Please note that affiliate links may be included in some posts.
Some sobering statistics
- According to Medscape, drug overdoses have become the number one cause of injury-related death in the United States, killing an average of 44,000 people every year. (Source)
- The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency estimates that over 23 million Americans (age 12 and older) are addicted to alcohol and other drugs (Source).
- According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), just below 11% (2.5 million) of Americans received care at an addiction treatment facility in 2012 (Source).
- SAMHSA also estimates that the market for addiction treatment is about $35 billion per year (Source).
- According to Addiction Center, “some inpatient rehabs may cost around $6,000 for a 30-day program. Well-known centers often cost up to $20,000 for a 30-day program. For those requiring 60- or 90-day programs, the total average of costs could range anywhere from $12,000 to $60,000.”
First, let’s take a look at some keyword research to get a sense of this niche opportunity.
Below, I extracted 1,000 of DrugAbuse.Gov’s keywords (www.drugabuse.gov).
Surprisingly you can see “kratom” is their number one search term- but scrolling through you can see the traffic opportunities of the different drugs.
The Big Idea
There’s a ton of traffic in the drug rehabilitation niche.
You can make money running display ads on content, using a Pay Per Call affiliate program, or even accepting sponsored content from treatment centers looking for exposure to high-quality traffic in this niche.
While competitive, if you focus on creating high-quality content and building links over time, I’m confident that you can have success in this niche. Just remember, this is a ‘medically sensitive’ niche.
Your content needs to be good to satisfy Google’s quality standards. And, from a moral perspective, your readers might be in medical crisis, or they might be the family or friends of someone in dire straits- so the content needs to be accurate and authoritative.
What I’d Do
What I would do if I were entering into this niche is a combination of high-quality, informational content (“heroin effects on the body”) mixed with location-targeted landing pages (“heroin treatment ny”).
I sketched out a sample site structure with some monetization ideas using the heroin example:
Location landing pages might only get a trickle of organic traffic- but it can be incredibly lucrative.
Here’s an example of one:
In the beginning, I might build out the location-specific landing pages without any affiliate or advertising content on it. I’d focus on creating unique, content-rich pages.
You can see in the screengrab above that the treatment center search results on the landing page are marked as “Ads”.
They are probably sponsored listings- treatment centers are eager to pay for exposure, especially considering how pricey extended stays in a rehabilitation facility can be.
There’s also a phone number you can call on this landing page- there are a bunch of Pay Per Call affiliate programs available in the addiction niche. The phone number is prominently displayed in the header and as a sidebar widget.
Some of these Pay Per Call affiliate programs are paying over $100 for qualified calls- I’ll cover that in the How To Make Money section.
In terms of informational content, I would initially target keywords with low Keyword Difficulty (KD). For example, I filtered the keyword research table below by lowest KD first.
As you scroll from top to bottom, you can see a variety of low competition keywords that will, generally, be easier to rank for.
For example, “tramadol withdrawal symptoms” has a KD of 0 and 2,800 searches a month, as of August 2018. Here’s an example of a site producing what I consider high-quality informational content in this niche.
One potential concern- after the Google EAT algorithm update, an emerging consensus is that Google really wants to see high-quality authorship, particularly in sensitive niches like this.
If I were to enter this niche, I might invest in writers that have some verifiable health qualifications.
Just from a moral perspective, you really want to provide high-quality information in this niche because the people browsing your site might be in crisis. Or they might be family members of an individual struggling with addiction.
How To Get Traffic
Read More Of My Niche Reports
As I touched on already, there’s a lot of organic traffic for these terms. If you have a ‘general’ drug resource website, targeting each type of drug, you could produce huge resource pages.
In that case, I’d prefer to publish long, definitive guides, rather than a bunch of shorter posts- there’s a risk of keyword cannibalization.
So, for example, if you filter the DrugAbuse.Gov keywords by “heroin” (just click the magnifying glass in the search table and type in “heroin”) you can see a ton of different topics you could include in a heroin ‘master page’.
I would structure the page with H2, H3, and H4 subheadings- organized in a nice, nested structure.
If you specialized in kratom, for instance, instead of going general, then I would produce more individual posts, rather than a mega-guide.
Here’s Ahrefs top 100 results for the Keyword search “kratom”. Analyzing it, you can see some common themes that will help you structure your site content:
I break the content up into Themes like ‘where to buy’, ‘side effects’, ‘kratom tea’, ‘dosages’, ‘kratom bans/legal issues’.
