17 Link Building Strategies to Boost Cannabis Dispensary Local SEO Mastering link-building and local SEO is imperative to marketing your cannabis dispensary. Search engines, like Google and Bing, use these links to measure the authority of your business’ website, making it a crucial component of your marketing strategy. While it’s not quick and easy to acquire a hyperlink, we have compiled a list of 17 strategies you should consider implementing: 1. Cannabis Business Directories Establishing visibility to your target audience is always a smart investment. One way to do this is to invest in listing your dispensary on reputable cannabis business directories. What this does is alert Google that your website is added to an authoritative resource; however, be wary that not all business directories are rated equally. As you may know, if you read our article on the top-rated cannabis directories, Leafly is currently rated highest, with Weedmaps coming in second. Keep this in mind when choosing where to list your business. 2. Local Citations Local citations are any textual reference to your dispensary on another website, regardless if it includes a link back to your site. Local citations include online mentions, event listings, job listings, city government pages, community nonprofits, and local newspapers. Any of the followings apply: Dispensary Name Dispensary Name and Phone Number Dispensary Name, Phone Number, and Address Dispensary Name, Phone Number, Address and Website Link All other variations… As with most strategies, quality is more important than quantity. In fact, quantity can even harm your rating in some cases. For example, if you submit your listing to a business directory that is part of a larger “network” and distributes your listing instantly to its 100+ other websites, it will create an unwanted spike of low-quality links. So, we encourage you to do your research. 3. Create controversy. Get in the News. You could say that as a business in an emerging, though still a taboo industry, we have the upper hand on other companies looking to implement this strategy. The media is constantly looking for headlines that step into the realm of controversy – All you have to do is figure out what this means for you and how your dispensary can be a part of the conversation. Create an on-page asset to refer to when pitching your issue or discussion topic. Pitch your local news authority and offer an interview. Once the story publishes, forward the story to other local media outlets. 4. Contest Nomination and Award Links In the cannabis space, there are countless media outlets and publications that promote ‘Best Dispensary’ and other nomination-based awards. Define your ‘pitch’ and submit your brand for a nomination. These are great opportunities to engage your following to get involved and show their support. Lastly, don’t limit yourself to platforms focused on the cannabis community – Depending on your local city, your dispensary could be eligible for your city’s ‘40 under 40’ or another ‘Business Awards’ type nomination. 5. Sponsor a Meetup Group The cannabis community tends to be an adamant network of consumers – patients and recreational users alike. What does your ideal customer look like? Search locally on Meetup.com and find a nearby group that you feel fits that avatar. Reach out to a local meetup group/ organization and secure sponsorship. You’ll want to have your logo and your business name included on their event page, preferably with a target keyword in the description linking to your dispensary website. If you’re willing to negotiate, we’d also recommend asking them to include your NAP (Name, Address, & Phone Number). 6. Sponsor an Event Having your dispensary sponsor or host a local event is multidimensional in its benefits for building your local reputation, both online and offline. Your dispensary is more often than not an in-person interaction. Therefore an event gives you the opportunity to bring the community to you. An excellent example of this is Leafly sponsoring comedy shows this past year – Again, it’s not about focusing solely on ‘consumer-focused’ events, but events where you may find new customers. 7. Donate to Nonprofit Organization Now, to clarify, we are not suggesting you donate to an organization only to build quality links. However, if you are actively giving back to your local nonprofit and your business is included on their ‘Sponsors’ page, you should invest in promoting these contributions. Write a press release and secure permission to do so on behalf of the organization(s) you are supporting. Let your community know about the causes and groups you are helping! 8. Create and promote a local resource Your target audience is more or less local to your dispensary. Why not establish yourself as a local resource for events and information? You can create an event calendar for movie nights, late night happy hour spots, 5K’s, etc. It goes back to defining your customer and what they would be interested in – Create and promote content that they would find valuable and you’ll rank higher for local searches. 9. Get manufacturer and wholesaler links The simplest of link-building strategies. As a cannabis retailer, you are carrying an array of products and brands. The manufacturers will certainly be looking to refer customers looking to buy their products to your local dispensary, so make sure that they have all your correct NAP (Consistent with all your other listings) information. 