SEO case study

Cannabis Dispensary SEO: Quadrupling a Dispensary’s Organic Traffic in 6 Months!

Marijuana dispensaries, while undeniably in demand (the market is set to hit $58 billion by 2030), are pretty limited when it comes to advertising. 

Since cannabis is still federally illegal, major media platforms (including social media) don’t allow dispensaries to purchase advertising spots. 

Not only that, but the tiny amount of advertising they DO allow is extremely regulated and, oftentimes, not worth it. 

So, how are dispensaries expected to build a loyal base of customers with such fierce competition and limited opportunities to advertise?

Cannabis dispensary SEO is the industry’s saving grace and the #1 way for dispensaries to advertise their services. 

Improving your online visibility for niche cannabis keywords on search engines like Google will place your content in front of your target audience, which is what you want. 

We’re not strangers to cannabis SEO at The HOTH, and today, we’re going to share how we achieved a 4x increase in a New York cannabis dispensary’s organic traffic in just 6 months. 

Other impressive results include:

  • 400+ industry keywords ranking in the top 10 
  • 89 keywords in the top 3 
  • Added a Location page that generates 273+ organic visitors per month 
  • Organic traffic grew from 14 visitors to 6,000+ at the end of 10 months 

There’s a lot to unpack here, so read on to discover how we yielded these amazing results (and how we can replicate them for your dispensary). 

The Client: A Cannabis Dispensary from New York 

The brainchild of a highly trained and skilled glassblower, our client’s dispensary became a reality soon after marijuana became legal in New York in 2021. 

Prior to this, he had owned and operated several glassblowing studios and pipe shops in the area, but selling cannabis was an entirely different ball game (as he would soon find out). 

Carving out a name for yourself in the brand-new and fiercely competitive cannabis industry in New York was no easy feat, to say the least. While getting set up wasn’t much trouble, the giant hurdle was advertising. 

It didn’t take long for our client to run into this issue. 

“How do I get the word out about my awesome new shop?”

This is a question countless dispensary owners have asked themselves since opening their doors. 

Facebook? Out. 

Instagram? Out. 

X for Business? Out. 

This prompted our client to do some research online, and he soon discovered that SEO was the perfect solution. 

Soon after, he got in touch with our team for a consultation. 

Setting the client up for success 

Since his website was extremely new and in a brand-new industry, we knew his business needed the full treatment. Rather than recommending some of our standalone SEO products, we suggested the client sign up for a HOTH X campaign. 

What’s that?

HOTH X is our fully managed SEO service. It’s where we pair you with a dedicated campaign manager who will devise a cohesive SEO strategy tailored to meet your specific goals. 

From there, we utilize a combination of HOTH SEO products to get the job done. 

After consulting with the client and auditing their existing website (more on this below), we developed the following goals for the SEO campaign:

  • Drastically improve organic traffic generation (the client was averaging 14 monthly visitors when we kicked off the campaign) 
  • Build valuable backlinks to improve search rankings and build authority
  • Start ranking in the top 10 for crucial cannabis keywords 
  • Create helpful content that drives traffic to the site 
  • Rank for local keywords in the Binghamton & Johnson City areas

Here are the products the client used over a 10-month period:

  1. Link Outreach for authoritative backlink opportunities 
  2. Link Insertions to score high-value link placements on relevant websites 
  3. HOTH Blogger Pro to create thought-leader-worthy content that attracts visitors (and converts through CTAs) 
  4. Web Copy to add a valuable Location page (which brings in hundreds of visitors per month now) 

Let’s take a closer look at the campaign details. 

The SEO Audit: Setting the Stage for What’s to Come 

Every HOTH X client receives an SEO audit to kick things off. 

We do this because:

  1. It helps us establish a strong foundation for future SEO efforts 
  2. We can identify ‘easy-win’ keyword opportunities 

The audit lets us get a comprehensive overview of the client’s current SEO performance, including:

  • On-page SEO factors like keyword usage and metadata 
  • Technical SEO factors like page loading speed, site architecture, broken links, and indexing errors 
  • Any keywords they’re currently ranking for and in which positions 
  • The strength of their current web copy 

It’s crucial for us to begin an SEO strategy on a website that’s already optimized; otherwise, our efforts may make existing issues worse. 

