Growing your home care agency is a complicated cycle that often comes down to how frequently you are able to bring in new customer leads to keep your caregivers busy all the time so they don’t go work for your competitors. Most of the time, word-of-mouth just doesn’t bring in enough new home care leads for the kind of cumulative growth you would like to see year after year.
The reality is, most of your client base is right at your fingertips. Boomers, Gen Xers, and even the Silent Generation are all spending quite a bit of time online. If you take advantage of a solid digital marketing strategy and optimize your website to rank well on search engines, you can get your brand in front of your target audience.
Between the top search engines, there are over 2.37 trillion searches each year.
Home care businesses today often recognize their need for a visible online presence. But, with the sheer volume of online brands, sites, and pages, the old “if you build it, they will come” saying just doesn’t hold true anymore. You have to build it in a way that draws people in strategically. One important factor is increasing search engine optimization (SEO) to get your site in front of more people. And, not just in front of anyone browsing the internet, but targeting qualified leads for your agency with focused SEO strategies.
SEO can help you strategically increase your traffic of qualified leads.
What is SEO and How Does it Help Home Care Marketing?
Whenever you enter a search query on a search engine, like Google, a page of results pops up. This is called SERPs which stands for Search Engine Results Page. Search engines use proprietary algorithms that sort the results and lists them with relevant ones at the top. There is an unquestionable drop off of traffic the further down in the results you rank. The first three organic results get a large chunk of the clicks. By the time you get to the bottom of the page, results 9 and 10 get around a mere 2-3%.
Over 88% of click-throughs are for organic results on the first page.
As Google and other search engines try to improve their results, they constantly update their algorithms that decide which pages offer a closer match and better resource. Search engines use bots (or spiders) that crawl sites, looking at their content and indexing their pages according to what they see.
The top search engine is Google, holding over 70% of desktop search. Bing has grown to hold 13% of those shares in a distant second place. Other top engines include Duck Duck Go, Yahoo, and Baidu.
SEO for Indirect Searches
Most people are out there looking for solutions to their problems, and sometimes they don’t know exactly what they are looking for. This is where SEO is so important. If you are covering topics that address their problems or provide solutions, then qualified prospects are going to land on your page without even realizing they need your solution.
For a home care website, an indirect topic might work like this:
You put out a blog on the dangers of elderly falls. Your potential client’s daughter sees your blog post when she’s searching for how to improve home safety. As she reads your post, she realizes that home care might offer additional support to her aging father. She uses your website’s chat box to ask if long term care insurance helps foot the bill and how she can get a weekly check-in scheduled for him. While that initial blog post wasn’t covering your services or advertising to her, it was the hook that drew her in from the vast sea of the web.
You can use a variety of topics and tactics to increase your web traffic by optimizing your site for search engines.
SEO for Direct Searches
You might think that if your clients are searching for your brand, then you would rank at the top. But, even direct searches will bring up related competitors (including ads, local business listings, and organic results). So, home care companies have an opportunity to lose traffic despite a word-of-mouth recommendation. But the flip side holds true as well.
Optimizing your SEO for competitor keywords means you rank as an option your audience sees while searching directly for your competition.
How Can I Improve SEO for My Home Care Agency Website?
The best way to improve your SEO is to clarify your goals in your home care agency marketing plan. Here are some basic questions you want to determine before diving into the next section: 10 Quick Tips for Better SEO.
Who Is Your Audience?
In the home care business, you are mostly working with the children of the older adult population. Your target audiences will include:
- Baby Boomers (1946-1964), who will all be 65 or older by 2030 is less likely to need your services, but more likely to be making decisions for older family members
- Silent generation (1928-1945) is often the population that needs your services.
- Generation X (1965-1980) is also less likely to need your services, but more likely to be making decisions for older family members.
What is Your Audience Looking for?
Your audience is most often not looking for your brand or your services. The hard truth is: they don’t care about your brand until they experience it. What they care about is finding a solution to their pain. When something is getting in the way or complicating their life, they want a solution. Rather than promote your own company, your home care marketing ideas need to focus on their pains. Sometimes content will be geared towards problems you directly solve, like supportive home care solutions.
The hard truth is: they don’t care about your brand until they experience it.
What they care about is finding a solution to their pain.
