If you’ve been with us throughout this blog series, by now you have a greater understanding of the broader market forces that challenge your senior living business and some of the measures you can take to be one step ahead of the competition.
Now, it’s time to understand how to win in your local market. After all, it is likely that your residents will come from right within your zip code and neighborhood. Even relatives searching for a community for a loved one will focus on location as their most important criterion. In fact, according to a survey conducted by SeniorAdvisor.com, 56 percent of respondents said that location was the most important factor in their decision to choose a senior living facility.
And, despite that fresh coat of paint and verdant landscaping that they see when they pass by your building each day, the majority of seniors — more than 75 percent, according to research — prefer to begin their search for information online. So how do you do this without shelling out a small fortune for expensive referral services or costly paid digital campaigns?
The answer: Leverage local organic search.
Why is local organic search so important? The facts speak for themselves: At least 88 percent of those people who search for something on their phone show up at the bricks-and-mortar location that same week. And about half of all people who start a Google search – regardless of device – have “local intent.”
So how do you make sure that you are the first destination they see online when they are considering a move? Dominating the online presence requires an intensive focus on many different local digital marketing strategies and channels.
Your plan should start with optimizing your website around key local, geographic search terms (SEO). Next, ensure your Google Business Profile is complete, and claim and complete listings in local directories. Finally, actively monitor your reputation in terms of online reviews and ratings, responding to all reviews — both positive and negative.
Let’s start by defining the objective: When we talk about “local digital marketing,” we start with the concept of targeting people within a certain radius of your physical location. So it becomes our singular focus in life — at least at this stage — to make sure that when someone searches for senior living facilities and communities, in your area, your results are among the first to come up. Note that we said results, plural. To win the presence game online, you need to appear multiple times.
Getting your senior living facility “seen” by Google requires a focused approach that involves care and feeding of several key pillars of the SEO ranking paradigm:
Ultimately, there are two places where it’s significantly important to rank with Google. First, you want to appear in the “local pack,” a search result driven by a comprehensive Google Business Profile page (in the example pictured, you can see that Green Joe’s Coffee Company is benefiting from local pack optimization). Secondly, you’ll gain greater visibility by ranking high in localized organic results. These rankings are driven by other optimization activities, including citations, directories, content, backlinks, and referrals.
Perfecting your Google Business Profile has never been more critical. The importance of the Google Business Profile on your search visibility continues to increase. According to Business DIT, complete Google My Business listings receive seven times more clicks. Furthermore, 93% of consumers search Google Maps for local businesses.
But your local digital ranking power doesn’t just begin and end with Google. There are numerous other free sites that host listings for businesses such as yours, searchable by geography. Two widely used directories are Yellow Pages and Yelp, but there are also industry-specific listings sites. For these sites, you must ensure that the basics – business name, address, phone number, etc. — are consistent across all these sites. (There are subscription-based tools such as BrightLocal and Yext that make it easy for you to manage your listings. ).
An essential part of Google’s organic rankings is based on authority — how much other people trust and like you. One essential element is reviews and ratings: Nearly everyone with a computer and internet connection shares opinions on the web. Furthermore, 98 percent of all consumers either read or write reviews of businesses. According to a Whitespark report, positive reviews are the second most important conversion factor; further, businesses that respond to reviews are seen as being 1.7 percent more trustworthy than their competition. So if you do not already have a process and person dedicated to monitoring and responding to all reviews, both good and bad — now is the time to start.
With clear business objectives, a strategic plan, a dedicated approach, and the right resources, you can ensure you break through with prospective residents and other decision-makers while reducing your reliance on expensive referral networks and national advertisers. (And if we can be of assistance to you in formulating your local digital plan, please reach out).
In case you missed the first two blogs in the series: