Dispensary SEO: Why You Need SEO For Your Marijuana Dispensary Marketing Plan
With marijuana legalization recently passed in Canada and other countries worldwide, dispensary SEO, or search engine optimization (SEO) for dispensary websites is kind of a big deal. With the strict policies against advertising dispensaries on Facebook and Instagram, organic search and Page 1 search rankings are what’s needed for dispensary websites to be found online.
SEO for dispensaries includes optimizing your medical marijuana or recreational cannabis dispensary website’s metadata, text, images, videos, and the website’s code with a highly relevant keyword strategy.
Most web developers are just that – web developers and/or web designers. They aren’t SEO strategists or SEO experts so they are unable to understand the complexities of search engine optimization, user experience optimization, or website conversion rate optimization.
That’s why you need an experienced Google certified SEO Strategist to help you increase rankings and qualified traffic to your dispensary website. Dispensary SEO needs to be an integral part of your dispensary marketing plan.
You can download the FREE ebook now or continue reading below.
The SEO Agency Horror Show
As the founder of a dispensary SEO agency, I’ve seen the success stories. It’s always great to see clients grow and succeed because it helps us take pride in our work and showcase what SEO can do for their respective businesses.
But, I’ve also heard a few horror stories.
One frustrating aspect of being a cannabis SEO agency is hearing stories from dispensaries and other marijuana-related businesses that come to us wary and frustrated from bad experiences they’ve had with unreliable SEO agencies.
In speaking with such clients, there seems to be a common crescendo that leads them to their unfortunate breaking point, and it goes like this:
- A business decides SEO is the next step in their growth plan, so they seek out and speak with an agency about services.
- The agency sells them potential results of successful SEO and makes guarantees about what they can achieve for the business.
- The business thinks it sounds great and takes the agency at their word. Ultimately, the business signs a contract with the SEO agency and gets locked in for an extended period of time.
- Fast forward a year or two later, and some businesses find themselves drained of money with little to show for it, or in some cases, with penalties that have made their online performance worse.
How To Vett Dispensary SEO Agencies
The 3-steps and 10 questions that follow are what dispensaries and cannabis businesses absolutely must consider and ask while vetting SEO agencies from an actual SEO agency’s behind-the-scenes perspective.
Before you start vetting your SEO team of Google certified search marketing experts, we have 3-steps that you should consider and execute before your start talking with dispensary SEO companies.
STEP 1: Develop a List of Criteria
Having some criteria beforehand will make you think critically about your expectations, protect you from going in blindly, and keep you in charge of what you want.
Think about things like:
- Desired contract duration.
- Whether you want a local service provider or if you’re OK with a remote agency.
- Reporting frequency.
- Any other potential deal breakers.
STEP 2: Talk to 3 Different SEO Agencies
It’s smart to talk to at least three SEO providers before you make a decision.
Aside from this being a generally good idea for the sake of knowing all your options, it also helps give you some leverage for possible negotiations regarding prices, services, and contract stipulations.
STEP 3: Make a List of Interview Questions
Asking the right questions before signing a contract can prevent the majority of SEO horror stories. Have the questions ready to ask each agency you speak with, so later you can compare answers and have plenty of information to help guide your decision.
10 Questions To Ask Every Dispensary SEO Agency
So, now you have your list of at list 3 digital marketing companies that you’d like to implement an SEO strategy for your dispensary website. The next step is to start your SEO agency vetting process with these 10 general questions.
You should have these questions handy if you’re speaking to the SEO consultant on the phone and be prepared to note their answers. You can also send these questions to each consultant or agency via email and have them provide the answers for you.
Don’t choose your dispensary SEO agency before asking these questions:
1. Can you guarantee that my site will have a top ranking position?
- Unfortunately, no credible SEO agency or SEO consultant can guarantee top position rankings. Why? Google makes up to 600 changes to their algorithm every year. SEOs can’t control these changes or even get access to understand Google’s complex search algorithm. If any SEO agency guarantees you top ranking positions, you should thank them and run. Far away.
2. Does your agency ever deviate from Google’s best practices?
- Never, ever with our SEOs at ColaDigital.ca. We are a team of Google Analytics Certified and Google AdWords certified professionals. Our SEO strategy implemented for all our client’s is always full of proven “white-hat” SEO tactics. You’ll want to ensure that the dispensary SEO agency you choose has a similar, or better response.
3. Has your agency ever bought links?
- Never have, never will. Our content and optimization teams are able to create relevant, high-quality, optimized content that builds and earn high-quality backlinks.
4. Which tools do you use to achieve results and carry out SEO services?
- Ask the dispensary SEO agencies you vet what type of free & paid SEO tools they use.
