by Patti Urban | Your Savvy Assistant

For SEO purposes, type “home care” into any search engine and you’ll bring up a list that features a map with locations of high-ranking agency sites, ads for larger agencies and franchises, and links to all the other home care agencies near you or the location you specified.  Where does your agency website rank?

You know you want your agency site to appear near the top of the list.  But, how can you accomplish this?  That’s where SEO, Search Engine Optimization, comes in.

Before ever picking up that telephone, nearly 90% of families research their local home care agencies online–and most will investigate at least five. Here are five things you can do to improve your website’s SEO and assist people looking for high-quality home care to find you.

  1. The Power of Keywords

Any time you use a search engine to find something you’re using keywords.  Someone looking for a home care agency might type in “home care near me” or “best home care agency” or even “Alzheimer’s care for seniors.”  All of these searches contain keywords.

In order to identify the best SEO keywords for your agency, you’ve got to get into the mindset of your potential client.  Use your own experience as a home care expert as well.  Consider local community names, types of care, illnesses or conditions that usually benefit from home care. Make a list of typical inquiries, then check your list using the recommended free tools below. You’ll most likely 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.

  1. Strengthen Your Page Title and Description

Once you know the best and strongest keywords for your agency, use them consistently beginning with your site’s webpage title.  What’s the best way to add keywords to your site’s title?  Below are some options.

Do another search for “home care agency” and carefully look at the bolded titles of each listing. You will see a variety of formats and styles. In addition to the agency name and perhaps a city in the title, others have an adjective or other descriptive phrase.  It’s uncommon to just see the agency name. Why?

One of the most important factors in ranking your site is the Page Title.  Every word counts for searching and for anyone browsing home care agencies.  If the potential client’s keywords are in your title, your chances of ranking higher increase productively.

Where is your site’s Page Title?

Tip:  The title of your website is hidden in HTML code.  HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, a standardized system for tagging text files to achieve font, color, graphic, and hyperlink effects on webpages.  Not sure where to find this code? Do a search for “revise page title + [your site platform]” (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 “Happy Hands Home Care,” but the keyword-savvy title of your site home page might be: “Happy Hands Home Care | Atlanta In-Home Senior Care and Care Management.”

And the page description?  This text is also known as the meta description, and appears directly under the title in search results.  This is key to helping potential clients understand what you do even though it’s not considered when ranking a webpage.   Imagine your page description as free advertising for your site.  Make sure to cap it at 160 characters and use it wisely.

  1. Shop Local: Local Search Ranking Factors and Maps

“Local” search rankings may be more important that your general page ranking because you don’t want someone from Chicago visiting your site if you’re providing care in Atlanta.  What good would that do?

Google, Bing, Yahoo and other major search engines have their own maps that help users fin local businesses and services.  That means Google Maps and other map apps are very powerful marketing tools for small businesses when optimized.  Be sure to 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.
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!

  1. The Importance of Backlinks

Simply put, backlink are links from other websites to 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 quality and quantity of webpages linking back to you is an important way Google and other search engines measure the worth and importance of your site.

How do you get backlinks?  Begin with existing relationships local nonprofit, healthcare facilities, and other well-ranked and respected companies.  Develop new relationships 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.”

Each resource you link to on your site creates an opportunity for a link exchange.

Tip:  Keep away from unknown sites or anyone you wouldn’t want to be linked with in the real world.  Low-value links will hurt your ranking.

  1. Claim Your Google Listing

One of the most important thing you want to do is to claim your google listing.

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.
Yelp Business Portal is where you do the same things for Yelp!

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do just that:  http://www.inkdesign.ca/help/google/claim-google-business-listing.html

Congrats!

If you’ve made it this far, you are quite serious about improving your agency’s online presence. By improving your site’s keywords, page titles and descriptions, local search, backlinks, and claiming your Google listing, you are building the beginnings of an effective SEO strategy.  However, you’re not done yet.  Make sure 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.

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Patti Urban, CSA, Owner of Your Savvy Assistant, is a business consultant for non-medical home care agencies.  She can be reached at http://www.yoursavvyassistant.com.

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