[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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.