This post was published on the Pivot Communication blog
If written well, blog articles add educational and informative content to senior living community websites. Additionally, these articles offer dynamic content — every blog is another searchable page for Google to index — that makes your website more likely to be “found” by seniors and their families looking for information on senior living services.
With more than one-third of today’s population online, it’s important to meet your potential customers where the get their information. Sixty-one percent of global internet users spend part of their buyer’s journey online researching products before making a decision — even if they ultimately buy the product offline. Your company’s blog is a great way to educate these potential customers about your product and answer their most frequently asked questions. But before you invest time and money into creating a website and regularly writing blog posts, you need to understand how to write blog posts that are optimized for search engines.
Search engine optimized blogging, or SEO blogging, is the practice of writing blogs with keywords and phrases that make them easily found by sites like Google, Bing and Yahoo. In short, SEO helps rank your blog posts higher — and before your competitors’ blog posts. Importantly, Pivot does not stuff blogs posts with keywords needlessly. It’s our belief that well-written content, optimized, trumps gaming the system.
Use long-tail keywords
Every day, Google receives more than 3.5 billion searches, so it’s easy for your blog posts to get lost in the mix. Here’s where long-tail keywords come in. Short keywords like “senior living,” “independent living” and “assisted living” can return thousands of results. They are also searched for by thousands of internet users who are probably not part of your target market.
To develop more specific long-tail keywords, consider what makes your product unique and who consumes your product. What descriptive adjectives can be used to describe your product? Maybe you’re selling a luxury independent community aimed at wealthy consumers who’ve saved for retirement all their lives; maybe you’re selling an affordable independent living community aimed at budget-conscious consumers who have little to no retirement savings. Long-tail keywords like “luxury independent living” and “affordable independent living” with the community’s location added on to the long-tail keyword will return more specific results than generic terms.
Pick one or two long-tail keywords to focus on for each blog post and insert them into the blog’s title, headlines, body, URL, alt text and meta description (when developing your headline, be sure to include the long-tail keyword in the first 65 characters since this is where Google cuts off its search engine results). Avoid plugging in your long-tail keywords too frequently or in awkward places — they should be inserted conversationally throughout the post.
Think like your customers
Before you pick which long-tail keywords to include in a blog post, you need to do more than just brainstorm your products’ and customers’ attributes — you need data. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to find out what consumers are searching for; use Google Trends to explore hot topics in your industry; use social media to better understand how consumers think and speak in their daily lives. And don’t forget to ask your sales and leasing staff! They field the questions from curious seniors and families, therefore they’ll know the questions and topics that will make for good blogs.
Many consumers begin their online searches with a question. For senior living communities, “How do I afford assisted living?” and “What should I look for in a senior living community?” are common questions that your blog post could answer using those exact long-tail keywords in the post’s title and beyond.
Link to internal and external sources
Including both internal and external links in your blog posts can improve your SEO. Search engines are more likely to optimize your blog posts if they include links because you’re giving readers additional resources and helping expand their initial search, and the links allow search engines to better understand the content of your blog posts.
If you already have a wealth of blog posts published on your site, link to older posts so readers stay on your site longer. Maybe your blog post “How do I afford long-term care?” can link to a post that details the Medicare and Medicaid benefits your community accepts. That same post could also link to the Medicare and Medicaid websites and even blog posts published by big industry names like AARP, A Place for Mom and Caring.com. These external links can quantify reasons why consumers should choose your product and point them to the information you want them to find.
Why readability matters
Blog posts boil down confusing topics and provide answers to complex questions. But while your blog posts may need to contain detailed information to achieve their function, they shouldn’t be difficult to read. Since the goal of blog posts is to help consumers along in their buyer’s journey, the format of your blog posts should let them quickly get the information they need. Use headings and subheadings to break down long posts, bolding and italicizing to emphasize the most important details; bulleted lists also work to highlight important details.
Consider writing a blog post that gives readers the top five to 10 things they need to know. When it comes to choosing a senior living community, there are many factors to consider — but what are the most important? “Five things to consider when choosing a senior living community” will be a more appealing read then “What to consider when choosing a senior living community?” because readers will know they can quickly scan the bolded five factors without even needing to read the whole post. Don’t confuse readability with limited content, since more content can actually improve your SEO, but understand how readers prefer to consume information.
Finally, remember that more people access the web via smartphones than desktops, so your blog posts need to be mobile friendly. A readable format will help achieve this goal, but you should also consider a mobile-friendly platform and theme to ensure a truly mobile-friendly blog.