One of the biggest challenges you face in growing your cannabis business is navigating through the misconceptions of advertising restrictions from the most popular digital platforms.
Advertising digitally is the most effective way to promote your cannabis business because people are already searching for cannabis online.
Deciding which tactics to implement to reach your new customer goals is overwhelming – but it does not have to be. Even though there are many marketing options to choose from, a handful of marketing tactics stands out from the rest that will consistently drive the highest volume of new customers at the lowest cost per lead ongoing and work for you 24/7 365 days a year.
SEO for the Cannabis Industry
When your site ranks well organically in Google for hundreds of terms, you can drive new customers consistently month after month at a little cost. And, organic search is always on 24 hours per day seven days per week 365 days per year – when pages on your site rank well people will find them day or night.
Google is one of the first places people go to find cannabis and cannabis-related products and services. With the penetration of smartphones, people have access to information whenever they need it, searching from wherever they are.
Some studies assert that consumers check their phones 150 times per day, spend 3 hours or more on their phones, and almost 90% of consumers have their phones with them day or night. With that kind of access, you have to be where potential customers are – online and searching for information on mobile and desktop.
If you don’t appear well in Google’s organic search (meaning on the first page and above the fold), you are missing out on one of the best opportunities to grow your customers. Google is the dominant search engine by a large margin on both desktop and mobile devices.
What’s more exciting is that in the cannabis industry, there are a lot of misconceptions about SEO and most of your competitors are not yet placing effort on this tactic – making SEO an excellent opportunity for those early adopters.
The SEO Solution
To be successful at driving leads month-after-month, a holistic SEO strategy implemented over the long term and that leverages several tactics is required. Google does not ban Cannabis and cannabis-related terms. In fact, there are more and more results served every day as the popularity and legalization of cannabis occur. So get started on SEO soon is imperative to gain a substantial advantage over your competitors.
Content is critical to the success of a cannabis SEO marketing campaign and one of the first steps. When we talk about content, we are primarily referring to textual content (i.e., a new web page), images or infographics, or video content.
Lots of quality content provides the opportunity for your cannabis website to show for hundreds of highly relevant queries in Google. Your target audience is searching for answers to their questions. If you don’t have content that answers those questions you have little hope of ever capturing that traffic organically – Google has no reason to show your website.
As an example, if you provide medical marijuana as a service, having only one page with generic content that talks about cannabis dispensaries, in general, is not going to have your site ranking well anytime soon.
However, instead, if you produce several pages of content around the different types of medical marijuana, cannabis costs, other cannabis products, recreational marijuana, etc., now you are becoming more of an authority in Google’s eyes. Now you have the opportunity to capture organic searchers seeking information on all those topical areas.
Producing video content is very effective not only for SEO but overall cannabis marketing. Site visitors have different preferences for the type of content they want to see. Some people prefer to read or scan text; some prefer images, and others prefer video.
Video is also an engagement factor for SEO which can affect SEO rankings as well (although John Mueller from Google recently said it does not impact ranking). But Google knows if website visitors are interacting with the video and content on the page.
However, video is also good for branding, and for creating a more personal feel. Video customer testimonials of satisfied clients can be compelling for converting more website visitors.
Here’s a Content + SEO Strategy Case Study about a site that use content, internal linking, and YouTube video embeds to rank 750 terms on the first page of Google. The site attracts 5,600 organic non-paid clicks and 1 million monthly impressions from Google. And it would cost $51,000 in monthly Google Ad spend to buy that traffic.
Overall, there’s more to marketing and ranking a page well for all the different cannabis phrases people search for, but content is the beginning of that process.
To start the SEO process, you must be able to produce content for your website. Content can take multiple shapes, from pages on your site describing your products and services, to videos, testimonials, images, etc.
