Looking to increase your phone calls, orders, and website visits? Who isn’t?!
With marijuana being an illegal drug at the federal level in the United States, Google has followed suit by restricting certain GBP aspects that would otherwise be very useful for SEO purposes.
This makes it a bit trickier to reach local audiences, however, it also allows us to get creative with GBP profiles that work within the cannabis industry.
Here, we’ll show you how to optimize your GBP listing if your business is related to cannabis.
GBP Restrictions for Marijuana Dispensaries
Unfortunately, there are a great many restrictions for cannabis dispensaries on the Google Business Profile dashboard. When you open your location in GBP, the typical dashboard looks something like this:
For marijuana dispensaries, the dashboard looks like this:
The difference directly in the dashboards listed here are the missing three sections for marijuana dispensaries:
However, those aren’t the only restrictions for dispensaries.
Everything not included for a dispensary GBP page includes:
- Posts: Similar to social media posts, but catered to local SEO strategies
- Products: Lists of products and product categories that include images, optional pricing, descriptions, and links to product pages
- Services: Lists of services and descriptions offered by a place of business
- Bookings: Booking links online where the business is affiliated
- Google Guaranteed Badge: A payable, visible badge presented by Google after a background check has been completed by the business
Many of these strategies are used to increase CTR (click-through rate) on the website and to improve rankings for particular keyword searches. Not having them is definitely annoying, but not impossible to work without.
With these restrictions, let’s dive into some strategies that will help improve your business in the local map pack.
Ensure the Pin Marker is Accurate
The pin marker is the exact access point for the physical location of your business. It’s used by Google to direct customers through Google Maps to your location. Essentially, it is the latitude and longitude of your business’s front door.
When your pin marker doesn’t match your address or leads customers to the back of the building, things start to look sketchy.
Assign the pin marker to the entrance of your dispensary and ensure that your business address matches the pin marker.
If your business operates in a multi-unit building, drag the pin marker to your business’s unit of operations. You can do this by going to the address section under the Info page in your dashboard.
Choose the Appropriate Business Category
When you set up or claim a GBP listing, the business category that you choose will directly affect your rankings. The primary business category is the most important category to choose for your business.
If you are a marijuana dispensary, the most appropriate category to choose is “Cannabis store”.
The current list of cannabis-related categories is limited to "cannabis store". That’s the most accurate category for anything related to recreational/medicinal marijuana retail. Do not use categories such as “Vitamin & supplements store” as you could get suspended by Google for inaccurately choosing your business category for your own selfish needs.
However, if you offer delivery for any of your products, you may choose “Delivery service” as a secondary category. So, when customers search for keywords such as “cannabis delivery near me”, you’ll appear in the local listings.
Adding photos is crucial for customers to better understand the business they are either stepping into or ordering from. Since dispensaries have had bad flak in previous years, you need to showcase your business as the exception.
Take images of the exterior and interior of the building. Publish photos that show the products you sell (that’s not against Google’s policies). Upload your logo for brand recognition. And show images of your team or events you’ve been to.
This is what we call building your social currency. You’re showing the local community where you are, what you look like, how your business is best represented, and the types of quality products/services you provide.
Don’t treat your GBP listing as your social media profile, it’s much more than that! Don’t be adding photos that are unrelated to your business. And please, oh please, don’t show a picture of your pet in your house!!
Think about what your customer will want to see, and work from there.
Choose Your Address Wisely
If you’re a totally new business or you’re looking to relocate, really think about the address.
The success of your business relies on where you’re located. Proximity is the most important ranking signal on Google’s Map Pack.
So, be mindful of your competitors and the population in the area you are positioning your business. If you’re opening up a shop in a city that has TONS of competition that has already built its reputation, then it will be extremely difficult to outrank them.
If you open your store in a city where customers are scarce or are against marijuana, then it’s probably not the best place to continue the journey.
Instead, think about your demographics, think about the area as customers want to feel safe, and think about where you want to take your business. If you open up your store in a place that is known for violent acts of crime, then you’re not going to get people who want to be safe, even if they live a few blocks away.
Optimize for Reviews
Push, push, push for more reviews! Reviews are an integral part of ranking and proving the worth of your business. Always be asking customers for reviews once they purchase from you.
Obviously, always push for positive reviews. We don’t recommend that you tell a customer who had a bad experience to write a review of your business. It goes without saying that it won’t look too good on your listing.
Ask the customer to leave a 5-star rating along with reasons as to why they enjoyed their visit. If they put in the proper keywords, you can start ranking for other related searches.
Remove Duplicate Listings
If you have multiple listings for the same business, that’s called a duplicate listing. It’s essential to remove duplicate listings from Google for several reasons.
- Duplicate listings compete with each other on search engines, leading to cannibalization
- Consumers won’t know which listing is the real one and will become confused, possibly leading to them going to your competitor instead
- Duplicate listings send bad signals to Google, one of them will eventually be removed or flagged
- Multiple listings for the same location means reviews will get dispersed between them, instead of accumulating on one set listing
Duplicate listings can sometimes be thought of as a way to rank quicker, but this isn’t the case. If one of your listings gets flagged or suspended by Google, you’re going to run into possible problems with your real listing.
Don’t have multiple listings for the same location. If you do, remove them fast!
Remove Inappropriate Imagery
Google Business Profile is a public channel, open to all contributions. This means customers and competitors can add images to your listing. You don’t want anything on there that misrepresents your business and what you offer.
Remove all images that are inappropriate. If someone posts an image of themselves posing while smoking a blunt, that might not accurately depict your business. Or if the image is blurry, it should be removed.
User-generated content can be amazing additions of information that boost your business. However, only if it represents your business in the right light.
In the end, there are many strategies you can take to increase your web presence through GBP optimization. The tips outlined here are only the starting point to a sleek page that accurately directs customers to your business.
If your marijuana dispensary needs assistance with anything GBP or digital marketing related, reach out to our team here at Beyond Blue Media.