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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most significant long-term plays you can make for your drug rehab center. It’s a crucial pillar of any inbound marketing campaign, and addiction treatment owners can benefit from incorporating it into their strategy.
Unfortunately, the internet is packed with misinformation and confusing terminology, so we have put together a step-by-step guide for drug rehab SEO, giving you the tools to take your strategy to new heights.
What is Drug Rehab SEO?
Almost 21 million Americans suffer from addiction, yet only 10% receive the treatment they need. The U.S. economy spends over $600 billion a year on alcohol and drug addiction treatment. These statistics are eye-opening, highlighting the sheer volume of patients who need help.
Now, where are most of these people looking for treatment? Online, of course. Organic search is one of the top two online activities, which is why your position on the Search Engine Response Page (SERP) is imperative.
The organic placements on Google’s SERP are earned, determined by Google’s algorithm. This is to make sure it delivers the best results based on the user’s search query. 71% of users ignore paid advertisements, focusing their attention on the top five results. 66% of people go for the first result in one or more clicks, and companies with a blog have 434% more indexed pages.
SEO is the foundation for organic traffic. Users visiting your website from a search engine’s organic results have a precise intent. If you can provide them with a solution, the likelihood of conversion becomes exponential. While SEO requires time and effort, it offers long term results.
While this is undoubtedly the case, it’s a little bit more complicated for drug rehab SEO. In April 2018, Google updated the Healthcare and medicines policy, restricting advertising for recovery-orientated services for drug and alcohol addiction. Clinical treatment providers, recovery support services, referral agencies, and crisis hotlines were all affected.
Advertisers in the United States need to be certified with LegitScript before doing anything through Google Ads. On top of that, Google only allows addiction service advertisers to bid on keywords relating to drug and alcohol abuse. The laws are there for a reason, designed to keep marketers in line. It makes drug rehab SEO all the more critical for your business.
Drug Rehab SEO Strategy
Treat your drug rehab SEO strategy as an opportunity. Patients turn to Google for answers, and you need to make sure you’re in the top spot. Before you begin, do a comprehensive audit of your current site. It’s one of the best ways to evaluate what you’re doing well and where there’s room for improvement.
Start by connecting your site to the Google Search Console. Enter your site URL and verify your domain ownership. Then you are set to evaluate your current website. Use tools such as Screaming Frog to check for broken links and run through your existing redirects. Review your robots.txt file and implement canonical tags where possible. Consider your alt tag descriptions and review your internal linking structure. Spend some time understanding your pages, cleaning up any 404 errors, and updating your URLs.
Once you have gone through this beginner’s checklist, you can dive headfirst into our step-by-step guide for drug rehab SEO.
Step 1: Research for keywords in the drug rehab space
Keyword research helps you understand your online audience. It gives you the specific data required to evaluate what people are searching for, how many of them are searching, and what format they want their information to be delivered. It’s one of the best ways to unpack your target audience’s behavior.
First make a list of important, relevant topics based on what you know about your business. Think about the topics you want to rank for and create five to ten generic buckets. Once your topic buckets are in place, populate them with keyword phrases. Use this as an opportunity to brain dump anything you think may have potential.
While you are compiling these addiction treatment keywords, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this the right keyword for my drug rehab site?
- Will users find my website when they type in these keywords?
- Is my site content going to deliver what they’re looking for?
- Will this result in more leads and admissions to my facility?
Keep these questions in mind as you navigate addiction keyword research to help keep your objectives in sight.
Now that your terms are on paper, spend some time researching the topic online. Take a look at related search terms that appear when you plug in the phrase. If you scroll down to the bottom of Google’s results, you will notice some suggestions. Use these to spark more ideas.
It’s essential to understand which keywords fit into your strategy. Consider their relevance, authority, and volume. Google ranks content for relevance, and this is where a user’s search intent comes in. Your content will only rank if it meets the searchers’ needs. On top of that, it needs to be the best content out there for that query. Use this relevance to feed your content strategy.
Authority refers to your ‘status’ as a source of information. Google provides more weight to sources it deems authoritative in that space. If you are coming up short in your research, your content needs to be exceptional to rank above well-known resources.
You may find you are in the top spot for one of your keywords, but it doesn’t have much use if no one is searching for that. That is where volume comes in. Search volume gives you an indication of your audience size, measuring the monthly searches for that phrase.
Check for a mix of head terms and long-tail keywords in each of your buckets. Contrary to what you may think, the phrase “drug rehab” is probably not the best one to start with for your business. Why? The term is too general, and you will end up competing with thousands of other websites. It would be best to take it a step further, considering the search volume these terms may have. Think “alcohol rehab in Ohio.”
While you are researching, take a look at what your competitors are ranking for online. Figure out which keywords they are ranking for using tools such as SEMrush, Majestic, and Yoast. Now that your list is jam-packed with keywords, you need to cut it back down to crucial keywords. Use the Google Adwords Keyword Planner to find the right mix of keywords for your business.
Step 2: Generate content, focusing on money-generating keywords
Your list of keywords is complete. Now you need to hone your attention on money-generating keywords that can be incorporated into your content strategy. Using this method, when implementing a blog, is a great way to keep the content flowing every month.
