Google SEO Rankings: Links + Domains = Authority Index, troubling for quality care providers

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The higher one’s index, the higher one places in Search.  Quality of care is not a direct part of this equation at all.  This is very troubling.

Google Rankings at SunCloud Health
SCH’s Google ranking is one of the lowest in our area.  Thank goodness for all of you.  If we relied on the internet for referrals instead of quality of care and reputation, we would not be here today.

Google search rankings do not take quality of care in to consideration, and this is a problem for patients and a challenge for treatment centers like SCH who choose not to dump money in to SEO!

As a treatment center, cracking the Google algorithm code for internet advertising is very costly and time consuming.  To capture the large percentage of prospective (often the most vulnerable) patients who resort to the internet to find help, some treatment centers spend millions of dollars to be seen on “page one”, thus increasing their chances significantly of capturing the prospective patient. Ideally, quality of care would be the main driver of ones “ranking”.  Unfortunately this is not the case at all. In fact quality does not play any role in SEO.  Rather, Google uses a “proxy authority index” to do its ranking and this index is a function mostly of “# of outside links” and “# of referring domains”. Some of these links and domains are rightfully earned by treatment centers. Many, however, can be and are apparently bought, in one form or another.

SunCloud spends next to nothing on google SEO- it shows in our ranking (admittedly this a little embarrassing!) We made this strategic choice when we first started over three years ago, and we stand by it today.  Fortunately we have a high quality and somewhat unique approach (focused on helping those struggling with co-occurring disorders in an integrative non tracked way), we are a local provider and many in our area know about us.  Most of our business comes from trusted referrals.  However, as we grow, we may need the internet more than we have to date and the chart above shows the challenges that lie ahead!

You will see that we have ~300 links whereas another facility in our area has over 450,000!  Our index is 15, “theirs” is 300 x better, 45! 

Unless people are looking for us because they know of us or who have been referred to us by someone they know and trust, they will not find us.  Further and even more concerning, even if we are the best possible fit for someone looking for treatment on the internet, they will not find us.  Never; not unless we choose to dump hundreds of thousands of dollars in to this area of marketing, which we have successfully avoided to date.

The fact that we have grown as we have is almost entirely a result of trusted professionals and former patients who recognize and value the quality of care that we are providing. For this we are eternally grateful and we hope we continue to earn your trust.

The fact that many people looking for help are being guided to facilities because of their rankings (and NOT quality!) is scary, it is unfair and something needs to change.  Standardized outcomes, we believe, will change this.  Once our patients have standardized transparent tools to use to compare and contrast, which cannot be bought, patients will have access to trustworthy data they can use to make informed decisions on where to go and why.  Further, once these exist Google will hopefully either be forced to incorporate quality in to their ranking algorithm or another search firm will emerge to address and solve the problem.

Kim Cimino, LMFT and Clinical Director on the transparency of outcomes