How SEO Works

Now that you’ve decided SEO might be a good investment for your drug rehab business, what kind of results can you expect, and what does the process look like?

How fast you’ll see results depends largely on your website’s current authority and the geographical location you are targeting. For example, a brand new website that currently has no authority and targets New York City will likely not see results for at least twelve to eighteen months.

However, a website with decent domain authority (DA) targeting a relatively small or unpopular geographic area will likely see results and rankings much faster.

In fact, to get a better idea of how quickly your website will rank in the search results, you can use a tool like the MozBar and compare the authority level of the top ranking websites in your area.

For example, suppose you’re targeting Atlanta, GA. In that case, you can type in your keyword (“addiction treatment in Atlanta, GA”) and then analyze the domain authority of competing websites to estimate how quickly you’ll be able to rank.

Generally, a DA of 0-20 will be relatively easy to outrank if you follow this guide.

Nonetheless, even if the competing websites have high DAs (say 40 plus), you’ll still be able to outrank them given enough time.

Just follow this guide, and you’ll be on your way to success.

Creating a Solid Technical Foundation

The first step to creating a strong drug rehab SEO strategy is to ensure that you have a strong technical foundation. Therefore, set up Google Search Console and Google Analytics, as they will alert you of critical errors and give your key user metrics. 

Thankfully, both of these tools are free and are relatively easy to set up. If you want a step by step guide to setting them up, here’s one for Google Search Console, and here’s one for Google Analytics. 

Once you’ve set them up, give them some time to collect data, and then you can start checking for essential technical issues. Here are just a few of them.

Crawl Errors

The first thing you should ensure is that Google can crawl all of the pages on your website. If Google is unable to crawl pages on your website, it won’t be able to index it, and therefore the page will never show up in the search engine results pages (SERPs). 

So, inside Google Search Console, under the Indexing tab, click on “Coverage.” This will show you all of the URLs that have errors.

From there, you can scroll down and look at the specific error messages that it’s showing you.

To find the URLs with the error, simply click on the error message, and it will give you the list of URLs. 

You can hire a developer on Upwork to fix these errors for you.

Mobile Friendly

The next step is to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly. This is crucial because Google now ranks websites based on their mobile version rather than their desktop version.

There are several different things to look at when analyzing if a website is mobile-friendly.

First, check for any critical errors in Google Search Console under the “Mobile” section. Hopefully, there are no errors, but if there are, it will show you which pages have errors and what you can do about them.

While Search Console will point out critical errors, it won’t show you pages with a poor user experience. As Google’s main goal is to please the user, having a quality user experience is crucial.

Therefore, open your website on a smartphone and go through this checklist manually:

  • Are there any pop-ups? (Removing pop-ups on mobile is generally a good idea)
  • Is the menu easy to navigate? Can you get to all of the pages?
  • Is the design well-adjusted?
  • Can you still read all of the content, or is part of it cut off?
  • Is the content well-spaced so that it doesn’t appear as a massive block of text?

If you need to make adjustments to your mobile version, be sure to do so now, as it will be more difficult later on.


Again, if you need someone to help you make your mobile version more user friendly, you can hire someone on Upwork to do it for you.

Secure Your Website

You may have noticed that some websites have an HTTP at the beginning of their URL, whereas others have an HTTPS. 

While this may seem like a very small difference, it actually can significantly impact your rankings. An HTTPS version means that your website is better secured against cyberattacks, and as Google’s goal is to create amazing user experiences, they don’t want to send users to risky websites.

In fact, they announced that having HTTPS is now a ranking factor. In addition, Google makes it very clear to users if your website isn’t secure, which will likely deter them from spending time on your website.

For example, here’s what it looks like if you have an HTTPS:

However, this is what it looks like if you don’t have HTTP:

So how can you ensure that your website has an HTTPS if it currently has an HTTP?

Well, you’ll first have to purchase an SSL certificate. You can purchase one for about $35 per year here from

From there, it’s important that you redirect all of your traffic to the new HTTPS versions of the website. While the website may seem the same to you and I, Google sees them as two entirely different websites.

Therefore, here’s a guide that shows you how to redirect your pages to the HTTPS version of the website without losing any of your current traffic. 

Improve Your Website Speed

The next technical challenge is ensuring that your website speed is relatively fast. 

