Marketing and growth optimization insights for home care agencies from the Honor Care Network
Type “home care” into any search engine and you’ll bring up a list that features ads for larger agencies and franchises, a map with locations of high-ranking agency sites, and—much lower on the page—links to all the other home care agencies near you or the location you specified.
How can you be sure that your home care agency site appears near the top of this list? That’s where SEO, Search Engine Optimization, comes in.
Nearly 90% of families research their local home care agencies online before calling, most investigate at least five. Here are four things you can do to improve your website’s SEO, make Google’s algorithms work for you, and help people looking for high-quality home care find you.
1. Unlock the Power of Keywords
Any time you use a search engine, you’re using keywords. Someone searching for a top-rated home care agency might be looking for “home care near me” or “best home care agency” or even “Alzheimer’s care for seniors.” All of these search phrases contain keywords.
To identify the best SEO keywords for your agency’s site, first get into the mind of a potential client who would be searching for home care then draw on your own experience as a home care expert. Think about local community names, types of care, or illnesses and conditions that typically benefit from home care. Make a list of likely queries, then check your list using the recommended free tools below. You’ll get a tech-assisted advantage—and maybe even discover some better keyword ideas.
You can use keywords anywhere from your webpage title (see below) and page content to blog headlines and body copy.
Tip: Be sure to use keywords in a way that’s natural and authentic. If Google senses “keyword stuffing,” that works against your SEO ranking.
You can find a handful of free keyword tools online. We recommend these three:
• Google’s Keyword Planner is helpful for learning about search volume for the keywords you’d like to rank for. You’ll also see prices of suggested bids, which will be important information if you decide to run Google ads for your site.
• Keyword.io is helpful for generating new keyword ideas.
• Soovle helps you see popular search queries on a few different search engines.
2. Refine Your Page Title and Description
Once you know the strongest keywords for your agency, use them consistently—starting with your site’s webpage title. What’s the best way to add keywords to your site’s title? Let’s explore the options.
Do another search for “home care agency” and look carefully at the boldface titles of each listing. You’ll see a variety of styles and formats. In addition to the agency name, some include a city in the title, others have an adjective, qualifier, or other descriptive phrase. Rarely do you just see the agency name. Why?
Page title is one of the most important factors in the ranking of your site. That means every word counts, for searchbots and for anyone browsing home care agencies. If a searcher’s keywords are in your title, your chances of ranking higher increase dramatically.
Where do you find your site’s page title?
Tip: The title of your webpage is hidden in HTML code. Not sure where to find this code? Do a search for “revise page title + [your site platform]” (Wix/SquareSpace/WordPress/etc.) to figure it out. A strong title should be as specific as possible but not too long—65 to 70 characters, including spaces.
Example: your agency’s name is “Banana Home Care,” but the keyword-savvy title of your site home page might be: “Banana Home Care | North Bay In-Home Senior Care and Care Management.”
And the page description? This text, also known as the meta description, appears right under the title in search results. While it’s not considered when ranking a webpage, it’s key to helping potential clients quickly understand what you do—and decide to click on your site listing. Think of your page description, best capped at 160 characters, as a free advertisement for your site. So be sure to use it wisely.
3. Get Local: Maps and Local Search Ranking Factors
Perhaps more important than your general page ranking are your “local” search rankings. If you provide amazing home care in San Francisco, getting someone from Kansas City to visit your website doesn’t do much good.
Google, Bing, and other major search engines have their own map apps that are designed to help users find the local businesses and services they need. That means Google Maps and other map apps are very powerful marketing tools for small businesses when optimized. So be sure you claim your business (see below) and provide as much information as possible, including hours of operation and photos. The more complete your business listing, the higher it will rank in local search.
Want to see your current local search status? Just use the link at the end of this section. A strong score is any number over 60. 80 is great, 90 or higher is amazing. If your site scores below 40, you’ll want to put some work into driving it up. You can also check your local competitors’ scores as a way to benchmark your progress.
Tip: Yelp pages rank consistently well in search results, so you make sure you have an accurate listing and respond to any negative reviews promptly. Even a customer complaint can help raise visibility, especially when your support team responds quickly and respectfully.
Here are some helpful resources for local SEO:
• Moz Local SEO score allows you to check your website’s score—and your competitors’ sites.
• Google My Business is where you claim your business on Google Maps, ensure it has accurate information and photos, then optimize your categories and keywords. Definitely do this!
• Yelp Business Portal is where you do the same things for Yelp!
• Local search ranking factors helps you learn more about ranking locally. Set aside some time to explore this site. This is a really great resource!
4. Two Links Back: The Importance of Backlinks
Backlinks, simply put, are links from other websites to your yours. Each time someone links to your site, they’ve created a backlink for you. Each time you link to someone else’s site, you’ve created a backlink for them.
The quantity and quality of webpages linking back to you is another important way Google and other search engines measure the value and influence of your site.
How to get backlinks? Start with the relationships you already have with healthcare facilities, local nonprofits, and other well-ranked and well-respected companies. Develop new relationships with independent Care Managers in your community and other industry professionals who advise families on care needs and make referrals to agencies. Any time you link to a partner or local resource on your own page you can offer to do a “link exchange.”
Consider adding a list of trusted local resources that would be helpful to families exploring in-home senior care options. Each resource you link to on your site creates an opportunity for a link exchange.
Tip: Steer clear of unknown sites or anyone you wouldn’t want to be linked with in the real world. Low-value links will hurt your ranking.
Rising in the Ranks
Congrats! If you’ve made it this far, you’re serious about improving your agency’s online presence—and your SEO. By improving your site’s keywords, page titles and descriptions, local search, and backlinks, you’re building the foundation of an effective SEO strategy for 2018. Plan to check your SEO rankings every three to six months, then adjust as needed. Optimizing your search engine ranking isn’t a one-time effort—it’s an ongoing process.
If you own an independent home care agency, joining the Honor Care Network can help you provide even better care for clients—and grow your business more effectively.