SEO for Dispensaries: Growing Your Traffic Organically
If you were growing marijuana a decade ago, all you had to know was “if you grow it, they will come.”
For better and for worse, the legalization of marijuana in some states has made the market more competitive than ever. This is great news when it comes to the variety and potency of new strains, the availability of marijuana, and being able to buy it safely without dealing with a shady criminal element. But if you’re a grower, it also means that you have to figure out how you’re going to be able to stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
If you have an appealing brand, a prime location, a healthy marketing budget, that can go a long way, but one of the most effective things you can do for your business is to make use of SEO for dispensaries.
Search Engine Optimization is the craft of finessing better results out of Google and other search engines. We say “craft” because it’s not always an exact science, but if you follow the steps, you’ll generally get the results you’re after, so it’s not exactly an art, either. It’s a craft, because you’ve got to follow the recipe if you want to succeed, but you’re also going to have to apply a little bit of intuition and experience in order to get the best possible results. Google’s algorithms are strictly based in numbers, but the end user is a human being with eyeballs and a brain, and you’re not going to get their attention when your content is just a long list of keywords.
Here’s what you need to know in order to get started:
It Starts With Interesting Content
It’s easier to tweak interesting content to be better optimized for search engines than it is to take a list of keywords and make it interesting. “Interesting” means different things to different people, now here’s what it might mean to your target demographic: It helps to promote their worldview. And if it hits on something that’s in the news right now, that can’t hurt, either.
For someone who relies on the services of a marijuana dispensary this probably means that they’re going to be more eager to read and share content that supports a pro-marijuana stance. Obvious, right? The catch is that the typical marijuana user of the day is not a hippie or a teenager with blacklight Jimi Hendrix posters, playing Xbox from morning to night. Your reader is looking for something that supports the medicinal, personal and political benefits of legalization and decriminalization.
Marijuana is still a lot more fun than waiting in line at the DMV, but the culture surrounding it is a little more buttoned-down than it used to be. Even though marijuana legalization is a liberal talking point, your readers might include a whole lot of conservatives. The common ground is that they all want to promote the idea that marijuana is something that responsible adults can use for treatment and recreation. Deliver something that helps them to promote that.
One more point on interesting, relevant content for Dispensary SEO: update regularly.
You might not have to produce new content every single day, but if people are checking back on a weekly basis only to find the same three articles that were there last week, they’re eventually going to stop checking.
Backlinking: Still Relevant
In the 00s and the early 2010s, backlinking reigned supreme as the primary means of getting eyeballs on your web content. A number of developments, including social media and a greater focus on video content, podcasts and so on, have changed that, but it remains a potent tool to keep in your pocket.
The foundation of effective backlinking is “link juice.” Link juice refers to the ranking boost you get when somebody links to your web content. You get to enjoy not only the additional clicks you get by being linked to by a high-profile blog or website, you also get a bump in your organic ranking on Google.
Here’s how you can get more backlinks from other websites:
- Keep producing great, interesting content that other webmasters will be proud to link to
- Don’t pay for backlinks, Google’s algorithms will punish you for this when they find out
- Submit your content to web directories like Medicaljane.com. Our Local SEO package can do this for you.
- Engage with other websites, leave comments, send emails, offer to trade link-for-link, give their readers coupon codes and so on
Backlinking with other websites is a great way to boost your SEO ranking, but interlinking is important, too. This is when you have post on your blog linking to other posts on your blog. This simply makes it easier for people to binge on your content, like when you’re browsing the Wikipedia entry for Easy Rider and decide to open the link to Dennis Hopper’s page in another tab so you can read that one when you’re done.
Here’s the most important thing to know about on-page SEO. If you do nothing else for your on-page SEO, do this: Start with a great title tag.
Your title tag is an HTML element that serves as the headline that displays on search engines and on the browser tab, if not necessarily on the page itself. Coming up with a great title tag means splitting the difference between what search engines are looking for, and what a reader is likely to click on.
Coding a title tag is easy, it looks like this:
<title>Your Title Tag Goes Here</title>
Researching keywords can help. You can use Google Trends to figure out what people are looking for, but it’s easy to figure out on your own for the most part: What would you type into Google if you were looking for an Aspen, Colorado area marijuana dispensary? With that in mind, your title tag might look something like this:
Aspen, CO – Marijuana Dispensary: Bill & Hank’s Greener Pastures
That’s just an example. You’ll have your own style of putting together title tags according to your brand.
You will also want to include relevant keywords in your meta content: buy marijuana, marijuana legit, legal marijuana, medicinal pot, dispensaries near me, marijuana near me and so on.
Finally, let’s talk about how to deploy keywords in the content of your article. The formula’s simple: If you’re putting out a 1,000+ word blog post, keep your keyword list under ten phrases, and don’t use any of them more than two or three times. This will help you to rank up without “stuffing” your content with keywords and phrases and getting penalized for it.
Getting people to read your web content isn’t as hard as it may seem at first, but every little bit helps, so here’s some bonus tips:
- Graphics are awesome. Spending a few bucks for access to a stock photo database, publishing illustrations, graphs and charts with your content, it goes a long way and keeps people interested.
- Keep your paragraphs short and break it up with subheaders. It’s easier to read a blog post when no single paragraph goes on for 200 words, and when each section has a handy subheader to let you find the part you’re trying to skip to.
- Republish older content. Let’s say you were talking about people being jailed for medicinal marijuana back in 2015, and now it’s happening again. Why not bring that old post out of the vault? New content for longtime readers is great, but pointing new readers to old content is just as good.
- Engage with your readers. Chat with them on social media, listen when they pitch you an idea for a subject to cover with your next post, hold giveaways and hand out coupon codes, share positive reviews and feedback, and address criticisms. Media in the 21st Century is a two-way street.
Tyler Horvath is a serial entrepreneur, digital marketing expert and King of Search Engine Optimization, with over 15 years experience building traffic online.