It all started with the map listings under ‘results.’ That was a game changer back in the day. So many businesses didn’t “deserve” to be there, but they just were. That got under some people’s skin for a long time—even today, as it’s still somewhat valid.
Enter the Google Penguin update when they tried to merge map listings with traditional SEO. That made a bit more sense for local SEO.
You often see these big lists, like “the 100 most important factors in the Google algorithm” or something like that, but most people don’t even know what that means. What should the typical small cannabis business do? What are the most important three or four things you can do to enhance local SEO for your cannabis business?
A big part of the Cannabis Marketing Lab’s strategy is that everything goes back to the customer’s website. Invest in it. Have quality content on there. Localize it. Put your address on the site. I know it seems simple, but these things are overlooked on a lot of sites.
SEO Tip: Optimize Your Website with Google
Neither on-site optimization nor off-site optimization mean a thing if you do not have good, strong content on your site. It’s all about the content. Five hundred words are enough to get what you need done. Just find the time, and you will be way ahead of everyone else.
If you search “cannabis dispensary” today, Google will automatically show you some local businesses. It’s like a 3-pack type listing. So how do you get to be one of those? Make sure you have a Google+ and Google my Business account set up. Install the Google Developer Badge so you have a direct link from your site to your Google my Business page. There are also little bits of SEO code that allows you to signal your local information to Google… be sure to do that. Make sure you are putting posts on your Google+ business page and make sure ALL of the descriptive fields are filled out. You have a link back option there, take advantage of that.
It’s important to have an online reputation management strategy as well, i.e. reviews. Google certainly rewards that by putting you in that 3-pack. The holy grail of local SEO will show you at the top of the page and having more positive reviews than the next guy. Period.
For most people on a laptop, the organic results are below the fold now. Which brings us to Adwords. Unfortunately, this is pretty much the beginning and the end of the topic when it comes to cannabis. We’ve gotten some ads to slip through the system, but not many. For non-cannabis companies, ads are usually worth the click cost.
So where do you go to stay on top of all this? I suggest searchengineland.com or seachenginejournal.com. My personal favorite is searchengineroundtable.com. It covers all the chatter. You also get some good insight in the comments. If you want to learn just basic stuff, moz.com.
To summarize, if someone came to me and said, “I only have money to do one thing to increase my local SEO”, I’d say to think about your review strategy and online reputation commitment. That is assuming you have your site and Google pages set up, which can be low cost.
More information on SEO for cannabis companies is available at www.thecannabismarketinglab.com.