What People Are Searching For When They’re Looking For Care
Standing out from other care providers is no small feat, especially in the digital age. While it may seem like many of your prospective clients may not be online, 75% of senior living consumers use search engines to find out more about their options (Google, 2015).
In addition, an overwhelming 83% of nursing home consumers don't have a specific care provider in mind when beginning their search (Invoca, 2021), making search engine ranking a powerful way to access your ideal residents.
While Search Engine Optimization, or SEO strategy, is as unique as your residence—there are a handful tactics you can implement to support your digital outreach efforts.
Before we dive too deeply into the technical aspects of SEO, we’ll be exploring the necessary (and very human) high-level planning that builds the foundation for success.
1. Set Clear Goals
There’s a good chance that you have overarching “real life” business goals for your residence like:
- Increasing Brand Awareness
- Increasing Revenue
- Reducing Costs
When taking the first steps toward creating a strong digital presence, it’s important to keep these goals top of mind. These intentions will help direct each aspect of your digital strategy, from customer service to content creation. These goals also play a key role in the creation of an effective keyword strategy to strengthen your residence’s search ranking.
What big goals or objectives does your residence already have? Are your online and in-person goals in alignment? Are they SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound)?
- Get Specific: Vague goals can’t be measured. Even if you’re unsure about what your residence might be able to achieve online, you should still devise a goal to aim for. If your strategy overwhelmingly exceeds your goal, you’ll know that you can aim higher next time. If you end up missing the mark completely, you’ll be able to see where you went wrong to create a more successful strategy.
- Measure Your Progress: Tracking key metrics like click-through-rate, engagement-rate, conversions, leads, and revenue will allow you to measure the progress you’re making toward your goal. Depending on your digital objectives, an increase in leads from your website or a spike in e-newsletter signups can show that your new tactics are working.
- Make Your Goals Attainable: You’re feeling inspired about digital marketing and want to set your sights on some dazzling results but ensure that the goals you set are attainable. The goals you set for your digital strategy should build on each other to create a robust path to the results you’re looking for.
- Ensure Your Objectives Are Relevant: Is your goal simply to have one million followers? Or to reduce your residence’s vacancy rate? While you may end up with a large digital audience because of your strategy, the goal itself should be primarily relevant to your residence’s overarching goals.
- Put Your Goal on a Timeline: Setting a deadline for your goals helps you evaluate whether your strategy is working, while also keeping you and your team accountable to generating results.
2. Know Your Target Audience
Now that you’ve established a set of goals that are relevant to the online and offline success of your residence, it’s time to get clear on who your ideal clients are.
Ensuring that you’ve studied and created profiles for each of your residence’s target audiences will allow you to customize your content and keywords to reach them all effectively.
Consider the types of people who are likely to be searching for the services you provide:
- Seniors themselves
- Seniors’ loved ones, family, or friends
- Senior Care Professionals like Senior Living Advisors, Hospital Discharge Coordinators, Physicians, or Social Workers
Start by building customer personas for these key groups with elements like:
- Demographics (Age, Gender, Education Level, etc.)
- Personal or Professional Goals
- Personal or Professional Challenges
- Interests or Hobbies
- Websites They Trust/Frequent
Use these insights to build your keyword strategy around your target audience members. Your website’s click-through-rate won’t matter if all your content attracts the wrong audience.
3. Get Clear on Your Message
Who are you as a company? How do you want others to see you? What services do you provide better than your competition?
The answers to these questions paired with the insights you’ve attained by building your client personas will influence which keywords you choose.
Always consider how the keywords you do (or don’t) use help communicate your residence’s brand message.
4. Perform a Competitor Analysis
A competitor analysis serves several important functions, especially in the senior living niche:
- Gives you a sense of which residences or services you’re competing with
- Helps you see what digital strategies are and aren’t working for your competitors, so you can keep yourself from “reinventing the wheel”
- An analysis shows you what you need to do to surpass other care providers online
By investing some time and effort up front in a competitive analysis, you’ll end up saving a lot of time, money and frustration as you develop your residence’s digital marketing strategy. Getting hyper-focused on what you need to do to connect with your ideal residents better than the competition will allow you to gain traction faster and more effectively.
During your analysis, consider looking beyond the senior living niche to:
- Understand who else you’re competing with. For SEO, it’s any website that ranks higher than yours for keywords you’re hoping to target. In a Pay-Per-Click campaign, it’s the companies that are using your keywords and bidding more for them than you are. On social media, it’s the business profiles that your ideal clients spend the most time on.
- Spark your creativity. Looking at the most effective styles of content or copy from other niches and adapting them to senior living can generate powerful ideas and results.
How to Perform a Keyword Competitor Analysis
- Start with the list of words you’re already targeting that you’ve built from your goals, customer persona and industry.
- Perform a Google search of your keywords. Ensure that you’re leaving Google’s local search option “on” to see key competitors in your area.
- Enter the top 3 websites for each keyword you’re researching into an analytics tool of your choice-- SpyFu and Ahrefs are robust, cost-effective options.
- Find out their website authority. This number is an estimate of how trustworthy Google deems their website.
- Find out what their top-performing pages are.
- Find out what keywords they’re targeting.
- Review their top-performing content to better understand what kind of content you need to compete with them.
- Make note of things like: Content length, Topics covered, Multi-media, Publishing frequency
5. Refine Your Keyword List
Now it’s time to get specific. By choosing a variety of different types of key words, keywords that are valuable and easy to rank for, you can begin refining your SEO and content strategy to maximize your results.
The words you choose should align with the four areas we’ve explored in this article:
- Goals & Objectives
- Target Audience
- Message / Branding
- Competitor Landscape
Moz Keyword Explorer is a great free tool that tells you:
- How much traffic a word gets
- The percentage of clicks from the organic search results
- How difficult it is to compete for this keyword
- Similar keywords to consider
- Top national competitors for that keyword
- The estimated domain authority of the top competitors
6. Track Performance & Optimize for Results
No digital strategy is complete without a system in place to track its success. Knowing what and how to measure your strategy’s performance will keep you accountable to your goals, and a step ahead of the competition.
For a robust digital footprint, you’ll want to update the keywords that don’t yield the results you’re expecting or add new ones as your goals or services change.
As you measure your results, you’ll find that some website keywords and pieces of social media content perform better than others.
At first, it can seem difficult to know which metrics you should be paying attention to. These key questions are a good place to start:
- Are you being seen? Track unique visitors, sessions, or page views.
- Are your keywords relevant? Are attracting the intended audience? Track bounce rate, duration, and the number of pages visited.
With the right tools and strategies, you’ll have no trouble standing out from your competitors online.
Nailing and iterating digital best practices for SEO and content creation will keep your online presence growing, thriving, and aligned with your residence’s business goals.
A strong, intentional online presence makes it easier for prospective residents to find and choose your services, ultimately resulting in more senior living sales and move-ins.