As more states legalize marijuana use, dispensaries have become like pop-up shops. Between 2019 and 2023, over 12,572 dispensaries opened. To give context, there were only 5,142 in 2022. That’s a lot of growth and fierce competition, and a lot of it is happening in your backyard. This is why local SEO is a pivotal strategy for marijuana dispensaries.
Local isn’t a “nice to have” like, say, that shiny marketing tool I want that makes beautiful dashboards. It’s a “must have,” like the data that goes in those dashboards. For marijuana dispensaries, local search engine optimization, or SEO, is the cornerstone of a well-crafted digital strategy.
Why is cannabis SEO a local game?
Using SEO for marijuana dispensaries is crucial for you to make a mark online in a tough market. It’s indispensable if you want to thrive in the digital landscape. This strategy involves specialized tactics that are just right for dispensaries. With marijuana SEO, dispensaries can be more visible and rank high for their target search terms, making sure they stand out in local search results.
Selling marijuana has always been a local action. In this way, legalization hasn’t changed much. Few people look across the country for their favorite strains. It’s almost always within a few miles radius.
Let’s take San Francisco as an example. As of the time of this writing, there are approximately 32 medical marijuana dispensaries. Add 31 recreational, and you have a total of 63 dispensaries in the city. How likely is it that someone would drive down to Tijuana or up to Redding? Not very. Instead, they’re going to price shop and compare right here. If you’re one of those 63 dispensaries here in San Fran, your competition is fierce, and it’s all local.
Incorporating local SEO into your marketing efforts takes more than just a few small tweaks. It means really getting into how local search engines work and coming up with plans your customers will love. By getting good at this, your marijuana dispensary can really boost its online presence. This means more local traffic will find you, and you’ll establish a strong digital presence.
In summary, as digital footprints become more focused on localization, your dispensary must adapt marketing strategies to meet the demands of online search behavior. A robust local marijuana SEO strategy is the key to unlocking the potential of your dispensary in a competitive market.
This guide will help you understand more about local cannabis SEO for your dispensary. You’ll also learn how important it is to connect with your community and stand out in an increasingly busy market.
Understanding Local SEO and Its Impact on Marijuana Dispensaries
Local SEO refers to the process of optimizing your online presence to attract more business from relevant local searches. For marijuana dispensaries, this is especially crucial. The cannabis industry is heavily regulated, and laws vary by location. This makes local compliance a key consideration in marketing efforts.
Secondly, dispensaries are primarily location-based businesses, serving customers in specific areas. While many think of SEO as a digital strategy, there’s more to it. Most searches start online, and SEO addresses that. However, a well-implemented local SEO strategy takes it to the next step.
Focused, local cannabis marketing ensures that potential customers searching for products or services in your area will find you in the local organic search results, as well as the map pack. While higher ranking means more than traffic to your website, it also means foot traffic to your dispensary and higher in-store sales.
To create a successful local strategy for your marijuana dispensary, your SEO action items will involve several key components. But before going over them, it’s important to discuss regulations as a consideration. As you no doubt know, the cannabis industry is heavily regulated. Again, let’s take San Francisco as an example.
Local Cannabis Regulations
San Fran has specific local laws that help to cut down on illegal cannabis sales and make sure everyone has a fair chance in the cannabis industry, among others. These regulations, effective since January 5, 2018, are enforced by the Office of Cannabis and other city agencies.
State Cannabis Marketing Rules
Each state has its own rules for the advertising and marketing of marijuana and marijuana dispensaries. Some states don’t allow advertising at all, while others control the messaging. You need to know your state’s specific rules, as they govern the strategies you can use for your marketing campaigns.
Social Media Guidelines
Social media platforms generally don’t allow advertising from cannabis companies. Therefore, social media marketing has to be carefully crafted. You want to invite users without showing marijuana consumption (put the pipes down, people) or sharing deals and prices.
Age restrictions play a pivotal role in marketing and optimization for marijuana dispensaries. Because of the nature of cannabis products, it’s essential to set up strict age verification processes on your website. This typically involves setting up age gates that require users to confirm they’re legally able to access the content. In addition, your marketing and SEO strategies should avoid targeting underage people.
This compliance with age restrictions isn’t just a legality. It’s also a key aspect of maintaining a responsible and ethical online presence. You’ll want to ensure that all digital content, from website copy to social media posts, reflects this commitment to age-appropriate marketing. As your brand awareness grows, this alignment will become more important to your community.
These regulations underline the importance of adherence and careful planning in digital marketing efforts for dispensaries. It’s important to stay informed and avoid legal complications. This way, you can maximize your marketing strategies while avoiding legal pitfalls.
Crafting a Robust Local Strategy for Your Dispensary
An effective local SEO plan for your marijuana dispensary should be a comprehensive approach that covers several action items:
- Optimizing your dispensary site with local content and keywords
- Creating and managing your Google Business Profile (GBP or GMB) and local Google Maps listings
- Specialized link-building
- Paid advertising
- Social media marketing
Because of the restrictions on advertising and marketing on certain channels, it’s especially important to focus on organic local SEO strategies.
