Guide to PPC Best Practices for Senior Care

[feat-text]In this blog post, I explore the viability of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising for senior care providers, as well as some PPC best practices that can help providers connect with more people in need.[/feat-text]

I was recently asked by a marketer at a senior care provider (and prospective client) if they need PPC advertising. My answer was an emphatic yes. In some form or another, PPC can be a critical part of your broader digital marketing strategy and help you capture demand and build your lead pipeline.


Why Do PPC Ads Work for Senior Care Companies?

To understand the benefits of PPC for senior care, let’s take a step back and consider the context. First and foremost, the senior care space is a crowded one. The digital landscape is competitive. Even the most bulletproof SEO strategy in the world will take some time to gain traction and deliver high rankings, especially for competitive keywords.

For many senior care providers, especially those who have a financial incentive to keep beds occupied or patient rosters full, the need for high-quality leads is quite urgent. Speaking of patients, residents, and their families, the need for senior care can be urgent, too, often coming on the heels of a diagnosis or acute health event. Sprinkle in the lasting effects of the global pandemic and many senior care marketers find themselves in a bit of a pinch.

Enter PPC, which can be a very effective way to:

  • Place content and CTAs at the top of search results for competitive keywords
  • Connect with target audiences in need of senior care NOW
  • Buy search engine visibility that’s targeted toward specific locations
  • Get bottom-line results for high-intent, highly competitive keywords faster than with SEO


How Senior Care Companies Can Build a Strong Foundation for Cost-Effective PPC

Now, as effective as PPC ads can be, I do urge caution. The wrong PPC strategy can blow a marketing budget and generate nothing but low-quality leads. To avoid that outcome, build a foundational PPC strategy that’s strong in these five areas:

1. Develop a Strong Keyword Strategy

Step one is to build a list of the top keywords you want to advertise for. Remember that senior care is a very “local” choice for many people, so you’ll want to factor location into your keyword list. Next, focus on the keywords most likely to drive the conversions you’re looking for, be that a form fill or a phone call. This includes long-tail keywords, which tend to reflect the natural language people use when querying a search engine (coincidentally, long-tail keywords tend to be less expensive).

Speaking of expensive keywords, temper your expectations around broader, high-volume keywords. I don’t have to look to know that “senior community new york” is a highly competitive keyword phrase. Keywords like these might get thousands or tens of thousands of clicks a month, making them costly targets for paid advertising. Think about what makes your company unique, why do people choose you?

Focus on the keywords that reflect what your ideal customers are searching for. For independent living communities, that may be targeting keywords for people who value your amenities and are searching for “senior living community with pool and gym.” Or for long-term care facilities, family members are looking for “compassionate nursing home with good reviews.”

Finally, make sure to build out negative keyword lists. These are keywords that you’d rather not display ads for. “Senior living community” might not make sense if you provide in-patient hospice services (your audience is looking for something more specific than simply a 55+ living community). Negative keyword lists help ensure that your ads reach the right audiences at an efficient cost.

2. Consolidate Your Google Ad Campaigns

Proper account and campaign structure is an essential element of effective PPC advertising strategies. Google stresses account organization for a reason. A consolidated campaign structure can help improve ad budgeting, improve ad quality scores, and result in more insightful campaign reporting.

Campaign consolidation is also the first step toward utilizing algorithmic ad-buying tactics, such as smart bidding. A simple way to consolidate is to create two campaigns per location: brand and nonbrand. Then you can push service granularity to the ad group level.

Campaign-level consolidations can help drive more leads at a lower CPA. Think With Google estimates an 11 percent increase in reach efficiency after brands consolidate their campaigns.

3. Lean on Smart Bidding

Smart bidding uses predictive machine learning to automatically set bids during an auction. It’s a portfolio bidding strategy that groups together multiple campaigns, ad groups, and keywords to reach certain performance goals. Most ad platforms offer some kind of smart bidding option.

Smart bidding can help reduce the cost to serve up display and search ads. In senior care, for example, you can use smart bidding to pull out certain locations for incremental budgeting on an as-needed basis. This is useful for locations that chronically underperform on some channels.

While smart bidding might seem like a great way to hand off all bid management to Google, it doesn’t always make sense to completely automate your bids for search and display ads. In some cases, doing so can allow a small problem, such as a CPC increase, to grow into a margin killer.

3. Leverage Data to Improve Senior Care Lead Quality

To improve the quality of the conversions driven by paid search, you need to know which ads actually result in new customers, be that a long-term care patient or a new resident at your independent living community. So, how do you know which ads actually result in new business?

