Search engine optimization (SEO) has changed dramatically over the years. Every time Google comes out with a new algorithm, marketers hustle to update their websites and keep pace.
In an emerging industry like the cannabis business, many startups are struggling to get a handle on how they can leverage search engines for marketing. At first glance, SEO may seem simple. But it requires a great deal of manual work and experience to do right.
Here are 5 of the most important cannabis dispensary SEO tactics to deploy if you want to be visible in search results.
1. Claim Your Google My Business Page
When users perform a local search for cannabis dispensaries, you want your business to show up in the results. Your Google My Business (GMB) page is your business’s listing in Google’s database. It’s free to set up, and it will help you get featured in local queries for your products and services.
When you claim your page and populate with information about your business, it will also appear in Google Maps, making it easy for your customers to get directions to your door.
Most importantly, your GMB page will contain all of your most essential business information, such as your phone number, address, hours, and your Google rating. Be sure to include images, as businesses with photos on their pages receive 42% more requests for driving directions and 35% more click-throughs to their websites than those without photos.
Creating your GMB page is also an important tool for mobile marketing. In the fourth quarter of 2018, 57% of organic search engine visits in the U.S. were conducted on a mobile device. For many people, their mobile phone is their only computer and their only connection to the internet.
Businesses that sell directly to consumers, like yours, can’t afford to skip out on a mobile-presence.
2. Get Listed in Reputable Cannabis Business Directories
From a local SEO perspective, getting listed in business directories is a must. Not only do directories provide you with referral traffic to your website, but they can also increase call volume, foot traffic in your store, and other business opportunities.
Many directories will also provide you with a backlink to your website. When you have inbound links coming from authoritative sites, search engines view your website as trustworthy. This increases the likelihood you’ll show up in search results.
Here are some free directories for marijuana businesses, all of which have a domain authority above 40:
- All Bud
- Marijuana Business Daily
- Marijuana Games
- Medical Jane
- Weed Maps
There are also plenty of paid directories, but you’ll have to do a cost/benefit analysis to see if they’re worth the money.
Regardless, you should get listed in as many authoritative directories as possible. Most directories will provide an inbound link to your website, which can help your SEO.
However, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Gather your data beforehand so it stays accurate on every directory. If there are inaccuracies about your business online, it can confuse your customers and even harm your SEO.
Only list your business on reputable sites. There are thousands upon thousands of business directories out there. Those that are poorly managed, cost too much, or have low domain authority may not be worth your time.
Getting listed in directories can be a tiresome manual process. If you need help, reach out to an SEO agency to do the legwork for you.
3. Start a Dispensary Blog
When you update a blog consistently with fresh content, it does wonders for your online performance. Search engines like Google try to serve users relevant and up-to-date content. If you’re posting content that is relevant to your customers, they’re more likely to find your blog posts online.
When writing blog posts, try to include at least one or two long-tail keywords in the text. Construct topics around what your customers care about. Solving problems, answering questions, and providing useful information is often the best way to garner their attention online.
There are millions of blogs online, but don’t get discouraged. 75% of B2C marketers say blogging is a worthwhile strategy. All you must do is find your niche.
4. Apply SEO Best Practices to Every Page on Your Website
Each time you post a new web page or blog post, it should be optimized with some basic SEO attributes. If you have an experienced web developer, they may already populate these elements for you. Nonetheless, you should familiarize yourself with them just in case:
- Site structure: Your site should follow a logical structure and be governed by a navigational menu that’s easy to understand. Once you’ve built your site, submit your sitemap to Google Search Console.
- Keywords: Each page should be optimized for at least one keyword. You should use that keyword in the H1 tag, in headings, in the meta description, and naturally in the text of the page.
- Headings: After your H1 tag, headings on the page should follow the logical hierarchy of H2, H3, etc. Try to include keywords in these tags, as long as they seem natural.
- Image alt tags: Image alt tags describe an image to search engines and people who rely on screen-reading technology. Google now displays just as many image results as it does page results.
- Title tags: Your title tag is an HTML element that tells search engines what the title of your page is. In most cases, it will be the same as your H1 tag, but not always.
- URLs: Your URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) are like your web pages’ addresses online. They should be as clean and simple as possible. You may also consider using canonical URLs for each of your pages.
- Meta Descriptions: Meta descriptions provide searchers with a brief explanation of what is on the page before they click. Try to incorporate keywords into your meta description.
If you need help building out content on your blog or hitting all the marks for on-page SEO, get help from an experienced cannabis SEO agency.
Encourage Customers to Give You Reviews
Finally, encourage your customers to give you positive reviews. There are plenty of ways you can do this.
First, you need to claim your business on review sites. Some businesses shy away from this because of the risk of bad reviews, but you can’t afford to avoid trust sites. 91% of people read online reviews, and 84% of them trust customer reviews as much as their own friends.
If you capture customer email addresses at the point of sale, you can set up automated emails to encourage them to rate you on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and elsewhere.
Consider adding links on your blog posts and web pages that lead to these reviews. Depending on your content management systems, you may be able to apply plugins so third-party reviews appear on your website.
Get Started with Cannabis Dispensary SEO
SEO is a long-term strategy that must be refreshed constantly. If you’ve been online for a while and you’re just getting started, don’t sweat it. You can even do SEO retroactively on pages you’ve already built.
And if you don’t have the resources to do SEO on your own, contact a cannabis SEO agency to do the project for you. With years of experience, SEO agencies can ensure you deploy a sound cannabis marketing strategy.