Your Website: How to Make Sure It’s Helping, Not Hurting You!

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Dec 10, 2013 | Social Media & Online

Recently, there have been several important articles written about website content and search ranking performance, “Hummingbird and Senior Housing Marketing”; Google Hummingbird: Finding the Nectar in the New SEO Algorithm” and their combined effect on senior living communities’ brand strength and competitive positioning. Today, in our age of online searches and shopping, your community’s website can be your biggest asset or your greatest liability. For consumers who are unfamiliar with your community’s services, amenities and reputation, your website becomes your facility’s virtual “front door” or “window to the world.”

More and More Seniors Now Shopping Online

According to a report from the “Pew Internet & American Life Project” study, at least 56% of Americans over the age 65 are now online using both the Internet and email. And their number is growing.

When you also consider that many of today’s senior living “e-shoppers” are adult children and might live hundreds of miles away from their aging parents, your website’s value becomes even more crucial. For them, what they see and experience on your website is who you are – for better or for worse!

Your Website Can Make or Break You

As reported in Senior Housing News, the results from a recently published e-book report titled, “Social Silver Surfers,” add further urgency to the need for a responsive, consumer-centered website. To quote the report, which studied the online behaviors and attitudes of older adults, “Baby Boomer and senior web activity isn’t limited to looking. They’re researching – and buying – products and services at a rate nearly equal to that of younger cohorts.”

For senior living community leaders, the study contains several findings that should prove useful for guiding online marketing strategy. For example:

  • The adult children of seniors clearly view the Internet as their “first stop” when searching for information on senior living options.
  • While Internet use among seniors has been steadily increasing as noted by Pew Research, so too has their irritation and impatience with specific online features.
  • Fully one-third of older adults who had moved in the past two years had rejected a senior living community “based on its website.” 
  • The top website dissatisfier among seniors and their adult children was “the need to complete a registration form” in order to gain information from the senior living provider. Viewed as an unnecessary nuisance, complaints about required registration increased from 1% in 2010 to a whopping 79% in 2013. Such a requirement clearly contradicts a basic marketing tenant, “Make it easy for your customers to do business with you!”
  • There was also a major increase in the percentage of respondents that identified “hard to find contact information” as a significant annoyance.
  • In terms of preferred website features, approximately 3 in 4 senior adults cited “easy web navigation” and “integrated search tools” as being very important to them.  
  • “Printer-friendly web pages” were mentioned by nearly 7 in 10 study respondents as being highly important and more than a third identified “links to other sites and information” as being useful.
  • Despite the challenges and annoyances older Americans experience with searching for senior living information online, most senior adults and their grown children still view such activity as a “web-first” proposition.

Implications for Senior Living Providers

“Hummingbird,” Google’s newest SEO algorithm, recently raised the stakes and increased the importance of effective website content management and social media strategy to your brand’s credibility. Additionally, current information about seniors’ online behaviors and attitudes makes the case that effective website design and development is no longer an option, but a necessity. A website not built around your customers’ preferences and expectations can clearly damage your brand and hurt your sales.

If your senior living community is in need of proven expertise and experience to strengthen your website’s appeal to customers as a core marketing tool, be sure to look for an experienced organization that operates exclusively in the senior living marketplace and has the specialized expertise and the award-winning web development experience required to succeed.

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