How to rank your cannabis dispensary online: 10 things you need to know
More dispensaries create more competition
The cannabis industry is booming, and it’s only getting bigger. With the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado, Oregon, Washington State and Alaska on November 8th (and more states voting on this issue soon), now is a better time than ever to get your dispensary business online. But what does it take to rank well? How do you know if you’re doing everything right? I took the opportunity to sit down with Dave Myers from Digital Broiler SEO to ask him what 10 crucial steps every dispensary needs to take that will help you succeed with SEO and ranking your Cannabis Dispensary higher online.
Shannendoah Gallagher 0:09
Hey, happy to be talking with Dave Meyers today, the owner of digital broiler, a St. Louis based SEO company. Dave has been in IT industry since 1990, developing software. Today we’re talking about local SEO, why it’s important, why you need to get on it, and how to help you win greater success in the future. So Dave, happy to talk to you today.
Dave Myers 0:33
Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Shannendoah Gallagher 0:37
So give us give us a little bit of background about SEO and in layman’s terms really like what’s, what’s the value of it? And why do you need to be doing it?
Dave Myers 0:46
Well, I think the idea behind organic SEO traditionally has been obviously everybody wants to be found in search engines, right? So if you’re not doing search engine optimization, or SEO, you’re missing part of the puzzle for the web. I think the whole idea behind it is you want people are finding they’re not looking past pages one or two when they do a search online. So the idea that you’ve got to figure out how to get there above your competitors
Shannendoah Gallagher 1:16
Staying in front of your competition. Can you talk about that a little bit more, especially right now during coronavirus pandemic?
Dave Myers 1:23
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think since this has all happened, more, more people have realized their online presence hasn’t been quite what they thought it was. So they’ve found it probably more important now than ever, that they need to beef that up. And, you know, everybody’s looking to get to those positions. So you’ve got to, SEO is a long term strategy, it’s not an overnight solution that you’re going to turn on and magically show up. And it you know, it involves everything from, you know, link building and citations and great content is the big key to it. You know, we see more and more websites that are built, you know, on on simple builders like GoDaddy and Squarespace in places that you really just can’t do the SEO optimization things you need to do to be able to, you know, to work towards outranking, your your competitors. So, you know, to be able to do that is a very important thing and have access to the back end of the website to be able to create the right keyword research, you know, implement things, right. And there’s a, there’s a structure of your website that has to be done properly, or you can do all the SEO in the world, and it won’t matter. So I really think right now is a important time for businesses to take a look at their organic SEO structure and see how they’re doing. A lot of people really rely on Pay Per Click Facebook ads, things that definitely are a part of an SEO strategy, but they’re not, you know, they’re not the only thing that can happen. And that’s not the only way that you’re going to get results, and even spend 1000s of dollars on those things doesn’t mean you’re getting the right people to your website, as well. So.
Shannendoah Gallagher 2:59
Talk about that a little bit more getting the right people to your website, especially website part.
Dave Myers 3:04
Yeah, you know, from the website perspective, I mean, it’s, you know, I think the strategies, you know, everybody thinks, Alright, hey, you know, I want to rank for those top 10 keywords that, you know, the big ones, you know, if I’m a landscape company, you know, I want to rank for, you know, lawn mower, and all these things, but, but there’s a lot of other ways people, you know, come into these websites these days. And just because we think they’re searching for one term, you know, you’ve got to do some, you know, what we call keyword research and some tools, and really identify how people are truly getting to these sites, you know, some people might type in lawn mowing service, some people might be typing in, you know, grass services, there’s so many different iterations that not just one keyword is what generates the traffic to, you know, to these different pages. So you really have to hone in and make sure that your content on these pages is created properly. And it’s got to be written from an SEO perspective, not a, not necessarily the customer perspective, but yet, it still has to read correctly.
Shannendoah Gallagher 4:03
When you’re looking at a piece of content, what are you looking for specifically? What does it need to do really?
Dave Myers 4:09
Yeah, I mean, obviously,
it needs to describe the services. I mean, you know, we’ve we see that really to get any type of a page to rank, you know, in the old days, they would tell you, you got 1500 words, 2000 words, and, you know, nobody’s gonna read that. And that’s not the point of it. You know, the point of it back then was, the more content you have, the better, but what we’re really, you know, seeing is that somewhere between 300-500 words written properly, written with the right aspect and the right, you know, tone not only to the internet users, but the business is, you know, we can get those pages to rank properly doing it that way.
Shannendoah Gallagher 4:47
What are some of the other aspects of SEO that we don’t really talk about, besides just the written content, the on page stuff, what else goes into SEO ranking?
Dave Myers 4:57
Sure. Lots of things on there’s everything from how many links come into your website, how many links go out of your website, what kind of websites, you know, that are pointing to you, you know; is the domain authority high? And the more you know, the more links you have people will tell you, you know, the greater your website will rank and that is a piece of the puzzle. But you know, the more high authority websites you have, are probably more important than, you know, 1000 low authority websites. And so that’s one piece, you know, if you’re a local business, it’s critical.
