Dispensary SEO: The Ultimate 2020 Guide
Updated: Aug 3
What exactly is dispensary SEO, and why is it so important?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It refers to the strategies that help your website and business rank better in search engine results.
What is Dispensary SEO?
Any time someone conducts a Google search either on their phone or otherwise, only several results are turned up by Google on the first page (10, to be exact).
This is 10 results out of all of the businesses and websites on the web.
Any time someone accesses Google and adds search terms like “cannabis dispensary near me”, medical marijuana near me”, “weed delivery in [state]”, or “marijuana dispensaries in [town]”, they are presented with a list of businesses and websites that best match their search.
Having good dispensary SEO means that your cannabis business is seen first, and at the top of the list by all who may be searching for your products and services.
Ranking higher on Google will…
Allow customers to find your business anytime, anywhere
Help you rank locally for those who are seeking your services nearby, on Google maps and on Google search
Sustain your sales by creating steady flow of traffic to your website and business
Increase brand awareness and attract new customers to your business and website
Help you to provide a more meaningful experience for your patients and customers - keeping them in the know about the marijuana industry, sales you are offering on-site, and help you to showcase your services and products.
What many cannabis business owners may be unaware of in regards to SEO, is that it is a permanent means to establish your website and business online. A strong SEO profile provides a means to permanently increase sales through continuous website traffic.
How it Works: the Basics of SEO
Think of SEO as a series of signals, sent to Google so it can find your business. As Google scours the internet for search results, it picks up on certain cues to lead it to your website - such as keywords, articles, and business reviews.
The stronger your SEO framework, the more “established” your business becomes. The more easily search engines can find you, the easier they can put you in touch with people who are actively seeking your services.
A strong SEO profile doesn’t just mean that you rank highest for the phrase “marijuana dispensary”. It means that you can rank high for numerous keywords and phrases.
It also means that Google and other search engines will recognize your website better over time, permanently driving traffic to your website and increasing your sales.
Why is Dispensary SEO So Important?
It’s no secret that we live in a digital age. This is an era where nearly all prospective customers, no matter the industry, are likely to turn to Google first to find goods and services before visiting a location in person.
Oberlo, a well-known ecommerce company, states that Google is the most visited website on the world wide web - with 62.19 billion visitors in 2019. That’s 3.5 billion searches per day, and 40,000 searches per second!
No matter the industry, all businesses should be focusing a large part of their marketing efforts on SEO optimization, to better sustain business in a digital world.
For the cannabis industry in particular, Google search statistics are very limited. Cannabis-related searches are definitely not forgotten, however.
To put it into perspective, in April of 2019 Google searches for CBD alone reached a benchmark of 6.4 million for the month, and they are still on the rise.
SEO Is Sustainable, Even Through Disaster
COVID-19 brought with it a surge of Google searches, as a large part of the global population was stuck at home following mandatory stay-at-home orders.
More than ever, cannabis businesses and other businesses from all over the country felt the pinch to increase their online presence. Suddenly, there were no better means to reach customers aside from the internet and social media.
Businesses with strong SEO profiles did see increased online traffic, helping them to sustain business and sales.
Those without a strong SEO profile, unfortunately, found themselves with closed doors, very little new sales, and limited means to attract new customers and new business.
The bottom line: strong dispensary SEO helps your business to not only survive in times of crisis, but to thrive.
How Do I Boost My SEO?
There are many factors that can contribute to your dispensary’s SEO, and each of these factors encompass a complex process on their own.
In general, SEO is an ambiguous process that has both evolved over time and is constantly fluctuating in its requirements and guidelines. SEO experts must be up to date with current processes and changes to effectively optimize SEO.
For the marijuana industry in particular, SEO guidelines are even more complex and ambiguous. This heightens the need for an experienced dispensary marketing agency who can help effectively.
The Top Contributing Factors to SEO
There are many factors that will contribute to your local rankings in SEO. In order of importance they are:
Google My Business signals - 25.12%
Link signals to and from your website - 16.53%
Review signals, also related to Google My Business - 15.44%
On-Page SEO signals - 13.82%
Citation signals - 10.82%
Behavioral signals - 9.56%
Personalization - 5.88%
Though it seems complicated, we’ll break down all of the main contributors here for your reference - and let you know how we can help.
