Discover how to grow your cannabis business with Search Engine Optimization
With marijuana legalization sweeping the US and taking over more and more states, now is the perfect time to open your own dispensary or cannabis business.
That’s not to say success will be easy.
The cannabis industry comes with a lot of red tape, and serious competition among sellers and brands, which will only get more intense as time goes on.
To the winners go the spoils and right now is the cannabis gold rush.
Thus, as in traditional business, if you want to make sure that your business stands out from the rest, you have to utilize marketing strategies to amplify your brand to surpass competitors.
Right now marketing cannabis brands online is tricky – Google and Facebook, two of the biggest advertising platforms on the planet and easy sources for turn key traffic in most industries – are not accepting paid advertisement from cannabis brands.
Based on the fact there is limited avenues for traditional online advertising – your SEO game – Cannabis SEO to be specific – has to be on point, and a Level 1 priority in your long list of business to-dos.
The most important marketing channel for you right now is search engine optimization (SEO) – everyone searches online to research products, brands, and companies before they buy something. So it’s important to identify your target audience, what kind of content you need to create that will engage them, and how to get that content on Page 1.
The process of implementing SEO is not too complicated; it’s really important to start with a 12,000 foot view to plan the overall strategy and compartments you will work on.
We’ve listed the most important aspects of a marijuana SEO campaign in this handy guide. So read on, follow these seo strategies, and your website will be at the top of the Page 1 for your target cannabis related keyword searches in no time.
Search Engine Optimization starts with technical SEO. Technical SEO is really the foundation of your campaign because without your technical SEO in place – all the other SEO strategies you enable are dead in the water. Technical SEO is a long list of tasks some of the most important being:
- Robots.txt File – make sure you robots.txt file is set up properly and web crawlers can index your website. If your website is set to no-index then you are invisible to Search Engines.
- Broken Links – use a broken link checker to make sure all the links on your page are working.
- Template Pages – use a web crawler like Screaming Frog to pull all the pages on your website. You may be surprised whats on there. If you use a WordPress template there could be dozens of nonsense template pages that bog down your quality score and also can get you duplicate content penalties.
- Website Loading Speed – Loading speed is a key factor in Google’s ranking algorithm and also user experience. If your website is slow you can forget about ranking consistently.
Comment down below if you’d like us to create a full technical SEO guide for your cannabis business website. Usually thats one of the things we get paid to do but we don’t mind sharing the information for DIY folks either.
In addition to technical – another foundation of your marijuana SEO strategy is keyword research.
In the beginning of your cannabis SEO campaign you need to do a shit ton of competitive intelligence. Google your target keywords and note the top 5 to top 10 results and try to figure out why they are ranking. Look at their content, their title tags, the H1 tags on the site – notice the keywords they are using… How do those keywords look in comparison to yours?
When you have a big list say of 100 or so keyword ideas – put those keywords into a keyword research tool. You can use a free keyword research tool like https://keywordtool.io/ fo more ideas or AHREFS or Google Keyword Planner which will give you estimated search volume. You can also use AHREFS to pull every keyword a URL ranks for which is incredibly useful.
When you figure out the keyword variations that have the highest search volume out of the lists you made – target those keywords in your campaign to ensure that you get the most possible traffic.
SEO is all about DATA you want to base your decisions on DATA and solid kw research is essential.
After you have identified your cannabis target keywords from the tip above – map out your URLs and make sure that each keyword has its own unique page.
Similar keywords can go onto the same page in what I refer to as “buckets”
After you have your pages mapped out according to “buckets” you want to make sure to write at least 500 words for each page of your website that you intend to rank in Google search engine. 500 words is minimum. That is a decent amount of content and keywords for Google bot to crawl. Make sure to include your target keyword and closely related keywords on the page for solid on-page SEO and the opportunity to receive the most organic traffic possible for your cannabis business.
Create a Profile on Google My Businesses
This really should be your first step as it will ensure that your storefront comes up on Google searches while you are working on the tips above. Setting up a Google My Business listing for your Cannabis Business is simple.
Perhaps will be the simplest thing you do when working on a marijuana SEO campaign.
Another reason you need to set up your own – is that people can “claim” listings. If you don’t have your own profile, then you have to rely on other people to upload your information, which means that you’re not in control of how your customers find you, or perhaps someone claiming your listing with nefarious intent.
This is a relatively simple step, and it will provide a decent foundation for the rest of your SEO strategy.
Utilize Social Media
Social media helps SEO.
