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Drug Rehab SEO: The Complete Guide to Reach 1st Page Rankings

REMINDER: You must understand that your drug rehab center’s census won’t magically skyrocket just by reading this blog post. You need to act by applying and testing out these actionable SEO tips for yourself. If you’re not ready for that, these amazing SEO tips are not for you. Or, you are ready but don’t have the time, you can contact us and we’ll do it for you. 😀

Are you struggling to get new leads for your drug rehab center? Did your last rehab SEO marketing effort flop?

You’re not alone.

There are hundreds of drug rehab centers and treatment aggregator sites lobbying for the same 1st Page Google rankings as you are, and most of them has a significant head start.

But, wait…..there is good news.

I jam-packed this blog post with the most valuable and actionable drug rehab SEO techniques that still work in 2021.

So if you want to start competing with the big rehab brands, you’ll love this guide.

Let’s get started.

How to Beat Addiction Referral Aggregator Sites

Let’s face it.

You can’t Google something about ‘addiction’ without seeing referral aggregator (AKA Treatment Directory) websites.

They have saturated Google since 2015, leaving local drug rehabs as well as national brands with a dwindling SEO market share.

The SEO market share battle is being won hands-down by a handful of extremely well-funded treatment directories – e.g. Rehabs.com, Recovery.org, AddictionTreatment.com, DrugRehab.org, and Addicted.org.

Let’s pretend your potential patient is searching for suitable drug rehab options in the State of Florida.

Take a look at this Google search result:

image11 1

As you can see, these addiction treatment directories dominate the first page of Google.

SERP Summary:

  • Google Ads
  • 3 Local Pack Results (Google My Business)
  • 10 Organic Results
    • 1 non-direct competitor
    • 6 aggregators on 1st page of Google
    • 3 direct competitors

You can expect similar Google search results for all rehab related ‘keywords + location’ queries.

For example, when you search for ‘Drug Rehab in California

image2 1

…not surprisingly, we found almost identical SERP results.

  • Google Ads
  • 3 Local Results (Google My Business)
  • 10 Organic Results (SEO playground)
    • 1 non-direct competitor (SAMHSA)
    • 7 aggregators on 1st page of Google
    • 1 direct competitor
    • 1 news site

Let that sink in for a minute – of the 10 organic results, 75-85 percent of them are referral aggregator sites (Rehabs.com, Addiction.org, etc.) – only 10-15 percent of the organic results are your direct competitors.

Key Point: Regardless of how you personally feel about these referral aggregator sites, if you want to compete in the addiction SEO space, you need to set realistic SEO goals and adjust your SEO strategy to counter the aggregator websites.

How Can the Balance of Power Shift Back?

Ryan Stewart, founder of Webris said it best, “Instead of competing against the aggregator sites, join them and THEN beat them.”

With 70-80 percent of search results being covered by referral aggregator sites, there’s no avoiding it if you want to market your treatment center online.

If you own a small to medium-sized rehab facility with low or no marketing budget, your only goal should be to capture traffic through these referral aggregator sites, not to compete with them.

image12 1

This is the path of least resistance, and a great way to bypass the ridiculous competition when you have little or no marketing budget.

Start by claiming/creating your rehab business profile, complete your profile, add photos and videos, and start showcasing your involvement in the rehab community – that’s it!

Key Point: You can shift the balance of power back by simply piggybacking on their success. The beauty of associating your rehab brand with a higher-authority niche directory site like Rehabs.com is that it will instantly boost your online reputation and credibility.

How to Write Addiction Treatment Content

Content Size Does Matter, But Not How You May Think

A recent research study by Brian Dean of Backlinko states, “Long-form content ranks higher in Google’s search results than short-form content. The average word count of a Google first page result is 1,890 words.”

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(Image Source: Backlinko)

If you don’t have time to read the entire article, here’s the key takeaways from the blog post:

Now, before you go off and start writing 2,000+ words for every blog post, please read this excellent correlation study done by the Co-Founder of CoSchedule, Garrett Moon:

Key Point: Don’t count characters. Make your characters count. – Barry Feldman

Getting back to the main topic…

The same Average Word Count trend applies for the addiction rehab space, but I’m not going to cover how to write a 2,000-word+ long-from blog post – others have done that already, see Neil Patel’s guide.

Besides, every referral aggregator website knows this, and has already invested heavily in producing long-form content for SEO.

They’ve done the hard work, that’s why they rank for everything.

Instead, I’m going to cover how you can expand your old blog post using Topical Relevancy, Intent Driven Content, and Micro-moments targeting strategies to skyrocket your SEO.

a. Use Topical Relevancy

First, rather than writing something entirely from scratch, it is much easier to find a blog post of yours that is already doing well on Google, and expand on that article with additional topics that are relevant to the original seed topic.

For example, if you wrote a blog post about Alcohol Detox, you might have multiple types of target readers (a.k.a. personas):

  • A loved one who is looking for treatment advice on ‘how to help a friend or family member who has alcohol issues’
  • Alcohol abusers who want to check him/herself in for professional treatment

To target each of these readers, you can expand your content into different topics that cover multiple angles, such as:

As you can see, there is subtle differences in the subtopics you would want to include based on your target audience.

One of the simplest ways you can find relevant subtopics is by using the Google Autocomplete feature.

Just type in your seed keywords:

Screen Shot 2019 01 30 at 2.20.03 PM

Or, you can try using this nifty free keyword tool Keywordtool.io as an alternative. It will help you find long-tail and related keywords that you may not think to search for in Google’s Keyword Planner.

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 (Image Source: KeywordTool.io)

I personally use this awesome keyword research tool AnswerThePublic. It basically combines Google & Bing autosuggest results with autosuggest queries and questions.

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 (Image Source: AnswerThePublic)

Just pop the seed keyword into AnswerThePublic and this nifty little tool will present you with an aggregated view of the questions and therefore a hint of the motivations and emotions of the people behind each search query.

Take a look:

image3 1

 (Image Source: AnswerThePublic)

Combine the questions with the keyword search volume data from KeywordsEveryWhere.com:

image9 1

 (Image Source: AnswerThePublic)

It paints a clear picture of the topical relevant questions and queries you can use to double or triple your blog post traffic.

