By Mel McGovern, Content Director, NisonCo PR
If you’re a local cannabusiness that has put time into increasing your web presence, you have hopefully picked up valuable SEO tips along the way, such as using cannabis-related keywords for which your clients might be typing in and searching. Still, you might not be aware of several unexpected benefits and tips of SEO for local dispensaries and other businesses. These top three SEO techniques I’ve come across as an SEO Account Coordinator at a cannabis SEO agency might surprise you.
Google My Business is Beneficial Beyond the Map
Google My Business (GMB) is a staple when appearing in search results, with somewhere between 83%-93% of the search engine user market finding businesses and getting their questions answered through a search engine results page (SERP). One of the main reasons setting up a Google My Business account is attractive to business owners is because it’s free to do so. Additionally, enrolling in GMB allows dispensaries to appear on Google Maps and begin competing for top ranking on the Local Map Pack of search results.
However, one of the other benefits of using GMB is that it allows your business to gain credibility through genuine user reviews. It can be difficult for consumers to trust a cannabis company they’re unfamiliar with, especially when people are thinking more diligently about how they spend their money. Accordingly, a healthy review strategy is essential. In a survey from 2021, 77% of consumers reported ‘always’ or ‘regularly’ reading online reviews when browsing for local businesses like dispensaries. Interestingly, in the same survey respondents indicated increased wariness of fake reviews that seem over-the-top, repetitive and anonymous — meaning it is even more important to request current clients leave specific and recent positive reviews, and also take the time to respond to those reviews.
Business attributes are one of the most community-focused aspects of GMB that dispensaries can take advantage of to build brand equity and tell consumers about their values. The options available will vary based on your selected business category but there are service attributes such as “wheelchair accessible” or “LGBT-friendly.” Utilizing exciting tools like the business identity attributes enable your business to stand out. Local businesses in the United States can specify if they’re Black-owned, Latino-owned, Veteran-owned, or Women-owned. Additionally, a business can share its dog policy, wheelchair accessibility, languages spoken, if it’s LGBT-friendly, a transgender safe space, or has unisex restrooms. It’s a personalized touch to let your local community know how you aim to serve them.
Location-Specific Keywords are always On-Trend
Being a cannabis business embedded in your community gives you a leg up on knowing what keywords your potential customers might be searching for. For instance, if you operate a Boston-area dispensary, you likely know which neighborhoods people might be tacking onto their search phrases. It’s worthwhile to target searches such as “dispensaries in Boston’s South End,” “dispensaries near Back Bay,” or “best dispensaries in Eastern Mass.”
Most consumers who are searching for a local service or business search for questions that include specific, local keywords. By being familiar with the time it takes to commute from one location to another, you can use that knowledge to come up with a list of places that accompany your keywords and are within your service area. Suppose you’re a cannabis delivery service owner located in Denver, Colorado serving the front range. You might be willing to drive about an hour, but not more than that. Accordingly, you’d include “Boulder cannabis delivery” and “best cannabis delivery in Colorado Springs,” but omit Pueblo or towns farther into the Rockies.
Metadata Is Not Just for the Bots
If you have put a little time and research into reaching your online audience better, the importance of using metadata and metatags has probably become apparent to you. You may have even searched “what are metatags,” read the description of the first few results, and clicked on an article based upon that snippet of information. If this were the case, you used metatags to learn about metatags. Wow — how meta! I use this example to illustrate that metatags and metadata are not only a significant opportunity to mindfully use your target keywords to tell web crawlers like Googlebot what your content is about; they’re also for human users.
While there are various types of metadata, the meta title, meta description, and alt-image text can make a big difference for a user. A well-written (i.e., not auto-generated) meta title and description can let someone know your link is relevant, credible, and trustworthy. There’s an art to doing this in a short number of characters, and implementing optimized meta tags for each web page can have a big payoff in the long run.
It’s also vital to use alt-image text, not only for SERP ranking but for accessibility. Alt-image text is a description of an image used by those accessing the internet with the assistance of a screen reader and is also used if the image cannot load successfully. By using alt-image text, you send the message that your website and cannabiz aim to include a broad audience, and you help your chances of ranking for keywords in the process.
Successful Local Cannabusinesses Tap into SEO Strategies
SEO is like playing chess; it takes strategy and thinking in the long term. If you’re a new, local cannabis business, it’s one of the best strategies to gain new customers that you can incorporate with little to no marketing budget. Optimizing your website and social media presence is essential, as more people find cannabis products and services daily via a quick online search. Luckily, services like WordPress, Wix, Shopify, and Instagram make it easy to tackle these tools of the SEO trade. Ensure you use these tools or risk losing business to a better-ranked competitor.
Mel McGovern (they/them) is an SEO Account Coordinator with NisonCo. They are passionate about accessibility, queer & racial justice, and creating community. Mel obtained a BFA from SCAD and studied Computer Science at Northeastern. They enjoy cooking and taking their puppy to the beach in their free time.
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