Sometimes, you will be addressing issues that your brand is qualified to answer, but won’t profit from. Maybe you wrote that blog post mentioned above about how to prevent falls in the home. You weren’t selling anything included in the post, but the daughter of a potential client found it and was immediately connected to your brand. You need to get your foot in the door with value. This is how you win your audience and keep them coming back for more.
In order to improve your SEO, you need to have content that answers the questions people are asking. Your content has to be valuable to the user and not brand-centric.
What is the Algorithm Looking for?
Search engines aren’t trying to keep you down in the rankings, they are trying to provide their users with the best answers. There are some common things you will need to do before even starting, like researching keywords and phrases used by your target audience. Search engines are looking for pages that load quickly, offer navigational opportunities and answer the question well.
Ten Quick Tips for Better SEO
SEO might seem like a daunting term without a clear definition, but optimization often comes down to common sense. Search engines are looking for valuable sites and there are key ways to showcase that value so the search engines notice. To get started, make these easy changes to boost your search engine optimization right off the bat. Use these 10 quick tips to start improving your home care agency website SEO.
1 – Responsive design
Your audience is using a lot of different tools to view your site. If you only design your site for desktop, then all phone or tablet users are going to be pinching to zoom in or out and struggling to read small text. Your audience isn’t just reading on a laptop or desktop screen:
- They own smartphones: 90% Gen X, 68% Boomers, 40% Silents
- They own tablets: 55% Gen X, 52% Boomers, 33% Silents
Currently, only 13% of websites retain their search engine ranking for both mobile and desktop.
Tools to use: Make sure you shop for responsive WordPress themes when you are building your site. A responsive theme is a design that shifts to show an optimized layout for any screen size.
2 – Condensed Images
Loading time will impact your users quite a bit. Very few people are willing to sit and wait for a page to load for more than just a few seconds.
Ideally, you want images to be under 200kb and no larger than 800px. If you have larger images, they will still only be visible at the viewing width of your page (which is at most around 800px on desktop), but they will take much longer to load. The more images you have on a page, the smaller they should be. If you are showing a list of products or services, you will want to use very small and condensed thumbnail images so the page doesn’t get sluggish.
Tools to use: You can use Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, or Pixlr to optimize the size and quality of your images so that they even take up less space on your server. If you are working on WordPress, you can use WP-Optimize to compress images you have already loaded down to an optimal size.
3 – Local SEO
As a home care business, your clients are largely those within your neighborhood. Great SEO will help your company pop up in more searches, but local SEO will help pinpoint those results to the people near you. Local SEO includes searches for “home care near me” or “home caregivers in Dallas.” It can be a bit tricky to focus on local SEO without sounding forced. You will have to be creative in how you work those into your content naturally.
Tools to use: Add landing pages for every city, county, or area that you serve—this will allow you to really hone in on that location in connection to your services. And then, add blog content that sometimes focuses on events or location-specific topics to help keep your company connected to those local keywords.
4 – Meta Description
When you do a search, you will notice every website listing has a small paragraph of words right under the link. This is the meta description tag in your HTML and it’s how you grab attention in the list of results. If you’ve ever seen the awkward “add metadata,” then you’ve seen a page that doesn’t have the meta description HTML tags. Sometimes you will see just part of the page copy in that paragraph and that is often the default if you don’t specifically write the meta description. But, this is missing a huge opportunity to appeal directly to your search audience with a couple of sentences that clarify what the page is offering.
Tools to use: You can use Yoast on WordPress to set your keyword and update the meta description. Yoast will make it easy to see what the optimal length is for the meta description and help you remember to include the keyword you are focusing on for the page. The maximum length for the meta description tag is 158 characters.
5 – Headers
When the search engine spiders crawl your page, they are looking through the content to see what your information is about. This is part of how they determine if your content is relevant to a search query. Headers help clarify your points and are an important place to include at least one or two keywords to improve SEO. Plus, headers help break up content blocks and make it easier for your readers to move down the page without losing focus. Nearly 5% of all website pages don’t include H1 tags, which is missing a huge opportunity to communicate to the search engine bots. And, almost 2% messed up and had more than one H1 tag—but since this is the page title, each page shouldn’t have more than one.