Key Point: Writing 2,000+ words for every blog post is a time-consuming process. Instead, it is much easier to take an existing blog post that already has authority and topically expand upon it. The beauty of updating old posts is that every time you update it with new content, you can share it again with your audience.

b. Use Intent Driven Content

The next time you are looking to expand an existing blog post of yours, consider the reasons why someone might be typing in these search queries on Google.

The Searcher’s intent might be:

  • My friend drinks every day what can I do to help?
  • How do I find help for my alcoholic father?
  • Is there a drug detox center near me?

Lets visualize the intent with a TOFU, MOFU, BOFU keyword mapping method.

image1 1

(Image Source: StarkCrew)

TOFU – Top of The Funnel

  • Intent: Create awareness about the problem
  • Target keywords: alcohol abuse, alcohol detox

MOFU – Middle of The Funnel

  • Intent: Educate reader on solutions
  • Target keywords: how to help an alcoholic, how to talk to an alcoholic, how long to detox from alcohol

BOFU – Bottom of The Funnel

  • Intent: Seeking treatment facility or professional help
  • Target keywords: alcohol treatment centers near me, alcohol detox program in [CITY]

Clearly mapping out each layer of the funnel will help you understand how your content should be structured, which makes expanding your old blog posts with new content much easier.

Key Point: Be mindful of the searcher’s intent when you go to expand your old content. It will help you add an extra layer of targeting and help you rank for keywords that your competition doesn’t know about.

c. Use Micro-Moments

“Micro-moments are critical touch points within today’s consumer journey, and when added together, they ultimately determine how that journey ends.” – Think With Google

image4 1

(Image Source: SEOsolutions)

John Jantsch author of Duct Tape Marketing said it best, “Think of it as lighting candles along dark paths so that weary travelers can discover you in the dark.”

These candles are your bite-sized blog posts, Q&A segments, or short how-to snippets.

Here are real-life examples of micro-moments that you can base your content strategy around:

Impulse Moments:

  • I want-to-know
  • I want-to-go
  • I want-to-do

Real Life Scenarios:

  • I want-to-know how to help my alcoholic father or husband
  • I want-to-go get professional treatment
  • I want-to-do the best thing for my alcoholic husband

Emergency Moments:

  • I need-to-call
  • I need-to-get-help
  • I want-to-do

Real Life Scenarios:

  • I need-to-call and get in touch with a professional who can help
  • I need-to-get-help soon or I won’t live


  • I need-to-learn
  • I need-to-remember (when trying to remember/apply)>

Real Life Scenarios:

  • I need-to-learn how to cope with this addiction
  • I need-to-remember what to do when I get my cravings


  • When things change
  • When something goes wrong

Real Life Scenarios:

  • Personal ego or credibility at stake
  • Losing a job because of substance abuse
  • Losing a loved one or family because of drug abuse
  • Questioning one’s existence (existential crises) & choices

Key Point: By appearing as a top result when your prospective patient or loved one is seeking advice on ‘How to help my alcoholic father?’, it is a critical opportunity for you to build that trust and shape their decision. Only then can your prospective patient convince themselves that your service or your brand holds the answer to their particular needs.

How to Optimize for Google’s Featured Snippets

Did you know that you could dramatically increase your site’s traffic without having to create new original content or add backlinks?

This can be achieved by incorporating what Google calls “featured snippets.”  

What are Featured Snippets?

Featured snippets are the partial answers that appear at the very top of the search results from a specific user query on Google.

This is what a featured snippet looks like:


(Image Source: Google)

The purpose of featured snippets is simple: to grab and draw the user’s attention to a particular search engine results page (SERP).

Because featured snippets appear at the very top of the SERP, they naturally get a huge number of impressions and clicks, as shown below:


(Image Source: Ahrefs)

During a research study, Ahrefs analyzed 2 million featured snippets and discovered that the results pages with featured snippets garnered 8.6% of the total click-throughs.

Their study also found that approximately 13% of all Google searches result in a featured snippet at the very top:


(Image Source: Ahrefs)

Featured snippets have the power to grab all the organic traffic generated from other search results, and this includes the #1 ranked content.

This allows you to take advantage of two HUGE opportunities:

  1. If your site ranks #1 and it lands a featured snippet, you could drive nearly one-third (28%) of all traffic (clicks) to your site for a specific search phrase.
  1. If your site does not currently rank #1, but it still somehow lands a featured snippet, you could dramatically increase your organic traffic two to three times. Since pages ranking lower than the top 3 spots normally experience a CTR in single digits, by landing a featured snippet your organic traffic could experience an exponential increase.


You do not need expend a great deal of time, money or effort in order to attain “position zero” by landing a featured snippet.

This section includes detailed information on:

  1. The various types of Google’s featured snippets
  2. Finding featured snippet opportunities that you can take advantage of
  3. Optimizing the existing content on your website to land featured snippets

Here are some stats to remember:  

  • Nearly all (99.58%) featured snippets are derived from content ranked #1 through #10.
  • Less than one-third (30.9%) of featured snippets come from the content ranking #1, which means that you could rank #3 and still land a featured snippet at the very top, higher than #1.
  • If a search query results in a featured snippet, this will draw nearly 25% of the click-throughs away from the #1 ranked site.
  • The content on one web page could rank for many different featured snippets, numbering in the thousands.  


<pstyle=”text-align: center;”>(Image Source: Ahrefs)


(Image Source: Ahrefs)

Just imagine how much organic traffic you could generate if you landed featured snippets in the hundreds or thousands throughout your website.

While you contemplate how lucrative featured snippets can be, let’s discuss the various types and how you can grab them for your website.

The Various Types of Google’s Featured Snippets

There are 4 basic formats that Google’s featured snippets come in:

  1. Paragraphs
  2. Numbered and bulleted lists
  3. Tables
  4. YouTube


(Image Source: Search Engine Journal)

Note: Featured snippets are very different from Instant Answers, Rich Snippets or Knowledge Graphs so, do not confuse them.


(Image Source: Google)

The difference is that featured snippets provide the attribution with source links and answers are drawn from the top 10 search results.

Paragraph Snippets


(Image Source: Google)

Featured snippets most commonly come in paragraph form. They attempt to provide direct answers to search queries. You will often see an image from another source displayed with the paragraph snippet.