Before we delve into the main points of high-ranking factors on Google however, it’s important to understand the basis for all SEO, which is keywords.
Keywords = Your SEO Framework
Keywords are, literally, the search terms that are typed in to Google to yield search results. Think about the last time you conducted a Google search. You may have searched terms like “dispensary SEO”, or even “facebook login”. Both of these phrases are keywords.
Even longer phrases like “how to start a dispensary business in Colorado” is considered a single keyword. It’s easy to think that just a single word like “marijuana” justifies a good search - but in reality, the term keyword typically defines entire phrases that are used for a search.
Oftentimes, the strongest keywords are at least a few words long.
The Functions of Keywords
Keywords are a signal to Google, from your website to theirs, so that you can be located in search results. According to the Federal Geographic Committee (FGDC):
“A keyword is a word or phrase that signifies the meaning or main ideas of a data set. They are often used as an index to the contents of a data set.”
In short, keywords are the basis of all searches that are conducted on Google. Search engines use keywords to locate relevant content, and track data for that content.
The result is delivering you the most accurate search results “facebook login” on the web.
How Keywords Relate to SEO
Aside from being the “carrot” sought out by search engines, keywords should include location-specific terms when possible. All keywords that you use should be relevant to your industry, brand, location and services.
For example, you obviously wouldn’t want to rank for the keyword “how to raise chickens” as part of your dispensary marketing strategy. A much better option would be “best dispensary in [hometown]”.
Structuring your website and other ranking factors to include only relevant, sought-after keywords ranks your business higher for its services.
Using the right keywords also helps you appeal to your specific target audience.
Note: Not all keywords are created equal.
Just because you place the keyword “best dispensary in [hometown]” on your website, it does not mean that your business will automatically rank higher for this keyword in SEO.
Google tracks search volume for all keywords, as well as the difficulty it will require to reach position #1. The higher the authority of the other websites ranking for that keyword, the more difficult it will be to reach that top position.
For example, see below for and Ahrefs breakdown of the keyword “marijuana dispensary”:
Search volume states that 30k people are searching “marijuana dispensary” per month. However, the difficulty range to rank in the top 10 results is very high, at 71 (this is on a scale of 1-100).
The Key to Success:
Your dispensary marketing company should always find you relevant keywords with a high volume of searches, and as low of a difficulty score as possible.
This is a key indication that the general public needs information on that search term and on your services, but there is a low amount of websites providing it.
Here’s How We Can Help.
All of the following factors contribute to SEO, as a mentioned above:
In reference to these, we at Green Zen Marketing can help you in multiple ways to boost your dispensary’s SEO, setting you up for a strong online presence that will last well into the future.
Google My Business Signals
A Google My Business listing is a free online tool offered directly by Google. It allows business owners (even in the cannabis space) to list their business online and manage their company’s presence across the Google platform.
When a business is searched on Google, the box that appears to the right is a Google My Business listing:
GMB (Google My Business) listings include all of the information about your business that customers may need when searching for you online. A GMB listing includes your address, business hours, contact information, website, and even a Q&A section.
It’s also the place where all Google reviews are posted by the public for your business.
GMB accounts for over 25% of all local SEO factors. Therefore, to best maintain your dispensary’s local rankings, there must be a significant focus on Google My Business.
How We Can Help:
No GMB listing yet? No problem. We can assist you in setting up your listing, even if you have multiple locations.
We help you to manage your listing and your reviews, ranking you higher in SEO (more on this below).
We find the most optimal keywords to rank your business locally, and establish them within Google My Business and on the web.
We manage your positive reviews to optimize local rankings, even if you have multiple locations.
Link signals encompass the largest portion of your “score” with SEO. In the online world, search engines apply this “score” - known as Domain Authority (DA) - to each website across the internet.
This score tells Google and other search engines how powerful your website and businesses are, and it is a measure for how well you can rank in search engines. The higher your DA, the easier it is to rank locally, and in the #1 spot for your chosen keywords.
