You’ve got a strong marketing program running, your sales team is hitting their stride, and it looks to be a great season. Unfortunately, if you aren’t paying attention to what folks find when they Google search you or look you up in a directory – specifically, what your local and online listings say about you – you’re missing a foundational part of your strategy.
A lot goes into a comprehensive marketing strategy, but it’s all for naught if your potential customers don’t know how to find you. “Maintaining your local listings is ground zero for an effective, SEO [search engine optimization] and lead generation strategy,” said Jason McCloud, Vice President of Digital & Integrated Strategy at SageAge Strategies. “If your prospective customer encounters a broken link in the chain to reaching you, you’ve made it that much more difficult for them to walk in the door.”
An effective marketing strategy moves your prospective customer along a well-linked chain of interactions. When one of those interactions – your local listing – is out of date or unhelpful, you’re adding a lot of friction to the conversion process, and if there’s one thing all marketers want to avoid, it’s friction!
What Are Local Listings?
For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on online local listings, and their impact on your searchability, SEO and conversions. But those “old school” listings – phone directories, chamber of commerce listings, small business listings and more – are often just as important, especially with a more senior audience. The best way to do this? Do some legwork! Keep an eye out at your local chamber of commerce, businesses, coffee shops and more.
Beyond in-hand listings, online listings are sources that provide basic information about your business, such as name, location, phone number, hours of operation, photos and sometimes even reviews and ratings. Some examples of such listings are Google+Local, Bing Local, Yahoo, Yelp, Facebook, Local.com, Yellowbook and more.
As a senior living provider, though, you will also want to keep in mind the senior-specific directories found online, including Assisted Living Federation of America’s (ALFA) directory as well as any other senior living directories.
Are Your Local Directory Listings Important?
Yes! One big reason why? Having a robust, wide-reaching and up-to-date presence on local listings ensures that no matter how your prospective customers find you, they will find the right information and be able to easily connect with your community or organization. It goes back to the idea of reducing friction in the sales process, an idea we touched on earlier. By making it easy for them to find the information they need, you facilitate their journey to your doors. In a world where pop-ups, flashing ads and a lot more continually compete for our attention online, the less difficult we can make our buyers’ journey, the better.
Having an updated local listing presence improves your SEO, which means sites like Google will provide its users with YOUR business’s listing over another’s listing – especially if your competitor has missing or out-of-date information. What did you do the last time you wanted to find information about a local business? I’m willing to bet you Googled it, right? If you didn’t, you’re in the minority – most consumers will go to the Internet to do research. Some marketers still believe that seniors aren’t online, but studies show that even older individuals are using the Internet to find answers to their questions. When their question is “good senior living communities near me,” you want to pop up!
Unfortunately, if you haven’t claimed your local directory listing, there’s a strong chance it has wrong or incomplete information listed.
Updating Your Local Listings
To ensure you are showing up when customers search for you, your first step should be to, Google yourself! Be sure to Bing search yourself, as well as Yahoo! search, too. You want to see where your company pops up and where it doesn’t. Consider doing this across a variety of devices, as search engines will provide different information based on the pages you have recently viewed, your location and more.
You may be surprised to find that your community has inaccurate listings on a wide range of websites. Your job now as an online sleuth is to claim and update these listings, and to do so as quickly and efficiently as possible. Most websites have a built-in process for claiming your business and updating your listing, so just follow the instructions you find there. Some sites, like Google and others, will require you to pass an authentication process to ensure you aren’t lying about being the “owner” of the listing. While this can sometimes be a cumbersome process, it’s a necessary one, so plow forward! Fully complete the required info, including photos, hours and more. Be sure to list your times as “24 hours a day,” so prospects don’t focus on your competitors after 5 p.m.!
Once you’ve updated a listing, add it to a running spreadsheet of all the places your organization is listed. Ensure this document is protected and include the necessary login information for updating the listing. That way, you can easily revisit a listing in order to update a new phone number, add seasonal photos, respond to a review and much more.
It can be daunting when you dig into the sheer volume of listing sites online, but updating and maintaining your local listings is a crucial part of ensuring your customer’s smooth, frictionless journey. Make a running list, tackle as many as you can at a time and set reminders for yourself to revisit them regularly. It’ll be a regular part of your marketing process before you know it!
Proven Sales and Marketing Expertise That Connects with Today’s Seniors
If you are managing a senior living community and are in need of expertise in precisely profiling, targeting and connecting with your target markets, contact us for more information today. SageAge Strategies is a multiple award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that operates exclusively in the senior living industry. For more information, please call or e-mail Adrienne Mansfield Straub at 570-601-1720 ext. 100 / firstname.lastname@example.org.