Taking a look at SEO tactics used in the cannabis industry

seo cannabis
seo cannabis

Firstly, let’s set the stage for this guide. We want to establish why SEO is so important to dispensaries and of course, we’d like to establish our credibility as an SEO agency that offers the best SEO services for the cannabis industry.

An Example of How Cannabis SEO Works

We’re going to look at the search term: cannabis vape vs edible.

We searched that term in Google and here are the top organic results as of June 2021 in Grand Rapids, MI:

Since Google doesn’t allow cannabis-related ads, we get right to the organic search results. The top three listings are blog posts by Grand Pharms (a dispensary in Colorado), Marijuana Doctors (a directory for doctors and dispensaries), and Baked Bros (a distributor of cannabis products).

You can bet that these companies are bringing in a ton of valuable, organic traffic.

Consider the type of person that would search for this query:

  • They are probably in the beginning stages of their cannabis journey and want to learn more before they make a purchasing decision.
  • They are looking for more information about the best way to consume cannabis for their specific needs.

This is the type of person that these companies want to get in front of.

By offering more information to people that want to learn how to use cannabis products, they are attracting their ideal customers to their site.

If you take a look at the blog post on Marijuana Doctors, you’ll see that they have different sections of their blog dedicated to answering different questions about the pros and cons of vaping and using edibles, and which would be best for the reader’s situation.

Google understands that people are unique and therefore they want to offer a resource that can best match who they are, what they need, and fulfill the searcher’s intent.

What is User Intent or Search Intent?

User intent is what a user online intended or wanted to find online when they typed their search term into an online search engine.

The intent of someone searching “cannabis vape vs edible” is pretty clear. What makes working hard to get a page to rank for that term so powerful is that the person(s) most likely to be looking for this information are highly likely to need what Marijuana Doctors, Baked Bros, or Grand Pharms has to offer.

This is a great example of a great cannabis SEO and content strategy executed for a dispensary.

If you can understand and empathize with your target audience you’ll be able to perform better keyword research, which will lead to more opportunities to create great content for your audience.

Continue reading to find out how your dispensary can bring in valuable traffic to your website through evidence-based cannabis SEO.

Why SEO for Cannabis Companies?

In short, it works. Dispensaries can generate more sign-ups, calls, sales, and revenue by taking advantage of organic search. All cannabis products solve some kind of problem. People go to search engines to solve their problems.

The better that Google and other search engines get at helping people solve their problems by suggesting solutions like your products, the more valuable SEO becomes.

People trust search engines more and more as they interact with them and become more comfortable relying on them to identify solutions.

According to a Search Engine Land article, 53% of all site traffic on the internet is organic. For retail & ecommerce it is 41%, which still beats out traffic from social media, paid media, and other channels.

If you aren’t investing in your search engine real estate, you’re missing out on traffic that can convert and grow your cannabis business.

How to Market a Dispensary or Cannabis Product

The key to marketing success for your cannabis business is in identifying the problem your solution solves and educating the market on how exactly it solves their problem.

Use Customer Empathy to Market Your Business

We always tell dispensaries that we work with to focus on their customers first. In order to successfully execute digital marketing, you need to know more and care more for your customer than your competition.

That may mean you invest in SEO and content marketing. Invest in content that will help your customer before they’ve made a buying decision.

Online content isn’t just a blog post anymore. It’s images, video, slideshows, web applications, and more. All of this content can help establish your brand as a leader in your space and make your products more desirable.

Imagine being able to solve a problem for your customer before you’ve talked to them. Great blog posts or online tools can do that. Helping them first doesn’t just create an opportunity for a new customer, it creates a brand advocate.

The strategy, tactics, marketing channels you choose, time and capital investments you make all need to hinge on your customer. Find out information about your customer like:

  • What is their day-to-day like?
  • What does success look like in their life?
  • What words and phrases do they use as it relates to your industry?
  • What else do they search for online?
  • What are they going to experience before they need your solution?

By listening to your customer and gaining empathy for your customer, you’ll start to get a clearer picture of how they might use search engines to find your products and what type of content might attract them to your website.

In order to execute effective marketing for your cannabis business, you need to have good operations and a sound strategy built upon an evidence-based plan. Do your research and plan the work before you work the plan. You can’t campaign yourself out of a bad strategy.

