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AdWords Changes Affect Everyone

Tuesday September 19, 2017

Reading Time: 7 minutes
adwords changes affect rehabs

Google implemented major changes to advertising in the addiction treatment industry last week when they announced AdWords ads for rehab centers would be greatly reduced. Google has told Webconsuls that the long-term goal is to implement a verification system for treatment centers wishing to run ads. You can learn more about Google’s changes on our blog.

Over the years AdWords, and other forms of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, has become so expensive that many treatment centers have turned to other forms of digital marketing to increase census. Many centers not currently running PPC ads may believe these changes won’t affect them; others may not even be aware of what AdWords or PPC is. Whether you currently run PPC ads or not, the change will affect you.

What is PPC?

AdWords is Google’s PPC (pay-per-click) advertising platform. As the name suggest, Google charges advertisers a fee every time someone clicks on their ad and links to their website. You can learn more about the pay per click process here.

These AdWords ads took up the majority of the “above the fold” real estate on Google’s search results page. When a user searched “drug rehab center” via a desktop device on Google, they would see 4 AdWords ads at the top. Below these ads were the local results (3 map listings) and below those the organic results. With the new change, the top 4 places featuring the AdWords ads, have been limited for major addiction treatment search queries.

How will this change affect me?

Whether you are currently running PPC ads or not, these changes have altered the layout of Google’s search results page (SERP). With AdWords ads limited, local search results have taken the coveted “above the fold” real estate; organic results follow these local search results. These changes result in local and organic search results becoming much more valuable.

In the past, users searching addiction treatment terms on Google immediately saw PPC ads. While some of these users navigated to the local or organic results, a large portion clicked on these ads. Though AdWords ads are limited, users are still searching for treatment at the same rate. These users will naturally move to the local and organic sections.

Traffic, and consequently leads, immediately seeing the local and organic sections is great news. Many of the spammy advertisers in the addiction industry, those Google is trying to purge, don’t have a strong presence in organic search. They are limited in their SEO due to not really being a treatment center, not having a physical location, having bad reviews, etc.

Local search results will now be the first thing a searcher encounters on Google for many queries, and it is more important than ever to focus on your organic and local presence. Local search results are determined by a multitude of factors, with proximity, authority/SEO, and review ratings being 3 major factors. Focusing on organic and local SEO is essential for showing up in the map section, and a high star rating is crucial to enticing clicks. These local results include only basic information – such as name, address, phone number – and your review rating. This makes your rating crucial, as it’s the only item a users sees other than business contact information. A higher review rating also helps with your click through rate (how often a searcher clicks your result), which is important for local rankings.

A high local ranking is also somewhat negated by a low star rating. If a business has achieved the top local ranking, but the result immediately under it has a much higher review rating, the business risks losing it’s top ranking due to users frequently selecting the second result.

Google has presented addiction treatment centers an opportunity to occupy above the fold real estate, that until days ago required massive budgets to obtain. If you are interested in improving your organic and local presence, contact us online or by dialing (949) 701-4714.


Reading Time: 4 minutes


adwords policy changes addiction

During our conference call with Google AdWords yesterday, Webconsuls was informed that AdWords advertising for the addiction treatment industry will be “dialed back” temporarily. Therefore, all clients with active AdWords campaigns may experience a decrease in paid traffic starting today. This decrease is due to Google implementing a new verification process for AdWords advertisers within the addiction treatment industry.

We were not informed how long this process will last, how addiction treatment advertisers will be vetted, or given any insight into the new verification process and what it will entail.

However, we can glean from recent activities on AdWords that the intention is to weed out false advertisers. The industry has been impacted by illegitimate advertisers abusing this online space, and it appears steps are being taken to level the playing field. Though no timeline was given, the temporary dip in AdWords traffic will likely result in right sized competition on AdWords among legitimate addiction treatment centers.

We believe this is excellent news for the long term, as we have witnessed the astronomical rise in the cost of AdWords, especially over the past 3 years. This has been due to a flux of advertisers flooding the auction and driving up the average cost per click – with many advertisers employing smoke and mirrors tactics to the detriment of vulnerable populations.

Working in this space since 1999, we have seen that Google always eventually steps up to the plate to make things fair by shifting their algorithms and policies to end abusive practices. After persistently communicating our concerns to AdWords with our clients and countless others – they listened and this will improve things for everyone, especially the addict seeking treatment.

Stay tuned for updates.