SEO is a much talked about concept in the cannabis industry, but one aspect that often gets overlooked is local SEO. Having the ability to improve your search rankings for customers in your immediate area is a great way to generate leads, boost foot traffic, and increase awareness of your products and offerings. No matter what type of business you have, if you want to build a stronger brand among cannabis consumers and businesses in your state and city, local SEO is a smart investment.
Start Your Local Cannabis SEO Journey With Google My Business
There are many different ways to improve your local SEO. One of the most important is claiming and optimizing your business listing on Google My Business. This free service from Google allows you to control how your business is represented online, including adding photos, hours of operation, contact information, and more. Be sure to also list your website URL, as this will not only tie your business to your website, but also make it easier for people who search for you on Google or other search engines to reach you via a web page instead of a map.
Don't Forget Cannabis Social Media
Another SEO best practice that is vital when marketing cannabis locally is sharing quality content regularly across social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram. Social shares count towards SEO rankings, so it's essential that you have a content plan that involves regular content updates.
To get the best local results with your presence on social, be sure to target your audience properly. For example, if you're a cannabis dispensary in Denver, make sure your posts are targeting people living in the Denver area. The right hashtags also have an important role to play, as there are plenty of geo-specific hashtags that you can use.
You might consider using third party social media management tools like Hootsuite and Buffer, which are popular for their ability to schedule posts ahead of time, track engagement levels with your target audience (and see how they're responding) in real-time, and easily manage multiple platforms at once if you have several pages. However, Instagram especially tends to frown upon third party apps, so be careful how you use them and avoid tactics that might be regarded as spam.
Cannabis (And Non-Cannabis) Directories Are Key To Local SEO
Cannabis SEO also requires that you are present on local directories. In addition to Google My Business, which I already mentioned, there's Yelp, and more niche business listings such as Weedmaps or Leafly. Be sure to fill out your profiles completely with accurate information about your company or dispensary so users will be able to find the most relevant cannabis businesses near them.
One overlooked cannabis-specific directory is Cannapages.com, which allows users to search for dispensaries and delivery services by zip code or city. If you're not listed on Cannapages, it's a good idea to get yourself added - especially if your dispensary is in a major metro area. While not as popular as some of the other services, it is easier to be found using it because a lot of dispensaries haven't been included yet.
The Benefit Of Maintaining A Cannabis Blog
The cannabis industry is extremely social media-friendly, and cannabis SEO benefits greatly from this. However, one of the most underutilized marketing tactics in cannabis at present is blogging. Cannabis blogs offer you a great opportunity to create content that establishes your brand as an authority on cannabis knowledge online.
Once published, be sure to share it across all other networks for maximum exposure. Posting links to important blog posts on Facebook or Twitter will not only benefit your company's web presence but also help generate traffic back to your website which can boost rankings over time too!
To ensure your blog is generating local exposure, make sure to include your neighborhood in the title and tags of your post. For example, "Cannabis Tips for West Hollywood Residents" would be a great blog post title that targets local readers. This not only helps with SEO but also lends a sense of community to your business.
The Importance Of Positive Reviews
Another essential element of local SEO is the number of positive reviews your company has received. Customers who see that you've been reviewed will be more likely to use or purchase from your dispensary or farm when compared with one that hasn't.
Customer reviews are essential for improving the reputation of any cannabis dispensary, especially online where prospects can easily view them. Cannabis customers often do extensive internet research before visiting a particular dispensary or making a purchase from a grower or manufacturer.
A good tip is to make an effort to get customers who you know are happy with your products or services to leave positive reviews. Customers can be encouraged by sending out a survey via email asking them for feedback on their last visit, and incentivizing them in some way.
While you should never pay for positive reviews, do your best to encourage them and remind people, especially your loyal customers, how helpful they can be.
Optimize For Voice Search
In the years ahead, voice search will flourish. As a result, when considering local SEO, it's critical to optimize for how people ask questions when they speak into devices rather than how they type them out. While this may not seem like a big deal, there are a lot of critical differences you need to be aware of.
For instance, when people speak, they use more long-tail keywords. They also phrase their questions in a way that's more natural and conversational. So when you're crafting your content, make sure to account for the traditional question starters: who, what, when, where, why and how.