Tools to use: Within the code, you will use H1, H2, and H3 tags. Most editing boxes are going to automatically set this for you if you change the copy from “normal” to a header choice. The H1 tag should always be the page or blog post title. H2 and H3 tags are then used to format the rest of the body copy.
6 – Inbound and Outbound Links
Google and other search engines are looking for pages that aren’t dead ends. So, using internal links throughout any page is a great way to keep your audience moving through your content. Adding outside links can also help improve the authority of your content, as long as you use the right outbound links.
Tools to use: Include links throughout your content with keywords for the anchored text. Use authoritative sites, not competitors for all outgoing links. As you create new content, go back and link to it from old pages to help increase traffic to that new content.
7 – Alt Tags
Images are important for keeping readers engaged, but they serve a second purpose. You can use alt tags to describe your images for the visually impaired. Not only does this help those using screen readers (which could include a portion of your audience), but it helps increase SEO too. It helps the search engines form a clear picture of your content if you write the alt tags the right way.
Tools to use: You can use WordPress to add “alternative text” to every image in the image details. Remember that the description might be read aloud, so make sure it makes sense and isn’t just a string of keywords. Don’t waste words by starting out with “a picture of” or “image showing.” And, don’t be vague or use the same description for each image. Instead, you might use an alt tag, like “young female caregiver assisting elderly residential patient” to describe an image showing something like that on your page. Utilize this opportunity to include keywords and details that might be important for search as well as the visually impaired reader.
8 – Chat Box
A chat box is a great tool to help keep your visitors engaged and on the page. You basically have 8 seconds to capture your visitor’s attention or they leave your page. With a chatbox, you are always ON, 24-7.
The lower the bounce rate and the higher the browse time, the more valuable your page will appear to search engines. Plus, a chatbox means brand reps are always around to answer your visitor’s questions with live support (not just a bot!). This is crucial for visitors that might want to reach out, but aren’t ready to commit to a phone call or email quite yet.
Tools to use: You can add a chat box with a service, like CAPTIVA8. This will help you stand apart from the competition and improve the experience of your visitors, leading to higher conversion rates. CAPTIVA8 will help you set up this tool, designing it in a way that includes your branding for cohesion.
9 – Fresh Content
More pages mean more index opportunities that could land you in search results. If someone is searching for local caregivers, then a page designed for that should pop up as a result. But, if someone is looking for answers on how to help their senior parent get involved in the local senior community, you are only going to pop up if you’ve published content regarding that topic. The more you can write content that appeals to your audience and answers their questions, the more your site will land in their search results. Publish new content regularly to keep your site fresh in the eyes of the search engine. Avoid company-centric content and focus on value that your reader will really be searching for or interested in sharing.
Tools to use: When you publish new content, utilize your distribution channels to spread the word. Your content will help drive your social media posting and can be included in your email newsletters too. Use social media posting and scheduling tools (like Hootsuite or SproutSocial or Lately.ai) to keep putting your published content in front of your audience and increase your traffic.
It is important to create a content calendar so you are planning ahead and not scrambling to throw together an occasional post. To create your content calendar, put ideas into an Excel spreadsheet and organize when you plan to create content and when you will be publishing. You can also use the built-in calendar feature of any of the above tools mentioned here.
10 – Social Media Posting
Social media is an important place to start building your online presence. While it might not seem to be directly related to SEO, it will make an impact in two ways: you will increase reach (encouraging more direct searches) and you will increase backlinking. A large section of your audience is on social media:
- More than half of Boomers research on search engines after seeing something on social media
- 82% of Boomers are on at least one social media site and spend an average of 27 hours a week online
- Gen X spends an average of almost 2 hours every day on social media and 81% have a Facebook account
- The average Gen Xer has 7 social media accounts and the average Baby Boomer has around 5.
In order to utilize your social media accounts, make sure you are keeping them up-to-date and posting daily. Avoid posting solely about your brand and focus on sharing things that are valuable to your target audience so they will engage.
Tools to use: Social media management tools, like Hootsuite, Buffer, and SproutSocial offer a better ability to schedule posts, plan content and watch metrics. You can use them to improve your posting efficiency and monitor what people are saying socially about your brand.