Money-generating keywords not only drive potential customers to your website, but also bring in customers most likely to purchase the spot. For drug rehab SEO, it helps to include the type of treatment and the geo-target. “Outpatient treatment clinic in Malibu” or “outpatient clinic in Malibu California” would be excellent keywords to frame a blog post around.
It’s worth looking at drug rehab acronyms used by industry professionals and other rehab partners, opening up the door for potential referral partners. While these acronyms may not be used as much by patients or families online, it provides an opportunity for content education. Incorporate these acronyms and descriptions into your drug rehab blog content.
One of the best ways to get on top of content creation is to get ahead. Plan your topics per quarter using tools like Answer The Public and Hubpost’s blog idea generator to spark ideas. After all the keyword research you’ve completed, there should be plenty of search queries you can tap into for inspiration.
When you start writing your drug rehab content, remember to consider the following:
- Who you’re talking to – is it patients, family, or both?
- Context and search intent – what have they been looking for online? How can your content provide an answer?
- How to improve your findability – what money-generating keywords can you include?
- Social media – where else can you share your content once it’s created? Do your social media channels need to be updated?
- Imagery – what imagery can you use to entice your audience without becoming generic or predictable?
Step 3: Google My Business Optimization
After you verify your drug rehab facility, create a short name for your business profile on Google My Business. When you share your short name, customers can enter the name’s URL directly into the browser, and it will take them straight to your business profile. Think of it as a more direct, concise link you can use across other channels, directing customers straight to your site.
Remember to associate your short name with your business, so it’s relevant. Google recommends you include your location to make the short name even more distinct, but that’s up to you. Your short name is associated with a specific location, so this isn’t always necessary.
Take it a step further by creating a short name for reviews, making it easier to share a URL with your customers. At Addiction Rep, we have a short name for our business “http://g.page.com/addictionrep” along with one for our review page “http://g.page.com/addictionrep/review.” You want to make the review process as streamlined as possible. It’s a great way to boost your SEO.
Step 4: Optimize your site for on-page SEO
On-page SEO is the practice of crafting web pages that answer search queries. Many marketers think it’s about sprinkling your page with a few keywords here and there, but there is a lot more to it. Think of your on-page SEO as the foundation for your entire strategy. It’s one of the few things you have complete control over, and it doesn’t require much technical prowess.
The algorithm looks for the most relevant search result. It’s the first thing Google takes into account when ranking your business. We have put together a few basic do’s and don’ts to help you boost your position.
- Update your header tags. These are HTML elements used to designate headings on your page.
- Review your internal links to improve your crawlability.
- Check your anchor text, adding in one of your primary keywords.
- Evaluate your link accessibility. These are hidden links that require a click, often missed by search engine crawlers. Try to opt for links that are directly accessible on the page.
- Address your link volume, limiting the number of links per page to a reasonable number.
- Update your redirects, ensuring your URLs are correct. Removing and renaming pages is standard practice. Just don’t forget to update that old URL.
- Optimize your images to improve your site speed. Use a compression tool like Optimizilla or iMageOptim.
- Introduce Alt text within images to improve web accessibility.
- Look at your formatting and readability. Are your text size and color legible? Have you included relevant headings, bullet points and paragraph breaks making the text more digestible? What supporting media could you include to compliment your content?
- Update your content title tags, the descriptive HTML element that specifies the title of the web page. It’s usually nestled within the header tag.
- Update meta descriptions, ensuring they are relevant and within the 155 character limit.
- Organize your URL structure and your pages, utilizing clear page naming and keeping an eye on URL length.
- Allow geographic modifiers in URLs, letting both customers and search engines know exactly where you are.
- Avoid duplicate content. Repeating yourself over multiple pages isn’t going to do you any favors.
- Don’t hide text in your HTML code. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book and won’t get past the algorithm.
- Avoid keyword stuffing. While it’s crucial to incorporate keywords where possible, it won’t be understandable for consumers if it’s not relevant.
- Never use auto-generated content. It’s best if you differentiate yourself by adding value with unique content.
Step 5: Optimize your site for off-page SEO
Off-page SEO refers to actions taken outside of your website which impact your ranking on the SERP. You can improve the search engine’s perception of your site by optimizing your off-site efforts. It’s all about enhancing your credibility, relevance, trustworthiness, and ultimately, authority for customers, as well as Google.
Perhaps one of the most critical elements of off-page SEO is building backlinks. Backlinks indicate the quality of the content, with high-value backlinks boosting your ranking. There are three different types of links to consider:
- Natural Links – Editors or content creators add these into articles. For example, a drug rehab article linking to a type of treatment is a natural link.
- Manually Built Links – Acquired through deliberate link-building activities. It could be asking patients or partners to link to your website in any content they create.
- Self-created Links – You can do this by adding links to an online directory, forum, blog comment, or press release. Optimize them with anchor text. Self-created links are a bit of a grey area. Some search engines wouldn’t approve, so it’s best to focus your attention on natural and manually built links.
