Digital Marketing Strategies to Boost Your Census and the Importance of Local SEO

May 22, 2017 | Executive Corner

>>Sign up for our enewsletter today and get more helpful insights!<<By Tom Mann, Principal, Executive Vice President

Assisted living, skilled care, and memory care are often the last business lines of a Life Plan Community to receive marketing attention, which is interesting given the impact of low occupancy. Perhaps the reason for this is that the target audience for independent living, the senior themselves, is so different from the target audience for healthcare marketing (the caregiver, typically, the adult child or the spouse). Simply put, many Life Plan organizations do not know how to market to adult children.

Source: Ipsos MediaCT Boomers/Seniors Research Study

Where to find assisted living, skilled care, and memory care prospects

With the exception of referrals, the digital world is where you can most cost-effectively reach today’s healthcare decision makers. Boomers spend more time online than they spend watching TV. And, as you can see from the following chart, they are utilizing the internet to research their healthcare decisions. Digital media is now more effective for marketing assisted living, skilled care, and memory care than traditional marketing.

Top Five Sources Used to Research

Source: Ipsos MediaCT Boomers/Seniors Research Study

So, what’s the secret to reaching caregivers and boosting your healthcare revenue? Increasingly, the answer is digital marketing, specifically search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social media, and blogging. Today, we will focus on local SEO.

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The importance of local SEO for your healthcare organization

As you know, the decision to move to an assisted living, skilled care, or memory care facility is heavily driven by location (either the location of the prospect themselves, or, the location of their caregiver). All of which means it is essential to optimize your website for local search. Here are the key elements for creating a strong local presence on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo:

  • A responsive website – Responsive means that your website automatically resizes to fit the screen of whichever device it’s being viewed on. This is particularly important when marketing to adult children, as the smart phone takes on increasing importance in your marketing effort. Ninety five percent of Americans now own a cellphone. Seventy four percent of people ages 50 to 64—which is the prime age for adult children assisting parents with healthcare moves—own a smart phone. (Source: Pew Research Center). Google search algorithms heavily penalize companies that haven’t optimized for mobile and micro-moments.
  • Claim your space – Make sure to claim your Google+, Facebook, Yelp, and LinkedIn pages, and make sure to properly categorize your business. Photos will add relevance for your customers. In addition to the big listings mentioned above, there are hundreds of small local directories that need to be claimed. Agencies like Love & Company can help you obtain listings in all of these directories with an affordable service called a citation burst. Information across all of these sources needs to be identical to maximize your SEO value. For example, don’t use the word “Street” on one listing and “St.” on another. Once you have all of your listings, be sure to regularly monitor and respond to reviews.
  • Keyword research – Identify what terms are important to your business, and your given location. Utilize Google’s Keyword Planner to identify which keywords are important and how they compare to each other (for example, the word “healthcare” has far more searches than “health care.”). Once you have identified your most important keywords or keyword phrases (try to keep this list under 20) be sure that they have a presence on your website, in your blogs, and in your press releases. Make sure to do this without keyword stuffing. Providing your prospects with valuable content on your keywords should be your primary concern.
  • Blogs – Hosting a blog on your website is one of the best ways to add valuable content and keywords. And, because Google ranks websites with recent content higher than stagnant sites, you’ll be adding additional SEO value.
  • Title tags – Make sure that each page is titled and tagged, ideally with the relevant keyword for that page.
  • Meta tags – Meta tags help search engines find the information they are looking for. Ideally, you are looking to keep you meta tag to 160 characters or less per description.
  • Inbound links – Google likes to see a large number of inbound links coming from reputable websites that are relevant to your industry. The more informative your content, the more other sites will link to you. Volunteering as a guest blogger for a germane industry site and providing a back link to your website is one way to accomplish this task. Of course, you might also ask for other industry experts to write a guest blog for your site. Very often, they will then link back to your site to share with their followers. In addition, utilize press releases to capture off-page SEO benefits of inbound links. Be sure to utilize services like PR Newswire to distribute your press release to as many targeted news outlets as possible.
  • Load speed – 40% of all people will abandon a site if it takes more than three seconds to load. In addition, speed is a Google ranking factor for mobile (here’s some advice for improving load speed).
  • Utilize Google Webmaster Tools – This tool will help alert you if Google is having any problems crawling your website, as well as check your pages indexing status.
  • Remember your customer – At the end of the day, remember, you are creating content for your prospects, not search engine spiders.

For more information on how to better market your senior healthcare services, please contact Tim Bracken at 410-207-0013 or Rick Hunsicker at 214-906-3801.

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