Do you know your treatment program’s local search ranking? Do you monitor and respond to online reviews? If not, it’s time to start doing so! With no ratings or reviews—or with very negative ratings or reviews—your treatment program may get lost beneath other programs in online search results. There’s been a recent shift in Google’s local search algorithm, and you need a strategy to capitalize on it.

In addition to other SEO best practices like establishing your website’s domain authority, effective link building, and use of relevant keywords, Google is now using the quality of small businesses as a factor in search rankings. When someone searches for a local business—whether it be a type of restaurant, a barber shop, or a treatment center—higher quality businesses have a better chance of ranking high in local search results. So what does high quality mean? Quality by what or whose standards?

New Focus on Quality in Local Search Rankings

The latest move from Google has been to incorporate internet users’ ratings and reviews to determine the quality of a business. Your treatment center website can build credibility with online search engines as a quality resource through effective link building and keyword usage, but now online ratings will also factor into your local search ranking. That means, when an individual searches for addiction treatment or a rehab in your area, your online ratings and reviews can make or break your chances of showing up in their search results.

The goal of a search engine is to provide the best answers to an internet user’s query or question. When it comes to local business searches, the majority of people are looking for the best or highest quality restaurant, barber shop, or treatment center (whatever their search may be). By focusing on businesses’ online ratings, Google is seeking to provide better, more relevant answers to users’ online searches.

Considering that 92% of consumers read online reviews, and 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, this move from Google makes sense. People aren’t just searching for any addiction treatment center—of course they want the best possible facility. Google is trying to make it easier for them to find that. But, this all means that you need to give due attention to those ratings and reviews if you want your facility to be visible online.

Google Prioritizes Higher Online Ratings

More and more people are searching for substance abuse treatment facilities online. In the last 5 years, the search term “rehab near me” has skyrocketed in popularity. As with other local business searches, many online users are searching for a treatment facility in their specific city or region. When they do, you want your facility to appear in their search results.

If someone searches for “rehab in Delray Beach FL” on Google, local search results will generate a map with rehabs in the area, and the top results will be listed beneath the map. Facilities with higher online ratings are more likely to show up here.

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Google also offers two filters to help users refine their search results: an ‘Hours’ filter, which allows users to filter search results based on a business’ days/hours of operation, and there’s now a ‘Rating’ filter as well. The Rating filter allows users to filter search results based on businesses’ online ratings. Filter options range from ‘2.0 stars and up’ to ‘4.5 stars and up’ (or the rating filter can be left on ‘Any’).

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In particular, when someone searches for a specific kind of business with superlative terms like “best,” “great,” or “quality,” Google has begun to automatically use those online ratings to inform its search results. So, if someone searches for “best rehab in Delray Beach FL” or “high quality rehab in Delray Beach FL,” local search results prioritize facilities with the highest online ratings.

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How to Improve Online Ratings and Search Ranking

The specific factors that play a part in Google’s search algorithm aren’t entirely clear. Searching for “best addiction treatment Delray Beach FL” produces local search results with higher online ratings, but it’s not ratings alone that determine how high a facility is ranked in the results. Sometimes facilities with lower numerical ratings may rank above facilities with higher numerical ratings.

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This may be because some facilities have a higher volume of ratings and reviews. Or, it may be due to distance or physical proximity. It could be influenced by some other factor. Ultimately, the best strategy for your treatment program is to start paying attention to online ratings and reviews.

Actively seek out online ratings and reviews from alumni who have been through your program, so you can increase the number of reviews that your facility has. Many alumni will have useful and positive feedback to give. This will not only help potential clients learn about your program, but it can also improve your local search ranking. Don’t hesitate to ask for clients to post online reviews about your program. When asked to leave a review, 7 out of 10 consumers will do so.

With more reviews, you build greater credibility (and likely rank higher in local searches). Start monitoring your online reviews and actually respond to them—both good and bad. Responding to online reviews is one way to build trust with potential clients who are reading them. It shows that you are attentive and care about your clients. It’s important to respond to negative reviews, too. Criticisms will happen, but responding gives you an opportunity to lessen the blow.

As online search rankings continue to evolve, the best thing you can do is stay up-to-date on best practices. In matters like this, ignorance is far from bliss. Knowing that your online ratings can affect your local search ranking gives you the power to improve those search rankings. Start building your repertoire of online reviews! It’s one more tactic that can help your business 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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