How We Can Help:
We offer unique guest posting services for all of your chosen keywords.
Each hand-crafted post backlinks to your website and business, boosting your DA.
These backlinks are posted only on high-quality, cannabis-related websites, which also increases your DA and optimizes your SEO rankings.
Review signals are mainly related to your Google My Business listings. The amount of reviews, their frequency, and the diversity of the reviews you receive all contribute to your local SEO.
An example of a successful Google My Business listing, and its corresponding reviews, can be found below:
A huge 97% of consumers read online reviews, and trust them just as much as recommendations from friends and family. Therefore, keeping a steady stream of positive reviews directly on Google is not only important to new customers, but it helps to boost your local rankings as well.
How We Can Help:
Our platform can provide you with 3-18 times more positive reviews on a monthly basis.
We assist you in managing your high volume of positive reviews, which maximizes your local rankings. We also encourage you to reply to the more negative reviews for an optimal customer experience.
We rank you for the top keywords for your location through Google My Business, also contributing to higher local rankings and a strong GMB presence.
Through these helpful tools and methods, a portion of your on-page signals in the graph above are optimized, such as Domain Authority, and your rankings for specific keywords.
We provide you with cohesive monthly reports to show your progress in each area, also reporting on the keywords you rank for, and their position history on Google.
The Hard Truth
SEO is an extremely complex, and ever-changing process. To make matters even more complex, policies and guidelines on the do’s and don’ts of SEO are often unclear, and they are constantly fluctuating. SEO techniques are also very easily outdated.
For the cannabis industry in particular, SEO can be even more complex and dynamic. SEO resources for the cannabis space are also extremely limited. Unfortunately, as with social media, there is always a risk of your website or business listing being flagged as illegal, or even being flagged as spam.
Add the fact that Google’s regulations are constantly changing and fluctuating with new policies and even civil unrest (as seen with COVID), and once again you have a very complicated landscape to navigate as a cannabis business.
Ranking Takes Time.
For all websites and businesses across the worldwide web (not just cannabis businesses), ranking to the top spot of Google is a very arduous and long-term process.
In a study by Ahrefs, a top platform used to track SEO progress, it was found that most web pages rank on Google within 61-182 days. This data, of course, is only for websites with an established Domain Authority (DA), that have been on the web for some time.
It is very important to note that for many businesses, SEO ranking can take up to a year to see significant progress.
In fact, 95% of the web pages studied did not make it to even the top 10 results on Google within this timeframe.
The Truth Is in the Results.
Boosting SEO is indeed a very long-term task. However, just like any endeavor that is worthwhile, it takes time. The long term benefits of SEO optimization highly outweigh the costs.
Because of SEO’s complex nature, it is essential to work with a dispensary marketing company that you can trust. One that knows SEO and its changing landscape, within the cannabis industry and as a whole.
The truth is in the results - and all SEO progress is trackable.
Green Zen Marketing - We’ve Got You Covered.
SEO experts must spend lots of time refining their methods, and staying up-to-date with policy and strategy changes regarding SEO. Doing so is essential to reaching the golden #1 spot on Google searches for powerful keywords.
That’s where we come in. We understand that owning a dispensary is hard work. We take pride in knowing we are helping to grow your business on the back end, so you can focus on your patients and your services at the storefront.
We believe in the growth of the industry, and what it means for patients and recreational users nationwide.
We offer proven strategies for SEO optimization, plus cohesive monthly SEO reports. You can rest assured that your dispensary’s SEO is in good hands, and that your progress is always monitored and reported.
We’re unique in our services to you as we:
Solely work within the cannabis space, and know the industry
Offer specially-tailored plans to each and every client to boost your brand and your website
Optimize not only your google rankings, but also your local rankings on Google maps, so new customers can easily find your business
Provide you with a permanent SEO framework that will sustain your business online, indefinitely.
If you’re not sure where to start, or if you’re unsure of how you are currently ranking in SEO, we can help.
Interested in boosting your dispensary’s SEO? Click here to schedule your free SEO audit today!