This month, we’re talking about the difference between consumer and referral marketing, and the top methods for each. According to recent findings published by Home Care Pulse in the “2014 Private Duty Benchmarking Study,” SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the top consumer marketing method, used by 11% of the home care business owners surveyed by Home Care Pulse. In fact, as shown in the graph below, those who use SEO as their top consumer marketing method made an average of 32.4% more in annual revenue in 2013 than the industry average.
Number One Consumer & Referral Marketing Sources
(Source: “2014 Private Duty Benchmarking Study,” figure 3.1, pg. 58)
The days of picking up a phone book and searching the yellow pages for the phone number of a nearby business are quickly fading. Now, consumers use the Internet to find what they need, and even seniors are becoming more and more Internet-savvy. Knowing this, it’s important for your business to have a well-designed, easy-to-access, information-packed website—and to focus on SEO to attract consumers to your site.
Your goal with SEO is to set your business apart as the leading expert in a certain field, so when consumers conduct a search using Google or any other search engine, your business shows up on the first page of results. Google wants to give consumers the best results for the keywords they’ve searched, and in order for your business to appear on that list, Google must recognize you as an expert. Once that happens, consumers are lead to your website, learn more about your home care business and hopefully hire you as their home care provider.
Director of Online Marketing for Home Care Pulse, Chris Marcum, outlined some SEO basics in a previous blog post, and he has recently created five tools containing advice on the best SEO practices for home care businesses. These tools are available to Home Care Pulse VANTAGE subscribers, but here is a brief overview of three of Marcum’s tools:
1. Understand search engines.
Search engines, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., are businesses who want to provide consumers with the most relevant websites to searchers’ inquiries. Therefore, if you want your website to show up in search results, you need to have the best website for people looking for services you provide, in the area you provide them. This is not an overnight process—and needs to happen through your own efforts to show that your website is active and full of useful, valuable information. Trying to take shortcuts will only hurt your website and even ruin your chances of ranking in Google. Be wary of hiring SEO “experts” touting fast results and front-page guarantees. Google knows all the tricks and is looking for real, legitimate experts to highlight in their search results. Be patient. Do the work. Your website and business will be rewarded in time.
2. Create and manage a blog.
A blog shows that you are an expert and your website is being actively managed. Your blog should be tied directly to your website, and you should write about topics relevant to your industry. What subjects are you an expert in? What areas does your company specialize in? Start creating regular blog articles to show and share your expertise. Be committed, a blog must be frequent and regular—one post every three months isn’t active enough. Try to post weekly, at the very minimum. Write with a friendly, easy-to-understand voice. Make sure your blogs contain valuable content, so that search engines will recognize you as an expert and consumers will comment on your posts and share them with others.
3. Know the do’s and don’ts of link building.
Google is looking for websites that are relevant, credible, active and popular. For your website to become popular, you need other legitimate websites to link to yours. As with all SEO practices, you can’t try to cheat the system and take shortcuts—or you could end up on Google’s black list. The best way to build legitimate links on external websites is to find their blog and leave comments. Don’t just leave generic, uninformative comments and a link to your website. That method will actually work against you. Leave comments that are thought-provoking and informative. Show your expertise. Contribute to the conversation. It’s all about building relationships with other experts and, by doing so, establishing yourself as an expert. Think about the reputation of your company—and interact online with others in a way that enhances your reputation and spotlights your expertise.
The key to SEO success is patience and perseverance. Don’t expect overnight success—it may take several months to a year or longer to see results. But as you put time and effort into your website and your blog, little by little, if you are genuine and provide valuable content, you will hopefully notice more and more traffic to your website. In time, you will notice an increase in new clients who found your company through an Internet search.
To access the full text of all five SEO tools, become a VANTAGE subscriber.