Don’t drop the Selfie Stick: Algorithm Updates Impacting Senior Living in 2018

Digitally savvy seniors are here, and they’re using voice search, hailing Ubers, and embracing home-based healthcare more so than ever before.

What changes has your community experienced so far in 2018?

Our team surveyed over 200 senior living sales and marketing leaders, and identified the top challenges facing teams tasked with resident acquisition success. If you’re interested in seeing if your community’s challenges reflect what we learned, download your copy of our 2018 Senior Living Marketing Guide.

Tackling 2018’s senior living trends, while preparing for the challenges of the future isn’t an easy feat. One quarter of the year is already over. Before your team looks back aghast at how quickly the time flew by, let’s cover several algorithm updates that will impact your senior living marketing team and resident acquisition strategy.

Read on to learn about:

  • Facebook’s News Feed algorithm update in January
  • Google’s Mobile-first indexing algorithm update in March
  • Google’s upcoming Speed Update affecting mobile in July

Old(ish) News: Facebook’s News Feed Update: What it means for Senior Living Marketers

While Page admins and marketers have noticed shrinking reach with organic posts on Facebook for some time, on January 11th, the social media juggernaut made its algorithm update to News Feed official.

What Senior Living Marketers should know: Don’t expect your next organic social post on Facebook to go viral (but if it does – we’ll be the first to start a slow clap for you). In an effort to bring the platform back to its roots, Facebook users will begin seeing fewer posts from businesses and brands, and more posts from friends and loved ones on their respective feeds. This update doesn’t indicate that organic posts from your community are now non-existent to users. Rather, your team should adjust its strategy to allow the greatest possibility for visibility. Here’s several ways to do just that:

  • Continue promoting events, open houses, premium content assets, infographics, and guides with paid spend – Facebook’s News Feed update doesn’t affect paid and sponsored posts for brands
  • Within Posts, don’t “like”, “share”, or “comment” bait – generate interest by asking questions that produce longform comments from your audience
  • Use Live video to promote your community’s campus, social life, and atmosphere
  • Create a community group for your SLC that encourages discussions, interactions and longform comments

Although Facebook is currently weathering some PR storms both stateside and abroad, the seas aren’t rocky enough to jump ship yet. It’s still a valuable channel for senior living marketers that has potential to impact resident acquisition by endearing your community to a diverse swath of users.

No, social signals don’t technically carry SEO weight, but the interactions and engagement potential still make Facebook a worthwhile way to allocate time and resources, if a solid strategy is backing the discussions. Hold off on the #DeleteFacebook movement for now.

Current News: Google’s Mobile-First Indexing Algorithm Update

Gone are the days when having a mobile responsive website was considered in vogue. In fact, since 2016, mobile traffic has outpaced desktop traffic search volume. Google has been preparing for this shift since 2016, when the search engine first announced this initiative. The official announcement of the mobile-first indexing rollout was on March 26th, ushering in the future of search.

What Senior Living Marketers should know: As the world – including digitally savvy seniors – continues to embrace mobile search, senior living communities will have to make optimizations to stay top-of-mind to meet resident acquisition goals. If your senior living community doesn’t have a mobile version of its website, it will lose out on lucrative lead potential.

Before the mobile-first index rolled out, Google prioritized desktop content. Now, mobile traffic will be crawled, indexed, and ranked ahead of desktop content. Google stated in its official Webmaster Blog at times, if the content is more relevant to the user’s query than mobile-optimized content it would be prioritized over the mobile result. To safeguard your community, follow these mobile-first best practices:

  • Enable mobile responsive design that appropriately adjusts to any device a user searches for your community’s content from
  • Create mobile-friendly content with your mobile user in mind, using optimized images, shorter form, impactful content
  • Mobile and desktop content should be dynamically served with equivalent markup for both (but optimized and written for users scrolling on their phones)
  • Fast mobile page loading speeds (which we’ll address in detail in the next section)

As Google continues to migrate websites to its mobile-first index, pay attention to Google Search Console. When your community’s website is migrated, Google will provide a notification that looks like the picture below.

Upcoming News: Google’s Speed Algorithm Update in July 2018

Around the same time as Facebook’s News Feed algorithm update, Google made an announcement of its own about an upcoming update affecting mobile search. The “Speed Update” as Google has dubbed it on January 17th will impact senior living marketers in a big way, and preparations should be made before this update officially rolls out.

What Senior Living Marketers should know: While page speed has been a prominent ranking factor for organic and AdWords Quality Scores, it was never (officially) announced to be a prominent ranking factor for mobile search. Prior to July’s update, Google prioritized desktop traffic, and would demote websites that took too long to load, causing a poor user experience.

Given the mobile-first indexing algorithm update, Google’s upcoming Speed Update shouldn’t come as a shock. We’re living in a mobile world, and users are expecting to have their questions answered in a timely manner. If their answer isn’t served almost immediately, they’ll bounce from the page and will most likely head to a competing senior living community’s website.

Much like the mobile-first indexing update, Google prefaced that while page speed will be a prominent ranking factor starting this July and moving forward, it still gave way to the caveat that if the content your site has created is of superior caliber with slow loading speeds, it may still rank above your competition.

Senior Housing News cited the rise of senior living communities rethinking infrastructures to enhance the lives of younger baby boomers (ergo digitally savvy seniors) by implementing tech-friendly connected interfaces in its roundup of senior living trends in 2018. Your senior living community should be preparing for July today, and to help, here’s a few best practices to consider to serve your users a speedy and rewarding mobile experience:

  • Check your competitions page speeds – if they’re faster than yours, get to optimizing
  • Check your own page’s speed by using Google’s TestMySite tool
  • Create mobile-friendly content with optimized keywords suited to shorter, more abbreviated mobile search queries
  • Log into Google Search Console and check for any crawl errors that may trip up page speed load times

We’ll continue to update your senior living marketing team “up to speed” with Google’s Speed Update as future announcements occur, but check out Google’s Webmaster Blog for additional context.

What Algorithm Updates and Senior Living Trends are next?

While Google admits to implementing somewhere in the area of 500 algorithm updates a year, the majority don’t create a noticeable, measurable impact on search. But senior living marketing team’s need to stay diligent to stay on top of both the trends and advances in technology, as we inch ever closer to the baby boomer occupancy boom.

Our team will continue keeping your community updated with relevant changes in the space that would affect resident acquisition. But of course, if this piece raised additional questions, contact us. We’ll do our best to help your community tackle your senior living marketing strategy with confidence.

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