SEO Strategies and Tactics for Cannabis Companies

What is Cannabis SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, for cannabis companies is the process of getting quality, organic traffic to your site with the intent of converting that traffic into a new visitor, caller, or customer. The tactics behind SEO for dispensaries don’t look all that different from any other industry. However, there are a few nuances for the cannabis industry that make it a little tricker compared to other industries.

For example, cannabis has a lot of “anecdotal” evidence around its health benefits. Cannabis companies really need to be careful not to make medical claims about what their product can do. Making too many medical claims about your cannabis product can hurt your overall organic rankings as search engines will be less likely to trust your site.

On-Page, Off-Page, & Technical SEO

SEO can be broken down into three general categories; on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.

On-page SEO is mainly the content on your page. Keywords, titles, headings, meta descriptions are all SEO signals that are on a page of your website. Search engines want to make sure the content is relevant to the search term or keyword. Relevancy plays a big role in on-page SEO.

Off-page SEO is everything from other web pages that help a particular page on your site rank. There are several factors, but the biggest are backlinks or links from other sites to your site. It’s crucial to have a good volume and good quality of relevant backlinks to validate your trust and authority.

Technical SEO is, for the most part, all under the hood of your website. It’s making sure your website is developed so that it is crawler friendly, has an SSL certificate, loads fast, etc.

Meta Titles and Descriptions

Meta titles or page titles are the titles of each individual page or post on your website. These are not necessarily visible on the page, but they are visible to the search engines. You have control over this title and what it says so it is imperative that you optimize these titles to stand out.

Meta descriptions or page descriptions are another HTML attribute that provides a summary of a page or post’s content. These can also be optimized for the search engine results page, but Google will often manipulate them for certain search terms.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is a crucial part of search engine optimization. A keyword research tool is imperative to identifying quality keywords, identifying user intent, and determining your overall content strategy.

Using a keyword research tool, you can shortlist your keywords. We use SEMRush to do keyword research.

In the screenshot below you’ll see the SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool. This allows us to enter a keyword (in this case “cbd”) to start our keyword research process.

  1. This is where you enter your keyword. We tend to start with a short-tail keyword (a few words) and a broad match to get ideas.
  2. You can toggle keywords to just those in the phrase of a question, which is great for content ideas and making sure to fulfill searcher intentions.
  3. You can see a list of other words that are commonly included when the words invoice and template are used.
  4. You can also see data on the competitive nature of the term and trends.

These are some of the most common features we use for keyword research, but there are several others to help you drill down on your strategy.

Keyword research can and should help your cannabis company get an idea of how big your market is and plays a crucial role in determining if it’s an investment worth making for your business.

Page Load and Mobile-friendliness

Your page load time is crucial not only to SEO but to your potential customer’s experience. Google will promote sites with a faster page load speed if it enhances the user’s experience. This is especially important when loading over mobile devices, which are often being used on 3G and 4G connections with a slower download speed.

Keep the size of your images and other large media minimal and work with an experienced web developer to optimize your site for speed.

Learn more about page load speed.

Your website needs to be mobile-friendly. Your target audience is searching for you on mobile devices and with Google’s mobile-first indexing, you can’t ignore the importance of a mobile-friendly website. Mobile-first indexing is essentially Google stating that they are prioritizing mobile-friendly sites when people search on their mobile devices.

Web Design

Your website design is important to the user’s experience. If your potential customer can’t easily find what they are looking for, you may miss out on lead generation. It’s important to consider internally linking between pages to add context and help the user navigate.

When it comes to web design for dispensaries, it can be challenging to use thoughtful architecture. Make sure to plan your website content carefully and group topics together. Thorough keyword research can help.

Link Building

Link building is the process of acquiring backlinks or links from other sites to your website. This is really important to build your expertise, authoritativeness, and trust. Generating links back to your site is important when the market competition demands it. Oftentimes, great content alone can win out and get you the visibility you need in the search results.

Social Media

Utilizing your social media channels, you should be promoting the content you publish on your website. Creating useful content on your website for the purpose of attracting people organically via the search engines is great, but you should also push it out to your audience via social media channels.

Local SEO

As a local dispensary, it’s crucial to consider local searches.

Local SEO helps you optimize your site for a local audience. If your target audience is physically close to your dispensary’s location, it’s important to add some additional tactics to your SEO strategy.