- We use the industry standard free and paid tools including:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google’s Keyword Planner
- SEO Moz
- Open Site Explorer
5. Do you edit and/or optimize existing content on my site?
- Yes! We highly recommend this especially if your main concern is search rankings and lack of/ decrease in website conversions.
- After all, your existing on-page dispensary website content wasn’t optimized well enough in the first place – which is why you’re planning on hiring dispensary SEO experts who know what they are doing.
6. What specific content pieces will be done for my site?
- Depending on the content marketing package you choose, our team will create the following for your website each month:
- A number of blog articles – 800-1500 words each – and SEO/user optimized.
- All images for your site and/or blog content.
- Infographics and/or PDFs.
- Promotional or informational video – 0:30-0:60 or 3-5 mins.
- Any content needed for your social media platforms including images and copy.
7. How do you plan to optimize that content?
- A super fantastic question that any qualified marijuana dispensary SEO consultant should want to answer happily!
- You’d be looking for answers similar to these:
- Keyword research
- User optimized – short paragraphs, bullet lists, lots of scannable sub-headings, engaging, relevant images to break up the text, relevant video embed to increase time spent on the page.
- All images will be optimized for users (captions) and search engines (file name, file size, alt/title attributes, descriptions).
- All copy on blog content pages will be optimized with a keyword strategy – for the on-page copy as well as backend metadata.
8. On average, when do your clients start to see results?
- One key thing to remember when asking this question is that SEO is a long-term play. SEM or PPC/Google advertising is more of a short-term plan when it comes to search marketing and search engine rankings.
- You can achieve top 1 rankings with paid PPC advertising fairly quickly as it’s all based on your campaign strategy, keywords, ad copy, and of course the size of your dispensary’s monthly advertising budget.
- When it comes to organic search (i.e the free listing in the search engine rankings), a good SEO and keyword strategy with experienced SEO management is what’s needed to rank in the top 3 positions on Page 1 of Google and Bing.
- On average, a good dispensary SEO agency should be able to deliver results in as quick as 1-2 months to 6-12 months+.
9. How often do you run site audits?
- Depending on the SEO package you choose, a solid marijuana SEO agency would run site audits every month or every other month.
10. What specific metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) do you track and report on?
- Most important KPIs to us are:
- CPC (cost per click)
- CPA (cost per acquisition)
- ROAS (return on ad spend)
- Total # of Conversions
- Other KPIs include:
- Total Reach
- Total Clicks
- Total Impressions
- CPM (cost per 100 impressions)
- Engagement Rate
- Cost per engagement
- Video Views 25%-100%
- Total # of video views with sound on
- Average time spent on the website on a landing page
- Bounce Rate
What Your Dispensary SEO Agency Will Need From You
After your dispensary SEO agency vetting process is complete you’ll need to get things together on your end to ensure a smooth onboarding with your chosen cannabis SEO experts. Typically this includes very simple things like providing access to your website and other marketing tools.
You may not have all of these things in place and that will not be a problem. Experienced dispensary SEO companies will easily be able to set you up with any accounts or tools that you may not have in place but are absolutely essential for your overall dispensary marketing plan.
Here’s what your marijuana SEO agency will likely need from your end:
- Admin access to your dispensary website
- Admin access to your Google Analytics account
- Admin access to your Google Search Console account
- Admin access to your Google My Business Page
- Photos, videos, and text content
- Info on your company, products, and services
- Info on your target market
- Short term and long term goals from this dispensary SEO strategy
Download the ebook now!
So What’s Next For Your Dispensary SEO?
I’ve been “doing SEO” since 2004 and one thing I can confirm is that SEO strategies are constantly evolving.
There is constant change is website optimization strategies simply based on the 600 updates that Google does on its search algorithm each year!
You could SEO your dispensary website yourself, but SEO is very complicated and tedious.
Keyword research skills are equally complicated because these days, SEOs need to focus on the user’s search intent to determine the best keywords to target – at each stage of the sales cycle.
The above tips will help you choose the right dispensary SEO experts for your marijuana dispensary or other cannabis-related business.
ColaDigital is Canada’s most experienced cannabis marketing agency dedicated to marketing recreational marijuana and medical cannabis. We partner with marijuana companies who share our vision of destigmatizing cannabis and breaking new ground in this dynamic industry.
Our team has been implementing digital strategy and SEO since 2004, we believe our experience speaks for itself. We’ve served over 100 clients in a wide variety of B2B and B2C sectors, including companies in the medical cannabis space. We know what works and what doesn’t.
We’re ready to help you grow!