Headshops are thriving in marijuana markets and in states that have made steps to legalize cannabis, both medically and recreationally. The demand for smoking pipes, accessories, and apparel has resulted in sales opportunities and localized competition in many areas.
In our city of Philadelphia, South Street alone is home to over a dozen headshops. As you can imagine, there are countless more across the other neighborhoods of Philadelphia.
How do these headshops set themselves apart? From a walk down South Street, it would be difficult to tell the difference between the smoke shops or tell which ones carry high-quality products.
Those utilizing a local SEO strategy will likely have more reviews and a better understanding of how to accumulate positive reviews. Also, their listings will entice customers with high-quality images of their storefront.
But what if your headshop is not located in a city? Without the massive population of Philadelphia, a lot of these headshops would struggle to get any foot traffic in their door.
A proper local SEO strategy is also extremely important for headshops that are not located in cities because it will help you get customers in your door who wouldn’t normally see your headshop while walking down the street.
Google My Business Creation and Optimization
The first step towards local SEO success is to create a Google My Business (GMB) listing and properly build it. A GMB listing is essential if you want to appear in the Google Local Pack and organic results when internet users search for headshops on their computers or their phones.
After you claim your listing, fill out your profile with all of your business information, paying very close attention to detail and making sure that all of the business information you’re adding matches the information on your website.
Provide as much detail as possible, including the type of business that you own, the location of your headshop, your business phone number, a customer service phone number, headshop hours, a link to your website, and any other relevant information.
Always keep an eye on your listing. Google includes a button in your listing that says “suggest an edit”, meaning that anyone can edit your listing. Check your listing a few times a week to make sure that nothing looks out of the ordinary.
On-page optimization is still extremely important if you want to rank your headshop for local search terms.
Optimize your titles and meta descriptions, including the name of your headshop and the name of the city that you serve. You should also include your city and state in H1 and H2 tags.
Here are some other steps you can take to optimize your pages for local search:
- Speed your page loading times
- Include your business name, address, and phone number on the page
- Include a location map
- Make contact information easy to find
Here is a guide that delves a bit deeper into on-page optimization strategies and best practices.
Generating reviews on Google and third-party sites is important for a few reasons.
First, reviews can have a direct impact on your search engine rankings.
Search engines are just like any other business, they’re out to make money. To make money, they need searchers to continue using their platform by providing them with the best possible results for the search query that they type in.
Reviews signal to search engines that your services are of quality and will satisfy a searcher’s query. For this reason, the quality and quantity of your Google reviews can directly impact your rankings.
Second, reviews will affect your overall online reputation and will be your first impression to potential customers who are seeing your headshop pop up in local search results.
Third, reviews have an impact on the buying decision of potential customers. If someone is in need of a new bong and does a quick search for local headshops and finds yours with a 2-star rating, it is highly unlikely that they will ever set foot in your store.
How to Generate Reviews
It is important that you acquire reviews organically. Paying for reviews is against Google’s terms and conditions, and could result in a penalty.
Here are some proven methods to help get you started:
- Place signs in your headshop asking customers to leave a review.
- Obtain customer emails at checkout, then follow up in an email politely asking them for a review.
- Use your social media channels to ask customers for reviews without being pushy.
- Respond to negative reviews. This may result in the customer changing their review to a positive one.
- Add review call-to-actions on your website.
How to Respond to Negative Reviews
Most negative reviews happen due to customer service issues. If you notice a negative review of your business, take the time to respond to the review, apologize for the poor service that the customer received, and offer a remedy.
How to Prevent Negative Reviews
If you just opened your doors and have not accumulated many reviews yet, it may be wise to take a look at some of your competition’s Google reviews. You’ll be able to see what they’ve been doing right and avoid some of the same pitfalls that resulted in their negative reviews.
Of course, the best way to prevent negative reviews is to provide outstanding customer service to your customers who are looking to pick up a new bong or vape
Local Link Building
Getting local news sources and online publications can also help you rank your business locally.
Reach out to sources in your area to see if they’ll write a review of your headshop, or publish a piece about your store. This gets into the PR side of things and will likely have to act as its own campaign. However, it is an important investment that will have a positive impact on your SEO efforts.
This is more of an old-school practice, but can still give you a boost if done correctly and responsibly.
Submitting your business to relevant directories results in links, which will help you generate some affiliate traffic as well a ranking boost.
Websites used to be able to rank simply by listing themselves on thousands of directories. This practice does not work anymore and will do more harm than good in the long run because it is seen as spammy.
For example, Yelp and other credible directory sites can still provide value to your business by helping you appear higher in search engines, allowing customers to leave reviews, and displaying information about your headshop.
Avoid listing your website on low-quality directories, directories that don’t have any parameters, and directories that have nothing to do with headshops or related products. Listing your headshop on a directory site for sporting goods stores can be seen as a manipulative practice by search engine algorithms, and may result in a penalty.
Listing your site in niche directories can be beneficial as well. Look for headshop directories that list brick and mortar stores in specific states, or nationally.