About 75 percent of users never scroll past the first page of search results, according to HubSpot. This means that dispensaries must work harder to top the search engine result pages (SERPs) to gain an edge on the competition.
When it comes to digital marketing, dispensaries have a wide range of options. Some of the most popular types of online marketing include search engine marketing (SEM), social media marketing (SMM), affiliate marketing, email marketing and content marketing. However, two of the most well-known areas of digital marketing are search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
While both SEO and PPC have their own sets of advantages, SEO often outweighs PPC in terms of long-term results. Learn more about each type of online marketing and why dispensaries should pursue SEO over PPC.
Figure 1.3 shows Pure Oasis, one for 321 Web Marketing’s clients, on the first page of search results for the keyword “Boston Dispensary.”
What Is SEO And How Is It Performed?
Search engine optimization is the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic and exposure to a brand through “organic” or non-paid search engine results.
SEO focuses on delivering relevant content to online users so knowing the intent of the audience is critical.
In addition to knowing their audience, dispensaries must also understand what search engine crawlers are looking for when they crawl a web page.
When a person searches for a dispensary online, they pull up a list of results that include both paid and unpaid results. Often, the first few results seen are paid search ads that are relevant to the searcher’s query, followed by a list of organic results.
It is the goal of a search engine to make money through advertising. Knowing this, some businesses may think that they stand a better chance of attracting new customers by paying for advertising through methods like PPC. However, this can be costly in the long term and the results are often short-lived.
While paid advertising can generate traffic to a website, the majority of online traffic is driven by organic search results. Organic search results are often seen as more credible by searchers and tend to receive far more clicks than paid advertisements.
There are several important aspects of SEO that can help dispensaries make their business stand out in the search results:
- On-Page SEO – On-page SEO refers to the handling of a website’s backend. There are several ways that businesses can optimize their website using on-page SEO to improve their search ranking. Dispensaries can enhance their website’s meta title and meta description, place internal links, enhance headers with keywords, and add images using keyword-rich and description alt-tags.
- Off-Page SEO – Off-page SEO focuses more on the things that a business cannot control as they depend on other people. Building off-page SEO requires businesses to get other relevant and trustworthy businesses to link back to them. Building quality backlinks shows search engines that the website contains great content that is relevant to the searcher’s query.
- Content Marketing – Content marketing centers around creating high-quality content for a website. From social media content and blog articles to videos and infographics, online content can help draw in an audience. However, the content being published must be relevant and engaging to get real results.
Figure 4.1 displays the referring that were gained over a year period for Pure Oasis. These backlinks are related to off-page SEO. As you gain more reliable backlinks your site will begin to grow in its rankings.
Keyword research plays a critical role in a successful SEO strategy. Dispensaries must understand what people are searching for when they discover a business in the search engines. The right keywords can help drive targeted traffic to products and enhance brand awareness.
Businesses can also use online tools to see what keywords their competitors are ranking for and what strong keywords are being underutilized. The use of long-tail keywords can also help businesses rank, especially if they discover that some keywords are too competitive in their niche.
What Is PPC And How Is It Performed?
Pay-per-click is an internet marketing model in which advertisers pay a fee each time their ad is clicked. What makes PPC different from SEO is that the pay-per-click model requires a sizable advertising investment. With search engine optimization, visits to a website are earned organically through the use of keyword placement and strategic links. This makes SEO a more cost-effective method, especially for new startups and small businesses.
One of the most common forms of PPC is search engine marketing. SEM allows advertisers to bid for their ad placements in a search engine’s sponsored links when a user searches a keyword that is related to the product being offered by the business. For example, if a user searched “cannabis,” the name of a local dispensary may show up in the top spot of the search results page.
Although PPC advertising essentially involves paying to have a business ad placed in the search engines, a business website does not necessarily earn the top spot just because the business pays more money. Instead, all ads are subject to an Ad Auction, an automated process that many major search engines use to determine the validity and relevance of advertisements.
