Cannabis businesses operate in a highly censored digital space. As Google does not allow ads, organic search is the primary channel for promotion. Search engine optimization will help your website rise to the top of local results, so more potential customers will see and visit it. Discover 10 marketing hacks for the cannabis niche in our guide.
To make your own business noticed online, you need a dispensary SEO strategy. The right approach will ensure that your website shows up at the right place, to the right people. It requires an in-depth understanding of the Google ranking factors.
Here are the key steps to success.
1. Set Clear Goals
Begin by defining your objectives. Identify your target audience (for example, medical users, recreational users, or growers), and study their preferences. These findings will guide all promotional efforts. For instance, if you sell marijuana for medical use, your content must be tailored to the needs and expectations of this audience — i.e., highlight the medicinal properties and benefits.
Decide what you expect to achieve with your campaign. Do you want to make your store more recognizable? Would you like to boost conversions? Determine your Key Performance Indicators accordingly. For example, you may focus on:
- email subscribers;
- contact form submissions;
- phone calls.
Are you surprised that neither rankings nor traffic are not on the list? Optimization is not your end goal, it is a roadmap to success. An increase in organic traffic must eventually translate into higher revenue, more subscriptions, etc.
2. Assess Your Competitors
Identify your strongest competitors and examine their marketing methods. How are they ranking, and what are they ranking for? This will help you find your focus. The experience of other companies is a source of valuable insights.
3. Research Keywords
Select traffic-boosting keywords by comparing their relevance, popularity with users, and competition rate. Do not rely on search volume alone! Use tools like the Keyword Planner for Google Ads, SEMrush, or Google Trends. Incorporate the best words and phrases into your content through landing pages or blog posts. They should also be included in meta tags (title and description).
4. Understand User Intent
Another important component of keyword research concerns the intent of the users. Why do they enter specific words or phrases into the search engine? Their motivations are classified as:
- transactional: the intention to purchase a cannabis/CBD product or service;
- informational: the intention to find specific information about a product or service;
- navigational: the intention to visit a specific cannabis-related website.
Based on this information, distribute your keywords between different types of content. For example, informational keywords like “cannabis health benefits” are suitable for a blog post, while “buy flower Denver” is a transactional query. It is also an example of local search intent. Local SEO is crucial if your business serves a customer base in a particular area.
5. Combine Short-tail And Long-tail Keywords
The length of the keyword combinations also matters. “Head terms” are the shortest — they include up to three words with high search volumes and competition. These are also the hardest to rank for, but you can still succeed with the right approach to SEO.
Longer keywords are more specific. Users are more likely to answer them when they have transactional intent. For example, “buy CBD gummies Denver”. By targeting these combinations, you will generate less traffic, but also boost ROI, as you will reach an audience interested in buying your products or services.
6. Write Naturally
Keywords alone are not enough, as search engines prioritize sites that bring clear value to the users. Quality trumps quantity. Thin content overstuffed with keywords will get you nowhere. Google may even penalize you, as keyword stuffing is a black-hat SEO tactic. Therefore, write for humans, not algorithms. Create unique and engaging content to shine in organic search.
7. Create Long-form Content
The size of your articles matters, too. Generally, Google favors content with around 1200 words or more. It ranks better and receives more shares on social media. You may argue that users have short attention spans, but producing long-form content is a proven way to boost engagement. An informational and genuine experience is rewarded by Google. Naturally, the news or product pages do not require so much text.
8. Make Mobile-friendly Content
Over half of all online searches come from mobile devices. This means that customers and visitors are more likely to access your site on tablet or smartphone screens. It must be responsive to mobile and provide optimized content. For example, images and graphics must look good on small screens, and page loading must be ultra-fast.
9. Use Google Analytics
Analytics should be a part of your SEO strategy from the get-go. Tools like Google Search Console will provide valuable insights into the preferences and behavior of the users. You can understand how they find you, what keywords are the most effective, and what landing pages are visited.
10. Start Building Your Backlink Profile
Acquire backlinks from websites with high domain authority. This will help you rise in organic search, as Google rewards references from trusted sources. A high-quality backlink profile is one of the primary ranking factors. It will also boost your own credibility in the eyes of search engines and users. You may gain backlinks through guest blogging, internal linking, and other strategies.