How to Do Local SEO for Cannabis Dispensaries

This guide will walk you through the most important local SEO ranking factors to give your brand an edge over other local cannabis businesse

Written by
Cameron Gallacher
Co-Founder and CMO

December 8, 2022

Last Updated:

December 8, 2022

Do you own a cannabis company, or are you an SEO consultant who works in the cannabis industry? If so, you must use local cannabis advertising to attract cannabis customers and build on your search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your online visibility.

But how do you implement an effective local SEO strategy for your dispensary website? The primary thing to do is learn how to appear at the top of Google's local search results. This guide will walk you through the most important local ranking factors to give your brand an edge over other local businesses in the area.

Why Is Local SEO Important for the Cannabis Industry?

Local SEO strategies could benefit local businesses with physical stores or offices where customers can make purchases in person. But it also works well in online settings that attract people from certain parts of the world.

Using local SEO for a local cannabis business can be very helpful in many ways. First of all, your website will be able to get high rankings in local search results for queries that are relevant to your business. People looking for CBD products will find your website and make a purchase.

Local SEO also has a low level of competition. Thus, you won't have to spend a lot of money to work on ranking factors and get ahead of well-established businesses in this field. As your business grows, you can start to include global campaigns in your SEO plan, and you can also switch from local SEO to national SEO at any time.

How Does Local Search Engine Optimization Work?

Before implementing effective SEO strategies, you must first know how local SEO works. Here is a step-by-step guide to show you:

Keyword Research

Everyone who has tried to promote a website knows that keyword research is essential. Since Google's search algorithms are very complicated and advanced, it can be hard to rank if you don't know what your potential customers are looking for. When figuring out the user's goal about the search query, what the user types into the search box or says into the microphone through voice search will always play a role.

Find keywords that have a high search demand and are relevant to your business. Be wary of choosing popular keywords because these search phrases are highly competitive. Thus, if you are just starting your website, you will be more likely to compete with more prominent brands if you only choose highly competitive or popular keywords. This will make it hard for you to climb to the first page of Google search results.

Keep in mind that Google ranks websites higher in the search results if they are relevant to the searcher's location. So, if your dispensary has multiple locations, ensure a landing page that targets keywords for each area. For example, if you have a dispensary in Ontario and Vancouver, you should make a separate landing page for each location and include the following keyword goals on each page:

  • Dispensaries in Ontario
  • Dispensaries in Vancouver

Research your main competitors

When doing effective keyword research, identify what keywords your competitors are going after and how they are improving their search engine visibility. It is not enough to know your main competitors if you want to be successful. You also need to know what they can and can't do.

Set Up Your Google Business Profile

Another vital step to improving SEO for dispensaries is to claim and verify listings on Google Business Profile (GBP). Google Business Profile is a helpful tool that lets businesses control their online presence on Google, including Search, Google Local Pack, and Maps.

You should have a GBP listing for two reasons. One, it does not cost anything; two, most people use it to find things nearby, including cannabis.

How to optimize your Google Business Profile

After you have claimed and verified your listing, you can start making changes to improve your profile. If you take the time to improve your GBP, you may make it easier for potential customers to find your business when searching for terms related to your products or services. When optimizing the GBP of your local cannabis business, you should keep the following in mind:

  • The business name you enter on the listing should be the same name that appears on your website. Avoid adding other words unless it is officially part of the business name. Doing so will mislead your audience and go against Google's guidelines for representing your business.
  • Describe your cannabis business in as few categories as possible to help potential customers find you more quickly.
  • Ensure that your business address and service area match the ones on your website and other listings. This will increase the likelihood of your brand showing on Google Maps.
  • Create a concise and powerful business description. Ensure you emphasize your brand mission and how it stands out from your competitors.
  • You can upload plenty of photos but make sure you include high-quality pictures of your business location, logo, and product shots. Short videos can also be uploaded.
  • Always keep your business information up to date, and don't wait for somebody else to submit a correction. Information from others outside your business can be inaccurate, which may reduce potential customers and leads.
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews on your profile. The more positive reviews you have, the more your chances of ranking well in featured local search results are.

Search for More Local Listing Opportunities

Local SEO for dispensaries is based on proximity, visibility, and relevance. Your goal is to make your company's online presence more effective so that you can take advantage of the mentioned factors. For example, you can't change where your business is located, but you can create content that will help make your website more visible for people who don't live in your primary service area.

Even though there are other local listing services, like Bing and Yahoo, you should focus most of your attention on Google Business Profile and platforms that are focused on dispensaries, like Weedmaps and Leafly. We have imparted some tips on how to optimize your GBP. Below we will show you how to do it on other local cannabis listings like Leafly and Weedmaps:

How to optimize your Leafly and Weedmaps profiles

Leafly and Weedmaps are two of the most prominent and reliable cannabis platforms where you can list your local cannabis business. Leafly is focused on the strains sold at local businesses, while Weedmaps targets marijuana dispensaries locations.

The two platforms have a lot in common. For instance, their pricing structure is both geo-specific. Thus, variables like location and current competition around your area will influence how much it will cost to list your dispensary websites.

Also, the higher price you pay, the higher your listing will show up. Nevertheless, you can still make a free account on these platforms. But if you want your dispensary to be one of the first few that come up, you should be ready to pay for it. Whether you pay or not, it is a must to optimize your listings on Weedmaps and Leafly. Here are some tips on how to do it:

  • Since search engines care most about consistency, the information about your company, like name, address, phone number, and hours of operation, must be the same on all platforms.
  • Your conversion rate will be high if your profiles on Leafly and Weedmaps have the most recent information and include photos, videos, menus, and special offers.
  • Check to see if the platforms are correctly adding UTM parameters to the links that lead to your website and if those links are working correctly. Adding UTM parameters to your analytics setup can help you correctly attribute traffic to the different platforms.
  • Take time to fill out the About page and respond to positive and negative reviews as soon as possible.

Work on Your On-Page SEO

Aside from local listings, you must also work on optimizing and improving your website through on-page SEO. This means ensuring that your website's structure is set up in a way that is easy for search engines to understand and using relevant keywords throughout your content.

Website content is where your target keywords live. If your website doesn't have any information or keywords about your products, search engines and potential customers won't be able to find you. Thus, write well-informed content for your audience (and Google).

Use long-tail keywords and related terms creatively and strategically in the metadata of your Google Business Profile, the main website, and any landing pages or location pages you may have. Here are some tips on how to create optimized website content:

  • Place keywords in titles and headings since they are the most valuable locations for keywords.
  • Ensure that your content is relevant to your readers or consumers.
  • Add alt texts for every image you use in your content.
  • Do not stuff keywords on your web pages to avoid getting penalized by Google.
  • Avoid using the same keywords on different pages so your content won't be flagged as "cannibalization." Moreover, this will prevent search engines from knowing which pages to show over the others.

Improve Your Link-Building

Links are one of the most critical competitive advantages a local business website can have to improve its SEO and online presence. For local marijuana dispensaries, the website traffic and sales hugely rely on link building.

The top local ranking factors relating to link metrics include photos that have links to your website, referring domains that link to your web pages, referring IP addresses, and Google reviews.

Scale Your Local Business Presence

Lastly, it would be best if you worked on making your brand more visible and popular by getting more positive customer feedback and expanding where you do business. All of these changes will make the rankings in the local search results better as a whole.

Social media channels

All social media profiles you have set up for your business must be linked to your company's website. With so many choices available today, we recommend picking quality over quantity. If you're not going to use Twitter, do not sign up for an account. Most of your time and energy should go into making one or two social platforms that stand out. Instagram and Facebook are the two social media sites that local marijuana dispensaries use the most.

Paid ads

Paid advertising is an excellent addition to your local SEO strategy, especially when you are just starting out. However, there are complicated regulations that will restrict you from doing so. At the moment, Google labels cannabis as a "dangerous product" and tells advertisers they can't promote the sale or use of the product.

On both Facebook and Instagram, it is against the rules to advertise cannabis products. Stackadapt is one of the few paid ad companies that offer advertising options for the cannabis market. But there are strict rules about what you can advertise and how you can do it. Paid ads for dispensaries should not try to sell or promote cannabis but to raise brand awareness.


How cannabis businesses rank better in Google search results depends on the effectiveness of their local SEO strategies. The most important ranking factors of marijuana dispensaries depend on how you execute the steps mentioned above. It is essential to take the time to improve your local SEO. And since it requires some technical knowledge, hiring local SEO services will benefit your cannabis business.

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