ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT ISSUES FACING SENIOR LIVING COMMUNITIES FOR THE PAST DECADE has been the limited to non existent presence of Assisted Living communities online, specifically when a prospective resident or family member searches for Senior Living or Assisted Living on top internet search engines like Google, Bing, etc.
Senior Living Placement Agencies Dominating Google?
Type in Senior Living or Assisted Living and you are most likely to find a plethora of big corporate placement agencies, some with very welcoming, yet overwhelmingly misleading names in relation to the actual service they provide. ( I will explain the difference between big corporate placement agencies and local placement agencies in part II of this article. There is a major difference.)
This hyper saturation and complete dominance of the online first contact market by these type of agencies is fueled by promises of a free service to the family, while charging the Senior Living communities upwards of 80 percent of that new resident’s first month’s rent.
Another issue that is rarely brought up outside of the Senior Living community is the cost of time and resources to follow up with these types of referrals, as more times than not the information provided by the “care specialist/telemarketer” is limited at best, but often misleading. The unwavering efforts of Senior Living communities around the country to connect with their local community is one of the most under appreciated, under-reported realities of Senior Living.
To sustain any sort of a real growth not facilitated by a telemarketer posing as a senior living specialist, Senior Living communities have collectively invested hundred of thousands of hours into community outreach to achieve organic growth not just in census, but local community awareness. I know, because I have personally invested thousands of those hours myself doing just that for the communities that I have had the honor to serve. Yet, it still is not enough to counter the impact of these agencies and the influence the “specialist/telemarketers” have achieved, simply due to their company’s presence online.
What happens when you Google Senior Living Facilities in your Town? Who Do You See?
With 9 out of 10 online consumers looking to the top page of search engines like Google to find what they are looking for, this level of prospective resident influence by the big corp. placement agencies will only continue to grow… Unless, we the Senior Living Community choose to do something about it. The strategy for the big corp placement agencies has been simple from day one, SEO, SEO, SEO. By making Search Engine Optimization their primary focus they have put themselves front and center to every prospective resident or family who inquires about Senior Living or Assisted Living online. The strategy is simple, effective and continues to work.
So while Assisted Living staffs around the country spends countless hours in an effort to connect with their local community, the big corp placement agencies just sit back and wait for the phone to ring to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars annually in revenue all paid for by the Assisted Living communities.
So, What do You Do About It?
An article about solving a problem in my opinion, should first identify the problem as clear and honest as possible in order to remove some, if not all concern a reader would have for a bias representation. I have worked in Senior Living for nearly two decades and my experience in this issue has been first hand. With that said, if any representative from the big corp placement agencies would like to present a clear and definitive argument to the need for their telemarketing/placement service.
Until then, let’s redirect our focus from the problem to the solution. The phrase you can not fight fire with fire in most cases is true, but in this case, it is not. In order to compete against the big corp. placement agencies online, as a Senior Living community you must fight fire with better fire. Acquiring the right Senior Living SEO company to provide the necessary attention to detail needed to compete for page one Google placement must be paramount.
You can not assume all SEO companies are created equal, and some will offer a Senior Living SEO service as part of an all inclusive deal… Don’t do it. All-inclusives sound nice on paper, but tend to be heavy on website design and light on SEO, which means you can be in danger of a plug in play SEO system that looks okay on paper, but organically you are not reaching your local area at the level that is needed. Therefore placement agencies will still dominate your first contact with potential residents because I can promise you, their online strategy is entirely SEO focused.
Having personally developed case studies for Senior Living, like the “Respite to prevent Hospital Readmissions Case Study”, as well as being part of the leadership team that helped introduce Telemedicine (Telehealth) to the home health market over a decade ago, the opportunity to develop a Senior Living SEO division with Stellar-eMarketing and their long standing reputation for taking small businesses to the top ranking on page one, we knew we could develop something truly special. SEO with a purpose, fueled by the advocation of Senior Living online representation.
Michael Monsour Jr.