Lost Your Spot on Google to SAMHSA or DrugAbuse.com? We Have 9 Tips to Make You Top Dog Again

Has your drug treatment center searched for itself on Google, only to find SAMHSA or DrugAbuse.com in place of your #1 result?

We get it. You’ve worked hard to build your business and your brand. You want to be visible on Google so you can help as many people who are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction as possible.

But let’s face it. You’re fighting an uphill battle now more than ever. Not only is there intense competition online, but bad apples in the industry have increased general skepticism, making it more difficult to drive intakes. On top of that, paid search on Google and Facebook is restricted for most treatment centers, severely limiting your ability to connect with those who need help.

Which is why Google’s decision to rank other sites number one for your brand name – specifically SAMHSA and DrugAbuse.com – is another big blow to your business.

On the surface, it may not seem like a big deal to be moved down to the number 2 position for your brand name, but when it comes to click-through rates, the impact on your site’s traffic is significant. For reference, take a look at click-through rates by position below and you’ll see that the drop-off is about 50% if you rank #2 instead of #1.

Graph showing click-through rates by position on desktop and mobile devices. Source: Advanced Web Ranking

In other words, you could be losing more than 50% of branded search traffic. And, because branded searches generally convert better than non-branded searches, you are also losing traffic that was more likely to be an intake.

It’s Not You, It’s Google

We want to make it clear that if your treatment center’s website ranks #2 for your brand name, it’s doesn’t mean you run a bad treatment center. This was a decision that Google made across the addiction vertical.

How do we know this?

We exported the treatment centers from the SAMHSA database (more than 6,640 unique websites in total), then pulled a ranking report for SAMHSA for every single treatment center. We found that brand names that included terms like addiction, treatment, detox, and drug, were more likely to have lost their branded #1 ranking. We also found that the exact same SAMHSA page was occupying the #1 spot for each term.

9 Tips to Weather the Storm

So, we know that Google is restricting your visibility in both paid and organic search. But as dire as that may sound, don’t lose hope! Here are nine tips to help your drug addiction facility weather this latest storm.

  1. Get LegitScript certified – Once you’re able to advertise on Google, bid on your brand name. This will push the organic results, including SAMHSA and DrugAbuse.com, further down the page.
  2. Optimize your knowledge panel – This is the big box of content that appears on the right-hand side of the search results page. You can update images, request reviews, provide custom descriptions, and more. By making the knowledge panel more robust, you increase the chances at people seeing your phone number and clicking in to your website.
  3. Optimize your social profiles – If you do a search for your brand name, chances are you will see one or more of your social media profiles ranking on page 1 or 2. Take a look at each profile to see if you’ve updated it as much as you can. It’s possible that updating the profiles will help them rank better. Even if that’s not the case, if someone sees one, they’ll be able to learn more about your business and, most importantly, they’ll know how to contact you.
  4. Do Barnacle SEO – It’s possible that other sites such as Psychology Today or Rehabs.com rank well for your brand name. Barnacle SEO is just a fancy way of saying that you should optimize your listing on sites like these as much as possible. If people visit those sites, optimizing your listings will increase the chances that you’ll be contacted, even if they don’t visit your site! Note that this tip applies to SAMHSA and DrugAbuse.com as well.
  5. Build Links – Google says the number of quality links that point to your site is a major SEO ranking factor. If you secure good links, it indicates to Google that your treatment center is credible, which may convince the search engine to give you the #1 ranking back in the future!
  6. Disavow (bad) Links – Conversely, it’s possible to tell Google to “ignore” links you’re getting from spammy sites. All you need to do is upload a Link Disavow file to Google Search Console. This is another signal to Google that you’re committed to being a trustworthy treatment center, which can help you reclaim the top spot.
  7. Create Useful Content – The more content you create, the better chance you have at ranking for a larger number of non-branded keywords. The more words you rank for, the more traffic (and intake potential) you get.
  8. Ensure Your Site Has a Strong Technical Foundation – As noted in our post comparing Detox to technical SEO health, it’s important to audit your website to make sure its technical foundation is crawlable to search engines. If your site is difficult for search engines to navigate, you won’t be as likely to rank for those non-branded terms.
  9. Provide Feedback to Google – Believe it or not, Google is listening. They will make changes if they feel their search results don’t provide a good user experience, which is also why we believe DrugAbuse.com is now ranked #1 instead of SAMHSA. You (and all your friends) can submit a feedback request to Google, which may be the final straw that gets your site back to #1.

Your Next Steps

Remember: The fact that your drug addiction treatment center was bumped down a position isn’t your fault. It’s the bad apples in the industry who are to blame. Unfortunately, Google’s decision to selectively rank sites they believe are credible has, for now, put more pressure on the credible treatment centers.

The good news is you still have several opportunities to remain visible online, and you don’t have to go it alone. The past year has brought widespread change in the rehab industry, and our team has been there to help clients navigate these changes effectively. If you’re ready to talk, we’re here to listen and help!

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