There is a lot to cover with local SEO, but for a quick reference make sure you:

  • Create a Google My Business account
  • Mention the areas you serve on your website, creating a specific page for every city or municipality you serve and a list of the services you offer in that particular area.
  • Make sure you are listed on other local citations like your local Chamber and cannabis directory websites.

Find Out What You Need To Do To Gain Organic Traffic

Please email marketing@weedposters.net if you have any other questions. 

Content Marketing for Cannabis Companies

Why do we bring up content marketing on a guide about SEO? Because an effective SEO strategy is incredibly reliant on great content. SEO and content go together like peanut butter and jelly.

The beginning of any effective content marketing strategy for cannabis businesses begins on a foundation of a thorough keyword research process, which is also the foundation of great SEO.

Our keyword research process for real estate companies is below.

How to Identify Content Marketing Ideas

Talk to Your Customer

While it’s true that you probably understand your product really well and can talk about it all day with a bunch of industry jargon, that most likely is not true of your customer. You probably know less about your customer and don’t know what words they use to describe what they need.

The best way to start to get ideas for content marketing is by asking your ideal customer the right questions. Start by surveying your current customers to get some more information about who they are, what they do, and how they think.

Your goal is to identify quality content that is attractive to your ideal customer that you could create. In the Venn diagram above you’ll see what we’re referring to.

Take the keyword “appointment reminder text” as an example.

Who is searching for this? Is it a business that wants a solution for sending appointment reminder texts to customers or is the customer trying to schedule their own reminder? Or is it neither? Perhaps it is a service provider that already has a solution, but is looking for example text message reminders to send to customers.

The point is, you need to investigate keywords in order to come up with great content for them. Google and other search engines may not know their intentions either, so they are going to provide a mix of helpful options.

If you were to create a resource page that had something to cover all intentions, you’re more likely to rank because you’ll be providing quality content that solves a problem for the searcher.

Do Keyword Research

By using a keyword research tool you can start to gather great content marketing ideas to attract cannabis customers.

In the screenshot above you can see on the left that you can drill down into subtopics of “cbd.” People look for CBD oil, CBD vapes, and CBD availability in certain locations.

If you want to start to dominate all that “CBD” traffic, you’ll need to make sure to cover the topic well and include links and information to fulfill all of the different intents behind these searches.

When you write great content that is related to what your cannabis products do, you are supporting your domain authority online. By focusing on writing quality content on all the questions, topics, and subtopics people search for that are related to your subject matter, you’ll begin to dominate the search engines.

Create a Shortlist

As you use your keyword research tool, add keywords to a shortlist. These can be high-intent, low-intent, short-tail, and long-tail. Add any that seem relevant for now. You can chisel them down later. The point of creating a big list is to get a good overview of your entire potential and you can create a content plan based on all of your keywords.

Look at Content Types in SERPs

Content is not just written copy and your target customer doesn’t want to just read an article. It often makes sense to support your content with images and video and interactive tools like calculators and quizzes. But, don’t just take our word for it.

With a tool like SEMRush, you can determine which SERP features show up on each of your keywords. In the screenshot below, we have filtered our keywords by those that show in the map pack results. If we search any of these terms, a map pack and reviews will show up in Google.

This is important to note because what the search engines provide in search results should guide what you include on your web pages.

You need to have great content for your target keyword and using available keyword data can help you determine what that high-quality content should look like.

Our SEO Services: Websites That Increase Traffic & Conversions

We create and execute cannabis SEO & content marketing plans for dispensaries and other cannabis companies.

Attracting website traffic can be a challenging and daunting task. There are a lot of moving parts to your website. It’s a living organism that requires constant attention and maintenance. And then you have to think about quality, fresh content that you can contribute. Writing great, authoritative content takes time.

But, it can be worth the investment to your dispensary with the right SEO strategy and content marketing strategy.

Evidence-based Cannabis Marketing

At Online Dispensary, we create evidence-based, highly executable search engine and content marketing plans for cannabis companies. Our process takes the mystery out of the question, “should I invest long term in cannabis SEO and content marketing?” and provides a bullet-proof plan for how to execute an SEO and content strategy that drives more traffic, more qualified leads, and builds your brand’s authority.

Other Cannabis Marketing Resources

In conclusion, since paid channels are not allowed, it’s important to own your marketing. Outside of SEO, that includes:

  • Cannabis SMS marketing services
  • Email marketing
  • Your website
  • A custom mobile app