Search Engine Journal says that featured snippets in paragraph form provide results for keywords that include phrases like:

  • What is…
  • Why is…
  • Who is…
  • How to get…
  • How to do…

Numbered List Snippets

2019 02 27 1731

(Image Source: Google)

When someone searches Google for step-by-step instructions on how to complete a given task, the search result will likely be a numbered list snippet. The above snipped is displayed for the keyword search phrase “Suboxone for pain side effects.”

To optimize your web page for these types of snippets, list the steps needed to accomplish the task at the beginning of your post.

Bulleted List Snippets


(Image Source: Google)

Most people love getting a list in their Google search results, and Google loves them too. For bulleted snippets, Google shows the listed headings in the form of bullet points to provide a compressed overview of the search result.

Table Snippets


(Image Source: Google)

Google shows table snippets for more structured information because it is easier to read. The table is not pulled from the content; Google instead reformats the content to make it more user-friendly.

The post that generated the table above provides the reader with a brief table, which allows it to land this type of featured snippet, which is any type of data that can be displayed in a table format, in rows and columns. YouTube Snippets

Google can create featured snippets out of content from outside sources, like YouTube:


(Image Source: Google)

Now that you’ve learned about the various types of featured snippets that you have to work with, let’s discuss how your site can land them.

Two Ways of Finding Featured Snippet Opportunities

a.  Reverse Engineer Off Your Competitor’s Sites

Your best chance of landing a featured snippet involves all the keywords that you and your competitors include that already ranks you on the first page and zero in on the ones with featured snippets.

The keyword filtering options on Ahrefs can help you quickly find your opportunities.

Go online to Ahrefs Site Explorer and enter your web address. In the column on the left, go to “Organic keywords” and click. In the upper right, open “SERP features” and click on “Featured Snippet.”


(Image Source: Ahrefs)

You will then be shown more than 25,000 keyword search terms containing featured snippets.

All keyword search terms that your website is ranks on the first page for that include a featured snippet will be listed. These would be your quickest opportunities.

b.  Finding New Keyword Terms that Include Featured Snippets

We just showed you how you can find opportunities using keyword terms you are already ranked on the first page for. Now, you need to learn how to find new keywords that will lead to more opportunities for featured snippets.

Go to Ahrefs and in the Keyword Explorer Tool, enter the relevant seed keyword. Go to Phrase Match Report, select Search Features, select Featured Snippet:


(Image Source: Ahrefs)

It took me only a moment to find 12 featured snippet opportunities that would work for the seed keyword search term “how long does alcohol stay in your system.”

Incredible, don’t you think? Well, it even gets better.

Now, click on the SERP drop-down box to find out which website currently has that featured snippet:


(Image Source:Ahrefs)

You will see that www.therecoveryvillage.com is currently landing that snippet.

Copy and paste that URL into Site Explorer.

Then click on Organic Keywords, select SERP Features, select All Features, select Featured Snippets and you will be given a list of every keyword that particular site ranks for that has featured snippets:


(Image Source: Ahrefs)

This gives you a list containing more than 1,300 different keyword search terms with featured snippets!

Note: If the list has so many keywords that it’s too massive to manage, you can narrow it down using the filters for KD, Volume, and Word Count.

Now that you know the target keywords you’ll want to analyze each featured snippet to see if you might be able to steal it away from your competitor.

Since you’ve learned how to find tons of featured snippet opportunities, it only makes sense that you would want to optimize your web content for the placement of featured snippets.

How to Optimize Your Addiction Treatment Content for Featured Snippets

a. Target Question Keyword Queries

study conducted by Ghergich & Co. analyzing 30 keyword formulas comprised of questions, comparisons and prepositions, it was found that question keywords were the most effective at landing featured snippets:


(Image Source: MOZ)

Google, in an effort to enhance its “stickiness,” wants to provide answers to frequently asked questions within the SERP:


(Image Source: SEMRUSH)

The research study discovered that the keywords “how” and “have” existed in most (46.91% and 17.71% respectively) question keyword terms landing list featured snippets, although the keyword “which” was found to be the top-performing keyword for landing table snippets at 16.2%.

Nearly all question keywords were shown to be effective at landing paragraph snippets.

While this is not an exact science, Google will usually pull the paragraph in from the content that directly answers the user’s question.

b. Quick and Easy Ways to Find Questions Keywords to Target

Go to Ahrefs Keyword Explorer and enter the relevant seed keyword or list using the Question filter found midway down the left sidebar:


(Image Source: Ahrefs)

Another way of obtaining a list of frequently asked questions that apply to your niche would be to monitor the “People Also Ask” (PAA) boxes in Google that show related questions:


(Image Source: Google)

The People Also Ask related question box could list questions numbering well into the hundreds, so be prepared for the ride!


If I were creating content on “alcohol’s effects on the body,” a big part of my strategy would be based on the PAA boxes you see above!


There’s more to it than just questions. Why not find keywords related to the symptoms and get a list of all the side effects of alcohol consumption? This way you can reap the benefits of the numbered and bulleted snippets.

c. Include Posts with Ordered Lists

Make things as easy as possible for Google and you’ll increase your chances of landing a featured snippet.

This is why selecting the right keyword term will get you only so far. You would be wise to add numbered or bulleted lists summarizing the post’s key points. Doing this will create a helpful sub-structure within the post.

For example, look at this double-bulleted featured snippet:


(Image Source: Google)

Both websites, www.rxlist.com along with americanaddictioncenters.org created ordered lists of the side effects of Ambien and Google pulled them both for the featured snippet.

The reason may be that Google considered both the “side effects” and the “potential reactions” would be extremely relevant to a search query for “Ambien side effects.”

c. Include a “Lead” with Every Blog Post with a Quick, Clear & Concise Answer

Google’s top priority is to pull up the most helpful and relevant answer to the question. This should be a short and sweet paragraph of approximately 50 words that offers a direct answer to the question.

Do what journalists do – create a “lead,” which is covered in the first paragraph or first few paragraphs of the story. Its sole goal is to grab the reader’s attention so that they’re interested enough to read the entire story.

image17 1

(Image Source: Google)

Don’t forget to include the keyword you’re targeting in your first paragraph and use it the same way a journalist would use their lead when writing a story.