For example, if we start writing and publishing new blogs on a site that has loading speed issues, users probably won’t have the patience to wait for the blogs to load, rendering all that content useless. 

That’s not to mention Google’s Core Web Vitals test. 

It tests a website’s loading speed, interactivity, and visual stability. Websites that aren’t able to pass the test tend to have trouble ranking (and have a poor user experience), so it’s crucial that we fix all technical issues before moving forward with the campaign. 

Once we got our client’s cannabis dispensary site in tip-top shape, we moved on to looking for ‘easy-win’ keywords. 

Pro tip: If you suspect you have technical issues affecting your website’s performance on search engines, one of our Technical SEO Audits is the perfect way to find out. You’ll receive a comprehensive audit of your entire website, and we’ll provide a detailed report/hop on a call to cover every issue we find. 

Finding easy-win keyword opportunities 

The second phase of our audits involves hunting down what we call ‘easy-win’ keywords. 

What are those?

These are keywords that the client’s website is already ranking on Google for, just not in the top 3. 

For the most part, we consider keywords ranking in positions 4 – 30 to have easy win potential. Since the client’s site is already ranking for these queries, a lot of the hard work has already been done. 

There’s no waiting for the content to appear in Google’s index, as it’s already crawled, indexed, and ranked. 

All that’s left is to perform a little SEO magic to give the content a ranking boost. 

In the case of our client, we found quite a few easy-win keyword opportunities related to the cannabis industry in New York. 

For these pages, we:

  • Made sure the ranking keyword was included in the title tag, H1 header, meta description, and first 100 words of the content. 
  • Tightened up the formatting of the pages and used subheadings (H2, H3, H4, etc.) when appropriate. 
  • Added internal and external links to related pages 
  • Included high-resolution images wherever they were missing, like in static blog posts
  • Added keywords to image alt tags (a brief descriptive line that lets Google know what images convey) 
  • Built backlinks from trusted, relevant websites 

Thanks to these optimizations, we were able to catapult the client’s easy-win keywords into the top 10 and even the top 3 in some cases. 

Why easy-win keywords matter 

Targeting easy-win keywords is one of our favorite techniques for one major reason: they provide quick results. 

SEO is a long-term game that takes patience, as it’s not possible to start dominating the SERPs in a week or two. 

Instead, it can take a few months for a campaign to pick up steam, which is where easy-win keywords save the day. 

By optimizing an easy-win keyword page, you can potentially see results in a few weeks or a month. This is because the content is already in Google’s index, so it won’t take too long for the changes to take effect. 

As a result, easy-win keywords provide speedy boosts in organic traffic for our clients, which is a huge plus. 

This means our clients don’t have to wait eons to start generating business through their website! 

Campaign Strategy 1: Cannabis Content Creation 

With the audit complete, we moved onto the nitty gritty of the campaign strategy. As stated before, the client used a combination of HOTH SEO products, one of which being HOTH Blogger Pro. 

What’s that?

HOTH Blogger features professional writers who produce SEO-friendly articles that provide value to target audiences. Blogger Pro is an upscaled version of the service where clients are matched with niche writers who have been published in the client’s industry. 

Our staff vets these writers to ensure they’re the real deal.

For our NY cannabis dispensary, we used subject matter experts (SMEs) from the cannabis industry to write their blog posts. 

These were writers who lived and breathed cannabis (literally, we’re sure), so they were the perfect candidates to write for our client. 

Each month of the campaign included 2 orders for Blogger Pro articles, either 1,000 words or 1,500 words in length. 

Why is blogging so important for SEO?

It is because:

  • Blogs give you the chance to target (and capitalize on) trending keywords that your audience searches for online 
  • Informative, entertaining blogs build brand loyalty and establish you as a thought leader 
  • Regularly publishing content gives Google incentive to regularly crawl and index your website (which is imperative for maintaining top rankings) 
  • Creating outstanding content attracts backlinks and social shares 
  • Adding CTAs (calls-to-action) to blog posts will improve conversions and lead generation 

As you can see, blogging does a heap of good for your SEO, which is why we focused on it so heavily during this campaign. 

