A Drug Rehab Case Study
It’s all about relevancy & conversions!


The Drug Rehab & Detox Center’s mission was to help, model and create a balance that was necessary for life-changing recovery from the deep spiritual and emotional causes of addiction, compulsive behavior. Their services included 12-step based personalized, professional and spiritual approach, Residential treatment and Intensive Outpatient Care (Day Treatment). The demographic age range targeted varied from early 20’s to 50’s depending on the alcohol and drug abuses.

I created, optimized and managed 13 campaigns in their AdWords account for about 6 months. They experienced an eventual success with the Google AdWords & Microsoft Bing Ads advertising.

Tools Used

Advertising Platforms: Google AdWords, Microsoft (Bing) adCenter
Keyword Research & Planning Tools: Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, Keyword Shitter, Keyword Keg (Chrome Extension), SEMRush, Google Search (Suggestions), Bing Ads Intelligence.
Tag Management: Google Tag Manager
Analytical Suite:
Google Analytics, Tableau
Competition Analysis: SEMRush, Ispionage, Google AdWords All Auction Insights
Third-Party Tools: hotjar, Call Tracking Metrics
Spreadsheet Suite: Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets – without which my day never really began

End Goals 

  • Drive relevant traffic to the microsite.
  • Target users who are either drug addicts or family contacting on behalf of the addicts.
  • Maintain a minimum monthly capacity of 10 clients per month.
  • Increase Calls, Lead form fill-outs and Chat conversions.
  • To generate phone calls from the visitors who had valid insurance information.

The Challenge

Maintaining a Good Balance between the KPI’s

Below are the two screenshots of how the campaigns performance evolved from 2016 to 2017.

P.S. the campaigns were disabled in the month of April and May 2017. New BETA campaigns were enabled in the month of June 2017.

The above screenshot represents the plot between clicks (in blue) and impressions (in orange), the campaigns performance in 2016 was not too bad in the case of attracting web visitors. The campaigns attained good amount of user interaction, but never really achieved relevant conversions. Similar was the case with the combination of clicks (in blue) and click-through-rate (in orange).

Initially, there was a good cluster of people viewing the ads, which tend to increase the impression rate, interaction rate (clicks) and click-through-rate (CTR). But, the conversions were not relevant enough. Comparing the two sides of the plot, the main issue was the irrelevancy of the visitors. This is where the Negative Keyword Management, Optimizing Ads Relevancy and Quality Score came into play. All the campaigns had to maintain a good balance between the clicks, impressions and click-through-rate.

The main issue was the irrelevant searches to the microsite. There was no much control over the average CPC as it grew with each passing day.

Disapproval Issues of Ads

This was a whole new ball-game; for this specific account there were 3 reasons for the ads to get the disapproval status which was all under one umbrella “Restricted Content”

  • Keywords like “drug addiction”, “drug abuse”, “drug treatment” or the actual names of the drugs like heroin, cocaine.
  • Google’s Trademark Policy
    (In association with the targeted geo-location, which was just United States).
  • Health Insurance Brand Names

This got me to jot down a new plan to build BETA campaigns which were only based on the Search Network setting without any involvement of the Display-Select Network. ‘Cause that is a whole another situation to deal with.

The Approach

Below mentioned are the changes made to the new BETA campaigns based on the old campaign’s performance.

The main objective before, while and after setting up the campaign was to maintain a good balance between the clicks and the impressions, more than 5% of click-through-rate, less than 40% of website bounce rate and >7 quality score.

“Search Network Only” campaign setting with “All features” was the best choice for this specific PPC account as the targeted web visitors and conversions were all through Search. Geo-targeted locations were 50 miles in and around the rehab center’s location for the people in, searching for and the one’s who show interest in the targeted location. The Bid Strategy was set to Manual CPC (Enabled Enhanced CPC) as AdWords automatically adjusts the set bids to maximize conversions. Delivery method was Accelerated. The Ads were scheduled according to the rehab center’s working hours. Ad Delivery, Rotation and Frequency Capping was set to Optimize.

Initially, for a couple of weeks I tested keywords with keyword match types and eventually stuck to the broad match modifier type and exact match type, the headlines of the ad copies for the content to be relevant enough, pausing ads and keywords with low search volume and quality score. Keyword Research and Planning was one of the major aspects of the campaigns to work. Google Keyword Planner was one such tool that helped me in reviewing a keyword budget plan with the monthly and weekly forecasts. Quite helpful, I must say! All the ad groups were tightly knit with not more than 5 keywords in each. Keywords were all themed according to the services offered.

Since the inception of the account, I have been running a list of designated general negative keywords. Search Term Report was very handy while adding the negative keywords. For 7 months, I added a total of ~9K negative keywords.

Every other day, the ads were getting disapproved *nightmarish feel*. As the Rehab center was accredited with the required certifications and approvals. As there was nothing much I could do, I contacted the AdWords support regarding the disapproval and they would manually add all the disapproved ads under review to get all the ads approved, up and running.

Addition of all kinds of ad extensions like sitelink extensions, structured snippet extensions, location extensions, call extension and call-out extensions were quite helpful.

Addition of a competitor’s name specific ad group also helped in expanding the search.

P.S. But, after putting in so much efforts for the campaign to work; Google raised a ban on the rehab-related search terms.




Comparing the paid traffic data, there was a shoot up of 132.65% in the user’s sessions, 135.09% in the user’s category.

In AdWords, the outcome resulted in geo-targeting the ads to a more relevant audience, which lowered the impressions by 11%, resulting in 20% more clicks & 49% more site visits, at a 25% lower CPC value and the CTR went up from 2.4% to 3.59%.

An aspect that I learnt from this specific account is the relevancy of keywords with the ads, ads with the content of the microsite to optimize and improve the quality score.

In the end it is all about the relevancy and conversions!

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