It’s not as difficult as you thought, right?

All you need to do now is just try out some of the tactics mentioned above using your top performing keywords and content and then watch your traffic soar!

How to Do Keyword Research for Drug Rehab SEO

When I first started doing keyword research, I neglected the following steps:

  • a. Organic Traffic Validation
  • b. Content Gap Analysis
  • c. Competitor Analysis

Like most people, I started my keyword research with Google Keyword Planner. I’d develop a shortlist of keywords based on the highest monthly search volumes and start producing content around the keywords.

This was a huge mistake.

Why? The problem with this approach is that I neglected to look at who is currently ranking for these keywords and what type of content is doing well.

Being young and naive, I thought I could outrank any website if I just outworked them. So, I wrote articles about whatever came to mind and drowned myself in months of link-building.


I had great content with a ton of backlinks. But nobody saw it.

The turning point came when I started analyzing why some topics reached Google’s top 3 and why others didn’t.

That’s when I discovered the power of longer keywords with higher purchasing intent.

Take a look:


Statistics show 70% of all searches on Google consist of more than three words, which means that by optimizing your page with “long-tail” keywords you are hitting three birds with one stone:

  1. Less Competition
  2. Higher Conversion Rates
  3. Targeted Traffic

As soon as I started applying the keyword and competition validation strategies, the traffic to our blog started growing:


So, here’s how I do our keyword research now:

Validate the Traffic First

The logic behind this concept is simple.

Look for content from your competitors that is already ranking well on Google and then identify the set of keywords that are driving the most organic traffic.

a. Find a keyword you want to rank for on the first page of Google

Let’s say you have a rehab center in Las Vegas and want to improve your organic search presence in that targeted region.

All you have to do is search Google to find the top competitors:

contentgap 01

(Image Source: Google)

Make a list of at least 10 blog post-type pieces of content that currently rank on Google. You do not need to include ‘Homepage’ URLs or ‘Non-Direct Competition’ links. The content-gap analysis cannot be applied to ‘Homepage’ competition or pseudo-forced position 1 rankings by Google.

Once that’s done, move to the next step.

b. Find Your Competitors’ Top Content

Next, you need to analyze the URLs you collected and uncover the exact keywords that are driving organic traffic.

There are plenty of SEO tools you can use, but for this example, we will use SEMrush.

Start by pasting your competitor’s URL in the search field:

Screen Shot 2019 01 29 at 4.14.07 PM

Then locate to the Top Pages report:

Screen Shot 2019 01 29 at 4.17.26 PM

And vola!

Screen Shot 2019 01 29 at 4.26.00 PM

In a single search, you can see exactly which pages are bringing in the most traffic and the keywords that are driving the organic traffic.

Screen Shot 2019 01 29 at 4.30.31 PM

Based on this snapshot:

URL: /vogue-recovery-center-in-las-vegas-nevada/

  • Monthly Traffic: 500+
  • Traffic Percent: 82% of website’s organic traffic comes through this page
  • Rankings: Over 170+ keywords are ranked for this page

Key Point: Key Point: The moment you figure out what keywords drive the most organic traffic, you can directly apply them into your content strategy. No more guesswork.

The next step is to analyze the content and identify the content ‘gaps’ that you can fill with your own content.

It is probably the most simple yet overlooked step … so, pay attention!

How to Look For Content Gaps

Start by creating a simple Excel table and start noting all the commonalities between each content type, word count, graphics, or anything else that might give a competitive advantage over the existing content.

Take a look:

Screen Shot 2019 01 30 at 4.47.29 PM

This lets you easily see helpful info like:

  • How many words does the top content have?/li>
  • Does the top content lack actionability or comprehensiveness?
  • Which types of visual components are working?
  • And much more…

Key Point: Before you start writing, you should know exactly what type of keywords, type of content, and what components are missing from the competitors content.

That’s it!

Can You Outrank the Competition?

When figuring out if it’s possible to outrank the competition, there are three things you have to consider:

  1.   Domain Authority
  2.   Keyword Difficulty Score:
    • The indicator that shows the keyword’s competition and your chances of organically ranking on Google (measured from 0 to 100, 0 being the easiest)
    • For this example, we’ll be using SEMrush but there are plenty of keyword tools that can suggest keyword difficulty score

3. Total Number of Results That Appear on Google

As your website’s authority plays a major role in all of this, we will look at two of the most common scenarios – when a website’s domain authority is under and above 20.

What is Domain Authority?

“…Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). A Domain Authority score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.

Domain Authority is calculated by evaluating multiple factors, including linking root domains and number of total links, into a single DA score. This score can then be used when comparing websites or tracking the “ranking strength” of a website over time…” – MOZ

Here’s where you can check your website’s domain authority:

Screen Shot 2019 01 29 at 5.12.45 PM

Here’s the result:

Screen Shot 2019 01 29 at 5.14.48 PM

Once you know your competitor’s domain authority, this is how you can evaluate the competition:

Domain Authority Competition
DA 1 to 20 Low
DA 20 to 40 Medium
DA 40+ High

The rule of thumb is, the higher the domain authority of the website, the harder it will be for you to outrank the content pages.

From the sample above, we know our competitor website authority is 27 out of 100, which is ‘medium competition’.

Next, we’ll figure out the competition on a keyword level.

How to See if Your Rehab Center Can Rank on a Specific Keyword

Let us revisit the the SEMrush’s competitors top content report and click on the ‘Keyword’ link here:

Screen Shot 2019 01 29 at 5.24.07 PM

Once clicked, it will show you all the keywords ranking for the content, and the best part…

SEMrush will crunch the numbers and show you exactly how difficult or easy it is to rank for a specific keyword.

SEMrush Keyword Difficulty Score (1/100):

Screen Shot 2019 01 31 at 2.06.51 PM

Both Ahrefs and SEMrush (amongst others) tools have their own algorithms to measure and assign the keyword difficulty score. It is best to check across multiple platforms and consider the ‘cost-per-click’ (CPC) dollar amount to find the most valuable keywords.

NOTE* The higher the CPC: $$$ amount = the higher the ‘commercial intent’ of the keyword.

