If you are an owner or manager of a retirement community and you would like to increase exposure online though Google search and social media please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The statistics are in. More and more retirees are using the Internet to find services. The AARP website grows every year and senior dating websites are popping up left and right. Now that seniors are learning the ins and outs of the Internet it makes sense that they would use Google, Yahoo!, Bing, MSN or AOL to find the best retirement community to fit their needs. Word of mouth marketing is still very important with the older generation. Online reviews and social media are just another step in the word of mouth marketing campaign that has caused some retirement communities to have a waiting list.
When searching for the “Best retirement community in Boca Raton, Florida” searchers will likely click one of the top search results or the search result that jumps out at them. Ranking at the top of search can be the difference in a thriving retirement community that has no empty cottages, apartments or rooms and a retirement community that cannot afford to stay open. Finding the right mix of online and offline marketing can be difficult. It is especially tough when managers and owners do not have a strong background in technology or Internet marketing. Fortunately, I have the background in both subjects which has allowed me to help many businesses rank very well in search and increase exposure online. These high search rankings mean the phones are ringing and emails are being sent to learn more about a specific retirement community.
Why is Ranking in Google Search Important?
One of the reasons the Google business model works so well is the intent to buy or pick up the phone. When looking at Facebook most users want to see pictures of their grandchildren or hear the gossip from the small town in which they grew up. They do not go to Facebook to actively seek out an adult living apartment or a golf course community in Savannah, Georgia. When looking for these types of opportunities most Internet users will go to Google and search for them. These users have the intent to buy or pick up the phone to get more information.
Retirement communities, hospice care facilities, independent living, and continued care housing developments should desire to rank on the front page of Google search. When a newly retired individual goes to Google and searches, “affordable retirement housing in Columbia, South Carolina” it would be extremely beneficial to be the first result. Think of it as the new Yellow Pages.
Years ago, most businesses wanted the biggest and brightest ad in the yellow pages so potential customers or residents would see them first. Some companies even changed their name to start with AAA or a word that starts with the letter A. They did this just so they would show up on the first page of the Yellow Pages. The new Yellow Pages is Google search. It is important to understand that Google search does not rank websites based on the name of the website. They rank websites based on authority.
If your retirement community has a shallow website with the bare minimum content there is a good chance Google is not going to find the website authoritative. Something most Internet marketers have recognized over the last several years is that Google rewards websites that have a large amount of quality content. This content can come in the form of photos, videos, audio files and written documents. It can be very difficult and time consuming to create this type of content. This is especially true for business owners that wear many hats. Fortunately, there are professionals that can help.
Google+ Greatly Helps with Content Creation
As mentioned, content creation is very important when it comes to ranking in Google search or any search engine. To help business owners Google created Google+. Google+ offers resources that greatly assist those looking to increase their web presence. They also offer Google+ Local Pages which show up in Google Maps. This is truly the new Yellow Pages. As a retirement community, you may not realize it but you already have a Google+ Local Page that Google created for you. This is the listing that shows up when people search in Google Maps on their phone or on their computer.
Fortunately, Google will allow you to claim this listing and start to get active online. While most businesses would love to do this right away it is something that can be a challenge. Learning the intricacies of Google+ is not the easiest thing to do on the Internet. Fortunately, I offer several packages that can help retirement communities or any business strive on Google+. Please reach out to me at email@example.com if you would like to discuss how I can help your business with Google+ and in Google search.
Some of the great features that Google+ offers include communities and Hangouts on Air. Communities are online forums in which users of similar interests gather to discuss a topic. Here is a link to a true online retirement community on Google+. This resource can be used in many ways. Some communities simply offer help for a product while other communities promote services. Off the top of my head I can think of many ways in which a retirement community could use the communities feature on Google+. They could use it as a community bulletin board, a way to share photos or way to explain upcoming events in the area. There are thousands of creative ways in which communities could be used on Google+.
Another useful feature offered by Google+ is Hangouts on Air. These are live video streams that allow up to nine participants to see each other. With most retirees looking for ways to communicate with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren this is an awesome tool. Think of Skype but even better. A family that lives at the retirement community could live video chat with their loved ones that live in California or Arizona. What makes Hangouts on Air a unique tool is the fact that the video can be saved as a YouTube video that can be viewed later. Users can make this video private or public. If a family wants to share the video with just their friends they can send the link in an email. As the older generation adapts to technology there is a good chance this will be a tool that is offered at every retirement community in the United States.
Does Social Media Help Websites Rank in Search?
This is a question that has been debated for quite some time. Some “SEO gurus” feel as if social signals matter while other experts argue that they do not. One thing is certain, the bad link building techniques that were used by SEO firms and agencies over the last several years are no longer reliable. The Google Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird algorithm changes have penalized those that have over optimized for specific keyword phrases. If the only links pointing back to your website are for “Orlando Retirement Community” you may have been hit with a Google algorithm change.
It is only natural that links would include words such as “click here” or “this site”. Having the majority of the links pointing to your site for one keyword phrase tells Google you have over optimized. This is one of the reasons social media engagement and interaction is so very important. By using Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and other social networks it is much more likely your website will receive natural link backs. By simply creating fun and exciting content for social media most company websites will see a boost in activity.
Those that own retirement communities may argue that fun and interesting content is not available. I would disagree. You must find a way to be creative. Take photos of community events. Post scores of the bocci tournaments. Come up with stories about how things were in the old days. I have volunteered at a retirement community for two years and I could come up with hundreds of pages of unique content. If you are looking to expand your presence on social media or online in a creative way do not hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have built a Google+ following over 525,000 and have researched the many ways in which the Google algorithm works. I have also honed my skills with Google+ Local, Google+ communities and Hangouts on Air. If any of these features are useful for your retirement community I am available.
Does the 60+ Age Group Use the Internet?
One of the questions that many people ask me is, “Do retirees and those over 60 actually use the Internet?” If you would have asked me this five years ago I would have easily answered no. Today, I think we are in a much different ecosystem when it comes to Internet usage from the older population. I think we have all see the proliferation of 60+ users on Facebook. If they are on Facebook it is all in due time before they start using many other Internet properties like Amazon, YouTube and Google Search.
To position yourself ahead of the competition in terms of retirement communities it would be a smart idea to create and expand a web presence now. As more and more seniors start to get online they are going to want a great website to check out what is going on in their retirement community. At the present time retirement communities print out hundreds of copies of the daily memo or daily schedule and hand it out to all the residents. Some of the residents pick it up with their newspaper and mail while others will have it hand delivered to their room or their apartment.
As the older generation becomes much more technologically savvy it stands to reason that they will want to access this information on their smartphone, tablet or computer. Over the last several years I have noticed that more and more retirement communities are building computer labs or computer rooms for community members to check their email, look at Facebook or play games. This will continue to get more and more popular in the near future. If you work for a retirement community that wants to remain at 100% occupancy it is a good decision to create a great website now.