Drug Rehab SEO: Grow Your Census With Powerful Search Marketing

Saturday, January 18, 2020 | By Tim Stoddart

All drug rehab programs need to have a digital marketing strategy.

For owners and marketing directors of drug rehab programs, the best investment they can make in their digital marketing is to improve their organic search presence.

Of all the marketing strategies, SEO has the highest ROI.

This is why drug rehab SEO is so important for building your treatment program and growing your business.

This article will guide you through the major facets of SEO, and help you build a marketing campaign that drives phone calls and admits clients.

Let’s get started.

Every Drug Rehab Should Focus on SEO

Let’s imagine a scenario.

John is struggling with a terrible drug addiction. John’s family gets involved and tells him that they want him to go to treatment. They need help, but they don’t know where to turn to.

Most likely, John and his family will go straight to the internet and start searching for resources, facilities, and advice on how to treat John’s addiction.

Let’s say that John searches for “rehab near me.” What facility is John going to find?

Wouldn’t you want to be the facility that John and his family find when searching for drug rehab? Wouldn’t you want to put yourself in a position to be found so that your rehab center can be the one to help John get treatment and start his journey of recovery?

Of course, you would. If your rehab center is the one that john finds through his research on Google, the probability of him admitting to your facility is very high.

This is why drug rehab SEO should play such a crucial role in every treatment center’s marketing strategy. The drug treatment centers that succeed in SEO will continue to own the market share of inbound phone calls and patient volumes.

Where do you start? How does an addiction treatment facility get started in optimizing their search rankings? Let’s take a deeper look at how SEO for a drug rehab will play a part in any marketing strategy.

Drug Rehab SEO – How Does it Work?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.

Typically, the top 3 or 4 search results receive the majority of search traffic on google. Rarely do people scroll past the top of Google. Being on the top of Google has huge rewards.

Think of your own behavior. When’s the last time you ever searched for something on Google and clicked on a search result on the second page?

Hardly ever?

Maybe never?

The reality is that the drug rehabs that can position themselves on the top of Google are the ones who dominate the search traffic.

In fact, in recent case study sources over 5 million search results, backlinko reported that the top three search results get over 73% of the organic search traffic.

By methodically optimizing your company website, we can put you in one of those top positions.

There are many different ways to optimize a website or drug rehab. For now, we want to drive home the importance of drug rehab SEO and make it obvious to you how beneficial it is for a treatment center to have a good SEO presence.

Let’s look a little closer at some of the specific tactics needed to dominate in search.

Site Structure

Site structure is an aspect of drug rehab SEO that can be easily overlooked. However, it is one of the most important elements of good site rankings. Organizing your site in a way so that all the information is easily accessible is of paramount importance.

There are two reasons for this…

  1. Clean site structure provides the best experience for the user. If a user can easily navigate a website and find the information that he or she is looking for, that will provide a longer time on a site and send signals to Google of authority.
  2. Clean site structure provides direct “pathways” for Google to navigate your site. If your important web pages are buried deep in the website with no links pointing to them, how do you expect Google to see them?

Valuable Content

People go to Google to solve problems. If someone searches for drug treatment, it’s because they have a problem they are trying to solve.

To solve a problem, you need good information. Google prioritizes good information over bad information.

It sounds self-explanatory, but it still amazes me how often people try to throw bad information on the internet and hope that it will rank for certain keywords. It’s not just about providing an answer to a problem within your content, but it’s also important to provide the right answer.

When Google is “crawling” your website, what they are doing is crawling the words on the page. Google scans the words and uses them to build a general idea about what your business or your website is about.

What is the problem you are trying to solve?

So, if you want to be seen as an authoritative drug rehab in your area, you need to provide the best resources and the best information. You need to write great content, answer people’s questions, provide resources and make yourself available to people in need.

Writing content is a true investment. It takes time, research, hard work, and constant editing. But it will be well worth the investment because once you establish your facility as an industry leader, Google will want to “refer” all the traffic to you because it sees you as the most trusted source on the topic.

Google’s top priority is to answer the questions of its users. If your content does the best job in answering a question or solving a problem, it’s in Google’s best interest to send those search queries to your page.


Backlinks continue to be the most important ranking factor when building the SEO of your drug rehab.

Writing great content is not enough. The reality is that plenty of other drug rehabs take the time to write great content. What other ways can Google decipher which content is more credible?