One of the most annoying things for users is waiting on a slow website to load. Therefore, if Google thinks your website loads too slowly, it could bump your rankings. In fact, Google recently said that site speed is now a ranking factor. 

However, that means that both your mobile and desktop speed is relatively fast. Therefore, use a tool like Pagespeed Insights to measure the speed of your website. 

Nevertheless, once you’re pages are loading relatively quickly (under 2 seconds), you don’t necessarily need to continue optimizing your page speed. This is because a recent study by Backlinko showed that there is no correlation between faster load times and rankings.

Wait, what?

This is because Google assumes that once a website has reached a certain threshold (under two or three seconds) it’s still a good experience for the user and making it a few milliseconds faster won’t really add much additional value to the user. Therefore, once you’ve achieved a good page speed, optimizing your page further likely won’t return a better ROI.  

If you need someone to help you improve your page speed, you can hire someone on Upwork to do it for you.

Write Your Own Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

While this one may seem simple, it’s important to write your own title tags and meta descriptions. Sure, it may not directly impact your website’s technical foundation, but it can significantly impact your click-through rate and bounce rate, which are direct signals to Google. 

Therefore, use these guidelines when writing your titles and meta descriptions:

  • Titles should be under 60 characters
  • Meta descriptions should be under 160 characters
  • Use your keyword in the title (preferably at the beginning) and the meta description when possible
  • Optimize for clicks, but be sure to then deliver on what you say you’ll give (otherwise your bounce rate will go up which will signal Google that your page is no good)

Clean Up Anything That’s Broken

Finally, if you have access to a tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush, take advantage of their on-site grader. They can show you a list of all of the things that technical errors that are broken on your website and give you a list of exact errors. 

Here’s an example from Ahrefs:

Local SEO

Once you have a strong technical foundation in place, get your local SEO in order for your drug rehab.

This will ensure that your website shows up (or at least has a chance to show up) in the map pack for geography-based keywords.

For example, if you are a rehab center in Houston, TX, you’ll want to show up in the map pack for keywords like “rehab centers in Houston.”

Therefore, to achieve the map pack, be sure to sign up for Google My Business. This is Google’s local tool that enables you to rank for these kinds of keywords and to receive a special box for branded searches like this:

When you first sign up for Google My Business, you’ll have to verify your business’ physical address. Therefore, they will mail you a card with a verification code, and then you can set up your Google local profile.

Be sure to fill it out with NAP (name, address, phone number), and pictures of the inside and outside of the building.

In addition, encourage current patients and past patients to write reviews. By including more reviews, Google will be more willing to show you in the local search results.

Once you’ve finished filling out the profile, create various citations. For example, a Yelp listing is an example of a citation.

However, it’s important only to fill out citations on quality directories. If you fill out a citation on a low quality or irrelevant website, it could actually harm your rankings.

Therefore, to easily find quality directories (and perhaps more importantly, directories your competitors are using), consider a tool like BrightLocal. This will show you a list of all the citations your competitors have that you currently do not have.

Once you have your local SEO squared away, it’s time to move on to content for your drug rehab.

Create Content

When patients are looking for sober living homes, they don’t immediately Google “drug rehab near me.” For best SEO practice, instead think about the journey that they walk down to get to a point where they are looking for drug rehab.

For example, this might be the journey of a potential patient before they decide to find a drug rehab near them:

Notice that steps two through five are all informational searches that the user is making in Google. These are perfect opportunities for them to become acquainted with your rehab center and will therefore view you as a useful resource rather than just another rehab center trying to sell them something.

Therefore, creating content for those topics puts you in a great position to nurture potential patients.

In addition, the more quality content you have related to drug rehab and recovery, the more Google will begin to recognize that your website is an expert on the subject and will eventually rank you for more rehab related keywords.

However, what kind of content should you create?

Unfortunately, having low quality or thin content (content that doesn’t fully answer the searcher’s question) can actually harm your website’s overall authority.

Therefore, it’s important to do some patient research.

Talk to the medical professionals and staff and ask them about the most commonly asked questions. For example, if one of the most commonly asked questions is about payment options, consider creating a guide to payment options.

Note that it’s important to make your guides informative rather than salesy as you want to become a trusted source of information for patients rather than a salesman.

For example, here’s a great guide to paying for rehab. As you can see, it gives directions for finding insurance information and provides helpful links to those in need:

You can also search forums like Quora to find the most popular rehab questions.

