Search Engine Optimization is one of the most powerful strategies for any retailer -- and cannabis is no different. It is essential that your dispensary is easily findable on Google and other search engines.
The legal cannabis industry was born into the digital world and forced to adapt at record rates when COVID pushed most transactions online in early 2020. Many retailers credit eCommerce for keeping them afloat during difficult times when brick and mortar shopping was off the table. Get the most out of online shopping with these SEO tips.
The first step is making sure you have a complete and accurate Google My Business (GMB) profile. You know how Google tends to pull up a box on the right-hand side of the screen when you search for a business? That's Google My Business. It's free, easy to set up, and a must-have for your cannabis SEO strategy.
On your GMB profile, ensure you have the following fields filled out:
From there, you'll also want to make sure the rest of your profile is as complete as possible — the more complete, the more Google likes you. Update pricing, amenities, and any other questions customers might have. For more tips on how to setup GMB profiles, check out Hootsuite's guide. And, if you have multiple locations, make sure you're using a tool like BrightLocal to monitor all of your locations and keep them up to date.
People might tell you to focus on educational content or blogs for your website. This can be good advice, but with eCommerce there's a better place to focus that time and energy. When selling online, product listings are one of the biggest drivers of traffic and most important types of content.
Make sure that your website covers all of the basic information (just like GMB profiles) and is accurately pointing Google to this information. To achieve this, set the following in your web developer:
Optimize all page titles, but not too much. Make sure every single page title is clear and concise, like: "[XYZ] Cannabis Dispensary | Home". Use a keyword or two, but don't stuff them into the title or Google will flag it as over-optimized and change the title.
The short snippet of text beneath a Google search result is known as the Meta Description. You'll want to fill this in on each page with an accurate description and keep it around 120 characters.
Any image on your site needs to be accompanied by a description and/or alt text. This description makes it easier for Google to read your page, as well as people who may be using a screen reader or translator. Alt text is a win for everyone.
Structured data is usually quantitative, easily-searchable data that gives your search result some meat. This is where we get the term "enriched results." Make sure that all relevant structured data fields are filled out and readable by Google.
Structured data could be, for example, the specific measurements in a brownie recipe. Or, for cannabis retailers, this would be where you include the THC percentages of a specific strain or sizing for merchandise.
There are many more items you can tweak on your website, but those above are the most important fields for every page on your website. There are several tools you can use to help you optimize and check these fields, including: Google Rich Results Test, Google Search Console, SEMRush, and more.
The most important part of dispensary SEO is often the most overlooked. Everyone wants to rank for "dispensary near me" searches, but data shows that customers are searching for brand, strain, and product-specific terms. As cannabis brands build a national presence, customers want to know how to quickly find their favorites — and search volume is rising rapidly for these terms. Jeeter, Wana, Kiva, and many more brands have average search volumes of 10,000 or more.
To take advantage of the rise in these types of searches, the first step is making sure you have a native eCommerce menu. Unlike IFrame menus, Dispense's SEO Menu empowers dispensaries by creating a fully-optimized product catalog quickly and easily — no coding required. From there, you'll want to make sure you set your SEO strategy. Dispense's cannabis menu software takes care of the rest by automatically and dynamically pointing Google to your product and business information to ensure accurate structured data.
The final aspect of any good SEO strategy is off-page work. This means getting plenty of backlinks and mentions to your website. The easiest way to do this is through local news reporting about your business, but there any many other strategies that could work depending on your business and location. If this is something you need help with, we recommending finding a PR agency that specializes in SEO, you can checkout our partner list here.
Dispense does product-based SEO for you automatically. Product-based SEO is the strategic optimization of product pages on your dispensary website. The goal is to provide search engines with enough contextual information for your product pages to rank well and drive additional website traffic.
Our SEO menu allows you to dynamically set your SEO strategy for all products, brands, and strain on your menu. Dispense also automatically builds structured data for your product pages to create rich results for your product pages.