The answer: backlinks.

What is a backlink? – Simple. A backlink is a link that is on another website that, when clicked on, goes to your website. Everyone is familiar with links but maybe less familiar with why they matter so much in SEO.

How do backlinks help with SEO? – Remember, you’re not the only one writing great content. So Google uses links to decide which content is the most credible. Think of a link as a source of credibility. If I am writing a blog post and I want to source my information, I will link back to the source that I pulled the information from. Logically, the more links to your site, the more times you have been “sourced.”

Google likes this.

To Summarize

Although SEO is a complicated science, you can have great success with drug rehab SEO by considering and executing these 3 criteria. If your website has great user experience, great content and a high number of quality backlinks, you can completely transform your SEO and, therefore, your digital marketing success.

Search Engine Optimization Provides the Most Qualified Treatment Phone Calls

It’s important to understand that not all leads or inbound phone calls have the same quality. It is not uncommon for treatment centers to field phone calls from people who have general questions, are looking for resources or are inquiring about costs.

While it is important for facilities to take these calls and provide resources to anyone in need, it is also important for facilities to drive qualified phone calls to their call takers. Treatment centers need qualified leads so they can admit new patients and clients into their facility.

Every drug rehab needs a healthy census, or else it will go out business. One of the best ways to generate qualified phone calls is through drug rehab SEO.

As I explained briefly above, the reason SEO provides the most qualified calls is that inbound search has intent behind it.

For example. Let’s imagine you own a drug rehab in Nashville, Tennessee. Let’s imagine someone in need goes to Google and searches “drug rehab in Nashville.”

What exactly do you think they are searching for?

Clearly, they are looking for a drug rehab program in Nashville. We know this from their search query. Now imagine how much more qualified of a phone call that would be for whichever facility captures the traffic from that search.

This is the difference between SEO traffic and social media traffic. As great as social media can be, the difference in the quality of the leads can be truly drastic. When we build our drug rehab SEO, we are building a profile of qualified attention, traffic, and phone calls.

This means that your reps will have to field fewer calls to get in touch with the people who are in need of the treatment services you provide.

It’s a win-win for everyone! There will never be a better lead source than phone calls that are generated from a related inbound search query.

Local Search Could Be Your Answer

SEO can be a long, uphill battle.

A lot of drug rehab centers don’t take their SEO seriously enough because they feel as though it is a long, expensive investment that may or may not pay off.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

There are many different ways to SEO your drug rehab site. When looking at SEO as a generic term, it can definitely seem intimidating. But if you break your SEO down into smaller “winnable” objectives, it all seems much more manageable.

For instance, it is almost always a good idea for a drug rehab program to focus on building search traffic for their location. If you focus on a city or even a town, you will narrow down your focus and put yourself up against much less competition.

A good way to visualize this is to think of the difference between trying to rank #1 for the term “drug rehab” as opposed to ranking #1 for the term “drug rehab in St. Louis.”

Obviously, it will be much easier to rank for a search query with a location attached to it because there will be far fewer businesses and websites trying to compete for the #1 spot for “drug rehab St. Louis.”

Just imagine how much your census and your admissions numbers would change if you would be the very top search result in Google for “drug rehab *in your city*.”

With that said, the next question would be how do we get our websites to rank for local search?

Google My Business – What Is It and How Can It Help?

One of the best ways to rank for local search is Google My Business. We call it GMB.

Google My Business is a business directory that is owned by Google and is displayed on the search engine results pages. When people search for local businesses, oftentimes they are showed business listings within the GMB database.

You have seen this many times. Next time you search for a restaurant or a local business, (especially on mobile), you will notice a small map with a few pins put on the spot of the business address. This is Google My Business.

Google My Business dominates local search traffic. In fact, 46% of all searches have local intent.

Often times, people go directly to Google My Business for local searches. For instance, what happens when I search “drug rehabs in Ohio?”

As you can see, our client Ohio Addiction Recovery Center is at the top spot within the search results. Imagine all the success your rehab could see if you had this top spot.

Our clients are seeing great results but optimizing their local search through GMB.

How Do You Optimize a GMB Page?

The objective of any drug rehab in creating GMB listings is to “get into the local pack.”

What’s the local pack?