For example, contact with loved ones during rehab is clearly a hot topic, so writing an authoritative post on this subject could be a great way to engage with potential patients:

Finally, you can also use competitive keyword research to find hidden content ideas for your drug rehab SEO.

I personally like to use the content gap tool in Ahrefs as it allows you to see keywords your competitors are ranking for that you currently don’t rank for.

From there, you can download the keywords and match some of them with your customer research.

For example, these might be some excellent keywords to target and write content about as they show intent to become a patient:

Now that you have some solid ideas, how do you write the content in a way that makes it better than all of the other posts currently ranking for those keywords?

One solution is to add more depth where others lack. For example, if you’re writing a post on drug detoxing while pregnant, you could include various stories from people that successfully completed drug rehab while pregnant and insider tips.

You can also make your content better by simply improving the user experience. For example, including graphs and charts that make the post more skimmable.

Update/Maintain Content

Once you’ve created some content, it will eventually begin to decay over time. While it won’t immediately stop as ads would, you’ll see a general decline.

Therefore, to prevent it from declining, be sure to update it. Be sure to include new research, facts, quotes, and other supporting information in your update.

Below is an example of a piece of content for a drug rehab that was declining in traffic and then skyrocketed after an SEO update.

As you can see, this post was updated on April 20th, and it rapidly gained traction and surpassed its previous traffic record.

However, not all content performs well post update. In fact, one study found that while updating nearly 30 blog posts increased blog traffic by 96%, about 61.9% of the additional traffic came from just 11.9% of the posts.

So how do you know which posts to update?

The same study found that nearly all the posts that produced a massive increase in traffic were posts that already had some traction (at least around 100 visitors per month).

Therefore, only invest in updating content that has previously performed well.

You can find posts that previously performed well by opening Ahrefs, clicking “Top Pages 2.0” and clicking “Traffic Declined.” From there, sort through the ones that have the most traffic (yet are in decline) and update them.

For posts that never performed very well, you can either 301 redirect them to similar posts or delete them if they currently have zero traffic and links.

This is because pages that don’t perform well actually drag down your website’s overall authority.

In fact, plenty of case studies show that pruning (301 redirecting or deleting) content that never performed well can increase traffic and improve rankings for other pieces of content on your website.

However, it’s important to only delete pages that don’t have any traffic or backlinks as you don’t want to lose any traffic or authority. Therefore, 301 redirecting pages is usually the safest option.

Link Building

Google has mentioned that the two most important aspects of SEO are content and link building, especially in the competitive landscape of drug rehab marketing. We already covered content exhaustively, but link building is also extremely important.

Backlinks (often referred to as simply links) are a signal to Google that other people find your website authoritative and useful.

As Google only wants to show results from authoritative brands, links are a great way to accomplish this.

So what is a link?

Whenever you see a clickable link of text highlighted (usually in blue) that takes you to another website, that’s a link.

Therefore, the website receiving the link (not the one where the text is highlighted in blue) is the one that receives the benefit from the exchange.

Here are two examples of links:

However, not all links are equally useful. In fact, if you have links from low quality or spammy websites, it can drop your website’s authority.

Therefore, you want to make sure that your website has links that are:

  • From high-quality websites (ideally a DA of 50 plus, but not necessary)
  • From a relevant website (a link from a reputable addiction doctor is much better than a link from something unrelated like

So how do you go about building links?

While it is quite a process, there are two different ways to approach it. The first is to create content that ideally attracts links naturally.

Therefore, creating high-quality content that contains valuable quotes from experts, original research, and other linkable assets is a great start.

However, most people also build links manually. This can be done in a way that builds quality links and in a way that builds spammy links.

Things you should never do (which could land you with a Google penalty) include:

  • Buying links
  • Building private blog networks (PBNs)

However, a few legitimate tactics include:

  • Natural guest posting
  • Blogger outreach
  • Broken link building
  • Link reclamation
  • And much more…

While I won’t dive too deeply into tactics here, you can read more about these tactics and execution in this guide.

Final Thoughts

So that’s the basics of drug rehab SEO. While it may be overwhelming at first, once you’ve set the groundwork, you’ll find that it builds momentum and is one of the most effective and reliable ways to build consistent traffic.

If you need any extra help, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our specialists for a free consultation and to view some of our case studies of how we’ve helped other drug rehab centers grow.

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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

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