As medical and recreational cannabis markets continue to explode across the US, the importance of implementing an effective local dispensary SEO strategy is greater than ever.

Not only is the demand for cannabis greater than ever before but there are also more people living their lives staring at their mobile devices than ever before, using Google, which operates on more advanced AI than what has ever existed before.

In order to obtain the online visibility your dispensary deserves, you are going to need a solid strategy and some time on your side (or know somebody that has both to lend you).

Let’s start with the basics.

What is Local SEO for dispensaries?

Local SEO (or search engine optimization) is the practice of making your business more prevalent in search results. Some of the tasks involved in boosting your online visibility take place on your actual website (on-page SEO) and others are to be done on other websites (off-page SEO).

Dispensary search engine optimization can be a full time job in and of itself. For the sake of saving you time and helping you focus on the good stuff, I’ve prepared a list of some of the most important search optimization considerations below.

The list below includes 8 of the dankest SEO strategies for dispensaries to ever bless the cannabis industry.

Verify and Complete Your Google My Business Listing

I hate to beat this horse to death, but it is too important and also overlooked to not say it again.  According to research from Chitika, 92% of searchers pick businesses on the first page of Google’s local search results. Additionally, Google drives 96% of local search traffic, according to research by Jody Nimetz Co.

Hopefully this drives home the importance of taking this Google My Business business seriously.

So, here is how it works.

Google displays the top 3 local search listings for all searches that imply a person may be looking for a local business.  This includes cannabis dispensaries.

My local search for ‘dispensary near me’ returns the following Google search results.

The ideal situation is to get your Google My Business Listing consistently positioned in the top 3 listings as frequently as possible. With the stiff competition in the cannabis industry today, this is easier said than done, but it is possible if you cover all of your bases, or at least hire somebody that knows how to and who has done so consistently.

In the Definitive Guide to Marijuana Marketing and Growth Strategies, I broke down the systematic approach to ranking your dispensary in the top 3 local positions.  It will not happen overnight but the efforts are well worth the exposure you are going to get in return.

Pro Tip: Check out Google’s top local ranking factors, from Forbes.

Make Regular Posts on Your Google My Business Profile

Having your Google My Business Profile set up and completed is not enough.

This is different than making posts on your social media pages because it has a real and direct impact on the visibility of your Google My Business listing in local search results.  

Google wants to see that you are actively providing value and engaging with your customers and, when you show them you are doing that, they reward you in the form of additional visibility on Google’s local search results.  

To access the ‘Posts’ feature, log into your Google My Business dashboard and find the menu on the left side of the page. There is a button that says ‘Posts’. Go there, and share content that will be visible to searchers that click on your GMB profile.

In some cases, you may also find content suggestions on the home page of your Google My Business dashboard. Look around for a section that shows what other similar businesses are sharing in your area. I recommend using this only for a reference point. Don’t steal content you find there.

Use Guerilla Marketing Tactics to Obtain Free Media Exposure

Guerilla marketing is the practice/strategy of using non-conventional means to obtain attention from the masses.  Guerilla marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tactics known to all of humanity. It can also be one of the least intuitive and in my experience, the best ideas cannot be forced.  

Here is an example of a guerilla marijuana marketing strategy used by criminal defense attorney, Chad Moody, in Oklahoma City.  

This little stunt gave him a spot on all of the local news stations.  Keep in mind, he is also an attorney. As a dispensary owner, this particular stunt would likely not have been as well received. I am not suggesting that you go copy off of him, or for that matter, do anything illegal. Guerilla marketing is about being clever in a way that makes people pay attention, not about vandalizing or destroying any personal/government property.

Use these examples of Guerilla marketing tactics which have been used by business owners in other industries, to come up with your own ideas for your dispensary.  

Set Up a Custom Website With Original Content, Images, and Video

Most people seem to be under the impression that a website is important for a business to have because it will drive new business if it is designed correctly.

The reality is, this is only partially true.

The fact of the matter is that all of your local dispensary SEO efforts will be amplified exponentially when you have a domain name and an effectively-designed dispensary website to point all of the various directory listings, social media pages, and everything else back to.

One of the primary contributing factors to search engine optimization is in this idea that some websites hold more power or ‘link juice’ than others, and ideally, this is because they have established, time-tested, trustworthy content.  

When these trusted websites link back to yours, it tells the search engine that the likelihood of your website being credible and relevant is significantly higher than it would have been otherwise.

In other words, yes, having a custom website for your dispensary is absolutely essential, but if the situation is simply approached with the idea that having the website will be enough, then you are likely to be in for a disappointment, and mostly crickets, when it comes time to launch it.

Organic search engine optimization strategy for dispensaries comes down to providing original, valuable content in all shapes and sizes. Create quality, original content on a consistent basis and ensure your website meets the quality and ranking factors considered to be important to Google and there is a good chance you will be on the right track.

Create, Complete, and Update Social Media Pages on All of the Major Social Media Platforms

In order to maintain a consistent image, there is no way you can realistically cover all of the social media platforms that exist today.  You are going to be much better off in terms of your time and return on your efforts if you just pick 2-3 and remain consistent with those.  

Be careful with the type of content you are posting. Facebook and Instagram have been removing dispensaries from their platforms left and right for ‘terms violations’, of which are vague at best. So long as cannabis remains federally illegal, go easy on the pricing posts and ‘salesman’ style content. Otherwise, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Here is a list of the 21 most popular social media platforms, provided by Buffer.  Not all of these will be relevant to you and your dispensary, but many of them are.  

My personal recommendation would be to remain consistent on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.  

If I was going to add 3 more to the list, it would be Pinterest, Google+ and Twitter, however, there is some fairly simple automation that can be used to update those pages with content you are already sharing on the other platforms.  

IFTTT (If This Then That) is one of the easier, free automation tools which you can use to create content automations between most social media platforms.  You can also use it to automate your home lighting, television, sound, thermostat, etc… if you are into that kind of thing.

Bonus Points: How to Automate Your Social Media Marketing With IFTTT Applets

Link All of Your Social Media Pages and Directory Listings Back to Your Website

This may seem elementary of me to mention, but you might be surprised to see how many dispensaries go through the trouble of setting up their social media pages, only to never complete them.  

My advice is to keep a document or spreadsheet somewhere, listing all of your social media profiles and directory listings, and manually ensure that all of these pages are complete with links pointing to your website.  

It isn’t fun but it is important.  

Plus, if you can’t find the time to do it yourself, you can always hire somebody like us to handle your local SEO and social media management for you.

Maximize Your Organic SEO Results By Consistently Creating High-Value Multimedia Content

Step outside of your comfort zone (or hire somebody that will) to create videos, images, blog posts, reviews, silly stuff, crazy stuff, and anything else that might give value to, amuse, impress, or at least distract potential customers from their day to day lives.  

Effective dispensary SEO used to be about knowing the sneaky SEO tricks that would get you ranked just by using the right words and tags throughout your content the right amount of times, then linking back those pages from every SPAM website under the sun. Today, many of those same strategies will just get you blacklisted by Google.

Today you have to get creative and the only way you are going to be able to do that is by having fun with it.  

As always, let us know if we can help.

TTFN