If writing and producing content is not in your arsenal of skills, then hiring a company to do it for you is necessary. In the long run, ranking organically on Google (meaning you did not pay for ads) will pay off ten-fold. So invest in content production, whether it’s your time and knowledge, or whether you hire someone to do it for you. Now, if you’re hiring someone, make sure that person/company knows about SEO. SEO is an actual skill that involves specific techniques that need to be learned. Writing content without an SEO roadmap in mind will not be effective. For example, just writing about your cannabis business is not enough. You’ll have to think about all the questions your customers have and produce textual or video content around this.
Local SEO For Cannabis Dispensary
While content is key to getting your site ranking for dozens, if not hundreds of terms, having your cannabis dispensary website show in Google’s Local Pack requires a different marketing approach.
Google is showing the top 3 local results – we refer to this as a local pack. Local packs show three sites with their review rating, address, phone number, hours and links to each website and driving directions link.
Appearing on this map has to do more with “geo” signals, citations, your proximity to the center of the particular city you’re cannabis business is in, and your website’s domain authority, among other variables.
Citations are other websites that list your cannabis dispensary with the same NAP (name, address, and phone). For example, Yelp, Superpages, Yellowpages, your Facebook page are all citation sources for your business location.
Google uses the consistency of NAP across dozens of websites as a trust signal that you are who you say you are. Google needs to have confidence in the websites they show in local packs, and 3rd party citation sources are one of the most important.
There are many technical aspects of a website that are also important: on-page markup, schema markup on particular pieces of information, server performance and site speed, sitemaps, creating content silos through internal link building, and more. If you’re serious about ranking well on Google, then your website has to be optimized for SEO as well. If you’re thinking about pursuing a serious SEO effort, then look for an agency that ranks well organically themselves (you don’t want to go to a dentist that has terrible teeth, right?). Many people will say they know SEO, but in reality, SEO is a skill that few master.
Facebook for Cannabis
From a social standpoint, Facebook is a great place to market your cannabis business. Because they are focused on community building, Facebook is naturally a place where your customers will be. However, Facebook is a pay-to-play medium. Sure, posting on your Facebook page will give your visitors a sense of who you are as a business (Facebook will humanize your brand), but 99% of the people will only visit your page once if they even do so at all. The reality is that your content has to be distributed not only to your Facebook fans but also (and maybe most importantly) to your new potential customers. What this means, is that you want your content to appear on other people’s news feed. To do that, you have to advertise on Facebook.
There are restrictions about advertising cannabis and cannabis-related products and services on Facebook (similar to alcohol restrictions). So you do have to think about those restrictions to get your ads approved. The simplest way around the restrictions is to be subtle about your products. There are people in the cannabis industry already advertising so getting started as soon as possible is highly recommended. Similarly to Google’s Adwords, Facebook is a bidding system where you’ll pay more, the more advertisers there are in your space. The advantage of Facebook advertising is that there is no minimum investment so that you can start with as little as $1 a day.
Be careful about using the Boost Post – if you want to drive results from Facebook you need to be running Facebook ads from inside its Ad Manager. I wrote two related posts here: Facebook Ads vs Boosted Posts – which is better, and a similar post, are Facebook Boost Posts are worth it.
Pinterest for Cannabis
Creating a presence on Pinterest is also essential for companies in the cannabis industry. The cannabis industry is a social industry with groups rapidly forming to help each other as the industry becomes legal. Since the industry has been in the shadows for a long time, information is not that readily available but the desire to find it is growing fast. Invest time in creating a board on Pinterest that includes your products and services, but that also focuses on answering common questions people might have. Re-pinning other information that might be complementary to your products and services will be useful and will assist in growing your presence. The best practices include sending Pinterest traffic back to your website where the visitor can see additional information. Also creating “shareable” pins is a great strategy to attract new traffic.
Rounding It All Up
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, a holistic digital marketing strategy is the best approach to perform well in the cannabis industry. That does not mean that you cannot implement parts of this strategy and still have success because you can.
If you have a cannabis or cannabis-related business and need website marketing and SEO – we can help. Call us or submit a form on our site for a free consultation or more information.