Here’s how you can evaluate the keyword difficulty scores on SEMrush:

Keyword Difficulty Competition
KD 1 to 40 Low
KD 40 to 60 Medium
KD 60+ High

Just like that, in less than 15 minutes you can create a short list of all the keywords with highest to lowest domain authority and keyword difficulty scores.

How to Check for Total Number of Results on Google

In this last step, we’ll do a simple search on Google to find out how many pages Google has indexed in its database for the exact keyword that we want to rank.

Type in ‘rehab facilities Las Vegas’ into Google search.

Right below the tabs, you’ll see the ‘Total Search Results’ number:

Screen Shot 2019 01 31 at 2.45.38 PM

Screen Shot 2019 01 31 at 2.49.34 PM

Screen Shot 2019 02 03 at 12.32.06 PM

(Image Source: Google)

This gives us a glimpse into how many pages are competing for the exact keyword we want to rank.

Here’s how you can evaluate the ‘Total Search Results’ number on Google:

Total Search Results on Google Competition
1 to 30 Million Low
30 to 60 Million Medium
60 to 100 Million+ High

Now, once we have all the data, let’s put them all together so we can find the most valuable keywords that are easy to rank.

Here’s how to do it:

Keyword Domain Authority Keyword difficulty Score Total Search Results on Google Content Types Content Length Custom Graphics/ Videos
Rehab facilities in Las Vegas 27/11 60/100 2,770,000 Results Inner Page 200 Yes
Las Vegas Treatement Center 35/100 56/100 58,900,000 Results HomePage 10K+ Yes
Drug Rehab Las Vegas 35/100 60/100 7,690,000 Resuls Inner Page 200 Yes

That said, there is no easy pickings in this highly competitive vertical, but with a little planning beforehand, you can easily figure out what type of content is dominating, word count, visuals, and content gaps so you can do more with your content and get ahead of the curve.

How to Do On-Page SEO for Drug Rehabs

In this quick five-step on-page optimization guide, you’ll learn exactly how to implement the focus keyword into meta titles, headlines, subcategories, and everywhere else that counts.

Sound good? Let’s dive right in…

Meta Title, Description, & URL Optimization

First thing you do (if you’re using WordPress CMS) is visit the WordPress Plugin Directory and download your favorite SEO plugin such as Yoast, All in One SEO Pack, SEO Press, or my favorite WP Meta SEO.

TIP: Free versions of these plugins are adequate for on-site optimization requirements.

For this exercise, we’ll be using Yoast (just because it is very popular and widely used), but it’s definitely not my favorite.

Head over to your WordPress Dashboard ‘Plugin’ section -> click on “Add New” -> and select “Install Now.” Once that’s done, activate the plugin.


Navigate to any blog post or page that you want to optimize.

Scroll to the bottom of the page until you see the Yoast SEO box (called “Snippet Preview”) – that’s where you will be able to add your Meta Title, Meta Description, and URL:

Screen Shot 2019 01 31 at 5.44.23 PM

Let’s start with the SEO Title.

How to Write Addiction Content Titles

When it comes to writing your meta titles, there are ONLY three things you need to consider:

  • I.  Focus Keyword (or Primary Keyword)
  • II. Keyword Combinations
  • III. Power Words

 a. Always Include a Focus Keyword in the Main Headline (H1)

This one is pretty straight forward.

The main headline (H1) is usually the first thing people see, so adding the focus keyword here is really important:

image8 1

By adding the focus keyword, you are telling Google what your content is about and giving your potential audience a peek.


(Image Source: Google)

b. How to Recognize Keyword Combinations

Let’s break down the meta title example above:

Drug Rehab Center in Las Vegas with Effective & Personalized Programs – BRAND

Focus Keyword: Drug Rehab Center in Las Vegas

If you take each individual keyword and recombine them, you’ll get:

Potential combinations:

  • [Las Vegas Drug Rehab]
  • [Las Vegas Drug Rehab Center]
  • [Drug Rehab Center in Las Vegas]
  • [Effective Drug Rehab Center]
  • [Personalized Drug Rehab Program]

The list can go on but I think you get the idea. You can get a pretty good list of keyword combinations from this setup. Would you agree?

Let’s do a quick comparison between two titles:

Effective Drug Rehab & Alcohol Treatment Center in Las Vegas, NV – BRAND


Drug Rehbilitation Center in Las Vegas – BRAND

See how that works? Each of these titles are closely related but the difference is in the keyword combinations.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t use an exact match keyword title. The idea is to come up with the best combinations of keywords so you get the most out of your meta titles.

Next, you’ll learn how to recognize and include power words in your meta titles.

c. Include Power Words in Your Headlines

Whether you’re crafting the perfect meta title for your homepage or writing a viral-worthy headline, you can catch the reader’s attention with a compelling power word.

What’s a Power Word?

power-word. Noun. (plural power words) A word that often evokes an emotional response, positive or negative, in the target audience, leading to a desired outcome.

Why Is This Important?

Because power words can trigger curiosity or evoke emotional responses, and grab the reader’s attention or make readers bounce from your website.

Let’s take a close look at these meta titles:

Effective Drug Rehab & Alcohol Treatment Center in Las Vegas, NV – BRAND

Affordable Drug Rehab & Alcohol Treatment Center in Las Vegas, NV – BRAND

The power words “effective” and “affordable” both elicit curiosity, and attract a specific type of audience based on their intent.

Take this blog post title:

6 (Act)ionable Drug Rehab SEO Tips That Still Matters in 2019

I specifically added things like numbers, text in brackets, colorful language, or text that stands out.


The goal is to visually attract AND evoke curiosity so that my headline can stand out among the “crowd” and get more clicks.

Apply this simple strategy on your next blog post and thank us later!

Avoid Stock Photography – Use Real Photos, Custom Graphics, or Quotes

Here’s the thing: You see them everywhere these days – oversized hero images or background stock images. It is one of the popular web design trends. I get it.

Some of the biggest names in the addiction treatment industry use this trendy design style.

If you aren’t sure what I’m referring to, here are some examples:

Hazelden Betty Ford

Screen Shot 2019 02 04 at 7.12.09 PM

(Image Source: Hazelden)

American Addiction Centers

Screen Shot 2019 02 04 at 7.13.55 PM

(Image Source: AAC)

Acadia Healthcare

Screen Shot 2019 02 04 at 7.15.18 PM

(Image Source: Acadia Healthcare)

But, just because these big-name brands can pull it off, it doesn’t mean you should try to do exactly the same.

