Getting found online is crucial to the success of senior living facilities. But simply getting found isn't enough. You'll need to make sure your entire online presence—your website, online reviews, social media—accurately represents your business.
Dave Masters and I recently wrote the following article for the September/October issue of Senior Living Executive. We cover the basics of building a solid SEO strategy and how to take control of your online reputation to ensure prospects get an accurate view of your facility.
Click here to view the issue in in its entirety. Keep reading to learn more about building a great digital presence.
How to ensure someone finds you first, before being influenced or distracted by your competitors.
Six years ago, Integral Senior Living’s digital strategy was minimal. Communities had basic websites, and not much more. Today, digital channels play a primary role for the Carlsbad, California-based company. “The trend towards digital adoption among residents and prospects is indisputable,” says Kristen Kohler, the provider’s marketing manager.
In just a few short years, senior living companies have matured from basic websites to comprehensive digital programs. This is no fad; it’s a business necessity. The traditional channels you relied on for visibility in the past are no longer sufficient. Your online presence—include websites, social networks, and vertical directories—is where your prospects first encounter your brand. Or so you hope.
But how do you make sure someone looking online for your products and services finds you? And how do you ensure they find you first, before they have been distracted or influenced by competitive offerings?
Standing out in a sea of digital information takes work, property planning, and plenty of resources, but it’s worth it. “I pursue all strategies that give me a return on my investment,” says Kohler. And that includes employing optimized websites, Facebook pages for all communities, Internet listing services, and referral agencies. “People us multiple channels in finding and connecting with ISL.”
Google calls it the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). It’s the impression the consumer will get before their first impression. It is the moment when a consumer searches a term and finds you prominently on the search results pages. To own Zero Moment of Truth is to own the search results page, including the paid ads at the top and the organic listings, the links to your site, your social network presence, and your prominence in national directories and review sites.
Searching online is an active process, and smart digital marketing means targeting the right prospects, understanding their intent, and anticipating their needs. It’s important to remember that people who have just started their search will probably not start by searching for your brand. That’s why search engine optimization (SEO) is a critical foundation for your digital presence.
There is a critical link between digital content and search engine results. SO what are the basic SEO requirements? Ideally, you should plan for your SEO strategy before you build your website or update your website to reflect your SEO goals. Make sure you have a page dedicated to each topic you want to drive traffic to your site. For each page you have created to capture traffic, ask yourself the following questions:
- Based on the text alone, would anyone reading this know exactly what the topic or purpose of the page is?
- DO my page title and headline accurately describe the topic?
- Have I met a minimum of 250 words of content to ensure that search engines have enough text to extract the topic?
- Is this content unique to only this page on my site, or does it appear on other pages or other websites?
Beyond your website itself, make sure you are establishing a presence in the other online services where your brand should appear. This includes social media and review sites.
Shares, Likes, and links all strengthen your SEO strategy. Additionally, because senior housing selection is highly influenced by emotion, a positive social presence can help create thrust and foster favorable feelings.
Social media shares and interactions also have a beneficial correlation with increased rankings in search engines like Google, so social network activity is actually generating interesting around your brand and strengthening your online presence. Similarly, a presence on a national listing service can act as a multiplier when it comes to building a brand presence.