The Basics of Search Engine Marketing for Cannabis Businesses

Imagine you have a cannabis website you’re really proud of: one that fully captures your brand, your story, your products. And yet – no one is finding it.

SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, is that arm of marketing that can completely transform the online presence of your business so that your customers can actually discover your brand. In fact, 93% of all online experiences start with a search engine.

There are three main types of SEM – all aimed at helping you earn greater visibility in search results: local SEO, organic SEO, and pay-per-click (PPC).

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of improving both the quality and quantity of traffic to a website or a web page through unpaid, or organic, search engine results. Implementing the right campaign strategy with constant vigilance over time is what it takes to build traffic. 

Combined, organic and paid tactics, such as PPC, can grow your return on investment (ROI) and increase your website traffic and ultimately be a game-changer for your business. 

With time, these pillars of your SEM strategy can certainly be managed and fully understood by your brand on your own. However, a team of SEO professionals can get the best results and truly reap the benefits of an effective SEO strategy, particularly for a cannabis brand. 

Overall, a comprehensive SEM strategy is one that takes organic and paid tactics into consideration and incorporates local SEO to reach your target audience. Here are some basics of search engine marketing for cannabis businesses:


Content is King

Without quality content, search engine optimization efforts are simply boosting content that your audience is not interested in. Therefore, the first step to having a good search engine marketing strategy is to never underestimate the importance of high-value, engaging content. This is ultimately the key to what helps SEO tactics take off. 

Keeping Google happy requires bringing people to your website without promotions about cannabis. This means creating engaging content that is less sales-oriented and more fun, practical, and educational.

Blogs are a great resource to share with your audience to build and nurture a relationship with them. You can post relevant information like current events in the area, new strains, recipes, behind the scenes, etc. 

General education topics like the different strains available and their effects are good for consumers who know how to use cannabis in their own way but like to learn about more uses. From here, you can promote blog content across channels – email, social media, etc. – therefore, driving traffic to your content. 

When people go to your blog to read, say, a recipe, they might try to buy what is necessary to make that recipe themselves. The easiest place to start will be the very site they are reading it on, so they will move from your blog to your Shop page and will see your dispensary actually sells the product they are looking for. 

In other words, a good piece of content can bring high-intent users to your site and encourage them to purchase from you, all without spending a dime. 


Paid Search Tactics

Of course, sometimes you want to put a budget behind your content. The truth is that the most success e-commerce businesses see is typically from paid search campaigns.

For dispensaries and other brick-and-mortar stores, Google Ads and local search ads are an effective strategy for a number of reasons. 

Most notably, paid search tactics are highly relevant and bring fast results. You can boost your website ranking within Google Search and get your dispensary or cannabis brand in front of high-intent, local users searching for your products or services. When done correctly, you can target users by location down to the zip code and turn marketing dollars into meaningful foot traffic. 

Additionally, unlike SEO, which is a long-term strategy that could take months or even years, search ads allow you to start ranking for your desired keywords immediately. This often means ranking higher than your competitors as well. Better yet, you get to be in full control of your budget. 

With Google, you can easily scale campaigns and avoid getting locked into a minimum ad budget or bid strategy. Instead, you can start small and scale up as you see results. 

While there are limitations in the cannabis space, such as with social media, paid search ads are still highly measurable for cannabis businesses. From tracking conversions back to specific keywords and ad copy to identifying successful design, you can easily justify your ROI and gain deeper insight into your production efforts. 

These benefits make paid search ads a wildly successful tactic for cannabis businesses. However, due to its federal status, paid advertising of cannabis or CBD products is prohibited by digital platforms like Google Ads. 

Need some ideas on how to work around these restrictions? Download our FREE Secrets to Successful Cannabis Marketing e-book for more insight.

Perfect Your Cannabis Search Engine Marketing Strategy with Cannabis Creative

To effectively measure the results of a PPC campaign, you must continually test and optimize all areas of the campaign from ad copy, landing page copy, landing page design, offers, email drip campaigns, keyword targets, keyword bids, locations, budgets, etc. to generate the highest conversion rate.

Digital marketing agencies have teams of PPC professionals who have mastered the best practices in this area. For instance, Cannabis Creative’s expert PPC team has an entire toolkit of strategies to help cannabis businesses reach their advertising goals without being flagged by Google. To learn more, contact us about our SEM services today.

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