How Rehab Centers Should Respond to Google’s AdWords Crackdown

How Rehab Centers Should Respond to Google’s AdWords Crackdown

Earlier this month, the world of advertising for rehab centers was rocked overnight when Google suddenly began cracking down on addiction treatment AdWords. Centers who relied on pay-per-click (PPC) ads to reach potential residents, spending thousands or even millions of dollars on this advertising option each year, had the rug pulled out from under them when a quickly growing list of AdWords was blocked without warning.

Read on to learn exactly what happened and what your rehab center can do to be discovered by prospective residents through Google and other online resources despite this change.


Google’s Rehab AdWords Crackdown: What Happened

On September 14, The Verge reported on a sudden Google crackdown on rehab-related AdWords, explaining: 

Around the country today, marketers in the $35 billion addiction treatment industry woke up to an unpleasant surprise: Many of their Google search ads were gone. Overnight, the search giant has stopped selling ads against a huge number of rehab-related search terms, including “rehab near me,” “alcohol treatment,” and thousands of others. Search ads on some of those keywords would previously have netted Google hundreds of dollars per click.


If Google was reaping such massive profits on these AdWords, why would they pull the plug on them overnight? It all boils down to concerns over offering Google users a safe and positive experience with their search engine.

Drug and alcohol rehab treatment is a multi-billion dollar industry that has found itself in national headlines often in recent years. As a result, companies have quickly cropped up that are far more interested in tapping into the potential profits than providing a safe and effective treatment experience for those searching for help. These fly-by-night companies and opportunistic scammers began using Google ads to siphon callers away from legitimate treatment centers.

Google explained in a statement to The Vege, “We found a number of misleading experiences among rehabilitation treatment centers that led to our decision, in consultation with experts, to restrict ads in this category. As always, we constantly review our policies to protect our users and provide good experiences for consumers.”

While it’s certainly admirable that Google has taken steps to protect vulnerable addicts and their families from scams, legitimate rehabs have also been affected by this change. Some who who relied on AdWords to reach potential residents find themselves scrambling for new methods to connect with their target audience. 


What Treatment Centers Can Do in Response to the AdWords Crackdown

Although treatment centers will be unable to rely on PPC ads for the foreseeable future, there are steps your organization can take to be found online and on Google through search engine optimization (SEO). SEO refers to the strategies you can use to increase the likelihood you’ll appear in the results list of an organic search, rather than in one of the paid ad positions on the page. Here are a few things you can do to strengthen your SEO and reach more people in the wake of the AdWords crackdown.


1. Ensure you have a well-designed website.

Your website is the front door of your treatment center, so the importance of providing a positive experience to your web visitors cannot be overstated. If people click onto your site but are quickly put off by an outdated design, difficult navigation, or too much text, they’ll click back out of your page in seconds. Google monitors these trends and, if they determine you’re providing a negative online experience, can lower your standing in organic search results. Ensure you’re giving website visitors (and Google) a positive impression of your center by making your website a priority.


2. Practice good content marketing.

Content marketing is a type of marketing that focuses less on explicit brand promotion and more on providing quality content to one’s target audience. A good content marketing strategy can improve your SEO and help you gain the trust of potential residents who are considering whether or not they should choose you to help with their recovery journey. 

Blogs, infographics, and videos are all examples of content you can create to reach more people online. Regular, high quality blogs show Google and future residents that you’re a reliable rehab center as you post consistent and helpful content that is on-topic for those searching the web for hope in the face of addiction. Blogs should have a straightforward title, cover a relevant topic, use a reader-friendly voice, and incorporate a closing call to action that invites readers to take the next step in exploring your rehab center. When executed properly, regular blog content can increase your brand awareness, website views, and number of leads from qualified prospects.

Infographics are another way to reach potential residents, particularly those who are persuaded by data and statistics. You’ve likely seen infographics floating around the internet for a wide variety of topics. The best infographics are those which are accurate and easy to read, understand, and share. These content pieces can be used on your blog, social media accounts, and even in printed materials to increase brand awareness among your target audience and build your reputation as an established and trustworthy treatment center.

Videos are a third example of content that are a worthy time investment for centers looking to reach more prospects organically. Sit down with team members and brainstorm a list of topics you could cover via video. These could be animated videos, text videos, interviews with your staff or successful alumni, glimpses of a day in the life of a resident, an overview of a particular treatment method, or whatever else your staff dreams up. Think about what questions your future residents are likely searching on Google or YouTube, then shape your videos (and their titles!) around those questions.


3. Get listed on rehab-specific search engines.

As Google makes it more difficult to pay to be seen by users, there’s never been a better time to invest your advertising dollars in proven, rehab-specific search engines. Users of these search engines trust that the results have been vetted and are more likely to view the listed sites as established and effective treatment centers. Plus, this option allows you to avoid the problems Google has faced in recent years. For example, RehabsFinder protects your listing so that other companies or scammers can’t replace your contact information with theirs. 

As an added bonus, you know that the people searching these sites or apps are actively looking for treatment, so you’re not wasting PPC dollars on, say, a college student writing a research paper. Rehab-specific search engines like RehabsFinder are a wise investment in a time where Google is struggling to vet and present legitimate treatment centers to their search engine users.


RehabsFinder App Can Help

Updating your website, focusing on content marketing, and getting listed on rehab-specific search engines are all great ways that rehab centers can respond to the Google AdWords crackdown. If you’d like help pursuing any one (or all three) of these next steps, RehabsFinder can help. 

Register with RehabsFinder today to learn how you can get listed on our website and app or contact us using the form on the bottom of our FAQ page to find out how we can help you build a better website and establish a successful content marketing plan.

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