You need to have some sort of tracking system in place—and integrated reporting. CRMs like Salesforce and HubSpot offer integrations with Google Ads and can help you tie ads to leads and actual new patients or residents. It’s not always easy, though.

There are solutions, though.

Implement Call Tracking

First, we recommend to all our clients that they implement a call tracking solution. It can help you gain a better understanding of the effectiveness of your online and offline marketing efforts. Without call tracking, it’s difficult to know where a phone call came from.

A person may see your ad online and decide to call versus filling out a form. In the senior care space, people often want to talk to a real person when evaluating options.

Call tracking can help you determine which keywords and ads are driving calls and appointments.

Integrate Offline Data

If you don’t have a closed-loop reporting system or a CRM that integrates with Google Ads, manual data transfer processes can help you gain insight into campaign effectiveness. You can pass back data from your patient management system (PMS) or electronic health record (EHR) system to a CRM and Google Ads by uploading offline conversions of actual new customers.

By telling Google’s algorithm which ad interactions led to higher quality leads and actual customers, it can optimize campaigns around the features that produced those customers. This is an effective method for lowering new patient acquisitions costs.

4. Use Responsive Search Ads (RSAs)

With responsive search ads (RSAs), you let Google optimize your headlines, ad copy, and CTA based on what’s most likely to engage and convert. You supply the ad headline and description variations and let Google’s AI choose the optimal combinations based on audience, device, location, and other variables. RSAs have proven highly effective, and for years they’re what we recommend to most senior care providers looking to get more out of their PPC strategy. They work so well that RSAs are now the default ad type for Google Ads. Expanded text ads are still available, but Google wants people to use their technologies backed by machine learning.

Instead of manually testing headline and copy variations as individual ads, RSAs automatically identify the best headline + copy combination to achieve your campaign’s goal. Responsive display ads should follow creative best practices by having a variety of 7 images, 5 headlines, and 6 descriptions to give the algorithm as many options as possible to serve the most relevant ad for each user.

They require a little more setup and planning when launching a new campaign. But that work pays off with more clicks, conversions, and better-performing ad campaigns.

Here are a few tips to get more from your responsive search ads:

  • Leverage Google’s ad strength tool to improve the effectiveness of your copy
  • Use countdown customizers to add urgency for special events, like open houses
  • Tailor your RSA text to the user’s location with the location insertion field. Instead of uploading data files with thousands of location rows, this feature allows ads to be customized to the user’s state or country.

Lastly, while RSAs automate a lot of the manual testing of ad creative, you still need to analyze campaign performance. Look across campaigns to identify trends and to understand what your customers are responding to. Implementing these insights across your account will improve the overall performance of your PPC advertising strategy.

5. Create an Exceptional Post-click Experience

Too often, advertisers neglect the post-click experience, which is what happens after someone clicks on your ad.

Your ad is only as effective as your landing page. If you fail to deliver the message and experience promised in your ad, you’re ad clicks and conversions won’t actually result in new business. That’s how you tank your ROI.

The goal of your web page or landing page is to get conversions. They can contain plenty of content, but they must adhere to an information hierarchy that encourages users to act.

Content should be organized into clearly defined sections that address prospects’ questions, motivations, and barriers. Users need to first know they are in the right place after clicking to arrive on the page and subsequently presented with the information they need in order to convert. Testimonials and other credibility factors should also be placed higher and in more than one place on a page.

The journey from ad to landing page—including messaging, tone, user experience, even aesthetic—should be as seamless as possible. Your campaign landing pages need to be dialed in order to maximize conversions, including:

  • Rocksolid landing page copywriting
  • A hierarchy that encourages action
  • Prominent CTAs that make it easy for people to convert
  • Consistent branding
  • Testimonials and social proof
  • FAQs

Lastly, reinforce the ad messaging and appeal to user motivations with clear, unique selling propositions. If someone is quickly scanning the page, they must be able to immediately interpret the benefits your senior care organization provides.


How a Renowned Senior Care Organization Increased PPC Conversions 32 Percent

The team at Centers Health Care needed to create its own pipeline, rather than relying on lead aggregators or in-person hospital referrals alone. Their goal was to overcome inexperience with launching efficient PPC campaigns, dramatically increase monthly admissions, and build brand awareness for all of its locations.

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From Foundational PPC to Rapid Scalability

I can’t stress enough how important it is to put these foundational pieces in place. Without these best practices, it becomes quite difficult to efficiently scale PPC, something that most multi-location senior care providers want to do. The good news is that simplicity is usually the best bet, especially at the outset. That goes for keyword strategy, campaign structure, and even ad creative.

