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Tips for Optimizing your Cannabis Website for SEO

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If you want your cannabis business to be found online, optimizing for SEO is the way to go

If you’ve been operating in the cannabis industry for a while now, you’ll probably remember a time when the novelty of the newly legalized space was enough to keep your business sustained. Today, there are over 9,000 licensed dispensaries operating in the United States, which means that if you don’t actively work to stand out amongst the crowd, you will be overshadowed by the competition.

So, how can you effectively (and legally) set yourself apart in this increasingly growing market?  Traditional marketing efforts are off the table since cannabis is still illegal on the Federal level, but that doesn’t make the need for brand awareness any less important. The answer lies within search engine optimization (SEO), which is the practice of optimizing your cannabis website with the intention of building organic web traffic to your website.

The concept of SEO can be somewhat difficult to understand, but it has become the single most important element to being found by your target audience online.

So…what is SEO exactly?

In short, it is the process of boosting online visibility for businesses and their websites by making them easier to find when users search for relevant information on a search engine. One of the main goals of SEO is to rank as high as possible on the search engine results page, especially because 75 percent of all clicks never make it past the first page of results.

Organic SEO is all about increasing web traffic, both in quality and quantity, through organic search engine results. This type of SEO casts a very wide net and can effectively target anyone located anywhere. If you operate a business online, optimizing for SEO is a requisite for any level of success.

Local SEO is all about optimizing your website to be found by a local audience. As a local business or dispensary, your target audience is the people in close proximity to you and priming your site for local SEO makes it possible for them to find you and ultimately visit your location.

How do I optimize my cannabis website for SEO?

1.  Google My Business

Google My Business (GMB) is your business’ profile on Google. It is a free listing that local businesses use to manage and display their company’s name, address, and phone number (NAP) when someone searches for a local business like yours. When someone searches for ‘dispensaries near me’, for example, Google will take the NAP information from your profile and neatly display it for the user. Your NAP gives customers an accurate way to find you, so it is crucial that it is up-to-date across all platforms.

2.  Shoot for listings on reputable directories

A citation is anywhere that your business’ name, address, phone number, and website URL appear online. For cannabis brands, it’s best to get listed on popular cannabis-related directories and social platforms. Not only will this ensure that your business appears in the specific places that people are searching for you, but it also helps to increase the number of high-quality links leading back to your website.

It’s important to note that not having citations, having incorrect citations, or having citations on shady directories, can negatively impact your SEO rankings.

3.  Use social media

Your social media pages give you a unique opportunity to directly engage with your target audience, share relevant industry best practices and news, and direct traffic back to your website.

4.  Write and maintain a blog

Content is your golden ticket for boosting your SEO ranking. Businesses who publish regular, original content have almost eight times more site traffic than those who don’t and have six times the conversion rates than their competitors.

Blogs are a great way to boot your SEO rankings, position yourself as an industry thought leader, and lead readers to other areas of your website, which increases the odds of them converting into customers.

Writing a good cannabis blog takes some skill, so it’s important to:

  • Define your content strategy and create a content calendar
  • Focus on being a resource for your readers instead of trying to sell your product or service
  • Write clear headlines that explain what your article is about
  • Use short paragraphs, bold subheadings, and bulleted and numbered lists
  • Optimize your posts with popular and competitive keywords
  • Maintain a word count of 450 – 1000 words

5.  Give your website a boost

Your website is arguably the most valuable marketing tool that you have. Like it or not, users will form an opinion about you and rank your credibility after just a few seconds of your website loading. So, it’s crucial that your website looks good, is easy to navigate, loads fast (in three seconds or less), and is optimized for searches on mobile devices.

Optimizing for SEO is one of the most important things you can do for your cannabis business, but designing and executing a full-fledged SEO strategy can be a full-time job. There is no shame in seeking the guidance or tactical expertise of an SEO professional. In fact, using an outside vendor or hiring someone for the role is a great way to ensure the effort doesn’t fall by the wayside. But, if you know the basics, you can give your business the SEO kickstart it needs to succeed.

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