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Does Cannabis Paid Search, PPC/SEM Work for Dispensaries

Cannabis Google Ads: Dangerous Products and Services
Does Cannabis Paid Search, PPC/SEM Work for Dispensaries

The cannabis industry has been experiencing significant growth in recent years, with many businesses looking for new and effective ways to promote their products and services. However, due to legal restrictions, restrictions and BIG TECH advertising policies, marketing cannabis can be a very challenging task. One strategy that holds promise is cannabis paid search, utilizing search engine marketing (SEM) or pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. In this article, we will explore the possibilities and limitations of cannabis paid search and discuss strategies for running successful campaigns.

A QUICK NOTE: This is article is designed to talk about the potential of Cannabis Google Ads and other search advertising opportunities. We are IN NO WAY endorsing and encouraging others to skirt advertising policies or break the rules.

Introduction to Cannabis Paid Search; Risks and Rewards

Cannabis paid search refers to the practice of running targeted advertisements for cannabis products or services on search engines like Google and Bing. SEM/PPC campaigns allow businesses to bid on specific keywords related to their offerings and display ads when users search for those keywords. These campaigns are a powerful tool for generating immediate visibility, driving traffic, and increasing conversions.

Cannabis Paid Search Policies

Unfortunately at this time all of the major Search Engine Marketing options namely Google Ads and Microsoft Ads classify “Cannabis” in the same bucket as explosives, missiles, guns, crack, meth, and other ridiculous-to-compare products and services. Don’t believe me? Read it here for yourself (Google Ads dangerous products and services). However there has been some recent good news as Twitter has led the charge in normalizing Cannabis ads on their platform and Google has laxed their stance on CBD and low THC products in some states. We still have a long way to go but we’re beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.

Challenges in Cannabis Paid Search

Running cannabis paid search campaigns comes with its fair share of challenges. The cannabis industry faces unique hurdles due to legal restrictions, limited advertising platforms, and high competition. Most of the major marketing platforms forbid Cannabis marketers from using them. There are working arounds but no guarantees.

Penalties from Google Ads

Legal restrictions and policies

Cannabis remains illegal in many jurisdictions, both at the federal and state levels. This creates a complex legal landscape for advertising cannabis products. Advertising policies on major platforms like Google and Facebook also restrict cannabis-related content, making it difficult for cannabis businesses to promote themselves through traditional means including Search advertising.

Limited advertising platforms

Many popular advertising platforms, such as Google Ads and Facebook Ads, have strict policies against cannabis-related advertising. These platforms often have guidelines that prohibit the promotion of cannabis products, even in states where it is legal. This limitation reduces the available options for cannabis businesses looking to run paid search campaigns.

High competition and costs

The increasing popularity of the cannabis industry has resulted in intense competition for keywords and ad placements. As a result, bidding for cannabis-related keywords can be highly competitive, leading to increased costs per click. This competition makes it challenging for smaller businesses with limited budgets to compete effectively.

Benefits of Cannabis Paid Search

Despite the MANY, MANY challenges, cannabis paid search offers several benefits that make it a worthwhile strategy for businesses in the industry. TIP: Once you have an account up and “stable” we recommend raise spends as high as possible assuming you still see positive ROI. This is a temporary tool that most of your competition will not be able to figure out so SEIZE THE MOMENT!

Targeted audience reach

One of the significant advantages of cannabis paid search is the ability to target a specific audience. Through keyword selection, geographic targeting, and demographic filters, businesses can reach their desired customer base effectively. This precision targeting helps maximize the return on investment (ROI) by reaching users who are actively searching for cannabis products or related information.

Immediate visibility and traffic

With cannabis paid search, businesses can achieve immediate visibility on search engine results pages. Unlike organic search rankings, which can take time to improve, paid search ads appear at the top of the page or in prominent positions. This prime placement ensures that businesses capture the attention of potential customers and drive traffic to their websites quickly.

Conversion tracking and optimization

Paid search campaigns provide valuable data and insights that can be used to optimize advertising efforts. By tracking conversions, such as form submissions or purchases, businesses can analyze campaign performance and make data-driven decisions. This allows for continual optimization of ad copy, landing pages, and targeting strategies, resulting in improved conversion rates over time.

Strategies for Successful Cannabis Paid Search Campaigns

To run effective cannabis paid search campaigns, businesses must implement a strategic approach. Here are some key strategies to consider:

Rank Really High - Cannabis Dispensary SEM

Keyword research and selection

Thorough keyword research is the foundation of a successful paid search campaign. Businesses should identify relevant keywords with high search volume and low competition. Long-tail keywords, specific to certain products or services, can help target more qualified leads. Tools like Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush can assist in finding valuable keywords for cannabis-related searches.

Ad copy creation and optimization

Compelling ad copy is crucial for attracting clicks and driving conversions. Businesses should focus on creating concise, engaging, and informative ad text that highlights their unique selling propositions. Including relevant keywords in the ad copy can improve ad relevance and quality scores, leading to better ad rankings and lower costs. Cannabis ad copy is one of several MAJOR risks. If you don’t know how to “read between the lines” of Google’s ad copy policy you may want to avoid running ads.

Cannabis Dispensary PPC Landing page optimization

A well-designed landing page plays a vital role in converting ad clicks into actions. It should have clear calls-to-action, relevant content, and a user-friendly layout. Optimizing landing pages for both desktop and mobile devices is essential, as mobile usage continues to rise. Regular testing and optimization of landing pages can improve conversion rates and overall campaign performance.

Once again is the caution flag is out. Cannabis SEM/PPC landing pages are a major risk. Even if your page is clear of “dangerous terms” you still run the risk of getting a penalty flag or even an account suspension. Suspended Google Ads accounts are NOT FUN. Take caution when building out your landing page.

Monitoring and adjusting PPC campaigns w/o getting flagged

Successful paid search campaigns require ongoing monitoring and adjustment. Analyzing key metrics like click-through rates (CTRs), conversion rates, and cost per acquisition (CPA) helps identify areas for improvement. Businesses should regularly review campaign performance, make data-driven adjustments, and experiment with different ad variations and targeting options to optimize results. However frequent changes or even subtle optimizations will 100% put your account at risk. Take calculated risks and know that your Cannabis Google Ads account could get suspended even if you do everything by the books.

Compliance and Legal Considerations

When running cannabis paid search campaigns, it is crucial to adhere to advertising regulations and maintain compliance. Failure to comply with applicable laws can lead to penalties or the suspension of advertising accounts. Here are some key considerations:

Rank Really High - Cannabis Dispensary SEM

Google Ad policies and regulations around Cannabis, Dispensaries

Different regions have specific regulations regarding cannabis advertising. Businesses must familiarize themselves with these policies to ensure compliance. Ad content should not promote illegal activities or make false claims. It’s essential to review advertising policies of search engines and other platforms to understand their restrictions and guidelines.

Age restrictions and verification

Cannabis products are subject to age restrictions in many jurisdictions. Businesses must implement age verification measures to ensure their ads are only shown to users who meet the legal age requirements. This can include age-gating mechanisms on websites or utilizing third-party verification services.

Geographic targeting limitations

Cannabis advertising is often subject to geographic restrictions. Businesses must ensure their campaigns are targeted only to regions where cannabis is legal and compliant with local regulations. Geotargeting settings should be carefully configured to prevent unintended ad displays in restricted areas.

Future Trends in Cannabis Paid Search

As the cannabis industry continues to evolve, several trends are expected to shape the future of cannabis paid search:

  1. Relaxation of Cannabis PPC/SEM advertising policies: With increasing cannabis legalization, advertising policies on major platforms may become more lenient, allowing businesses greater opportunities to promote their products and services. We are already seeing Google, Microsoft, and especially Twitter all lax their restrictions on digital advertising.
  2. Emergence of specialized advertising platforms: As the cannabis industry grows, new advertising platforms catering specifically to cannabis businesses may emerge, offering tailored solutions and targeted audiences. Programmatic display advertising programs are already available in the cannabis industry and can offer wonder visibility advantages without the fear of penalties or suspensions.
  3. Advancements in tracking and analytics: Improved tracking and analytics tools will provide businesses with more robust insights, allowing for more precise campaign optimization and better ROI.
  4. Shift towards audience segmentation: Businesses will focus on segmenting their audience and tailoring their messaging to specific consumer groups, allowing for more personalized and effective advertising campaigns.


Cannabis paid search, through SEM/PPC campaigns, offers a valuable marketing tool for cannabis businesses. Despite the challenges and limitations, businesses can leverage targeted advertising, immediate visibility, and conversion tracking to achieve their marketing goals. By implementing effective strategies, ensuring compliance, and exploring alternative marketing channels, cannabis businesses can navigate the evolving landscape and reach their target audience successfully.

Cannabis Advertising Policy Reference Links:

About Rank Really High’s Search Advertising Solution

Rank Really High is a Google Partner with Google Ads and currently is running over 300 search, display, and performance max Campaigns. We work with over 100 dispensaries, brands, delivery companies, and ancililary services in the cannabis industry. If you’d like to learn more about Rank Really High’s solutions please reach out or schedule a demo!