As cannabis legalization progresses and becomes more and more prevalent in the US, competition between members of the cannabis industry is heating up. If you look at Denver for example, the number of similar cannabis businesses (like dispensaries) in any given county, neighborhood, and even city block is continuing to grow rapidly, even after the legalization boom in 2012. Growth is great for the city as a whole, but rapid growth can pose a problem for digital cannabis brands as well as cannabis storefronts!
At least 80% of consumers prefer to do research online before purchasing from a given brand. The good news is that you can use this to your advantage. Your biggest concern as a cannabis business online should be your online visibility, and to become more visible, you need to focus on cannabis SEO. If now isn’t the best time to get help with your SEO and digital marketing efforts, you can follow these 8 tips for improving your Google search rank and increase your chances of being easily found online.
1. List your address and phone number on your website
Your website is the handshake at the beginning of every interaction with potential customers, and you absolutely DO need to have one. If you want your website to stand out and leave a positive impression on potential customers, it should have a responsive design, quality content, and mobile optimization. At the most basic level, your site needs to have your physical address (including city, state, and zip), and a phone number so that Google spiders can suggest your cannabis business to people searching locally.
2. Run a blog
You don’t have to be a personal blogger or a daily blogger, but updating a blog with events, new products, industry news, or promotions can help boost your ranking. The key to good SEO is traffic, and to earn traffic you need to publish keyword-rich content to help Google decide that your brand is relevant and useful enough to be recommended to someone searching for a business like yours. Try to post articles regularly. At least once per week!
3. Implement a winning SEO strategy
This one is a little tricky unless you are a very technical person, but it is absolutely essential for building SEO and it shouldn’t be ignored. Your strategy should combine these key things:
- A winning keyword strategy: Your keyword strategy should include keywords that are the most competitive for your objectives. You won’t be able to rank for something like “Denver dispensary” since everyone is trying to rank for it, but there are several other options that will yield a higher return.
- Content structure: The content pages on your website should be arranged so that visitors can find what they’re looking for quickly. A great way to do this is by building internal links that help Google understand how all of the pages on your website relate to each other.
- Excellent web development: The code on your website has to pass a bunch of tests in order to be ranked well by Google. Each part of your site should be working properly.
- Named URLs: Naming your links properly will assure you that Google can read them and understand what they do.
- 301 redirects: If you have deleted some content or changed your site around, you should make sure that you have 301 redirects set up so that your visitors will never hit a dead end on your website.
- Title tags: You should use title tags to appropriately name the pages on your website so that Google can help visitors find the content they’re looking for.
- Header tags: Header tags help to create an organized structure for all the content on your website.
- Alt-text in images: Adding alt text to your images will help provide context to images on a web page since Google can’t understand the content of an image without it.
It’s a pretty nit-picky and technical business. If you need help from cannabis SEO professionals, Team MaryJane is just a phone call away.
4. Utilize social media
Have you ever noticed that social media profiles for certain businesses rank higher in a search than the businesses own website? That’s because social media is such an important tool that helps boost your SEO if you run it properly. Aside from the SEO value, it helps you improve your relationship with your customers.
Pages that post regularly are more trusted by customers. However, you don’t need to be on every social platform out there. Every business should at the very least have a Facebook page for customers and a Google+ page for Google. There are a lot of other social platforms out there that are awesome to be a part of. You can learn more about those platforms by checking out our canna-biz marketing series. For now, here’s why Facebook and Google+ are the most important:
- Facebook: Facebook is the most heavily trafficked social media site out there. It’s a fact that if Facebook were a small country, it would have a population larger than China and India by millions! Because of this large audience, Facebook is a popular choice because it’s so close to potential customers. However, if run properly, it can also boost your SEO by helping you send traffic back to your website. It’s also got a very targeted and customizable ad platform that can help with your sales depending on how close to the actual cannabis your business is.
- Google+: I know it seems silly to spend time on Google+ when it isn’t a very popular social media outlet for your customers, but hear us out: Google+ provides one key service the other social sites don’t, and that is Google Indexing. Every post you publish with Google+ is automatically indexed by Google for search rankings which can help your business as a whole rank higher! So if you take some time and optimize your social posts for your keywords, you can boost your chances of getting found online by just updating social media.
5. Add your business to local listings and directories
Yelp and YellowPages are great for helping someone find your business, but they also provide quality inbound links to your website. There are also a ton of cannabis-related directories like Weedmaps, Leafly, and Leafbuyer. These directories exist to help put customers in touch with stores! However, some directories aren’t very reputable and can hinder your SEO instead of helping it, so be sure to stick to reputable and popular directories.
6. Set up your Google My Business profile
Like all things Google, Google My Business will automatically index your business name, address, and phone number with Google. More importantly, it’s the only way for you to show up in a Google Map search result when locals search your area for similar services. Best of all, it’s a free service so you can set it up, publish to it, and manage your reviews at no additional cost.
7. Earn reviews
Once you have a bunch of listings up on Google and are a part of a couple other directories, you should ask your customers to give you some feedback! You can earn feedback by offering goodies, discounts, or freebies in exchange for a review. It’s good for potential customers to see these positive reviews, but it also shows Google that your business is worth suggesting to others!
8. Learn from Google Analytics
You can’t expect to know whether or not your cannabis SEO strategies are working if you aren’t properly tracking them. If you are running a smaller business, it wouldn’t make sense to utilize software like Hubspot for your reports, but lucky for you Google Analytics is also free and keeps a close eye on your website and search rank! Google Analytics can track your website traffic, user behaviors, conversion and bounce rates, and so much more as visitors navigate through your website. Best of all, Google Analytics is one of the easiest to set up on a website in a matter of a few minutes. It’s really a must for any cannabis business looking to improve their SEO.
Overall, If you want your customers to come to you, optimizing your website for search results is the best way to do it! When someone in your area is searching for your product or service, high-quality SEO is the one way to guarantee that you’ll be found. While you can build SEO without an SEO strategist, it’ll take a lot longer to achieve the results you need to keep up with the busy and every growing cannabis industry. Follow these steps to set sail on the right course, and if you need help, get in touch with us today!