Talk about, you know, Google My Business and make sure your GMB page is optimized properly. That’s a big thing, because you want to be in the three pack of the maps. And then, you know, and then your outreach from there. So you know, from a local business citations, so, you know, things like, you know, business directories, you know, Yelp, Facebook, all those things, and you have to make sure that all those directories have all your information in sync, you want to make sure phone numbers have the same address have the same business names are the same. Because I’ll tell you nine times out of 10, you go out and try to, you know, try to pull that data. And most people stuff isn’t synced up properly. And it’s while it sounds odd. Everything has to be in a line and one little thing out of alignment can cost you, you know, first page ranking.
Shannendoah Gallagher 6:23
And how does the website’s performance rank in there? Like accessibility or how fast the page loads? How does that affect your SEO?
Dave Myers 6:33
Yeah, speed speeds important? You know, we always try to get most of our websites loading in under three seconds, you know, not all are gonna do that, just simply because sometimes they’re, they’re, you know, a lot of home pages are big. And then people haven’t optimized one, of course, so if not, obviously, then that nail, that’s another task, go in optimize images, make sure they’re tagged properly, you know, more just small SEO things, but people don’t think about it, you know, they upload their images and it’s got, you know, it’s got the label image 23456. And that means nothing to Google, you know, Google reads everything left to right from the top of your page down. So you have to have your alt text tagged correctly, because Google can’t read an image as we know. But if it says, you know, landscapers or landscapers in Eureka, it, you know, it identifies that with those cities. So it’s, you know, accessibility is important, load speed is important, mobility is important, right? I mean, if it’s not mobile friendly, and it doesn’t format, people will leave that site faster than you can, you know, you can swing a stick at it.
Shannendoah Gallagher 7:37
if they leave the site too early, they’re not going to convert, they’re most likely not going to buy anything from your website, right?
Dave Myers 7:44
Absolutely. Yeah. 100%
Shannendoah Gallagher 7:46
Which, which brings me to my next point, let’s talk a little bit about that little lock box icon up in the URL bar. How important is that?
Dave Myers 7:54
That is important. Especially if you’re an e commerce site, and you’ve got a you want to have that, because that tells people that your site’s secure, that data is going to be encrypted properly and it’s important. Now, there’s, if you’re an informational website, I can argue that it’s not that important, but it’s still from Google’s perspective, they want to see security. And especially in today’s world, with all the craziness, you know, you the last thing you want is, you know, let’s say you’re even let’s say you’re a digital agency like us, and you’ve got 100 websites on a server, the last thing you want is one of those not secure, and somebody’s being able to hack in and ultimately get to everything. So it it’s a very important piece from the consumer eyes, because they like to know that they’re going to a secure site. And so obviously, I mean, we we make sure that happens on all of our sites. But there’s, I had one client this morning, just magically was looking at upgrading websites, we started to work on it. And the first thing I saw was he’s an e commerce site, and he didn’t have a lock now might you really? SEO website security 101 put your SSL certificate on there.
Shannendoah Gallagher 9:04
Absolutely. That’s that’s one of those ounce of prevention type things. Right?
Dave Myers 9:09
Shannendoah Gallagher 9:10
Aside from just data analytics, what other knock on long tail effects can you build towards your SEO? Like, how important is it to get people to become like an email newsletter subscriber or onto your customer list from your website?
Dave Myers 9:27
Yeah, I think you know, that probably is more from a marketing standpoint. But I think any any data that you can, you know, you can grab from your, from your customers to be able to remarket to them as important. So whether you’re doing Facebook pixels, you’ve got you know, you’ve got your analytics codes and everything you know, the more data you can collect, the better you know if I can get their email and build an email list and I can mark it out to them once or twice a month doesn’t necessarily help my SEO but that definitely helps my marketing efforts and that’s you know, that’s the name of the game right marketing 101.
Shannendoah Gallagher 10:06
Absolutely. And if you’re if you’re a dispensary, a cannabis dispensary CBD dispensary, a medical marijuana licensing clinic? How important, how much how much share should you put towards your local SEO efforts to stand out in a crowded market?
Dave Myers 10:26
Well, I think I think it’s imperative, you have to do it, if you’re not doing it, you’re surely relying on word of mouth. And to your point, I mean, they’re popping up everywhere. And you know, what makes you know, what makes Joe better than Bob and Bob better than Sue, you know, not necessarily anything, it really comes down to how do you market and, you know, if somebody is looking for something, or a dispensary, or something, you know, near them, you need to be in that three pack, you need to be in those top, you know, top five local listings. And if you’re not, you know, you’re definitely gonna lose business. And if you’re just solely relying on word of mouth and some some paid ads, it’s, again, it’s only piece of the puzzle. And to do it, right, do you know, local’s local, and if you’re not doing anything locally, on the web, it’s it’s a big mess.
