Search engine optimization (SEO) is a well-known phrase and practice for those familiar with the marketing space. It's about getting your website found naturally or organically when a user does a Google (or search engine) search. When it comes to general SEO, you want your website to get found regardless of a user's physical location, especially for news articles, online retailers, or other resources.
For businesses with brick-and-mortar locations, like senior living communities, local SEO is a more targeted strategy that helps your business be more visible in local search results on Google.
Local search isn’t necessarily a new practice, but its importance is increasing with the prominence of mobile devices. For example, a restaurant wants to reach potential customers living in the local area as well as those who are visiting the area and searching for places to eat with phrases like “best restaurants in Atlanta.”
How Does Local SEO Work?
You may be asking, how does local SEO differ from traditional SEO practices? Well, after analyzing the behavior of trillions of users, Google realized that people seeking certain types of businesses (for example, restaurants or retailers) need (and want) results from their immediate area. Because of this, Google’s local search algorithm includes a proximity factor that takes a user’s physical location into account when they search for a query with local intent, even if they don’t include a city name or "near me” in their search.
Senior living communities are a prime example of a query with local intent. For example, if you were to search “senior living community” right now, Google would provide you with results from your immediate neighborhood. Since the query is broad, providing local solutions makes the most sense. But, of course, if a user were to search “senior living communities in Miami,” the search results would be more geo-targeted based on the language used.
According to HubSpot, "to gather information for local search, search engines rely on signals such as local content, social profile pages, links, and citations to provide the most relevant local results to the user.”
How To Optimize for Local SEO
Google Business Profile
Google feels most comfortable sharing content it can support and verify, so a Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) is a staple for local SEO on Google.
To leverage this tool, you want to create and verify your business’s Google Business Profile listing. Once your listing is verified, you can access and update the company information, ensuring a positive experience for users viewing it. Learn more about optimizing Google Business Profile here.
Generate Positive Online Reviews
You also want to encourage your current customers to share reviews online, especially to your Google Business Profile. In addition, your business should respond authentically to each review - positive or negative.
“Studies show that having a four or five-star review on your Google My Business profile increases clickthroughs, so reviews deliver more traffic to your site, too.” (Source: BrightLocal)
As BrightLocal also shares, “It should come as no surprise that reviews and SEO are closely linked because they have much the same objective. A search engine wants to help its users to find the right product, service or information in the timeliest manner possible. Reviews serve to separate the good from the bad and help consumers find the best local business for their need.”
Invest in Listings Management
Whether you make this an internal initiative or you enlist a third-party company or software to assist, you also want to be proactive about the accuracy of other directories and listings.
Inconsistent information across websites can confuse users and deter them from engaging with your business. For U.S. businesses, four leading data aggregators (Express Update, Neustar Localeze, Foursquare, and Factual) provide a large amount of data to Apple, Yelp, Bing, Google, etc.
You want to verify that your citations are consistent and complete across these four data aggregators. HubSpot shares, “discrepancies like misspellings, abbreviations, lack of suite number or wrong phone number can be problematic. If Google can't determine which information about your business is correct, it may not show your business at all in search results.”
Get Found By the People That Matter
As a digital marketing agency focused on the senior living sector, Markentum knows how crucial local traffic is for senior living communities. We offer web development, search engine optimization, reputation and listings management, and more to help communities get found by the right people. Reach out for a free evaluation and learn how we can help your community improve its reach.