Marketing your dispensary on Google is probably the single most important thing you can do to make your dispensary a long term viable business. Weedmaps and Leafly are great and all, and they should form part of any good dispensary marketing strategy, but Google is still the king. To market your business on Google you will want to create a holistic strategy that encompasses your entire online presence because Google looks at your complete online footprint when deciding how much visibility you receive. A complete online presence leads to more visibility on Google but you will likely get more traffic from other sources as well. I will go over four main areas you will need to concentrate on to craft a dispensary marketing plan. I will go into limited detail as each area could be their own post or series of posts.
4 Areas to Concentrate on When Marketing you Dispensary on Google
- Optimize Your GMB
- Build Your Website
- Google Ads (Optional and a little risky. Google is very restrictive in the cannabis space but it’s worth a look)
- Everything Else (Off Page Factors that help with Google Visibility)
Optimize Your Google My Business Profile(GMB)
A complete and optimized verified listing is an absolute must. This is the most important part of marketing your dispensary on Google and the internnet in general. We have created a 2 part guide on how to do this yourself.
Google M Business Set Up Guides
Build Your Website
While websites are becoming less important than they used to be you still need one. There are branding and SEO opportunities that are simply not available with other platforms. With a WordPress website it is possible to embed your weedmaps menu on your site so that you can have the best of both worlds. You get the control of owning your own online real estate with the legitimacy of having an online menu. The most important thing to remember is that Google loves brands. You need to build your complete online presence around your brand.
Advantages Of Using Your Own Website
- You own the real estate
- Brand Legitimacy
- SEO Opportunities
- Collect Emails
An iron rule in online marketing is never build your brand on real estate you don’t own. While social media and other platforms like Weedmaps and Leafly Instagram etc. can provide great marketing opportunities, everything should be based around your website. We have seen quite a few dispensaries that simply consider their Weedmaps menu to be their website. This is a mistake in our opinion. While we understand that many dispensaries may not want to take the time and trouble create their own website, even a very simple and inexpensive website can add a lot of value. By using Weedmaps or Leafly as the ground zero of your web presence you are building their brand – not your own.
Your brand is your business, without a website you are simply another name at the top of a Weedmaps page with nothing to differentiate you from all the other dispensaries in your town. What if Weedmaps suddenly raises their prices to an unnaceptable level. What if they decide they just don’t like you anymore? Or you get legislated off of their platform, or even worse, their platform gets legislated out of existence.
Having your own website allows you opportunity to optimize the page in ways that you can’t on other platforms. You can add structured data, optimized headings and text as well as an embeded map. You can optimize the page for conversions as well. You are unlikely to ever find yourself in the coveted 3 Pack on Google with a Weedmaps menu as your website.
When trying to gain visibility for your website and GMB listing on Google the ultimate goal in your cannabis dispensary SEO strategy should be Maps rankings that generate directions requests, phone calls and website visits. Maps rankings are the most lucrative. As shown below, the 3-Pack in Maps does a few things. From their phone, customers can click on your business’s name, which gives customers more information about your company, including a click-to-call button and a get directions button. Click to call is essential to the growth of your business because a Google study shows that 70% of mobile searchers click-to-call a business from Google results. Directions requests are the ultimate customer action for dispensaries because 80% of directions requests result in an in store visit within 24 hours.
In a world of constant smart phone usage, your customers want a way to push a button and instantly be connected to your business. Since 3-Pack results are largely displayed based on the location of the searcher, your ability to get more phone calls and leads to your business is based on two critical factors:
- Visibility. You need to outrank your competitors and be seen in as many parts of town as possible, and there are many factors that play into your ability to achieve this; and
- Reviews and a lot of them. Nothing will get a potential customer to act faster than a lot of glowing reviews. On the other hand, a lack of reviews or negative reviews can be damaging to your business.
The 3-Pack receives the majority of actual clicks on a results page, at a 44% rate, according to Moz .
The results are below.
Step 1 keyword research
Figure out which keywords are most valuable.
Hint the big keywords for dispensaries are:
- marijuana dispensary
- weed dispensary
- cannabis dispensary
You will also want to go after “near me” and “yourcity”variations of those 3. Those three main or top level keywords are listed in order of search volume nationally. However, It may vary in your local market. Once you have decided on your keyword targets you need to optimize your site for them. Your main page will likely be optimized for those three listed above. Marijuana and cannabis are essentially synonymous in the eyes of Google but you should mention both of them on your main landing page.
