What do we mean by actual web presence? It simply means you have your own website that you control. It is not a sub page on a directory or on someone else’s map or local ratings page. It is not a Facebook Page, Twitter Profile, Google Plus or LinkedIn Group. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not implying that your presence on the internet can’t be affected by all these things both positively and negatively. I did a search on Google for the term “Recreational Cannabis Stores in Portland Oregon”. On the first page, which is really the only page in advertising, only one of the ten organic results was from a store that actually was their own website. Thus the #3 result actually had some type of successful marketing of their own website. The other 9 may have been from SEO work, advertising or something else that was done but resulted in those directories, Twitter, Facebook, Google Maps or Google Plus to increase their traffic. But the bottom line is all that marketing and advertising inadvertently made for all those directories and “hosting services” sent more traffic and put them higher in the search ranks. It did not change any traffic patterns to the rec stores actual websites. This is because these canna businesses do not have an Actual Web Presence. In addition, the paid advertisers on the first page directed results towards Google Maps.
I had a hard time explaining this to my brother who is a really smart attorney. That having a page or listing on an attorney website you can’t do any SEO on it since it is not your website. It is not your website. All your work is to build up and market somebody else’s website. After about 2 hours he finally got it. Too bad cannabis isn’t legal everywhere.
The problem then is that any other marketing and advertising you do is actually directed to that directory, map, local page of someone else and not yours. If you are going to do any type of marketing and advertising of your company and it is in cannabis you need your own website. Remember, whenever you market or advertise you should expect a minimum ROI of 2:1 and it should be easily perceived. Anything less and it is branding. (To get a better understanding of branding read our article Branding & Marketing.)
Thus, one of the first things to do if not the actual first things in advertising and marketing your cannabis business is to establish your own website that you can control and do effective SEO. If budget is the constraint then DIY. There are resources to teach you how to install a WordPress website and configure it. This cost you really nothing but time.
However, what if you just don’t have the time, energy or even the drive to do this yourself. Find a developer or marketing company that you know and trust. Check out their references and previous work. There are a ton of developers and “SEO Experts” that will be knocking on your door or calling. We have over 450 domains/websites that we personally own and operate and because of that I get called or emailed at least 10 offers to develop or promote these every day. I judge 2 criteria to cull out 90% of these “offers”. #1 do they have their own domain or are they sending emails from a free email service. If Gmail is their email address this is not a real company and they don’t deserve my attention. #2 If they are selling SEO services I ask them where they are located and if they say Denver I ask what position are they listed for the search term “SEO company in Denver Colorado”? Invariably, 90% will say “We are not concerned with where we rank for search, we just know how to bring you to the top.” at that I usually hang up.
90% of all the cannabis businesses their only web presence is being on a directory. SEO is one of the most misunderstood and least successful marketing campaigns there is. It is the ultimate of smoke and mirrors. Can anyone promise and deliver first page Google for your business? Very few can and even fewer will make that promise. If you find a marketing company that performs this for you, they are the real deal.1. So if you entered the cannabis business to be successful you must promote your business and to promote your business successfully you must have your OWN website.