Senior Living Brands Battle for Online Search Intensifies

As more and more senior living companies get into the online marketing space, the competition is heating up.

As a result, smaller companies are having to take a smarter approach to the way they connect with consumers online, from how and what those consumers Google to where the providers need to be in order for prospective residents to find them. 

“Senior living,” “assisted living,” and “over 55 communities,” are all are search terms used by prospective residents and their family members when beginning the search for a senior housing community or care. 

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But less-used terms are also gaining a place in the landscape for Google search terms, the search giant is finding, and marketers need to adapt.

Today, search terms also include “green house project,” “age in place,” and other words to describe developing trends that often lead searchers to those that are more tried-and-true, said Google’s Cathy Smith, head of industry for its social and information vertical during the Mary Furlong & Associates Boomer Business Summit in San Diego on Thursday. 

“‘Nursing homes’ and ‘assisted living’ are very popular terms,” Smith said during a panel discussion. “Some of these niches are not as well known yet, but this space is getting more and more complicated.”

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And just because a user starts with the term “nursing homes” doesn’t mean that’s what he or she is looking for, Smith said. The search that starts with “nursing home” might ultimately lead to a search for a CCRC, or home care services, or an assisted living community. 

“Know what you’re including in your marketing message versus what these folks are searching for,” Smith said. “It’s a starting point. They might be searching for nursing homes even if that’s not where they want to end up. Consider that when you’re deciding where you want to be found.” 

Google conducted research through third part Ipsos last year to gain insight into the senior living demographic. Including both Boomers, ages 45 to 65 and Seniors, ages 65-plus, the search giant found on average, the demographic is spending more time online—19 hours per week—than watching TV.

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When asked where they go to find information, the Internet ranked No. 1. 

“It has become a two way conversation,” Smith said. “Not only are you pushing information but your audience is expecting you to engage with them.”

The market is also segmented in terms of the types of solutions consumers are seeking. 

A Move.com company, SeniorHousingNet surveyed its 300,000 monthly visitors to find out what type of community they ultimately are seeking. 

Among the 4% of visitors who took the 10-question survey, the results were divided. Questions were presented to anonymous visitors to “match” them with 55+ lifestyles, independent living, assisted living or nursing care/memory care.

The company found 31% matched 55+ lifestyle, 26% matched independent living, 25% matched assisted living and 18% matched nursing care/memory care. 

Additionally, Seniorhousingnet.com found 48% were taking the survey for themselves and 52% were taking it for a loved one—a near 50/50 split. And the landscape for keywords is getting more competitive, said Brad Fuqua, vice president for SeniorHousingNet during the panel. 

“Assisted living is the number one search term today,” he said. “Yes there are paid search results, but also there are organic results. Assisted living is the most competitive term. It’s becoming a really crowded space.”

Not only are search terms landing googlers on national operators, but regional operators are also gaining a presence. 

“You want to cover all of your bases,” Fuqua said. “You want to incorporate all of these terms into your site. The front page of Google is about as far as consumers are going to go. You want them to be able to find your business.” 

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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