Your main landing page will be the URL you list in your GMB listing. If you are a single location dispensary then it will likely be your homepage. If you are a multi location dispensary, you should list that location’s page on your GMB profile and all other listings. You will also want to add structured data to the location page that you list on GMB. For a little background on what structured data is and how to implement it you can check oout Google’s guide at : https://developers.google.com/search/docs/guides/intro-structured-data
Your name address and phone number or NAP as it is known in industry parlance should be listed consistently on as many relevant sites as possible. These are known as citations and they add brand legitimacy in the eyes of Google and they can also provide a little link juice and traffic. All of which help you gain visibility on Google. We have a post on cannabis business citations we created previously.
Email Marketing From Your Website
Having your own website allows you to collect email addresses from online visitors and add them to a mailing list. You will need to offer them some sort of discount or product to get them to sign up, but the long term gains from building an email list are well worth it. You need to be careful here to ensure compliance with local laws, you are likely not allowed to give away free flower or concentrates, but penny pre-rolls may be allowed – or a free pack of branded rolling papers are a good enticement as they provide you with further exposure to the customer’s friends after they leave the store.
Build a list of 20 000 emails and it is likely that you will make at least an addition 500 sales every time you send out an email blast. Do that once a week and and you can see how an email list is an incredibly valuable asset. Check out our other post about email marketing for further information on how and why you need to build a list.
Produce your own content!
With your own site you can share the content you create from your own site. Your social media shares will point back to your site, lending your brand further legitimacy. It also adds topical depth and topical breadth. This means that you will begin to be visible for a much larger collection of search terms. We have had clients go from getting search visibility for around 300 terms in GMB to over 1000 terms. This translates into more visitors and customers and less worrying about losing a ranking on that one bread and butter keyword.
Google Ads – promoted pins
Everyone knows that Google is not kind to the cannabis space, but as part of the Google ecosystem any Google marketing guide would be incomplete without mentioning Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords). As an SEO I kind of consider using Google Ads as admitting defeat but they can have a place in an SEO campaign. I would recommend against using this if you are not experienced with Google Ads and also experienced with them in the cannabis space. There is a risk of suspension and getting not only your ads, but your listing removed as well. Although I’ve never heard of anyone losing a listing, I have definitely heard of Ads accounts getting suspended. Usually the worst that will happen is that your ads simply won’t get approved.
You need to set up an Ads account – carefully. You must enable location extensions – this is the most important part. These creates ads on Google Maps called “promoted pins”. I would use these to gain visibility on keywords that you aren’t ranking for naturally. You could also use them on keywords that you do rank in the three pack for to take up more screen real estate and crowd out your competitors. You must not mention the words cannabis, marijuana or weed in the text of your ads. You well likely want to create dedicated landing pages for your ads as well.
As part of gaining visibilty on Google you need to take care of your entire online presence. You need an active presence on other platforms as well. While Google claims that social signals are not a ranking factor – they lie. You need to be very careful about listening to what Google says. Their main goal is to get people to buy ads, not help you gain visibility through other means. You need a properly executed citation campaign to gain both backlinks and NAP consistency. And yes, you will need backlinks. But beware of anyone that tells you they will build X number of links every month. They are likely using bots and automated software that builds low quality links that can harm your site if done poorly. Those sorts of links have their uses, but don’t let anyone build them directly to your site.
I always suggest building out complete and active profiles on other social media sites such as Facebook (an important citation source), WordPress.com, Blogger etc. This gives your brand a big footprint and tells Google you mean business. Every time you post content to your blog it should also be posted on your other profiles with attribution links back to your site. This can be automated, and is great way to get activity and links to your site from the other social media properties. I highly recommend you outsource this part of the process as it iis rather time consuming and we can do it very inexpensively.
You can get a pretty good start on your own when it comes to marketing your dispensary on Google, but you will likely need to enlist the help of a professional when it comes to to some of he more involved portions of your plan. You are not going to become a master SEO in a weekend. You can however set up a solid foundation on your own.