searches provide accurate information. 

This is because these details are used by search engines when ranking websites in their search results. So making sure they match everywhere helps give you an edge over other local dispensaries and/or mail-order marijuana shops.

Attention to detail here is important.

For example, if your business name is ACME Dispensary, LLC on one site and acmedispensary or ACMEdispensary on another site, the slight difference in name and spelling could cause confusion – with Google and with potential customers.

12. Weed Websites Must Be Mobile Responsive. Period.

Google looks at all dispensary websites’ mobile sites first, not the desktop site. 

This tool can help you get started on achieving mobile responsiveness.

dart in the center of bullseye.

Advanced Weed Marketing Tactics

Congratulations on making it through the first 12 basic local ranking signals for your weed marketing strategy. 

We’re now ready to move into advanced digital marketing tactics for your cannabis dispensary marketing plan.

Before we do, it may be important to note that you will likely need to outsource some of these advanced weed marketing tactics for local SEO to an experienced cannabis dispensary marketing agency.

The 12 basic weed marketing strategies and tactics discussed above can be done by yourself or a member of your marketing team. They are basic things that most online marketers can handle.

However, the 8 weed marketing strategies outlined below are a little more complicated and will require a sophisticated weed marketing company with a specialty in cannabis dispensary SEO.


13. Add Structured Data Markup To Your Dispensary Marketing Workflow

Structured data markup is a machine-readable representation of your cannabis product data directly on your site. 

The markup that’s added to your HTML helps Google and other search engines understand and process your content reliably.

There are several ways a dispensary can use structured data markups in their weed marketing strategy and local SEO, including:

  • Hours
  • Address
  • Menu
  • Website
  • Phone number

This tactic of using structured data markup are highly recommended by Google. You can add markups using Google’s guide or a tool like Schema.

It is also worth noting there is some lack of clarity on whether including GPS coordinates within structured data is helpful.

14. Localized Content For Weed Marketing

A comprehensive weed marketing strategy for any local dispensary or weed delivery service is reliant on the consistent publication of high-quality, highly relevant content. 

Setting goals for publishing ongoing SEO-optimized content and measuring your progress should be part of your cannabis dispensary marketing plan to ensure you achieve significant results & ROI.

Make sure you can organically include your target keyword and dispensary location in all of your content – specifically your blog content.

Examples of the type of SEO optimized blog content you should be publishing could be articles on local events in your geographic area, promoting efforts to raise funds from local charities you and your target market support, including information & topics that are important to the local community, etc.

Before adding blog content marketing to your weed marketing strategy be sure to think about what makes sense for your brand.

15. On-Page Location + Keyword Optimization For Your Weed Shop

When building your list of target keyword phrases and keyword map for your weed marketing strategy, be sure to think local especially if you own and operate a retail cannabis store or local weed delivery service.

For example, don’t just optimize for “cannabis dispensary”. Optimize for “cannabis dispensary [city name].” Don’t optimize for “buy weed online”. Optimize for “buy weed online in [city/state/province/country].

If you have never done comprehensive keyword research using paid & professional SEO tools I’d highly recommend hiring an experienced cannabis dispensary marketing agency to handle your keyword research, local SEO, and overall weed marketing strategy.

on-page seo for cannabis dispensary marketing strategy

16. Title + Meta Description

Sticking with on-page SEO for weed marketing, you should spend some time writing, testing, and tweaking your page titles and meta descriptions for all priority website pages, including your product pages. 

As always with dispensary SEO, make sure you include relevant, priority keywords and your dispensary’s location details in your title and meta descriptions whenever it makes sense.

This is in coordination with on-page location plus keyword optimization for your weed marketing strategy, but we feel that it’s important enough to have its own place as a local search ranking signal for dispensaries.

17. Weed Marketing Needs Inbound Links From Local Relevant Sites

Links from local news sites, radio stations, community blogs, community college websites (.edu links!), links from local businesses, links from social media, and so forth prove that your site is trusted by your neighbours and your local community.

For some licensed dispensaries, a press release to local news stations could help here. For other cannabis businesses including mail order online dispensaries, creating and engaging in weed discussions on local social media sites, including Reddit, might be helpful.

18. Inbound Using Local + Keyword In Anchor Text

Are you ready to set a hard goal?

An inbound link from a high authority site using both your city or neighbourhood and your main target keyword phrase is like the “ultimate backlink” when it comes to links.

location pin. local seo for dispensaries. marijuana marketing strategy.

19. Proximity To The Searcher

Your retail dispensary’s location and how close the searcher is to your dispensary, not your competitors, is what it is, and you can’t optimize this factor.

However, it is a strong ranking signal, which is why claiming your Google Business Profile and having a consistent name, address, and profile is important.

20. Weed Marketing Hemps Increase Domain Authority To Your Website

Your dispensary website’s Domain Authority (DA) is a search ranking factor developed by Moz that predicts how likely your website will be to rank for weed-related keywords. 

Increasing your site’s DA isn’t an easy process, but it’s worth the effort as it will pay off and increase your average monthly revenue.

marketing planning strategy for cannabis dispensaries.

The Wrap Up

What do all these cannabis dispensary marketing local SEO features mean for your weed marketing strategy?

Here are the two major takeaways:

1. Claiming your Google Business Profile is the first step to optimizing your dispensary’s local SEO ranking. Make sure it’s complete and accurate, choose wisely from one of many categories that are available for you, get reviews and respond back if asked about anything by potential customers because this will show them what kind of service they can expect when visiting your weed dispensary or online dispensary website.

Local SEO for dispensaries is a competitive field, but for most businesses, there’s still room to grow and improve. 

2. The second most important thing you can do when it comes down to your weed marketing strategy and local SEO is to focus on building up a high-quality link profile by adding high-quality, highly relevant SEO-optimized content with both local terms and target keywords to your website.

The weed marketing tactics discussed in this article will help you increase your chances of being included in Google’s Local Pack, but most importantly, it will help increase your ability to be found by and connect with people looking to buy weed online.

weed marketing strategy team at dispensary seo agency

We Can Help You With Your Weed Marketing Strategy!

If you’re ready to level up your weed marketing strategy and increase your dispensary’s online visibility in local search results (or national search results for online dispensaries), we can help you!

Please call us for a free 30-minute consult or email us to request a quote.

We’re Ready To Help You Grow!

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