Once you’re on Google (and Google Maps), then you should be building your online presence organically through social media. The top three that you have regardless of anything else are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (trust us).
Beyond that, feel free to create profiles across all social media sites, as long as you can maintain and update them.
Just a warning that Facebook is known to act funny with Cannabis profiles – so make sure to store all your content and posts you create for Facebook offsite somewhere like a Google Drive or a Dropbox.
The most important thing here is to build a page for your business.
You can (sometimes depending on your business) use Facebook ads to market yourself even further, but a page is the perfect launching point to start building an audience.
In some cases though (as mentioned above), the site may shut your material down for legal issues, so don’t get discouraged if that happens.
Simply appeal or create a new one and keep going. Until marijuana becomes fully legalized, this is the nature of promoting your business online.
Overall, if you want to interact with customers and influencers in the industry, this is the platform on which to do it. Share informative articles (or your own blog posts) and chat with others to build an engaged audience.
List Name, Address, and Phone Number on All Online Materials
Consistency is critical to your online presence, so it’s imperative that you maintain your NAP (name, address, phone) across all platforms.
This information should be prominently listed on your website and every page so that you get a higher ranking on searches.
Having a website helps legitimize your business in the eyes of search engines, and your NAP helps solidify that even further, a consistent NAP is an absolute must for your SEO campaign.
Add Your Company to Various Listings
While Google Maps is by far the most important listing you can have, there are plenty of others that can help you out in the long run. Yelp is another great option, as well as other search engines like Bing and Yahoo.
What’s important to remember here is that even though Google is #1, it still only commands about 67% of the market. This means that there are plenty of people using other search engines to find your business, so don’t leave any stone unturned. A great resource to use is Moz Local, which will automatically start populating your NAP and other information to various listings so that it’s all the same. Again, consistency is crucial.
Another fantastic way to improve your searches is to have reviews. This again legitimizes your business and shows search engines that people are talking about your company. The more that people talk about it, the higher it ranks, so solicit reviews whenever possible. The only thing to avoid is rewarding positive reviews, as it could sour your reputation. Search engines reward organic content, so anything that seems forced or disingenuous will be dismissed.
Create a Blog
Overall, SEO strategy is all about building your online presence and reputation, so having a cannabis blog can go a long way toward making your cannabis brand more well-known.
The best thing to do here is to consistently blog around keyword focused topics and cannabis industry trends, cannabis business topics, other cannabis companies products… stay up to date with whats going on and Google will reward you with a “freshness” signal attribution and push you to the top of the listings since you are blogging about current cannabis affairs.
Also, invite other cannabis influencers to guest post on your blog so that you can build your audience with their followers. They can earn a backlink, you can earn some additional traffic – win win for both parties.
In the end, the more you engage with your customers and industry leaders, the bigger and better your reputation (and ranking) will be.
Creating a blog is a great hub from which all elements of your marijuana SEO strategy can bloom.
Now that you’ve followed all of the website optimization tips above and are getting some momentum outranking neighboring and competitor cannabis businesses – now is the perfect time to throw gas on the flame.
The best way to amplify your organic traffic to your website is with a high quality link building campaign.
There are really (3) buckets when it comes to SEO – technical SEO (mentioned above), Onsite SEO (mentioned above) and Link Building.
Building backlinks to your website increases your SEO authority. Authority is a critical component of your cannabis SEO campaign as each backlink acts as a “Vote” for your website.
After a solid foundation – building back links is the #1 factor driving SEO success.
Use Analytics to Track Your Progress
Finally, you want to make sure that you are managing your progress and seeing what is working and what isn’t. Another critical component is to establish a baseline first so that you can quickly determine if you are doing better or worse in certain areas, including your SEO ranking.
Overall, the more you can analyze your strategies and adjust accordingly, the better chances you have of adapting to meet the needs of both your customers and the search engines. Finally, the thing you have to remember is that online marketing is a constant thing. You can never rest on your laurels when it comes to promoting your business. Your cannabis SEO campaign has to continue evolving and stacking over time, and SEO needs to remain at the front of your list to outrank competitor cannabis companies.
If you keep SEO as a high priority over time you will establish yourself as a key player in your vertical in the cannabis industry. Search engine prominence is the #1 factor to build a trusted brand in any vertical and the cannabis industry is no different.
Build great content, build relationships with website visitors, and enjoy the “harvest” of your efforts when you see those SEO metrics increasing and compounding over time.