It’s probably news to no one that web sites have become the first point of contact for many of today’s customers seeking senior living options. Previously, the industry stressed the importance of the initial visit to communities for its ability to create that first favorable impression on our customer. Today, it is the internet that provides that opportunity, so providers should pay particular attention to their websites and the impression it makes upon potential customers. Equally important, is that the webpage be positioned where customers can easily locate us within the many results of a query.
During the month of August, we will explore how to maximize the potential of this medium while digging deeper into the following questions:
- Who is the customer, both digital and human?
- How do you balance the requirement for a high ranking position while remaining attractive to the human eye?
- How do we best speak to the searcher?
- How does your site attract particular types of customers?
- How does one personalize or become engaged during the digital experience?
WHO IS THE DIGITAL CUSTOMER?
Over time, marketers have come to realize the importance of a strong web site. An often unrealized or ignored consumer of web sites are the digital consumer – Google, Bing, etc. -- which consume and analyzes sites to determine if they fit the criteria to be displayed in a prominent position during a search. It is this distinct and important customer that is the center of this week’s discussion.
HOW DO WE ATTTRACT SEARCH ENGINES?
When designing a web site, most marketing people instantly focus on human customers and what might attract them to engage in the site. Before that occurs, the site must first attract digital customers. The primary goal in relation to search engines is to meet all of their criteria for strong positioning/ranking and to avoid any pitfalls that might “blacklist” the site. Google holds about 70% of the search engine market share (NETMARKETSHARE), so it is particularly important that sites be constructed with Google in mind.
GUIDELINES FOR STRENGTHENING YOUR SEARCH ENGINE PRESENCE
There are many techniques to strengthen your presence on the web that involve “back-end” structure of your web site, but there are also several strategies that marketing may employ to augment web structure. Below are a few tips:
1 - CREATE STRONG COPY
Each page on your web site should have significant copy. The optimal amount to increase your search engine optimization (SEO) is 500 words per page (SEObook.com). In addition to quantity, also consider quality. Within your copy, key words should be incorporated within your text and your metatags .Lastly, make your copy engaging. Be sure that it contains the information the human customer is seeking. If worded correctly, your inbound marketing efforts should produce greater traffic. WARNING:Google dislikes repetition so be sure your copy does not significantly duplicate copy within a page or within the overall site.
2 - ALWAYS MAINTAIN YOUR SITE SO THAT IT HAS FRESH CONTENT
Google does not like tired, old sites.Your site needs to stay current and look active; therefore, it must reflect fresh content on a regular basis. Consider having a staff person contribute weekly to a content-managed page or two. Utilize a blog that is accessed through the web site so that its fresh content is measured.
3 - VIDEOS STRENGTHEN YOUR SITE
Since Google owns You Tube and the majority of online videos are streamed through You Tube, it is no surprise that Google enhances positioning when a site contains a video. You Tube is a frequently used search tool, so it has human appeal as well.Inclusion of videos on a landing page can increase conversions by up to 80% (bloghubspot.com). Therefore, videos are an effective tool for both your digital and human consumers.
4 - YOUR SITE SHOULD BE RESPONSIVE
Most recently, Google has required that your web site “translates” easily from one device to another – from desktop to tablet to mobile phone.Be sure to consider how your site looks when it becomes smaller and smaller.This may be of particular concern when choosing your images and how your image and copy wrap as the site condenses.
These strategies all interact together to accentuate your SEO. Once you have concentrated on these guidelines to meet Google’s preferences, the next consumer to please is the human one. Next week’s blog will focus on the different subsets of human customers and how web sites might extend a greater appeal to them.
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About the Author
Patty Scotten is a consultant with Retirement DYNAMICS® and serves as their marketing manager. Patty has over twenty five years’ experience in the senior living industry and has led several communities in preselling expansions or increasing occupancy levels. She graduated from Elon University and holds a Masters Degree from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Patty is licensed as both an assisted living and nursing home administrator.