Why Organic Traffic is Important for Your Behavioral Healthcare Center

Ranking at the top of the behavioral health organic search results page for your chosen keyword meets your patients where they are.

Every second, Google processes more than 70,000 search queries from every corner of the world.1 These searches cover everything from life’s most burning questions to what you should make for dinner. And these diverse queries have one thing in common: users’ belief in organic search results.

When a user asks Google a question, the search engine results page (SERP) usually includes a paid ad or two, followed by what’s called organic search results. These are the links that naturally appear based on the keywords the user typed into Google, not paid advertising. Organic search results are filtered through Google’s algorithm and displayed, in order, based on about 200 ranking factors.2

Nearly 21 million Americans suffer3 from some form of addiction. And for the 10% who seek treatment, a search engine like Google has the power to change their life. Five percent of Google searches4 are health-related, and more than 60% of people turn to a search engine5 to find healthcare provider information, including behavioral health services.

For someone in need of life-saving treatment, Google is the first place they’ll look to find help. And organic search is how patients and their families will discover your essential behavioral health services. Here’s why organic search is important.

1. People Prefer Organic Search Results

Although designed to look like all the other listings on the SERP, paid ads on Google are still obvious if you’re looking for them.

Research had demonstrated that searchers have different initial responses to paid ads and organic results. About 71% of searchers say they ignore the paid advertisement at the top of the SERP and instead focus on the top five organic results.6 Additionally, users have reported that they pay attention to organic results 94% of the time.7

Paid ads are an important part of your overall digital marketing strategy. But the research on behavioral health organic search results illustrates the role trust plays in users’ search preferences. Instead, they should illustrate the roles preference and trust play in searchers’ behavior.

2. Organic Search Results Build Trust

Trust is a critical part of the patient-provider relationship, and it begins before your prospective patients ever walk through your door for the first time. Most people say trusting those charged with their care is more important than the quality of their overall treatment.8 Building and maintaining that trust is especially important in behavioral healthcare, where establishing trust is critical for supporting successful outcomes.

Paid ads are a key component of your overall digital marketing strategy and play an important role in increasing brand awareness and recognition. Neglecting paid ads in favor or an organic search-only strategy limits your reach with your target market. However, searchers will often make generalized assumptions based on whether they perceive the results of their search to be paid or organic. Many searchers think if a query result isn’t organic, the search result isn’t something they will find useful. As a result, users believe organic search results are almost twice as trustworthy as paid advertising.9

3. Search Volume is High

An estimated 53% of website traffic is a result of organic search.10 Considering there are 4.2 billion active web pages and an innumerable amount of keyword combinations, there is quite a bit of opportunity in organic search.11

You can optimize your content for any number of behavioral health keywords to earn a position at the top of the SERP. To get started, you’ll need to do some research to determine which keywords are best suited to optimize your behavioral health center’s site. Start by listing some questions your patients may be asking themselves when making the decision to start looking for help and refine your targeted keywords from there.

Once you have your target keywords, you’ll need to optimize your website and content to support them. Determining your target keywords and crafting a plan to get your pages ranking for them will form the backbone of your SEO strategy.

4. Organic is Affordable

There are a lot of low-cost or no-cost tactics to get your website moving to the top of the SERP that you can start working on right away while developing a more formal, long-term SEO strategy. Cleaning up your existing website and making sure your pages load quickly and without errors will improve the user experience as well as improve your rankings.

Take a look at your existing site for opportunities to make quick, easy changes. Shortening your introduction, adding straightforward site navigation, and using headings and subheadings are small steps that make a significant impact. Even rewriting and freshening up old content, including blog posts, can increase your organic traffic by as much as 111.3%.12

5. Organic Offers Long-Term Results

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a little bit like a treadmill. You hop on, the belt starts turning and you’re moving forward. The leads start coming in. But the second you get off, the belt stops, and so do the new leads.

PPC is a valuable tool and can provide quick results, but it requires a financial commitment to maintain over time. Good SEO doesn’t happen overnight. Earning the top spot on the SERP—and keeping it—takes work, patience, and diligent tweaking. Staying up to date with the latest developments and trends takes time as well.

Interested in learning more about how you can optimize your behavioral health center’s SEO strategy? Contact us today at 888.307.7304 to schedule a strategy session.


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