Being actively involved in the addiction treatment and behavioral health online marketing space, we are constantly evaluating different trends and major changes that occur in digital. After all, that’s what we do and what helps us produce better results for our rehab clients.

Recently, we’ve noticed what seems to be a significant change in Google search results for drug and alcohol rehab phrases. Google is prominently placing SAMHSA as a knowledge panel with a VERY prominently placed toll free number.

It’s not uncommon for knowledge panels (that’s what they’re called in the world of SEO) to appear in search results. It’s actually quite common and they come and go, but will this knowledge panel stick around? Time will tell.

There are several things that intrigue us about this latest update, but we’ll distill our intrigue down into two primary observations we feel are worth mentioning.

1) Drug Rehab Organic Google Search & SAMHSA 

After doing over a dozen search queries at Google, it appears the knowledge panel for SAMHSA owns the top of search and it’s not only for just “drug rehab”, “drug treatment” and similar phrases. The prominent SAMHSA placement is popping up for different drug types as well. Let’s take a look…

2) Alcohol Rehab Organic Google Search & SAMHSA

The other intriguing and perplexing observation is that SAMHSA doesn’t show up for ANY alcohol related searches. It goes without saying that alcohol is a heavily abused substance, so as it relates to addiction treatment, we feel it should also be a part of this recent Google update.

Truth be told, SAMHSA shows up at the top of organic search results for just about any drug or alcohol related phrases related to rehab/treatment, but we do find it odd that Google has, in this case, decided not to include the knowledge panel for “alcohol” related phrases, especially since it’s the same exact page/URL featured as a knowledge panel for drug phrases.

We’ll coin this as the “SAMHSA Drug Rehab Update” at Google for now since alcohol phrases don’t appear to be affected, but again, knowledge panels can be here today and gone tomorrow, so just keep an eye on this in the coming weeks to see if Google defaults back to standard search results.

If you’re doing organic SEO, Google My Business optimization, and/or Google Ads for your treatment center, we have no doubts this latest update will potentially syphon traffic, inbound calls, and/or form submission potential away from your facility. However, we recommend you don’t make any assumptions. Look at your analytics and Google Search Console data in aggregate and see if you’re noticing a drop in impressions, clicks, traffic, calls, and inquiries for your marque phrases.

Parting Note:

If you’re a digital marketer and find yourself a bit jaded by this latest update, do yourself a favor and don’t be, especially if you’re already listed with SAMHSA. If you’re not listed with SAMHSA, we recommend you get listed STAT. Knowledge panels come and go, but due to the subject matter and unique features of the drug treatment knowledge panel, this could stick. However, we are talking about Google here which is about as predictable as a rabid dog, so let’s all just keep an eye on our stats and continue to observe how long this new element remains in play. Google may just be doing some testing…