I recently wrote a large article about the August 1 2018 algorithm update. While nobody in the SEO industry really knows precisely what is going on, I did nail down several key issues which all pertain to “content quality”. Also called the “medic” update, the algorithm change was very hard on YMYL websites (websites which provide medical, health, financial information or content which could impact a user’s health or financial well being).
Websites about drug addiction were hit very hard along with sites about mental health or even nutrition.
After the update, lots of people were freaking out about “E-A-T” (Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness). That’s good, although some people took this too far. I concluded that much of the way Google is evaluating authority was via the type of inbound links a site has. For example, websites run by Healthline or the Federal Government about mental health got more visibility, and websites run by Joe-Bob about tea leaves and how they cure Bi Polar Disorder were whacked by the algorithm. Of course, the algo isn’t perfect and lots of misc sites were hit which probably shouldn’t have been, and other people lost rankings due to things like OLD content and other issues which they’ll probably never quite understand.
6 weeks later, and I’ve now had about 4 drug rehabilitation clinics ask me if they need LegitScript for E-A-T in order to recover their rankings.
Does LegitScript Impact Organic Rankings or SEO?
The AdWords team and the organic team are two very different departments at Google. I WISH they were more closely aligned as I see a lot of confusion out there when it comes to ad placement.
Anyone in the drug rehabilitation business who uses AdWords knows that Google placed a ban on drug addiction related keywords in late 2017. Well, just a couple of days after the August 1, 2018 algorithm update, it was announced that Google would once again allow ads to run on addiciton related keywords, but, only to companies who had LegitScript certification. This was expected and warranted as well. In April 2018 a press release worded it very well “LegitScript’s CEO, John Horton, said that the new program is necessary to help patients distinguish between effective, evidence-based, and compassionate drug and alcohol treatment services, and fraudulent drug and alcohol treatment centers that take advantage of patients’ recovery efforts and insurance billing opportunities.” Some people, who were scrambling from getting hammered by the algo change, heard about this via a TechCrunch article and began wondering if LegitScript would help them recovery organically. It won’t, but there are indeed some good takeaways in LegitScript’s standards.
LegitScript’s Certification Standards.
While being certified via LegitScript will allow you to use AdWords, it won’t help you organically. But, there’s no reason not to go ahead and get the certification if you’re considering running ads in the future, and that’s probably something you’re considering if you’re reading this.
That said, LegitScript’s certification standards are a goldmine of information. In my professional opinion, LegitScript’s standards are wonderful and any site wishing to rank organically should absolutely adhere to most or all of their requirements; and, some of these requirements are indeed SEO factors!
Here are a few things qualified rehab centers should be showing on their Internet presence which also happen to be LegitScript requirements:
- Business Registration: The applicant must be duly registered as a corporate entity or legal person (e.g., as a Limited Liability Company) in the state or jurisdiction where it appears to offer services.
- Physical Address: The applicant’s website must conspicuously disclose the physical address of the facility/ies where services are rendered and the nature of services provided.
- Qualifications: The applicant must provide resumes of the business owner, of business leadership, and of treatment professionals on staff, establishing that the applicant’s staff have expertise and training in addiction treatment, including a medical director and/or a clinical psychologist with addiction training. In some cases, an on-site medical practitioner will be required.
- Lead Generation: prohibited.
You can see all of LegitScript’s requirements here.
Google does not rely on this third party as a ranking factor. LegitScript has never claimed this, neither has Google. If your organic rankings are tanking, it is due to other factors and buying a certification isn’t going to help. If you run a legitimate drug rehabilitation center and are having trouble ranking in search feel free to email me.