Demystifying SEO: A Key Ingredient for Your Community’s Growth


By now, most senior living leaders have a pretty good idea of what search engine optimization is. Many, however, still have difficulty understanding how it actually works and the related implications it has for your website design, development and content. Optimizing web search engines and improving your search ranking vis-à-vis your competitors does not happen by accident. It is the result of a carefully engineered, evidence-based approach to your site’s organization and copy strategy.

In a recent article by Jason Williams titled, “SEO Tips Even Your Grandmother Can Understand,” the author provides a simple explanation of how you can organize your website to optimize search rankings. Using the analogy of a filing cabinet, Mr. Williams says, “search engines look at your site the same way we look for things in a filing cabinet. If your website isn’t properly labeled and organized with the useful content people are searching for, you will miss out on visitors, leads and sales.”

Basic Guidelines for Optimizing Your Site

  • Keywords in Page Titles –Your page title is essentially the outside label describing what is in that particular filing cabinet drawer. The title of each webpage is highly important. It should be short, with 70 characters or fewer, and provide a proper balance between being clear and understandable to the reader, as well as search engine friendly. Search engine friendly means it uses target keywords such as “senior living services” and “resident-centered care and amenities,” as well as providing relevant content on the page.
  • More Detailed Meta Descriptions – Meta descriptions are the broader category sections as you search deeper into the filing cabinet. Meta descriptions usually entail a sentence or two and contain up to 150 characters. The meta description must be unique for each different page, make sense to the reader and contain your target keyword. When search engines get a keyword match for your page title but your meta description is not consistent, it can hurt your rankings.
  • Header Tags (H1, H2 and H3) – As search engines look further into your site, you can think of your header tags as manila folders in your filing cabinet. You will have the most success when you have only one H1 tag per page. Your H1 tag describes what your page content is all about. If your H1 tag doesn’t relate to your content, search engines could view your page as spam. The page title, meta description and H1 tags should align or have progressive flow that makes sense to both the user and search engines.
  • Section Content – As you createrelevant content within the manila folder for your readersand embed it with appropriate keywords, be sure your text is sufficiently long for search engine recognition. While the guideline is typically 300-500 words per section, it is a safer bet to use 500 words as long as the content is relevant and useful.

As you go even further into the SEO filing cabinet, you’ll find that tactics, such as ALT text, anchor text, page links, text ratio and keyword density, are useful as well. While this is merely a basic introduction to SEO, it provides the fundamentals for your website’s success.

Implications for Senior Living Providers

If you have not yet focused on optimizing your website organization and content to boost your search engine rankings, you may want to consider specialized expertise to assist you in fueling growth. In today’s online world where websites are the go-to medium for those searching for information on senior living, the visibility provided by a prominent search ranking can lead to more visitors, inquiries, prospects, tours and ultimately sales.

If you need assistance in website design, development and optimization, creation of growth-focused social media, such as blogs and Facebook, or the development of a social media strategy that is integrated with your traditional marketing plan, be sure to look for an experienced organization that operates exclusively in the senior living marketplace and has the specialized expertise and experience in senior living sales and marketing solutions required to succeed.

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