For years, the senior housing industry has been preparing to handle the needs and expectations of the aging boomer population. That preparation has translated into a lot of new construction and new players in the marketplace. Just as the number of potential senior housing consumers has risen, so has competitive pressure. So how do you stand out?
Now more than ever, senior properties and services need to find new ways to stand out from the pack—and reach diverse target demos on their own terms. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by properly optimizing community marketing and engagement for online search.
The fact is, most of your target groups—adult children of seniors and seniors themselves—are using the Internet to find local senior living options. So if your community isn’t turning up at the top of search results for your area and services, you’re likely losing potential customers to communities that are.
Fortunately, online behavior leaves a substantial data trail. Recently, we attended the Argentum 2017 Senior Living Executive Conference, which provided extensive insight into recent trends within the industry. Below are 6 significant senior living search trends to keep in mind as your plan for next year.
1. Senior living searches are increasing
According to Google search data, clicks for senior living terms showed 27% growth from 2015 to 2016. Costs, payment options and care services drove queries of younger boomers, while those 65 and older showd more interest in amenities, lifestyle and dining options.
These searches are occurring over multiple devices across all age targets, with mobile taking more and more of the share each year. Which means…
2. Mobile-friendly design matters
With search traffic for mobile up 116% year over year in certain categories, it’s essential to ensure your website is optimized for smartphone users. Keep mobile in mind with every update. Employ responsive design that scales to fit any screen. Integrate maps into navigation. Make sure fonts are readable and that form fields and buttons are properly spaced. Add a Click-to-Call function to your site’s contact number and Call Ad Extensions to all your search ads.
If you’re not sure how mobile-friendly your site is or isn’t already, consider running Google’s mobile usability test to see where you’re coming up short.
3. Site speed is impacting search rankings
Even if your site design is catered to mobile use, its performance on devices can still impact your search rankings. Slow load times, broken images and unplayable video are sure-fire ways to drive mobile users off your page and in search of other options. That’s bad news for page views, bounce rates and conversions.
It’s also bad news for your rankings, as page speed is now being actively measured by search engines. With the wide variety of mobile devices and services out there, you can’t control every user experience. But by optimizing your underlying infrastructure, compressing code and freeing up critical rendering paths, you can work to keep search algorithms from making things tougher.
4. YouTube isn't just for the kids
With over a billion active users, YouTube’s power as an advertising tool can’t be denied. Yet senior living marketers have been slow to adopt it, perhaps believing their target demographics are not frequent consumers of online video. This generational bias must be abandoned once and for all.
According to YouTube Trends Dashboard, YouTube is the No. 1 video platform of choice for boomers. More surprising, there are four times as many boomer-age viewers than viewers under 18. In fact, over 60 million boomers age 55+ visit YouTube every month across multiple devices. That’s a level of marketing reach you can’t afford to ignore.
Posting branded videos that answer consumer questions on cost, care or other relevant senior living topics can create engagement and trust, leading visitors to other videos on your channel that more directly promote your community—such as video tours and testimonials. Part of YouTube’s appeal is its DIY convenience, so these videos do not necessarily need to be professionally or expensively produced. They simply need to be relevant to viewers. The more relevant you make them, the more shareable they become.
5. Marketing is influencing search
Consumers looking for senior services aren’t always sure how to articulate what type of care they are trying to find. But internal Google data shows that as the industry has begun using more consistent terminology across marketing efforts, consumers have begun adopting those identifiers in their search criteria.
Take “memory care,” for example. In 2012, that phrase shared near equal ranking with “Alzheimer’s care” and “dementia care” in consumer search. Today, searches for “memory care” have risen exponentially while other terms have remained flat, illustrating that consistent industry-specific communications have real potential to influence search term use.
6. Seniors are looking to stay local
While life in sunnier climates will always be the dream of some retirees, most seniors and adult children looking for senior care services want them close to home. Across both mobile and desktop searches, location-based terms like “local,” “near me” and “in my area” are up year over year.
To capitalize on this trend, ensure your website is set up in local services such as Google My Business, and use appropriate location ad extensions in your search ads.
Search trends like these are not static. As technology, services and communication methods advance, consumer behavior adapts and changes too. Constant monitoring is essential if you’re going to stay a step ahead of the competition. Google Trends and Consumer Barometer are great resources to help you identify actionable trends—and begin to turn those consumer searches into customer conversions.
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