Other activities that improve your off-page SEO include social media marketing, guest blogging, brand mentions, and influencer marketing. While these tactics are a little more tricky to control, they can undoubtedly benefit your business. When a patient finishes a program, could you encourage them to leave feedback online? Whether it’s Google, Yelp, or Facebook, sharing their success online will boost your credibility and SEO efforts.
Step 6: Build links to your page
We have established how important link building is for your SEO. Where do you start? Based on Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines, your attention needs to be on content that’s Expert, Authoritative and Trustworthy.
The more Google trusts your website, the more it will credit your SEO, shifting you up in the ranking. To earn this credibility, you will need links from other reputable websites. Here are the essential do’s and don’ts of link building.
- Find customer and partner links with people you work with regularly. Whether it’s offering to write up testimonials or sending out partnership badges, both offer credible links back to you.
- Publishing a blog is one of the best ways to incorporate a link-building strategy. The consistent, fresh material is a great way to generate conversation online.
- Create unique resources. While this is an enormous task, top-quality content like this is one of the best ways to attract links.
- Build resource pages on your site, offering more opportunities for linking.
- Refurbish top-performing content, updating it, and developing new articles for your blog.
- Be newsworthy by getting involved in the local community. It’s a great way to generate online conversation.
- Incorporate high-quality directory links. Some are free, others not, but it’s a shoo-in for quality traffic.
- Link purchasing. Google and Bing discount the influence of any paid links in their search results. Link buying can get your site penalized and do more harm than good.
- Link exchanges. Google’s quality guidelines caution against this, often triggering spam alarms that will affect your ranking.
- Low-quality directory links. A large number of pay-for-placement directories still exist. Avoid getting caught up in anything like that.
Step 7: Update and maintain your SEO
Now that your drug rehab SEO strategy is in place and your position in Google is on point, you need to defend that position by consistently maintaining your SEO. Here are five ways to stay on top.
- Update your site regularly. Google is always looking for quality content and freshness. Don’t let your site stagnate, maintain your keywords, and add new videos, images, and articles.
- Focus on your site speed, consistently striving to improve your score. Your goal is less than one second for mobile page load time, and every second you shave off improves your bounce rate. Look at your hosting service, compress your images and utilize a content delivery network.
- Expand your link building with quality backlinks. Take your time; building links too quickly is a red flag for Google.
- Work on your outbound and inbound links. Send outbound links to authority brands to boost your relevancy and make sure your internal linking makes sense. Again, less is more.
- Build up your social media presence to consistently grow your off-page SEO efforts. Add social buttons to your articles, include call-to-actions, and encourage user-generated content from your patients.
Drug Rehab Call Tracking and Call Center Admissions
While SEO is crucial for your inbound marketing strategy, it’s important to complement it with call tracking and call center admissions. Call tracking gives you exact data, something you can use to understand your consumer on a deeper level.
As you can see in the image below you can use Call Tracking Metrics almost as a CRM system or you can easily integrate it with other CRM’s like Salesforce.com.
As the old saying goes, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” That’s why we insist you know where your calls are coming from so you can understand your best admissions strategy. Tracking calls is simple, you can use a different tracking telephone number for each ad source, i.e., Psychology Today, Google My Business, SEO, PPC, SAMHSA, Rehabs.com, etc.
Since we entered the addiction treatment space in 2008, we have used several call tracking systems. We keep going back to Call Tracking Metrics. Why? They have the most comprehensive set of tools that you could ask for. They are HIPAA Compliant, they are integrated with Salesforce.com, and they have dynamic number insertion. This allows you to have a different tracking number. For example, say you used Psychology Today; when a user clicks through to your rehab website, the number on site will swap out with the Psychology Today number. That way, you will know exactly where they are coming from.
There are dozens of other reasons why we recommend Call Tracking Metrics, and customer support is one of them. We can get most of our questions answered through their Chat Application. Another reason, if not the most significant reason, is CTM’s Call Scoring System. It’s so simple and easy to use. Call scoring allows the call center representative to “score the call” with stars. They can also attach a dollar value to the admission. The big advantage here is that we can run ROI reports and see where we are getting the best results for our marketing efforts.
Most Drug Rehabs Miss a Lot of Admissions Calls
How do we know this? Because we have evaluated our admissions call log. We can tell if the calls go into ring-no-answer or voicemail. Why is this a problem? Because the addict, the family, or the caller can simply hit the back button and call another rehab.
Answering phones professionally is a huge deal. If you are not sure what to do, contact Davinci and get started with a virtual receptionist. Closing one minor sale will pay for Davinci for the entire year.
Hire experienced people who can answer your phones or invest in intelligent, open-minded people who want to learn new skills. It is not easy to answer addiction treatment calls because so many addicts and families are understandably stressed out. T-R-U-S-T will be the single most significant converting factor.
Drug rehab SEO is an essential long-term play for your treatment center. Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about SEO, but remember to focus your attention on link-building. It contributes 80% to Google’s algorithm, making it a fundamental element of your ranking. Powerful link building is a skill worth investing your time in, boosting your drug rehab SEO to new heights.
Remember to pay attention to the details. Ensure your clinic is top-notch, focusing on your patients and then your marketing. See SEO and call tracking as a massive opportunity for your business, you will soon see the results.