There are a few things you have to take into account when adding stock photography to your website or content:

  1. Even highest-quality stock photos can look staged and kill conversion rates
  2. Studies have shown that stock photography is often ignored by visitors
  3. Stock photography often makes visitors browse the site and not experience it
  4. Poorly optimized images slows down website loading speeds

The thing you need to understand is that a big hero image on your website is one of the first things that your visitor responds to, both consciously and subconsciously.

If you make a poor choice or decision, it can easily hurt your overall user experience and conversion rates.

Here’s what you can do with your hero image:

  1. Split A/B test your hero image
  2. Compress large images or use third-party media hosting services
  3. Use real photos, staff action shots, or custom graphics – no stock photography
  4. Make sure the photo doesn’t take away from your core message (I can’t stress this enough)

Dos & Don’ts of Stock Photography

Don’t use artificial images.


Don’t use images with too much enhancement.


Don’t use staged-looking images.


Use action shots.


So before you decide to take the cheapest route and purchase some stock photography, make sure you adhere to the dos and don’ts.

Good luck!

How to Structure Your Addiction Treatment Content

When writing a blog post or program-related page, there are four things to remember:

  1. Each page should have only one H1 headline
  2. Sub-headings should be Heading 2, sub-sub-headings Heading 3, and so on
  3. Headlines are a great way to address all the questions people might have when reading about the specific topic
  4. It’s a good idea to include a focus keyword in one of the headlines and a few synonyms

In short, this is how a perfect headline hierarchy should look:

  1. H1 (Headline 1) for the title of the article.
  2. H2 (Headline 2) for the rest of the headings.
  3. H3 (Headline 3) for the subheadings of the headings – keep a good hierarchy here.


Improve Your Content Strategy with LSI Keywords

I’m not going to cover in-depth what LSI keywords are and how you can find them. You can already find a ton of very well written tutorials on Google.

The basic premise is:

  1. Include your focus keyword in the first 50 words
  2. Focus keyword should be ~0.5% of the total content.
    • ○ Thus, if there are 1,000 words in your article, at least five exact-match keywords should be the focus keywords.
  3. Find and include as many LSI keywords as possible without jeopardizing the quality of the content.
  4. Oh and avoid sounding like a robot at all costs.

Here’s an example:


Why do all of this?

Because Google loves topical relevancy and will rewards articles that are more thorough and informative.

For example, when you try to optimize keywords like “alcohol rehab” or “alcohol treatment,” consider why someone might type in these keywords on Google.

The searcher’s intent might be:

  • How do I find help for my alcoholic father?
  • My friend drinks every day. What can I do to help?
  • Is at-home alcohol detox dangerous?

People love finding all the info they need in one easy search instead of jumping from one post (or section) to another trying to piece information together.

TIP: Don’t force yourself to write 2,000 words when you don’t actually have anything to say. Google doesn’t prefer long-form content simply because it is longer. Quality still counts.

Include Lots of Internal & External (Trusted) Links

This might seem counterintuitive, but it’s actually helpful to have your content link to your own content or link to pages from other high-authority websites.

A good rule of thumb is to include hyperlinks (internal or external) for every 120–200 words to create a healthy internal link structure.

Of course, you should avoid linking just to link. Do it only when it makes sense and if it helps verify your most important statements.

Do’s & Don’ts of Hyperlinks

Keep It Natural – Make sure your hyperlinks blend naturally into the context. They should not stand out in a weird or unnatural way..

Example: If the target link is https://agency12sm.wpengine.com and the target anchor is “best drug rehab SEO company”:


Add Links As References – Adding trust links to verify statements is a perfect way to include hyperlinks in your content.

Example: if you state a fact like “the first man on the moon was Neil Armstrong”, make sure you verify it with a trust link.

That’s it!

At this stage you should know exactly how to do keyword research before you commit to any content writing, how to optimize your titles and URLs, how to pick your ‘hero’ image, how to optimize your content, and how to outrank your competitors!

If you still can’t outrank your competitors even after executing all of the above-mentioned strategies, make sure to read the last section – you don’t want to miss it.

In the next section you’ll learn how to promote your content, naturally attract links from authority websites, and start competing against the top rehab brands.

How to Build Backlinks for Your Drug Rehab in 2021

When it comes to link building for drug rehabs in 2019, there’s only a handful of techniques that I recommend.

I tested more than 50 different link building techniques and content marketing strategies, but in the end, I wasted a ton of time and money only to end up with a handful of link-building techniques that deliver the best results, and those are exactly what I am going to share with you.

Let’s get started.

What Are Backlinks?

For the sake of this semi-technical segment, I’m gonna assume my audience already knows what backlinks are, the various types of backlinks, and why link-building is a super-important part of the SEO industry.

If you aren’t aware, please do some [READING HERE] and catch up on the details.

link building for drug rehabs

When it comes to building links for your rehab, there is no de facto Drug Rehab Link Building Guide from Google that tells you exactly which technique works best.Natural link building is not a technique, it is an outcome of your effort.

A few more things to consider:

  1. What is working can easily change depending on a Google update, or the abusive gaming nature of the SEO industry
  2. One technique may work better or worse depending on your competition and industry
  3. Even Google make mistakes on recognizing link signals

Bottom line:

The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change

Now that we have a mutual understanding, let’s get to the juicy part.

Only two things matter:

  1. Quality
  2. Quantity

Brilliant, right?

The more quality links your website has, the higher the chance your website will rank for keywords on Google. It is that simple.

Here is a much better explanation by a real SEO expert Brian Dean:


(Image Source: Backlinko)

Jokes aside, here is the short list of drug rehab link-building techniques that delivered the best results for me and my clients:

Drug Rehab Link-Building Techniques:

  1. Guest Blogging
  2. Sponsors
  3. Footer/Sidebar Links
  4. How to Buy Links
  5. How to Steal Links From Your Competitors

a. Guest Blogging

The hardest part about guest blogging is trying to find guest blogging opportunities.