General SEO for Any Business
Optimizing your dispensary’s website should include a mix of general website optimization that works for any business, as well as local optimization and dispensary-specific optimization.
Local SEO requires an understanding of what your local market wants and likes. Typically, a range of sativa, indica, hybrid, and CBD products provide a robust offering. Easy, right? But does your dispensary in one location sell more concentrate while another has a good market for tinctures? Maybe rolling supplies move faster than dab tools or glassware.
The point is that your website optimization should reflect the needs of your customer base. How do you do this?
Your site should work well on mobile devices.
For a dispensary, focusing on mobile optimization is key to capturing the audience with immediate needs and intent. Searches on mobile devices have topped those on desktops, making it crucial for local cannabis dispensaries to focus on mobile optimization. The intent of users searching on mobile is often immediate, as they are looking for something they need right now. In contrast, desktop searches are more likely to be exploratory or for future planning and are often conducted from home or work.
Your site should load quickly.
Slow-loading sites affect both user experience and search ranking. This is why, among other reasons, that SEO includes a technical section. Technical SEO addresses specific coding and platform issues that stop your site from ranking and functioning well.
Design a clear navigation.
One of the action items that are important for any optimization efforts, local or not, is having clear navigation. Your navigation should have uncomplicated categorization that helps them follow a path to buy. Providing a filter, for example, can let buyers choose what they want based on effect, intake method, brand, potency, and more.
Create high-quality content.
Content has to happen. The question is, is your content going to reflect your brand’s commitment to high quality, or is it just going to be content for content’s sake? Content marketing plays a very important role in local SEO. It also gives your marijuana dispensary the ability to provide a robust website for your customers. However, if it’s not high-quality and content they want to see, you’re wasting time and resources.
Don’t miss the SEO basics.
Basic SEO practices are those action items that need to happen on any site. For example, we want to make sure we include optimized, marketable search snippets. Meta descriptions, search titles, proper headings and page structure, even the alternative text for images, will all make a difference in how well your site does in this competitive market. For an in-depth article on how to do basic website optimization, don’t miss our massive SEO checklist.
Research and include relevant keywords.
Keywords are the terms and phrases people use to find your site, products, and services. Relevance is vital here – I can’t stress this enough. Following the rule of relevance alone gives you several opportunities for content creation. If you don’t understand this important part of digital marketing (important for more than SEO!), I strongly recommend you read our articles on the topic.
Optimize for voice and “dispensary near me” searches.
If you’ve ever looked for something on your phone using Google Assistant or used the mike feature on your search bar, you’ve performed voice searches. People often use conversational language and long-tail phrases in voice searches. For dispensaries, this means optimizing for phrases like “dispensary near me” or “where to buy [specific product] nearby.”
Optimizing for “dispensary near me” searches is invaluable for driving foot traffic to your location. It’s important that your name, address, and phone (NAP) information is consistent. This information feeds directly into voice search and affects whether you show in the results or not.
Adding Local SEO to Your Long-Term Marketing Strategies
Remember how I said your marijuana dispensary would need local SEO strategies as well? Local SEO takes the strategies above and adds a layer to them.
Build location-specific pages.
Local search signals include making sure you have your store address and contact information. If you have multiple locations, these location pages carry even more weight.
Do you have a dispensary in South San Francisco and another in Oakland? Hello, two location pages: “Marijuana Dispensary in South San Fran” and “Marijuana Dispensary in Oakland”. Each page should include the business name and location, address, and phone number (NAP), to improve local search results.
Include local schema markup.
Schema markup helps search engines better understand your brand. It’s a powerful tool for dispensaries aiming to boost their online presence, especially in local search results. Schema provides search engines with specific, structured information about your business. This includes details like your dispensary’s name, address, phone number, and operating hours. It also includes unique attributes like available cannabis products (e.g., tinctures, edibles, flowers).
Using schema markup helps search engines understand the content of your website better. This also improves how your search results are presented. This could mean enhanced visibility in local search queries, better user experience through rich snippets, and a higher likelihood of attracting potential customers who are searching for specific cannabis products or dispensaries nearby. As a result, schema markup is a crucial aspect of making your website more accessible and appealing to both search engines and users.
Leverage Google’s local pack.
The Google Local Pack is a section of Google’s search results that shows the local businesses related to your query. For dispensaries, being listed in the Google Local Pack can significantly increase visibility. To rank higher in these results, it’s crucial to optimize your Google Business Profile (GBP). Your NAP is important here, as well as business hours and photos of your dispensary (inside and out).
Harnessing the Power of Reviews
Positive reviews are a strong signal to search engines that the community trusts your business. A steady influx of reviews is paramount to being seen in the local map pack. The best reviews include comments that mention the location and specific items purchased.
