Cannabis brands must invest in every aspect of their online presence. Foot traffic and good location aren’t the only things that will get people in the door of your dispensary. These days, people find where to shop, eat and play online.
For better or worse, consumers have come to expect that certain information about a business will be available online. A dispensary should offer the same information online as any other successful business. You wouldn’t go to a restaurant if you couldn’t find the address or hours online, right? A cannabis brand should live by those same rules.
This is where local search engine optimization (SEO) comes to center stage.
Let’s dive into what local SEO optimization is, why it’s such an integral piece of cannabis marketing and how to do it right.
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is for businesses that have a storefront or location and depend on a local audience. Platforms like Google My Business and Yelp allow these business to optimize local listings so their location shows up exactly when a local user is searching for them, their good or their services.
To underline the importance of local SEO, consider the following statistics from Hubspot:
- Of those surveyed, 97% reported searching online to find a local business at least once
- 86% of people look up the location of a business on Google Maps
- 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles
- 46% of all Google searches are local
- 70% of customers visit a store based on information found online
Considering those statistics. It’s pretty obvious that consumers expect brands to be hip to local SEO. Potential customers are searching online and they expect information.
Imagine a restaurant or local clothing boutique that failed to invest in local SEO. How successful can a business be if their hours, parking information, website, phone number, address, etc. aren’t available online the moment their potential customers are looking for them? In 2018, the answer is… not very.
Why is Local SEO Optimization Important for Cannabis Brands?
As we’ve already mentioned, the top reason for a cannabis brand, especially dispensaries, to invest in local SEO is because consumers expect it. And if your competition is doing local SEO optimization (which is very likely) and you aren’t, the customer is likely to give the competition their money.
But beyond that, it’s important for cannabis brands to understand the journey of their consumers. Because legalization is still in its infancy, many customers are going to be completely new or still a beginner when it comes to retail cannabis. They might feel nervous or anxious about visiting a dispensary. Or they might be very excited tourists relying on search engines to help them find a local dispensary.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to anticipate and provide the information your potential customer wants to see. So, how do you do it?
3 Ways to Use Local SEO to Build Visibility for Cannabis Brands
Claim & Build Out Your Google My Business Listing
Google My Business is the largest and most used local search platform of all time. And unlike paid Google ads, cannabis brands are able to use this functionality. The first step is to claim your cannabis business’ Google My Business listing.
You can do this by googling your business name. If a listing has been generated, it will ask if you are the owner and want to claim it. There will be a verification process, but once completed, you will have full reign on managing and optimizing that listing.
When building out the local listing for your cannabis brand, be sure to include the following:
- Phone number
- Website & social profiles
- Forms of payment accepted
- Disability access & parking
- Images of the interior, exterior, and products available. There should be no less than four photos on each listing.
Use Aggregating Tools Like Yext to Make Local Listing Management Easier
Google My Business is the largest local listing platform, but it isn’t the only one. In fact, there are dozens! And it’s important for your cannabis brand to have a consistent presence among all of them, even the small ones.
But local listing management across all platforms can be tedious, time-consuming work. Instead of doing it all manually on each and every local listing directory, use a service like Yext. Yext helps streamline local listing management by allowing you to make changes in one place that will then be incorporated on to 60+ local listing sites. You can take advantage of all the features like staff bios, calls to action and product lists.
Important Note: Although Yext does integrate with Google, make sure to manage your Google My Business listing separately. Google My Business has additional features not available for update on Yext, like Q&A.
Develop a Q&A Strategy Within Google My Business
Beyond just filling in the basics listed in #1 (address, hours, photos, etc.), to really utilize the power of Google My Business, cannabis brands should develop a Q&A strategy. Google My Business allows for crowdsourced (submitted and answered by the public) Q&As on local listings.
These questions can be anything from, “Do I need an ID to buy from your dispensary?” Or it could be, “Is there parking close by?” These should be monitored and answered by your brand as soon as possible. Be sure to subscribe to alerts so you know when a new question has been submitted.
You can also submit questions of your own and then answer them. When you do this, be sure to include as many keywords as possible in the question and answer.
Investing in a local SEO is a vital piece of cannabis marketing. If you need help with local listing management for your cannabis brand, get in touch with us at Agency 420.