Unfortunately, there is no EASY BUTTON you can press. Well … you can always write a check to us and we can solve all your marketing problems…

But, throughout the years I have discovered a few tricks that make it easier:

  1. 1. When someone contacts me about guest-blogging opportunities, I ask him/her to send over the full list of his/her guest posts. Most of the time people are not just happy but proud to share their previous work. These are great guest-blogging opportunities for me because I can contact these sites to see if they would accept a guest post from me, too.
  2. 2. Another option is to Google keywords related to the industry: “rehab” +write-for-us, and “hospitals” +write-for-us, etc. This is an amazing way to find sites that happily accept guest posts.
  3. Last but not least, I copy/paste my competitor’s URL in a backlink checker tool and look for backlinks from blogs:

All this helps to make a list of sites I want to contact and in Hunter.io I can find all their email addresses.

Once that’s done, I send an outreach message – here you have to pay attention to 2 things:

  • Subject line – If your subject line is bad, the open rate will be low. So, make it intriguing.
  • Email’s copy – I start by explaining who I am and giving them a compliment (both are important). Then, I tell them what I want, show 2–3 previous guest posts, and then add a closing CTA with the next steps.
  • Subject line – if your subject line is bad, the open rate will be low. Make it intriguing.
  • Email’s copy – I start by explaining who I am and give them a compliment (both are important). I tell them what I want, show 2-3 previous guest posts, and then add a closing CTA with the next steps.

For better clarity, here’s one of the outreach templates I have used in the past:


This is pretty much all you have to do:

  1. Contact the websites
  2. Agree on the topic
  3. Write the content (read their “write for us” guidelines before you start writing)
  4. And get the backlink

Soon enough you will have your first high-authority backlink.

One thing you should know about this technique is that scaling guest blogging is difficult. I have never been able to squeeze in more backlinks with one guest post or do that sort of thing.

What I realized was, guest blogging is not meant for scaling.

With guest blogging, you can get extremely high-authority links from the industry’s top websites.

In that sense, the next link-building technique is completely different:

b. Sponsors Link-Building

This strategy is a gold mine, but it can cost you a gold mine as well.

What is Sponsored Link-Building?

Sponsored link-building is when you reach out to blogs or websites that accept different forms of advertisements such as blog posts (most common), community badges, interviews, or expert roundups that include a reference link and citation back to your business in exchange for financial compensation.

This link-building method is probably the most ethically correct way to promote your own digital content since the webmasters involved are being straight forward about this.

The website you pick will include the post as a “paid placement” or “sponsored post”, informing readers that you have paid for the placement of your brand.

For example:

Screen Shot 2019 02 17 at 21.30.46

‘NoFollow’ & ‘DoFollow’ Sponsored Links

There are two types of sponsored links:

-Sponsored links that contain a “nofollow” tag:

-Sponsored links that contain a “dofollow” tag:

While most of the time a sponsored post will fall under the “nofollow” tag category, if your goal is to increase search engine ranking, a “dofollow” tag will be more beneficial.

Most editorial or publisher websites will have strict sponsored post guidelines, so do your research ahead of time to check whether they allow “dofollow” tag from the article or badge.

How to Find Sponsored Link Opportunities

To discover websites in your niche that provide sponsored content services, use Google to search for opportunities in your niche, including the word “advertise” in brackets.

pasted image 0

NOTE: The easiest way for specific website searches is with the following Google search:

  • “healthcare” +write-for-us +sponsored
  • Intitle:rehab +advertise
  • Inurl:healthcare +advertise

Depending on your target industry, you will find plenty of high-authority publishers and websites that accept different types of sponsored content.

The best thing you can do when it comes to picking a website is to compare the estimated impact of your backlink, making sure that the link increases your website’s rankings and traffic.

Some websites will provide information on their website to avoid a large amount of emails and others will only give you information once you reach out to them. In order to speed up this process, you can always use marketing tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush to discover the link metrics instantly.

Once you have a satisfactory amount of options, pop them in an Excel sheet and organise them in a way that will help you reach out to them one by one.

How to Do Outreach for Sponsored Link-Building

Contact all the blogs and websites you found to discuss the possibilities of sponsored post placements, including a pricing quote and different packages available.

Below is a template you can use for your outreach strategy:

Screen Shot 2019 02 17 at 21.21.07

After communicating your goals all you need to do is follow up. Once you are satisfied with one of the offers made, you can now structure the post together with the webmaster.

Next up, a quick and easy way to get backlinks in bulk. All you have to do is utilize your own website.

Footer/Sidebar Links

What Are Footer Links or Sidebar Links?

These are the links that you see at the bottom or in the sidebar of a website.

Take a look at 12 Steps Marketing’s website footer:

12 steps marketing footer

Footer links are a popular UX trend for website designers/developers and an easy way for businesses to showcase important pages and helpful links.

As you can see from the above example, we implemented a mega menu that displays all of our important service pages and keyword targeted SEO pages we want to rank.

Now you might be wondering if this strategy works.

Here are some live Google ranking results for our targeted pages.

Keyword: SEO for Eating Disorder Centers

eating disorder rank1

Keyword: Autism Treatment Center SEO

autism rank1

Keyword: SEO for PTSD Treatment Centers

ptsd rank1

We did significant onsite optimization on these pages but did not engage in any link-building activities besides the footer links.

We used the power of site-wide footer links to sculpt and transfer SEO authority to these low-competition keywords, and the big G did the rest.

It is important to understand that these keywords are not highly competitive nor high-search-traffic keywords. We purposely targeted these low-hanging fruits for this footer link-building strategy and it worked very well for us.

I personally think using your own website to sculpt SEO authority is 100 percent ethical and whitehat. Just don’t overdo it with hundreds of site-wide footer links from private networks or spammy domains you own. This will get you in trouble quickly with Google.

Natural vs. Unnatural Links

The less relevant a link is to the keywords/content it is looking to rank for, the higher the chances of Google translating it as spam.

On the contrary, sidebar links are used to provide quick and easy access to popular pages related to the content of the website:


Different Types of Footer/Sidebar Links

There are two types of footer/sidebar links:

Sitewide footer/sidebar links

These backlinks are usually placed in the footer of the website and show in all pages of a website. These are the links that are mostly utilized by companies and services directly involved with the promotion and advertising of the website.