With these pieces in place, the sky’s the limit.

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Guide to SEO Best Practices for Senior Care

[feat-text]Let’s take an in-depth look at the search engine optimization (SEO) best practices essential for senior care organizations who want to increase their visibility online. I’ve sourced these tips from our agency’s work with leading multi-locations senior care groups.[/feat-text]

Let’s put things into context. The senior care vertical is poised to explode in the coming years. More than eight million seniors receive care from some kind of senior care service (nursing home, residential, etc.) annually. Research from the Urban Institute indicates that the number of Americans aged 65 years and older will double over the next two decades.

This makes for a large pool of seniors and family members looking online for care options. It’s a crowded and competitive space. Standing out in Google search experiences requires close attention to a few foundational SEO best practices, as follows.


Lay Your Foundation: Technical SEO

Before you invest considerable resources into activities like content creation, link building, or review solicitation, you need to ensure your website adheres to the technical requirements outlined by major search engines. They need to understand your website’s architecture, crawl, and index your web pages. Failure to optimize your technical SEO will result in pages that never hit the search engine results page.

Here’s a brief checklist to get you started:

  • Increase your website’s loading speed—Google and users hate slow websites
  • Ensure your website is mobile-friendly.
  • Build a site structure that’s easy for Google to crawl and index
  • Fix crawl errors
  • Optimize your crawl rate
  • Use clean search engine friendly URLs
  • Add relevant internal links to connect relevant pages
  • Replace broken links and resources
  • Implement dynamic schema markup
  • Remove duplicate content
  • Set up 301 redirects

It’s easy for minor errors to occur, and over time, they can pile up and make a negative impact on your search rankings.

Each month, we monitor and optimize 100s of technical SEO factors to make it easier for our senior care clients to rank for competitive keywords. Without a solid technical foundation, other SEO tactics become more challenging and won’t yield the same result.


Make Local SEO a Priority

For most families, senior care is a local decision. People want to be close to their families, generally speaking. They want their aging family members to be close by, too. Whether you’re a multi-location senior care group or an individual practice, your local SEO strategy will be an important means for connecting with prospects.

Develop a Localized Keyword Strategy

Keywords are the language that people use to look online for senior care. They’re the stuff search engines use to help people find what they need online. To build your localized keyword strategy, you’ll need to define the specific list of keywords you want to rank for, monitor, and measure performance against.

Broadly speaking, your keyword strategy will break down into three parts:

  • Goals. Do you want to rank your website in the top three results for a particular search phrase? Do you want to increase keyword rankings for a dedicated service page, such as “hospice care atlanta”?
  • Research. Learn how the members of your target decision-making unit (DMU) find senior care solutions online. As your ideal DMU moves through the process of finding senior care, what kind of questions do they have? What keywords do they use to search for answers?

With this information in hand, you can put together your keyword list. We recommend focusing on two types of keywords, in particular:

  • Location-based: Longer keyword phrases that include location identifiers, such as postal code, city name, and so on. In large cities, you may want to rank for specific neighborhoods. For example, “senior hospice medicare atlanta” versus “senior living communities near buckhead.”
  • High-intent, solution-aware: The language of a person who already knows the outcome they want, but not necessarily the senior care service that will get them there. For example, “dementia care atlanta,” or “after stroke care 92115.”

Both higher intent and location-based keywords are particularly useful for multi-location senior care practices. However, they’re only two parts of a broader keyword strategy. After you increase rankings and visibility for local high-intent keywords, you can then target more problem-aware keywords that are used when people start to research their senior care needs.

Create Localized Web Pages

Create a unique website page for each location within your senior care group. This location page will help each location rank for location-based searches—your Brooklyn location for people in New York, for example, or your La Mesa facility for people in San Diego.

When building these dedicated location pages, give each location page a distinct URL that includes location information and more than 500 words of content. Use location-specific keyword combinations, too, like describing nearby destinations like parks or landmarks. Finally, tie these location pages to their corresponding listings on Google My Business and elsewhere.

The idea is to rank content for location-based searches. You want to make sure, for instance, that your hospice group’s Kansas City location ranks on the first page for people searching Google for hospice care in that location.

When building these dedicated location pages, incorporate your local keyword strategy by using location-specific keyword combinations throughout. Publish valuable information to your target audience, including the FAQs they might have (insurance, cost, etc.). Where possible, develop a template that makes it easier to roll out pages for new locations as they’re added to your group or network.


Take a Full-Funnel Approach to SEO

Depending on your particular senior care space, people are looking for options right now (in response to an acute issue, for example) or those with longer consideration phases (selecting a senior living community, for example). Ideally, your full-funnel SEO strategy has you ranking content for all of the above (and everything in between).