The Ad Auction acts as a bidding system and advertisers must bid on the words that they want to trigger their ads. Since businesses are charged based on each click that they receive on their ads, it is critical to only bid on keywords that are relevant to the business to ensure a high return on investment (ROI). Online keyword tools can be useful for identifying the best keywords for a particular business or industry.
How Dispensaries Can Benefit From SEO
When deciding which advertising methods to implement, it is important for dispensaries to consider the many benefits of SEO.
There are many ways that businesses can improve their website to increase sales, boost engagement and maximize user experience. From sharing relevant information to posting pictures and videos, the right content can make a significant difference in the success of a website. However, it is vital to have the right keywords in the content posted to draw in organic traffic.
SEO can also be an effective source of lead generation. In fact, inbound strategies are some of the most successful lead sources among business to customer (B2C), business to business (B2B) and nonprofit organizations.
Another major benefit that dispensaries may experience with a solid SEO strategy is higher close rates. When businesses choose to reach out to customers via cold leads, it can result in lower conversion rates. However, SEO leads can lead to higher conversion rates as the customer is taking the initiative to research the product.
Search engine optimization can also lead to lower advertising costs. According to the Search Engine Journal, inbound leads can lower the cost of lead generation by up to 61 percent compared to outbound leads. When a business experiences success through SEO, they can save money that they would otherwise need to invest in pay-per-click advertising or other paid methods.
Figure 5.1 shows the Cost Per Click price for the keyword “Boston Dispensary.” Pure Oasis achieved a high ranking for this keyword without using paid advertising that others would be paying $9.00 for every time a user clicks on their site.
With SEO, local users are also motivated to visit the actual storefront after encountering the business online. Local search is an excellent tool for businesses with a physical location like dispensaries as it makes people in the local area aware that the business exists. Many people like to research a business before making a local purchase which makes an optimized website essential.
Customers want to buy from businesses that they can trust to deliver good customer service and quality products. SEO can help businesses build brand credibility which is crucial for long-term growth and success. How a business ranks in the search engines helps customers determine who the leaders are in the industry. If customers believe that a business is not well-known, they may find a competitor that is more recognizable.
Mobility is another important element to consider when choosing advertising models for a business. SEO can help improve the mobile-friendliness of a website which directly impacts other factors, such as ranking. An optimized website not only makes it easier for people to find the business online but also creates a better user experience through user-friendly navigation, engaging content and strategically-placed links.
Search engine optimization is considered a long-term marketing strategy. While a business can spend money to receive clicks to their website quickly using PPC, the results are usually temporary. When the business stops paying for these advertisements, traffic tends to slow down significantly.
However, the progression of a website that incorporates SEO is often continuous. It can take up to six months or more to start seeing optimal ranking using SEO tactics; however, the long-term results are often worth the wait. This organic advertising model helps ensure that people will continue finding and interacting with the website on an ongoing basis.
Figure 5.6 proves that organic search rankings are not earned overnight. Ranking takes time. While this client now is gaining organic keywords exponentially, the incline was slow and steady at the beginning of the campaign.
One of the most important benefits of SEO for dispensaries is how it impacts competition between businesses in the same industry. Without a strong marketing plan, customers may flock to a competitor that has an optimized site and is using the proper strategies to draw traffic. To maintain a competitive edge, dispensaries must work on their SEO to reach the top of the search results.
Speak With An Experienced Marketing Agency
Search engine optimization has become one of the most widely adopted online marketing strategies among businesses in all industries. The benefits of SEO are vast and include perks like increased traffic, excellent ROI, cost-effectiveness, brand awareness and increased site usability.
When developing an SEO strategy for a dispensary, it is important to work with a professional with extensive experience in digital marketing. 321 Web Marketing is Northern Virginia’s premier web marketing agency specializing in local SEO, inbound marketing campaigns and website design.
To learn more about why dispensaries should pursue SEO over PPC or to schedule a meeting with a qualified web marketing expert, reach out to the team at 321 Web Marketing today.