The client’s blog is now chock full of helpful cannabis articles that rank #1 for important keywords, link to crucial internal pages (like product pages), and generate conversions. 

How blogging leads to more business 

Whenever we write articles for clients, they’re designed to convert

By that, we mean we always have an end goal in mind whenever we create a blog post. 

It could be to increase sales for a particular product, collect reader emails to use as leads, or encourage further reading on another internal page – just to name a few. 

Whatever the goal is, we always include a clear call to action at the end of the post. This lets the reader know in plain English what we want them to do next, such as sign up for a service or order a product. 

While it may seem like a small step, including CTAs has a HUGE impact on conversion rates. 

The proof?

HubSpot was able to increase its conversion rates by 121% simply by including hyperlinked CTAs at the end of blog posts. 

Therefore, the blogs we wrote for our client not only generated organic traffic but also contributed to lead and revenue generation! 

Campaign Strategy 2: Link-Building 

If you want to rank #1 on Google, then you’re going to need authoritative backlinks pointing at your website. 

A backlink is a link on another website that directs to one of your web pages. 

Google uses backlinks as a way to judge the quality and trustworthiness of a website. If you have backlinks coming from authoritative websites, it’s a sign that your website is also high-quality. You can think of it as ‘trust by association.’

Our client’s campaign included at least a few orders for Link Outreach and Link Insertions every single month.

This is because we knew we had to build as many backlinks from relevant websites in the cannabis industry as possible. 

Relevance is key here, as irrelevant backlinks won’t impact your SEO. 

Our team reached out to prominent cannabis outlets to request guest posts and link placements, earning our client tons of valuable backlinks in the process. 

Campaign Strategy 3: Location, Location, Location 

Month 4 of the campaign included a single order for our Web Copy product. 

Why only one?

It’s because we wanted to create a Location page for the client’s website. In addition to the city of Vestal, New York – the client also wanted to rank for keywords related to the Binghamton & Johnson City areas. 

We really lucked out here, as our campaign manager assigned to the client went to college in Binghamton. As a result, they knew that the locals call the entire tri-city area as ‘the Binghamton area.’ They recommended the client use that phrasing in their content, and it worked like a charm. 

The client now ranks in the top 3 for a ton of city terms related to the Binghamton area. The Location page we created also breaks down the client’s operation, which is helpful for new customers. 

Not only that, but the Location page ranks #1 for its main keywords, and the website gained 34 new top 10 keywords by creating this page alone. 

The Results: 100+ Keywords in the Top 10 and a 6x Increase in Organic Traffic

Once the results started rolling in for our client, they didn’t stop, and they’ve yet to let up! 

Just take a look at this quick comparison to gauge the impact we had:

Referring domains at the start of the campaign: 29 

Average organic traffic at the start of the campaign: 14

Referring domains at the end of the campaign: 83

Average organic traffic at the end of the campaign: 6,803 

Not bad, huh?

As you can see in the graphs, the client’s site saw steady growth from the moment we began our campaign in August of 2023. Once our easy-win keywords took effect, it kicked off a chain reaction that’s still going to this day! 

While we were able to quadruple the client’s traffic in just 6 months, that figure rose to 6x after 10 months (and it’s still climbing). 

The client also has 465 keywords ranking in the top 10, 89 of which are in the top 3. 

Here’s a peek at some impressive keyword wins (without giving away too much):

Use Cannabis SEO to Promote Your Cannabis Dispensary 

That’s how we supercharged the online visibility of our client’s cannabis dispensary. They now have a bustling online shop and website, complete with an informative blog filled with tons of helpful posts. 

The good news?

We can replicate their success for any cannabis dispensary, regardless of your location or how many years you’ve been in the game. 

If you’re ready to generate more business for your dispensary, don’t wait to sign up for a HOTH X campaign now!