10. Build relationships with cannabis influencers Engage and grow your relationship with niche influencers in the cannabis community and collaborate in a way you can provide value to their audience. Much more than only ‘sponsoring’ a post. Partnering with an influencer and growing your relationship with them will lead to brand mentions in their blog posts, interviews, and potentially even guest posts which we will dive into deeper below. 11. Leverage business relationships & local partnerships This strategy goes hand-in-hand with building relationships with your local media outlets and nonprofit organizations – Although, now we’re focusing on leveraging partnerships with other businesses. You’ll want to curate a list of potential partners or focus on current business relationships you may have – what like-minded companies offer services or goods that you don’t plan on offering? Perhaps, it’s a medical card company or a dosing consultant. Approach these businesses and link to each other’s website, referencing each other as a resource. 12. Use the skyscraper technique Research what is engaging in your niche regarding quality content and capitalize on the opportunity to make it better and add even more valuable insight for your target audience. After publishing the updated content piece, promote it to your network of influencers, media outlets, and local partnerships – Emphasizing its higher relevance and value. Countless reports are pointing to this form of content marketing for its efficiency and success rates. 13. Search for business mentions Search out any relevant web mention of your dispensary or website and ensure that all information and NAP is correct and consistent with your other links. Start your search using a database like Brand Mentions. Once you’ve found recent articles that mention your business, check and see if they have correctly linked your business. If not, get in touch with the author or editor and submit the correct link to your website. 14. Guest posting We lightly touched on this topic above in talking about building relationships with cannabis influencers, but we’d like to dive in further on how to best use guest posting to build quality links. First and foremost, you’ll want to ensure that the blog or online publication is an authority. Writing a post is a time investment, and we recommend contributing to each publication at least three times in a sequence. Linking to your website in each of the posts in not appropriate and will taint your reputation as a guest blogger. Instead, create valuable content that will (1) attract potential customers and (2) pose you and your dispensary as an authority and expert in your niche. 15. Create a resource page Creating a resource page is focused on gaining the attention of local businesses, including your competitors. Much like creating a ‘local resource’ for customers in your city, a business resource page caters to providing value to surrounding businesses. Examples include city regulations, local laws, and restrictions, information on packaging, dosing, relevant medical research/ findings, etc. By doing this, you are positioning yourself as a valuable resource and will attract backlinks from businesses looking to give more value to their audience. 16. Create Premium Content This strategy is an extension of building out a resource page by taking it one step further and creating quality branded content. Examples include the following: White Papers E-books Resource Pages In-depth Blog Posts Podcasts Case Studies Infographics Co-created guest posts While this does require additional resources like design and copywriting, creating premium content is incredibly rewarding. Modern-day audiences love this type of content, and other influencers, publications, and competitors alike will want to provide more value to their readers. Therefore, if you create relevant content, you could generate a vast network of links from an array of industry resources for doing the work that the other dispensaries will not do. 17. Advanced Search Queries Used For Local Link Building Above, we’ve listed a total of 16 strategies you can implement into your current SEO and marketing strategy for your dispensary. For many, we’ve included links to databases that can pose as a starting point for your search, but another ‘manual’ way of searching out opportunities is by using advanced search queries. Essentially, it is fine combing relevant search results on Google. How to Use Advanced Search Queries for Your Dispensary: Find Nomination/ Award Opportunities (See #4) Search: Keyword + “City name/ State” + “Nominate a Business” “Best of City/ State” + “Nominate” “Best Dispensary” + “Nominate” + keyword (cannabis, marijuana, weed) Find Guest Blogging Opportunities (See #14) Search: Keyword + Intitle:“write for us” Keyword + Intitle:“contribute to” Keyword + Intitle:“submit” + inurl:blog Find Local Organizations/ Groups (See #5) Search: Inurl:.org “City name” + keyword + group Inurl:.org “City name” + keyword + organization Find Local Nonprofits to Support (See #7) Search: Inurl:.org “City name” + keyword + supporters Inurl:.org “City name” + keyword + donors Inurl:.org “City name” + keyword + contributors Distinguish your dispensary from the competition and invest in implementing a few, if not all, of the above link building strategies to boost your local SEO. It’s important to remember that these techniques are ‘manual labor, ’ but we assure you that it will worth the effort, bringing new customers through your front door. Get Access to Premium Content. Guillermo Bravo Made in Sonoma, grown in San Francisco, soccer player, trail runner, music lover, producer & DJ, technology nerd, free spirit, and digital marketing warrior.