Ten Advanced Tips for Better SEO
If SEO were simple, everyone would be really good at it. But, there are many moving parts to meeting the requirements of the search engine algorithms. While simple SEO will likely be enough to help you rise through the ranks of local and highly specific search, it may not be enough to earn you a top spot with the bigger industry keywords. The more common the keyword, the more brands are likely fighting for top spot.
1 – Claim Google My Business Account
It only makes sense that having your business correctly pinpointed on Google would increase your rankings. You should register for a Google My Business account to update your location, hours, website, contact information, images and more. This is a great place to encourage happy clients to leave shining reviews that will convince browsers to try your home care services. And, this is also a place where you can publicly respond to any negative reviews that might pop up.
You might think that a negative review is a risk you can’t take (and they could certainly drive people away), but not claiming your Google My Business account isn’t going to stop people from leaving reviews. And, 45% of people say they are more likely to use a brand that responds professionally to negative reviews. Responding to reviews shows you are active and care about your brand image. Google My Business posts have actionable buttons to help those searching reach out to you. Plus, if you are landing in the top search results and the Google My Business results, then users will see your listings more than once!
To get started on this, make sure you claim and verify your Google My Business listing. This is the section of SERPs that shows local business listings. First, create a business profile with Google My Business. Then, sign in to your account and make sure your business information is accurate. Next, click on Verify Now. You are presented with a few different options for verification. Choose the method that is most convenient for you. Once you verify your account, Google will display your information in the SERPs when you are a good match for search queries.
2 – Research Keywords and Rankings
Using just any keyword is kind of like taking a stab in the dark. You might come up with something, because you may have a good idea for what people search for. However, you might find that people aren’t using your terms to search. You can use Google Ads to check out the search volume for keywords and related keywords.
“Home care services” currently gets between 1k-10k searches each month and has a medium level of competition. “Home health” on the other hand, gets between 10k-100k searches every month and has a low level of competition for the word. Just by searching one keyword under the Keyword Plan section of your Google Ads Tools and Settings, you will see many related keywords and be able to start pinpointing ones you want to focus on.
Next, use your Google Search Console to check how your keywords match up for the keywords chosen. On your Google Search Console, click on “Performance” on the left menu. Here you can select your date range and even specify pages using the top filters. Then, go to the Queries tab and click the down arrow, exporting to Google Sheets. This will give you a spreadsheet that shows the click-through rates, position and specific keywords used.
3 – Check Competitors and Other Brands
If you are running out of ideas, you may be able to spark creativity by looking at your competitors and brands that serve the same audience. In order to do this there are three approaches that may be helpful:
- Look at your direct competitors. While you don’t want to copy, you may see a part of the market they aren’t filling and be able to target an underserved group to add to your client base.
- Look at competitors that aren’t local to you. While they will serve the same audience and objectives, they aren’t direct competitors because of location. Again, use them for inspiration, but don’t copy (you can be penalized for duplicate content on search engines)
- Look at companies in other industries with the same audience. Consider what issues they are addressing and topics they are covering. This can give you inspiration without running into issues of copying content or not differentiating your brand enough.
4 – Invest in Great Content
It used to be enough to just pump out words filled with certain phrases onto a page. When people searched, search engines just looked for the pages that had the exact keyword match within the copy. Now, the algorithms change hundreds of times each year as they attempt to better pinpoint valuable results for their users. In order to increase sharing, browsing and conversion, you need great content that appeals to your audience. The valuable perspective you offer will increase sharing too. So, spend time and money on content that shows your authority in the industry and offers value to your clients.
If you aren’t good at writing (or just don’t have time to dedicate to it), you can hire a freelance writer through a higher-end content site, like WriterAccess. You could also hire a marketing agency to manage all of your posting and content creation in order to boost your SEO.
5 – Optimize Page Speed
Compressing images is just one simple way to improve your website speed. There are other factors. The slower your site, the more likely people won’t stick around for it to fully load. Google and other search engines penalize slow sites. You may need to upgrade your web hosting plan or remove plugins that are bogging your site down. A plugin like WP Optimize can also enable page caching so your visitor doesn’t have to reload every page element when they are clicking around.
For clarity here, use a tool, like Pingdom, to monitor page speeds. This will break down all pages and show if any are running at slower than optimal speeds. The detailed monitoring of Pingdom gives you visual performance metrics and lets you break down the details of website speed. It will rank you with a performance grade, along with load time and sizing for every page.
