“If you’re not on ‘Page One’ today, you don’t exist!”
So say research experts who analyze and report on the latest web search trends and consumer behaviors. Busy senior living web shoppers simply do not have the time or the patience to look beyond information (i.e. the list of providers) found on the first page of their search.
Like it or not, this is the reality facing today’s competing providers, many of whom may be operating with thin margins and struggling to meet their occupancy goals. The fact that the web continues to be the primary starting point of over half of all product research, makes your content strategy more than just a priority. Today, it is an imperative for growth oriented senior lifestyle communities.
Are you pushing all the right buttons to maximize your community’s visibility, credibility and marketability to those looking for information on leading provider options? Or in their eyes, do you not even “exist.”
Don’t Just “Exist” … Engage the Minds of Your Customers
Today, business savvy organizations have recognized that content marketing communicated through blogging is a tremendously powerful tool that can put you on Page One for those topics that are most important to your primary prospects and their increasingly influential adult children – who are now an integral part of senior living decision making. Your content-rich blogs can be even further amplified by sharing them through popular social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and Google +.
Marketing experts agree that blogging remains the ideal vehicle for communicating your key content to your target audiences by addressing topics that respond directly to their primary interests, problems and needs. Above all, make sure your content provides real value to your target readers by being useful and beneficial.
For example, does your content answer their questions? Does it help to solve their problems and alleviate their concerns? Can your services and solutions make life easier for them?
Seven New Best Practices to Optimize Your Blog and Growth Strategy
Alex Boyce, multiple Web Health Award winner and SageAge Strategies’ Director of Technology and Online Marketing, says, “As search algorithms, such as Google’s “Hummingbird,” have evolved and become more precise over time, so too have the best practices for content marketing strategy and blog optimization. Just a few years ago, the emphasis was on “keywords” and using them as frequently as possible to boost search rankings. Unfortunately, that led to ‘keyword spamming’ and detracted from a focus on providing useful information that actually offered value to readers. Today the overuse of keywords results in search rank penalties. Remember, valuable content is king.
“Recently, several new blogging best practices have surfaced, which are more ‘micro-focused’ and deal with subtle function and format nuances that can further fuel your search ranking to put you on Page One. Many of these are covered in Andy Crestodina’s book on the subject, Content Marketing: An Illustrated Handbook.
The seven latest optimization highlights are:
- Limit the number of characters in your blog titles – When creating titles for your blog content, try to stay under 50 characters (not words) for your title. Short, punchy titles have been found to achieve the most “reads.”
- The conventional wisdom on word counts has changed – It wasn’t too long ago that blogging and SEO pundits were telling us to keep our blogs in the 300 to 500 word range; long enough to imbed your keywords, but short enough to attract busy readers. Today, however, with an emphasis on value rich text that provides web shoppers with the information and solutions they truly want, longer word counts have become the preferred approach. Now, blogs with word counts of up to 1,500 words perform much better than those that are brief.
- Keep your paragraphs on the short side – For the best results, keep your paragraphs at no more than four lines in length.
- E-mail “subject” lines should also be brief – Similar to blog titles, your subject line titles or headers should be short and to the point. The ideal number of characters for e-mail subject lines is 22 to 30 characters.
- Include internal and external links in your blog – If you’ve written previous blogs, articles or web content on subjects that relate to your current topic, it is beneficial to include their links in your blog. Likewise, links to externally generated articles connect you with the larger universe and provide your readers with independent sources of expertise that can be used to support your community’s philosophy and initiatives.
SageAge Strategies does blogging and online marketing for many clients, and we consistently use links to external articles to support our client communities. For example, with our memory care assisted living clients, we often link to articles and information provided by the Alzheimer’s Association, The Mayo Clinic, the National Institutes of Health and other leading research centers.
Incorporating resident and family testimonials and linking to favorable online reviews are also useful to readers and add value to your blog.
- Odd numbers rule! – The reasons are not clear, but consumer behavior research has proven that people respond better to odd numbers than even numbers. Therefore, if you’re considering a title for your blog or a heading for a list of important items, think odd numbers! For example, use headings such as, “5 Proven Ways Caregivers Can Reduce Stress”, or “7 Ideas to Help Your Loved One Reconnect with Life.”
- Provide a request for reader comments and questions at the end of your blog – This tactic will spur greater consumer interaction and engagement with your blog and, most importantly, with your community.
It is also important to keep in mind some of the more traditional best practices for your blog. Always put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Keep your content on point – from their perspective! Avoid large walls of text, which can turn off your readers. Instead, break up the text by categorizing your content with subheads that describe your key sections and guide your readers through your information.
Also, use an outline format when listing key information. That is, use bullets and numbering rather than long paragraphs of copy to get your message across. This also makes your content easier to follow and digest.
We Would Love to Hear from You!
If you have comments or questions on content marketing and blogging, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any experiences you’ve had in these areas, whether they have been successful or not. Please share your stories in the comments section.
Proven Content Marketing, Blogging and Online Marketing Expertise Is Available to Guide Your Growth Strategy
If you are a senior living community considering the need for assistance in content marketing, social media and online strategies to grow your occupancy, we encourage you to contact us for more information today. SageAge Strategies is an award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that operates exclusively in the senior living industry and was recently named one of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America. For more information, please call or e-mail Adrienne Mansfield Straub at 570-601-1720 ext. 202 /email@example.com.
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