Develop a strategy to encourage customers to leave reviews. In-store signage and follow-up emails are examples of how you might do this. Responding to all reviews, positive or negative, shows that you value customer feedback and are committed to improving your service.
An example of a great review: “XYZ Dispensary on Sunset really does it up right. I went in to buy a glass pipe and some flower. The budtender, Jeremy, was patient with my questions and helped me find a strain that really helped my anxiety. Thanks XYZ!”
Reviews like these improve your visibility and provide valuable social proof to prospective customers.
Focus on relationship-building in your link-building.
In local SEO, link building should focus on creating relationships with other local businesses and community organizations. Take part in local events and collaborate with nearby businesses to get mentions and links from local websites. This boosts your local SEO and embeds your dispensary within the local community, enhancing your local presence and reputation.
I can’t emphasize enough that link building is a powerful tool for improving your dispensary’s local SEO ranking. Getting links from reputable local businesses and cannabis-related websites can boost your site’s authority. Participating in local events and collaborations can provide opportunities for natural link building, enhancing your local search engine optimization efforts.
Build local content.
As I said before, content marketing is vital in local SEO. Develop blog posts that address the interests and concerns of your local target audience. These could include educational content about cannabis products, advice on selecting the right strains, or updates about your dispensary. Localized content not only helps in ranking higher but also establishes your dispensary as a knowledgeable and trustworthy source in the community.
Creating localized content should build a narrative that resonates with your local community. Blog posts could cover topics like local cannabis laws, for example. You might talk about community events or even local success stories of customers benefiting from your products. This type of content improves SEO and helps build a loyal customer base.
Advanced Tactics: Beyond the Basics
To truly excel in local SEO, marijuana dispensaries should explore advanced tactics. Here are some out-of-the-box optimization ideas for your dispensary:
- Interactive Product Finder: Develop an interactive tool that helps users choose products. For example, a quiz recommending tinctures or concentrates based on user preferences.
- Virtual Tours: Offer a virtual tour of your dispensary, especially if it has unique features or design.
- User-Generated Content: Encourage customers to share their experiences or reviews, which can be featured on product pages.
- Infographics About Cannabis: Create infographics explaining different strains, benefits of CBD/THC, or how to use various products like dabs or rollers.
- Customized Product Bundles: Allow customers to create their own product bundles (e.g., choose a combination of flower, prerolls, and tinctures) and offer a discount for bundle purchases.
- Blog Series on Cannabis Education: Start a blog series covering in-depth topics about cannabis, such as the science behind different strains or the benefits of various consumption methods (dabs vs. prerolls).
Implementing these strategies will optimize your dispensary website for search engines. But more importantly, it will enhance the user experience, making it more likely that visitors will stay on your site and explore what you have to offer.
Measuring Your Success and Adapting Your Strategy
Measuring the success of your local SEO efforts is crucial. Use analytics tools to track your dispensary’s performance in local search results. Look at metrics like website traffic, search rankings, and conversion rates. Based on this data, continually refine and adapt your local SEO strategy to ensure ongoing success.
The realm of local SEO is ever-evolving. Continuous monitoring and adaptation are necessary for your dispensary’s online success. Pay close attention to metrics like local search rankings, website traffic sources, and user engagement levels. These insights are invaluable for understanding how effectively your content resonates with your target audience.
However, data alone isn’t enough. The real power lies in how you use this information to refine your strategy. Regularly update your local keywords based on emerging trends and customer search behaviors.
Stay informed about algorithm updates and adjust your tactics accordingly. For instance, if you notice customers are requesting different products, tailor your net new content to reflect the trends. Also, conduct SEO audits once a quarter to locate any issues that can hinder your performance in local search results.
Local SEO is an indispensable tool for marijuana dispensaries looking to enhance their online visibility and attract more local customers. By implementing the strategies outlined in this guide, your dispensary can achieve a prominent online presence, driving both online and foot traffic. Remember, local SEO is an ongoing process that requires continuous effort and adaptation to changing market dynamics and search engine algorithms.
Navigating local SEO for marijuana dispensaries is a journey that requires patience, precision, and a deep understanding of both your local market and the intricacies of SEO. By embracing a comprehensive local SEO strategy, optimizing for voice searches and “dispensary near me” queries, and staying agile in the face of evolving market trends, your dispensary can not only enhance its online presence but also solidify its standing as a leading provider in the community.
Remember, effective local SEO isn’t just about getting found; it’s about creating a lasting connection with your audience. It’s about building a digital presence that mirrors the quality and commitment of your physical dispensary. As you embark on this journey, consider partnering with experts who can bring nuanced insights and proven strategies to the table.
Are you ready to elevate your dispensary’s local SEO and dominate your local market?
Contact us today to explore how our specialized SEO strategies can transform your online visibility and drive tangible results for your business. Let’s work together to turn searches into sales and clicks into loyal customers.