That said, you’ll want to tailor your target keywords and content to the different stages of the funnel:

Problem Aware: At this stage, a person knows they have an issue, but they’re unaware of potential solutions. They might not even be actively seeking a solution at all. This is an opportunity to educate your target audience and articulate their problem in clear, authoritative terms.

Solution Aware: This person is in the process of evaluating different solutions to their problem. At this stage, you’ll want to demonstrate why your particular senior care service is a viable solution to their problem.

Product Aware: The product-aware consumer needs convincing that one solution is better than another. Create content that summarizes your solution concisely, makes the benefits real (using a testimonial, for instance), and disarms or overcomes any objections.

Most Aware: At this stage, your consumer likely knows and trusts your senior care brand. Now is the time to get them over the finish line with a good offer—something that incentivizes them to contact you.

Create Authoritative Content About Senior Care Topics

Beyond your primary website site pages (homepage, services, etc.), you’ll want to put out a steady flow of authoritative, keyword-rich, high-value content that aligns with those stages of the buyer’s journey. Map this content to the stages in the funnel we covered above and related target keywords.

Keep your ideal Decision-Making Unit (DMU) in mind, too. The decision-making unit (DMU) varies based on the type of senior care. Sometimes, an adult son or daughter is the primary decision-maker. In other situations, it’s the senior themselves that’s making the final purchase decisions.


Manage Your Digital Reputation

Too many senior care providers overlook their digital reputation. How your business appears in places like Google, Yelp, and other digital search experiences affects SEO. This includes the volume and quality of reviews left on each of your listings. Take an inventory of the digital profiles, sites, channels, and listings you already have. Where do your ideal patients go to read and leave reviews for your senior care brand?

Start with a Solid Google My Business Listing

At the very least, get a GMB listing in good standing for each of your locations. Keep each listing up to date with accurate NAP, business categories, and photos, and so on. GMB listings factor significantly in local search experiences. Remember, senior care is a highly local matter. A billion+ people use Google Maps every month. Make sure you update:

  • Hours of operation, address, and contact information
  • Links to websites and appointment scheduling
  • Reviews and ratings—don’t forget to monitor and respond to feedback
  • FAQs about your senior care services, insurance, and so on
  • Photos of the senior care facility and staff
  • Announcements and promotions
  • Updates about COVID-19 protocols

Generate Regular Reviews

Reviews are critical in the senior care space. People are averse to senior care brands with poor reviews or none at all—as are search engines. According to an NRC Health Study, “74.7% of patients want to see at least seven ratings before they’ll trust them.” Here are a few ways to get people to leave reviews:

  • Send out review invitations in your automated email messages, customer communications, and website
  • Train your staff to ask for a review
  • Automate your review program with vendors like BirdEye


Give Your Website the Attention it Deserves

Looking at the best practices I’ve already detailed here, it’s clear that most roads lead to your website. How does your site look, feel, and perform on various devices and platforms? Is it simple to navigate, find information, and contact you?

Things like navigation, page speed, accessibility are all part of the user experience (UX). Not only does good UX lead to better consumer experiences with your digital brand, but UX is a search engine ranking factor. Here are a few best practices to follow across your websites and pages:

  • Run your site through the Core Web Vitals report to get baseline stats and performance
  • Test your site on different devices and platforms
  • Minimize pop-ups and other distractions that interfere with what people need to do
  • Invest in a mobile-friendly and responsive site design
  • Consolidate and simplify your site structure; avoid redundant pages

Finally, Here are Three Case Studies in Senior Care SEO

I was going to close with some sweeping overture about senior care SEO. But my Flock is all about showing the proof in the pudding. So here are three case studies from our own client portfolio that have made successful use of the SEO best practices enumerated in this blog post.

King’s Bridge

From a business perspective, the King’s Bridge team had their hands full with handling resident turnover and keeping their units full. From a marketing perspective, their one-person in-house team was limited in terms of available bandwidth for even fundamental digital marketing activities. See how their team generated a 59 percent increase in organic sessions.

Home Care Assistance

At the outset of its engagement with Atlantic, the HCA team had a prime opportunity to reach a lot more hand-raisers for senior home care. What they needed from Atlantic was a way to target this audience earlier in the funnel to drive demand at the time of the precipitating life event (acute illness, a fall, etc.).


Abode needed to find a way to reach aggressive monthly goals for cost per lead and new patient admissions. This being the company’s first formal digital marketing initiative, Abode knew that they needed to partner with an experienced digital marketing agency with a proven track record.

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