Shannendoah Gallagher 11:20
And finally, you know, how does digital broiler and what you do bring this all together, tell us a little bit more about how you guys win for your clients.
Dave Myers 11:29
Yeah, we, you know, our, our goal, of course, is to get everybody, we tell them, if you’re past page two, you don’t have a chance. And, you know, we report all of our rankings, that we build for customers, all the way down to position 20. After 20, we don’t care. So you know, we make sure that all keywords that we’re working on or things that we’re doing, you know, that we get them in there. And I think one of the things that a lot of SEO companies don’t provide to people is is reporting and reporting is key. And, you know, we’ve got a one of our big things, we have an SEO guarantee that, you know, tells our customers that if if we don’t increase, we don’t put at least five new relevant keywords in the in the mix each month. They don’t have to pay us next month. And that’s, that’s a big deal to put kind of put your money where your mouth is, and, and the reporting aspect of it is really what sets us apart. So you can see last month versus this month, and then you can see two months past versus your baseline. So you always see, and you always know what’s going on. And the other thing we do we report the good and the bad. I mean, not every keyword is gonna go up every month, it’s not, you know, it just doesn’t because things change algorithms change. You know, there’s over 900 Google algorithm updates a year, that’s basically three a day that happens. And they’re not all major updates. You know, we’ve heard of Penguin and Panda and things like that. But they’re updating their algorithm that many times a day. And so you’ve got to, you know, you have to pay attention. And, you know, our team that we’ve put together has been in this industry over 10 years in different places. And, you know, it doesn’t matter the industry we’re working in we, you know, we we figured out some of the formulas and, you know, everybody will tell you, it takes six months, and I’ll tell you the same thing. But you you’ll you’ll see results in first 30 to 60 days with us almost every time. And it’s you know, it’s not we kind of pat ourselves on the back for and you know, we don’t price ourselves out of the ballgame. We’re very reasonably priced. We you know, we’re fair, all industries are a little bit different. But, you know, the more crowded they get, the harder it gets, right? And so sadly, you know, cost associates to that. But it’s you know, you have to you have to fight to keep your position and it’s an ongoing battle and it’s a never ending battle. It’s not something that’s too many people think SEO is that we’ll do it, we’ll do it our on page SEO, and we’re done. And that’s that doesn’t work. It’s it’s a it’s kind of like, it’s kind of like insurance you you got to do it every month because the day you don’t have it somebody else’s nobody’s gonna hit your car, and you’re in trouble. And this is the same scenario. You know, if you stop there’s five more people that want to jump over the top of you and they’re going to work to do it and you’ll drop.
Shannendoah Gallagher 14:20
And just to wrap this up. What would you tell a brand new brick and mortar a start up an ecommerce site, three absolute must have low hanging fruit action items they have to do right now.
Dave Myers 14:38
First thing I tell them is when building your website, you get somebody that knows what they’re doing. Don’t go get a $15 a month builder from GoDaddy or Squarespace that you can drag and drop your stuff. Because I promise you six months from now, you’ll be kicking yourself. You cannot with most of those builders, you can not do the proper SEO thing. You need to do structurally, it needs to be built properly page to page. And that’s one of the biggest mistakes, I see everybody… everybody wants to cheap website to get up and running as fast as possible. And then it it ends up biting them in the rear later. So that’s, that’s step one, build your website properly. Step two would be make sure you create and get your Google My Business Page Up, make get it claimed, get it set up properly, get it optimized properly. If you don’t know how to do it, you come to somebody like us, and then we help you we’ll help all those things. And then thirdly, get your organic SEO started from the day you start because especially especially if you’re a new, if you have a new domain, you’re at ground zero, and it’ll take you six to 12 months for Google to even really believe you’re a player in the game on a new domain. And so that requires organic SEO that provides trying to get more and more content on your blog as much as you can or hire somebody to blog like us. Well, you know, we can write blogs for you. Things like that, because the more content and the more you can prove to Google that you’re a player, the faster you’ll get up the ranking chains.
Shannendoah Gallagher 16:15
Awesome. Dave, thank you so much. I appreciate your time and your your knowledge and expertise. This has been fantastic. Thank you.
Dave Myers 16:21
I appreciate it.
1: Perform an audit
Get a snapshot of your current SEO rankings, Online directory listings, and blog content. A good audit will also check the health of your website. How your website functions and performs makes a big difference in ranking scores.
2: Create SMART Goals
Based on your findings create goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound.
example: I will have 12,ooo monthly visitors on my website through PPC campaigns and SEO blog posts by the end of October 2021.
3: Consult experts
The smartest thing you can do for yourself and your cannabis dispensary is to stop and ask others if they could create a plan that will help you reach your goals.