The local pack is what we refer to as the top three business listings. Google will always display the top 3 business listings for any location-based search. You can see in the example below that although Ohio Addiction Recovery Center is at the top of the search result, there are still two underneath.

There will always be 3.

If you are in the top three, that means you will be displayed. Meaning, you are in the local pack.

To get into the local pack requires you follow a few simple, yet critical sets of steps.

Let’s look deeper.


Having positive reviews on your GMB listings is a huge factor for getting into the local pack.

How are your patients and their family members reviewing your facility? This is a crucial ranking factor because, for obvious reasons, Google will want to display the highest rated drug rehabs in the local pack.

If you do a lousy job running a treatment center, Google will not want to refer search traffic to you. People go to Google to solve their problems. If your facility does a bad job of treating people to help them solve their problem, then Google will avoid displaying your listings in the local pack.

However, the number of reviews also plays a role. It is easy to have a 5-star rating if only 3 people have left a review. If you have many reviews, meaning there is a greater sample size, and your listing still has a high star review rating, there is a great chance you will be in the local pack.

Business Description and Content

Keywords also play a factor in your GMB listing. Each listing has a limit of 750 characters in the business description. You should take advantage of that and give the most detailed business description possible.

Also, be sure you fill out as much detailed information as possible. What is your website? What is your phone number? What is the accurate address? Do your photos do a good job of showing what the inside of the facility will look like?

Some quick pointers…

  • show professional photos of your staff (use bright smiling faces)
  • show as many facility photos as possible
  • if your rehab is residential, be sure to share photos of the sleeping quarters
  • give a detailed list of your services
  • what will the patients be eating?
  • be sure your address is accurate so people can get directions

I highly suggest taking this step seriously. The more detailed, professional and helpful your GMB is to the end-user, the higher your chances of being in the local pack.

SEO Value of the Website

Many drug rehabs think that if they have a Google My Business profile, they won’t need to build a strong website. This is wrong.

Google expects your business to have a reputable website. The strength of the website that is linked in your GMB listings is a huge ranking factor.

For instance, if your company website is brand new, Google will see the company website attached to your GMB listings and assume that your business is new. But if your website is strong, Google will see a strong web presence attached to your local listings and you will get a strong boost in rankings.

To Summarize

Simply put, if you have a good number of positive reviews, mixed with detailed business listings and a well-optimized business website, you can completely dominate local search and fill your entire census through local SEO alone!

SEO Takes Time – Be In It for the Long Haul

One of the most important requirements for an effective drug rehab SEO campaign is time.

You must earn Google’s trust. It is very difficult to “trick” or manipulate Google’s ranking algorithms into putting your business at the top of the search results. Even if you do somehow scheme your way into great rankings, the success will only be momentary.

To see true, long-lasting and highly profitable success in your drug rehab through SEO marketing, you must put in the work talked about in this guide. More importantly, you must continue to do it over a sustained period of time.

But the good news is that once you have earned your spot at the top of Google’s search results, you will be able to help those in need while keeping your census full and running a profitable business without burning your marketing budget on advertising.

Remember, SEO traffic is free. If you can open the firehouse of search traffic, Google will reward you for years to come.

A Year From Now, You Will Wish You Started Today

Unfortunately, we have seen many drug rehab owners and marketing directors make the same critical mistakes over and over again.

It isn’t uncommon for drug rehabs to be generating leads through advertising. It can be scary to spend your marketing dollars on an investment that won’t have an immediate return.

“What we are doing now is working.” That’s something we hear all too often from people who are short-sighted in their marketing. Many times, this happens right before the rug gets pulled out from under them.

The reality is that if you continue to completely rely on advertising, you will be vulnerable once Google makes changes to its advertising regulations. Advertising is volatile, and the rules can change at any minute.

The best way for any rehab facility to protect from sudden changes is by investing in their SEO and building a brand around their own keywords and location-based search. Why would any business completely rely on a marketing channel that they don’t have complete control over?

We always recommend rehab owners start investing in their SEO right from the beginning. Even if you have to start small, you should start today. Because, the day will come when what’s working today, isn’t working anymore.

However, if you own your market’s search presence, you will always have protection and security in your digital marketing.

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Tim Stoddart

Tim Stoddart is the CEO of Stodzy Internet Marketing. He lives in Nashville with his wife and hit adorable pitbull, Alice. Tim loves to write about digital marketing and personal growth. You can learn more at TimStodz.com

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