SEO for cannabis and medical marijuana dispensaries is one of very few marketing channels available.

Carefully describing the products without specifically mentioning words like marijuana, THC, CBD, or the like is risky but possible while we dabble in paid advertisements which will hopefully open soon.

Before any CBD brand spends a dime on advertising, there are significant improvements a dispensary website can make to build trust with users searching for their product or service.

Keyword Research

Before writing any content for the website, keyword research must take place to ensure content aligns with terms frequently used by people searching. Questions such as, "does my target audience search for Full Spectrum CBD or CBD Isolate?" Are users searching for terms such as medical marijuana or medicinal marijuana? Differences in the way people search could mean the competitor ranks higher for the services you provide. Thinking five steps ahead, building a targeted keyword list ensures every campaign content moving forward aligns itself with the core message of the product or service. A simple tool such as Ubersuggest allows brands to find the most relevant keyword variations for their business.

On-Site SEO

Once establishing the core set of keywords, they can be applied across the website through the meta, title, alt tags, and product descriptions which builds a solid foundation for search engine crawlers. On-Site SEO also includes ensuring every link on the site is functional while every broken link is redirected. Things break all the time and with on-page SEO, catching these before search engines do puts the website at a greater advantage over competitors who do not realize their users have a horrible site experience.

Content Strategy

The backbone of all SEO is the ability to create useful, shareable content that is the industry leader in a particular subject. Optimizing product descriptions is not enough to ensure traffic comes to the site. Google only loves websites that have proven to be valuable and by producing content that others want to share signals its popularity.

A blog is one avenue to provide quality content for targeted keywords and positioned as a trusted source of information. People use search to solve a problem, and by delivering content that aligns with user intent, there are higher chances of converting a user browsing to a paying customer.

Local SEO

Local SEO is a necessity for brick & mortar cannabis businesses. As Google ranks websites also based by a specific users’ location, ranking 1st for one user is entirely different from another who may be miles away. By having the business name, address, phone number, operating hours, and all relevant information, anyone searching within the vicinity will get served business results. Submitting the business information on a variety of sites like Bing, Yelp, and other directories help the brick and mortar location get found on a range of services.

Google My Business & Directories

The rise of mobile phones requires local SEO at the forefront of any digital marketing campaign, especially for brick and mortar stores. Similar to submitting business information on listing sites, filling out a Google My Business page will instantly help with local search rankings as users look for the nearest dispensary. Potential customers can find dispensaries by doing a Google search or using Google maps and by having accurate information along with a few pictures inside / storefront, all help the customer make decisions more comfortable to visit.

Alt Tags - Images

Once on-page SEO is completed, expanding by optimizing alternative or alt tags help images when users are searching on the image tab of search engines. Product image uploaded on the website should have an Alt Tag to supplement the other tags such as title and meta descriptions for Google to include in voice searches.

Web Design

Web design is more sophisticated, and it will establish trust within the first few seconds depending on the configuration. As a consumer, would you trust a site that looked like it was built in 1997 in 2019? A fast, responsive site is another ranking factor for beating the competition in search as it contributes to better engagement with an impatient generation. Investing in a good designer that understands elements to use for a desktop versus a mobile experience will provide a pleasant experience while on the site and better chances of generating a conversion.

As companies grow, it is essential to have a properly built website and a domain. Nothing screams sketchy as having to reach out to a brand doing business under a @gmail account.

Rich Snippets

Rich snippets are bits of extra information to give users a better preview of the content before clicking on the search result. Sites that incorporate rich snippets could increase their click-through rates as there is more useful information that entices a user to learn more. If a user, for example, wanted a chicken recipe, a rich snippet could provide some instruction, and it is up to the user to click the link to find out more. These are little signals that all build trust before a user even clicks on the search result.

Tracking Pixels

Tracking pixels are a series of codes placed on a website with the purpose of retargeting users or determining ad performance. Have you ever shopped on Amazon or an e-commerce website, leave, then see those same products you were viewing on your Facebook feed or placed in one of your favorite blogs and videos? A cookie placed by the advertiser on your browser just retargeted you. Although it may sound intrusive, it keeps the brand on top of the minds of their potential customers.

Google Analytics

One tremendous opportunity for any functioning website is its ability to track the behavior of its users while on the site. The ability to track data is easier than ever, and with a few codes placed on a website, a business will be able to determine the best traffic hours, campaign performance, where traffic is coming from, how long users stay on the site, at what page they usually leave, and a plethora of information to work with when launching campaigns. Sites who do not implement any tracking miss out on useful information and navigating in the dark in terms of connecting with customers. Too often, business owners run on gut feelings on what will work only to have little to no results. By having data, owners know where and what to place their focus.

Reviews

Look at any top-selling product or service in any platform and a common trend is the number of reviews. Asking existing customers for reviews help the business rank in search and another signal to trust the brand. By offering an incentive for reviews could mean a boost in rankings, traffic, and sales.

Paid advertising is excellent for acquiring new customers and paired with a trustworthy website will convert those new users into customers. The web experience along with working within a structure search engines have established will help any brand. Cannabis SEO requires similar strategies for any e-commerce or brick and mortar brands. As of now, there are few avenues available for marijuana and CBD brands, but SEO builds an evergreen foundation for digital marketing by ensuring a fantastic landing page experience.

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