A rule of thumb might be, whatever I can write at least 1,500 words about should get a separate post. I’d also recommend using MindMeister (it’s free) to sketch out a mind map of your planned content structure before you begin building the site.
Pay Per Click
If you Google “heroin treatment”, you can see there are some advertisers gunning for this traffic.
Now, I will say, you might attract Google’s scrutiny if you’re purchasing these keywords. You really want to make sure your site is high-quality before you begin directing paid traffic to it.
That’s just my instinct. Google doesn’t play around when it comes to sensitive topics like this- I would even discuss your PPC plans with someone from their paid search team just to get their OK before launching a Campaign.
It’s actually pretty easy, in my experience, to get on the phone with a Google Ads (formerly AdWords) support person.
Obviously, video content could be another powerful source of traffic.
My preference would be to create high-quality, helpful information, but as you can see, when I type in “heroin treatment ny”, 3 of the top 5 videos are spammy, slideshare videos with royalty-free music.
Let your conscience be your guide here- but you can see that it’s pretty easy to rank location-specific ‘treatment’ queries in YouTube.
And, many times, these YouTube videos will appear in the SERPs.
Granted, they don’t have a ton of views. It’s really a micro search term- but the traffic is really valuable. Typically, these videos will have Pay Per Call numbers advertised on them.
How To Make Money
As with any niche, the three primary revenue opportunities are Display Ads, Affiliate Marketing, and eCommerce.
To my mind, this is really a Display Ads & Affiliate Marketing play.
If you filter the keyword research column “CPC” Z-A, you’ll see a ton of high Cost Per Click opportunities here.
For example, Ahrefs lists “meth treatment” as a $25 CPC. “addiction hotline” has a $70 CPC.
That’s an insane cost per click.
There are advertisers behind that spend who are hoping to secure a client for a 5-figure stay in one of their inpatient facilities.
There’s also a ton of profit to be made as an affiliate in this niche.
Probably the best way to make money as an affiliate in this niche is to build out your local landing pages and informational content, wait for them to get some traffic, and then charge local treatment centers a monthly fee to get listed on the local landing pages (make sure to be transparent about your relationship with them).
You’ll also be able to push traffic from informational content to affiliate opportunities- submitting forms, calling numbers, etc.
Besides charging listing fees, you could get paid based on the leads you send them.
You could build out a Google Form, for example, and refer leads to the treatment centers who would pay per submission.
You could also use the ThirstyAffiliates WordPress plugin to track all the clicks you send to a particular treatment center and charge on a per click basis.
I would study how other rehab landing pages are monetizing and emulate them- just start Googling for different location-specific landing pages, keep track of them in a Google Sheet, and decide on your own design.
RehabCenter.net has a Kansas landing page– they really push for contact form submissions and phone number numbers:
Pay Per Call
I used the oDigger website to dig up some “rehab” affiliate Pay Per Call programs.
As you can see below, there are some high-paying offers in the rehabilitation niche:
I’d definitely recommend using a call tracking solution like CallRail.
This way, you can get Call Analytics to verify people are calling the number of your affiliate partner.
Plus, if you decide to change the Pay Per Call affiliate program you’re participating in, you don’t need to change all the numbers on your site- just change where the calls are being forwarded from within CallRail.
You can also find some information products, depending on the specific drug treatment niche you enter into.
For example, take a look at some of ClickBank’s alcohol addiction offers:
You’ll have to do some digging around to find affiliate offers. This niche doesn’t have as many ‘ready-made’ affiliate opportunities as others- but consider that as an advantage.
It means the barriers to entry are higher, so if you’re particularly enterprising you can stand out in this niche. Everyone and their mother is capitalizing on the Amazon Associates program, fighting over paltry commissions.
This niche has some truly powerful potential- but you’ll have to do some legwork to establish the affiliate relationships.
Quality standards- since this is a medical niche, I’d really focus on quality content. I’d also make sure that all my content is attributed to a legitimate Author. Most WordPress Themes, in their Settings, let you create an author box at the bottom of the post.
Click tracking- I’d also recommend using ThirstyAffiliates to track all of your affiliate links. This way you can track which affiliate links are getting clicked, create ‘pretty’ links out of ‘ugly’ affiliate links, and easily redirect where links go if you switch affiliate partners.