Single-page footer/sidebar links

These backlinks are usually sidebar links that are relevant to one page of a website.

To keep things short and sweet, remember to only use the “dofollow” tag on natural looking footer/sidebar links. Keyword-rich anchor text or irrelevant backlinks should always have a “nofollow” tag.

Aside from that, you need to calculate the risk associated with this type of backlinks. There are some drawbacks you should keep in mind:

How to Find Footer/Sidebar Link Opportunities

The best way to find opportunities for footer backlinks is to ask your existing clients or partners to place your backlink on their website.

The majority of people looking to add a footer backlink include web designers, software developers and sometimes SEO experts. While many have seen benefits from using this method, there are mixed feelings when it comes to the true value offered through this type of backlink.

You can read more on footer backlinks, as well as the risks involved, by reading this article.

However, when it comes to sidebar links, things are simpler.

If you discover an article that is relevant to your website or content you can always reach out via email and ask for a backlink. Since sidebar links are sitewide they will be presented on every page of the website, increasing your total number of backlinks.

This guide explains in more detail how you can use sidebar links to improve your SEO.

Buying Links

Let me start by saying this:

Google hates the concept of buying/selling backlinks. Why? Because it is one of the easiest ways for webmasters to game the algorithm, and the big G can’t do a damn thing about it. Even with all the fearmongering and scare tactics by Google, it is nearly impossible to algorithmically detect a link you paid for vs. a link you got naturally.

What that being said, don’t go spend your entire marketing budget on a link shopping spree.

If you are too aggressive or end up buying links from a link farm, Google will penalize your website in a hurry.

So how should you go about this in the safest way possible? How can you differentiate the heroes from the zeros?

Let us look at some key factors that MUST be considered before you make your first purchase.

Types of Links You Should Consider Buying

A Link From a Relevant Industry Domain

Hands down, the best links you can buy are from domains from your own industry or closely related shoulder niches. Relevancy is the number-one link-quality factor that you must look above all other metrics.

Stick to your own industry or shoulder niches and you will never have to worry about the big G.

A Link From a Domain With Traffic

Search traffic volume is a very good measuring stick to decide if it is worth buying a link from a website. The idea is that if a website is generating a large amount of traffic from search engines, it means search engines must think it is high authority and it has strong SEO signals.

I personally think websites with higher organic traffic are worth more than those with high domain authority. Plus, the link you buy can potentially send ‘referral traffic’ to your own website. It is a win-win situation.

Types of Links You Should Not Consider Buying

Private Blog Networks (PBN)

What is a Private Blog Network?

A “PBN” stands for Private Blog Network and in its most basic form, it is owning or maintaining a website or group of websites, regardless if it’s a “blog” or not, with the sole purpose of using them to push domain authority, page rank and rankings to a property which you control through linking schemes by building fake identities and fake link recommendations.

Private Blog Networks were a nightmare for Google once but as Google continue to get smarter and improved on its algorithm, the era of PBN networks has come to an end.

It’s not to say it doesn’t work but the only time you should get a link from a PBN network is when you build your own.

Keep in mind that paying for backlinks is expensive. Even if you have the finances to afford it, we suggest you purchase in extreme moderation. Buying a large amount of backlinks quickly will get you in trouble with Google.

Set a target goal like five links per month; this is already enough to reap the benefits for your rehab center website and keep you completely safe.

Steal Your Competitors’ Links

Stealing your competitors’ links sounds much worse than it really is.

The concept boils down to a handful of steps:

  1. Find a keyword you want to rank for
  2. Look for the top articles that are ranking for the keyword
  3. Build a shortlist of 10-20 articles
  4. Use an SEO tool to find domains that link to these articles
  5. Create content that is 10 times better than what is currently out there, or create content that complements the originals
  6. Collect the contact information of the domain where the article is published and domains that link to the articles
  7. Get busy with outreach
  8. Ask for webmasters to replace the old article link with your 10 times better content

That’s it!

That might seem like a lot of work, but what if I told you that this method can be semi-automated if you use the right tools?

Let me show you exactly how.

How to Find Your Competitors’ Backlinks

The first step does require you to get your hands dirty, so pull up your sleeves and do a good ol Google search and find a keyword you want to rank for.

For this exercise, let’s do ‘Rehabs That Accepts Insurance’.

Research the most relevant websites and articles through Google search and compile a list of the top 20–30 articles you find.

Save the list in an Excel spreadsheet for later use.

2019 02 26 2340

Find Sites That Link With the Specific URL

Head over to your favorite SEO tool like Ahrefs, Serpstat or Linkminer and simply copy/paste each URL to find domains that link to each of these articles.

In other words, the websites that have added a backlink for your competitors.

Screen Shot 2019 02 21 at 02.57.33

Performing Automated Outreach

Next, you can use a nifty tool called NinjaOutreach where you copy and paste all the domain URLs you just collected from the previous step.

The beauty of NinjaOutreach is that it will automatically search and find the email addresses of these domains and it will even do the outreach for you!

Two birds with one stone.

  1. You just need to make a new list of where the prospects should be located.
  2. Then click on websites
  3. Copy and paste all the URLs

Submit to NinjaOutreach so it can do its magic.

Screen Shot 2019 02 21 at 18.41.40

NOTE: You will likely have multiple duplicate URLs. Browse through them and delete doubles wherever possible.

After your list is uploaded you can start the outreach process.

Choose one of the available templates that NinjaOutreach has available and slightly edit it to fit your prospects.

From here on, all you have to do is reply to the emails coming in, convincing the webmasters to choose your 10-times-better content over the original.

The first time I executed this link-building technique for a rehabilitation center – it took me a week. Now I can do it within a couple of hours.

There is some learning curve to this technique but I assure you it is one of the best ways to earn your competitor’s backlinks ethically.

Try it out and let me know how you do.


With this, I must conclude this mega SEO tips and techniques blog post for treatment centers.

Kudos to you for making it through the entire article.

The only thing you need to do now is to take action. Go out there and try out one or all of the techniques or tips for your client or your own drug rehab website and let me know how it turns out.

One last thing before you go: Please understand that search engine optimization never ends. It is something you learn, apply, and keep going because Google is always updating its algorithm.

If you have any questions about the SEO actionable tips mentioned in the article, please leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer in a timely manner.

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