Of course, this doesn't mean you should start stuffing your carefully crafted cannabis content with only long-tail keywords. Just make sure to keep them in mind as you write, and your content will be primed for voice search success. Remember that SEO is always evolving, and it's more important than ever to adapt in response.
Make Sure Your Cannabis Website Is Mobile Friendly
It's amazing how quickly the world changes. According to a 2018 Stone Temple study that looked at mobile versus desktop trends, mobile use is increasing faster than expected. They found that the proportion of Americans who visited websites rose from 57 percent in 2016 to 63 percent in 2017, yet the overall number of website visits from desktop went down from 43% in 2016 to 37% in 2017.
Ouch! That means if your website isn't already optimized for mobile, you're losing out on a lot of potential business. Don't fret though; it's not too late to make the switch! Here are a few tips:
Use a responsive design. This means that your website will automatically adjust its layout based on the size of the screen it's being viewed on. No more pinching and zooming around on your phone!
Keep your images small. Mobile devices tend to be slower than laptops and desktop computers. Don't overload them with massive image files that will take forever to load. Instead, opt for a compressed file size and make sure your images are optimized with the proper dimensions.
Use less text on smaller screens. A lot of people use their mobile devices more as a way to scan information rather than read it in-depth like they would on a laptop or desktop computer screen. Use bolded headlines and subheadlines, bulleted lists, pull quotes , etc., so readers can easily understand what you're trying to say without reading every word!
Include social media sharing buttons. People love being able to share interesting articles from their favorite websites via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram...you name it! Make it easy for them by including these buttons where they will be more likely to click on them.
Of course, you can't just forget about desktop users all together. The point is that you need both a mobile and desktop version of your website that works well, in order to get the most out of your local SEO.
Focus On Optimizing For Local Keywords
Another way to boost your search engine rankings is to focus on optimizing your website for local keywords. Google can find out where you are based off of the information it has about the web and its users and rank websites accordingly. If a user is logged into their Google account when using Android or Chrome, they will even see results personalized specifically to them!
Google’s own Keyword Planner lets you filter keyword searches based on location so you get an idea of the popular search terms for a given region. This lets you create a list of locally relevant keywords to target. Once you have them, they should make appearances in your site’s meta content, copy, and URLs.
Remember, SEO is even more important for cannabis businesses because so many traditional advertising avenues are closed off to them. Local keywords allow your farm or dispensary to show up in relevant searches, in particular when someone is looking for cannabis or cannabis adjacent topics. Make sure your website is mobile friendly and optimized for local customers!
Build A Separate Website For Your Hemp And CBD Product Lines
Because cannabis is restricted from being sold across state borders, while it's possible to market your hemp and CBD products nationally, they have completely different marketing and SEO profiles. This is why you need separate websites for each.
Cannabis SEO focuses on targeting specific locations where cannabis is legal, while hemp and CBD products are much more nationally focused. Cannabis consumers who are looking for information about your farm or dispensary can be lost if they end up at a site that doesn't sell the product they're searching for. For example, if you are a dispensary in Seattle, Washington, it probably doesn't help if you're ranking highly for someone searching for cannabis in Brooklyn, New York City.
That's why you need to have a website specifically for your hemp and CBD products. You can target different keywords, use different marketing strategies, and create a separate web presence that will help you reach your target consumers.
Not only will this improve your SEO, but it will also make it easier for customers to find the information they're looking for. Having two separate websites also allows you to focus on two very different audiences: Cannabis consumers who are interested in learning about the product and where it's from, and CBD consumers who might be located anywhere in the United States, or specifically situated in the geographies where your products are currently being sold.
Grow Your Cannabis Business With Local SEO From The Hood Collective
At the end of the day, making high-quality material that will connect with your target consumers is the key to SEO success. That means working with a professional content marketing agency that understands the cannabis industry. We specialize in assisting cannabis businesses create engaging photography, video, and graphic design content in support of your branding and marketing goals.
Our team of marketing experts is here to assist you in any of your SEO goals, from raising the bar on your current setup to standing out against the competition. Let us handle the tough work of enhancing your SEO so you can focus on what you do best: developing and selling high-quality cannabis.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.