Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” COVID-19 has taught everyone to adapt, and search engine behaviour has adapted as well.
Consumers are more likely to use desktops and laptops as opposed to mobile as they’ve had to stay home more. In light of changing user behavior, Google has changed its algorithms for what it displays on the SERP [search engine results page]. For senior care marketers, COVID-19 has a greater than normal impact on search.
Certain states outshine others as attractive homes for pre-retirees and retirees. For senior care marketers in these states, the recent economic and societal changes signal a shift in marketing strategies.
We’ve teamed up with Semrush, a trusted data provider, to highlight valuable data for adapting your SEO practices and marketing strategies across the top 10 states that are home to aging citizens.
The elderly population in the U.S. by the numbers
Where do the most seniors live? The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2019) breaks down the top 10 states with the largest population over age 65:
1. Maine – 20.6%
2. Florida – 20.5%
3. West Virginia – 20%
4. Vermont – 19.8%
5. Montana – 18.8%
6. Delaware – 18.7%
7. Hawaii – 18.4%
8. Pennsylvania – 18.2%
9. New Hampshire – 18.1%
10. South Carolina – 17.7%
This is the type of data that has a strong bearing on search results.
How has COVID-19 impacted organic search?
Google prioritizes content that falls into the following three categories:
- Beneficial purpose = searches relating to advantages, disadvantages and general information about senior care
- Your Money Your Life (YMYL) = searches relating to happiness, health, safety, finance
- Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (E-A-T) = searches relating to expert opinions, federal healthcare regulations.
Queries that are related to COVID-19 hit all three marks.
Maine holds the top spot for residents over the age of 65. Semrush data shows the difference from May 2019 to January 2020 and February through October in 2020 in Maine:
- Online searches for “in home care agencies near me” +250.00%
- Online searches for “nursing home deaths” +225.00%
- Online searches for “Medicare-approved home health care agencies” +33%
The data shows that users were looking more for home care services versus assisted living facilities and nursing homes, potentially due to concern about COVID-19. Research also shows that consumers are driving preferences for their care.
Semrush’s findings related to organic searches focus on senior care queries
Semrush data shows that people were searching for senior care services in large numbers. It’s clear that the population that’s been the most seriously affected by COVID-19 is the senior population, and that’s had a direct and lasting impact on home care agencies. The shortage of caregivers in the senior care industry is palpable.
Also, nursing homes now get fewer referrals from hospitals, and nurse managers are now more inclined to send seniors home. Occupancy rates took a nosedive after the onset of the pandemic, often as much as 20% or more due to increasing death rates, surgery suspensions, and worry about safety in facilities.
The most popular keywords in the country between May 2019 and October 2020 were:
|Keyword||Average monthly searches|
|nursing homes near me||155,667|
|home health care||46,500|
|home instead senior care||44,811|
|home care assistance||15,933|
|home care agencies||15,806|
|home health care services||10,700|
|senior home care||9,044|
The growth in search terms related to senior care grew significantly from February 2019-October 2020 to May 2019-January 2020 as the following percentages show:
- Nursing home deaths up by 1190.31%
- Nursing home abuse lawyer’ rose by 262.88%
- Care home increased by 66.67%
- Caregiver support services up 60.48%
- Home caregiver services spiked 52.78%
- In-home care agencies near me rose 26.59%
- How to start a home health care agency spiked by 24.46%
- Best home care agencies near me’ up by 19.08%
Semrush data shows “nursing home deaths” and related terms have the largest increase in search terms since the pandemic.
Fernando Angulo, marketing influencer lead at Semrush, says,
“Semrush data shows the number of people searching for senior care requiring additional information during the pandemic and earlier years. All of this suggests there will be lots of opportunity for digital disruption in senior care, which means anyone who wants to capture a share of this industry needs to understand the digital healthcare environment, and of course the regulations around it.”
Semrush also uncovered the most frequently asked questions in the online space from 2020 relating to senior care which were:
- Does Medicare cover home health care?
- Does Medicare pay for nursing home?
- What is home health care?
- What is palliative care at home?
- Does Medicare pay for home health care?
- What is hospice care at home?
- Does Medicare cover in home care?
- What is home care?
- How much does 24 7 in home care cost?
To compound matters even further, the pandemic forced a shift in occupational and educational norms. By December 2020, about 71% of workers moved out of their workplaces and set up workspaces in their homes to prevent the spread of the virus. As schools shut down, things got even tougher for families with minor children as nearly 93% of households with school-age children were forced to implement some form of distance learning during the worst phases of COVID-19.
Semrush’s Twitter Sentiment Analysis collected hashtags related to senior care and the results found that the majority of people (78.5%) used positive language when referring to “senior care.” Meanwhile 11.7% of people used a neutral tone and only 9.8% used negative language.
It’s important to view your SEO and digital marketing strategies in light of the greater issues in the country. See this infographic to learn more about the analysis of online searches regarding senior care.
Karina Tama-Rutigliano is the CEO and founder of Senior Care Clicks, a digital marketing agency that provides 360 marketing solutions to home care, assisted living, nursing homes and other businesses that target seniors.
This article originally appeared on McKnight's Senior Living