6 – Refine Messaging
Clarify your intent and ensure your messaging aligns with your links and headlines. If a user clicks on your page after a search query and doesn’t identify with your message within just a few short seconds, they will back out. Sometimes website owners get too excited about too many points. Pick a singular message or you risk overwhelming your visitor. High bounce rates can hurt your rankings. Avoid big blogs of copy and keep your sentences straight to the point.
With Google Analytics, you will be able to easily see your bounce rates. This can be a tricky number because at some point your visitor always leaves. You will be able to see the average time spent on the page. The bounce rate drops as your visitor goes to more pages. If your visitor clicks to go to a different site, then it’s considered an exit and not added to your bounce rate. These numbers are important to watch because they might indicate that your messaging is off or your website is sluggish. However, a high bounce rate isn’t necessarily bad in and of itself.
A low bounce rate doesn’t directly equate to a higher conversion rate. It can be helpful to see where people are leaving your site, since it could possibly give you insight into why they came. If someone just comes for a blog post, then they might be in the early awareness stage and just have no interest in your products at that time. Since you don’t expect conversion on the first visit, this bounce rate shouldn’t come as a surprise—the page is likely working as intended. But, you might want to work on the CTA (call to action) on the page to help them move to another resource related to that blog post and keep them on your site longer.
7 – Check for Accuracy
When your hours, location or phone number don’t align with other web entries, you will run into complications. It is vital you keep your listings consistent and updated. Keep scouring your site on a regular basis to make sure your services and descriptions stay accurate. If content becomes outdated, it’s often best to update it. While there are some time-sensitive content that is fine (like local event listings), other content should be updated for accuracy and appeal. If you delete old content, you risk having broken links within your site. Anyone who tried to link back to your content will have a broken link as well. This isn’t good for your SEO and your incoming traffic that are met with 404 error pages.
Two top tools for checking your whole site for problematic links are Sitechecker or SEMrush. Both will check backlinks as well as auditing your website for broken or dead links. The free Sitechecker website crawler will give you an idea of basic issues on the page, like missing alt text or broken links. There is also a free SEMrush website audit tool that requires you to first create an account.
8 – Pursue Backlinks (from sites with high DA)
Use a tool, like DA Checker to get a feel for how your site ranks with search engines. While search engines don’t directly use domain authority (DA), it gives you a feel for how much pull a site is likely to have. You can use this tool to check out other sites and find which ones are worth pursuing for backlinks. Getting a page to give you a backlink (linking to your content from their site) shows you have authority and value. The more backlinks you can get from sites with solid DA, the better.
Sites with the highest DA are typically news sites. If you are able to get a major news page to link to your site with a story, it can help increase your own ranking.
9 – Simplify Coding
On-page content isn’t the only part of your site that needs optimization. The code itself should be easy for bots to crawl. Certain WordPress themes can make it harder for a search engine to determine your value. Bots really love human-readable code—that is, files that aren’t bloated and inefficient. Hierarchy and organization are important. This is an in-depth change that will likely require a skilled developer.
10 – Diversify Your Keywords
Something that is often overlooked for SEO is a hyper-focus on specific keywords. Rather than have different pages focused on indexing for different keywords, you end up with multiple pages fighting for the same keywords. This actually hurts the ranking chances of any pages involved.
Use a tool, like Rank Tracker, Google Search Console, or Google Keyword Planner to determine which pages are ranking best for which keywords. Make sure your pages aren’t overlapping and different articles have different focuses. Create a keyword map based on the keyword research you’ve already done to determine keyword variants you can cover with different pages. If you have pages that are targeting the same topics, combine them into a single page that dives deep into the content and offers high quality to your audience.
Is My Home Care Marketing Strategy for SEO Working?
SEO is never a finished process—keep analyzing and improving your site. Stay consistent with posting new content to increase your search index. It can take time to show results, so analyze your position again after a few months of dedicated effort. Then, adjust your strategy accordingly.
Your audience can’t hire you if they don’t know you are out there. SEO isn’t the cure-all, but it will get you in front of home care leads. Your site still needs to have value and function well for your users. Make sure you are implementing tools that enhance user experience and help convert them into clients. Your ultimate goal with SEO is to help clients and families find your home care business so they can