senior care organic search

If you could describe 2020 in one word, what would it be? If I could choose one, it would be “adapt.” Certainly the impact of COVID-19 will be remembered as the year when the world turned upside down. It changed the way we view our lives and how we live them. The senior care industry, like many others, has been affected in major ways because of the pandemic. The need for senior care services skyrocketed seemingly overnight. 


Best-selling author, Louis L’Amour once said, “One learns to adapt to the land in which one lives.” Fortunately, experienced digital marketers tend to be pretty adaptable. That’s a good characteristic to have during rapidly changing times such as we’ve been dealing with over the last year. 


Let’s take stock of how consumer behavior in the senior care space has changed over the course of the last year:


  • Large numbers of workers are working remotely.
  • They’re using desktops more often and relying less on mobile phones.
  • Google has caught on that the searches for COVID-19 terms are popular and they’ve changed their algorithms accordingly.
  • Consumers are concerned about safety in senior care facilities.
  • Consumers are concerned about in-home caregiver safety. 
  • Hospitals are changing their referral processes for post-hospital care in the interest of safety and hygiene. 


These are significant societal and technical changes that affect your digital marketing strategies. To be successful, you have to adapt your marketing practices to account for these changes. 


Something that hasn’t changed as much is that certain states are highly attractive places for retirees to settle down in their final season of life. Here’s the top 10 states for senior living according to the  U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2019) ranked in order from most popular to least popular:


  1. Maine 
  2. Florida
  3. West Virginia
  4. Vermont 
  5. Montana 
  6. Delaware 
  7. Hawaii 
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. New Hampshire 
  10. South Carolina


You probably thought Florida was in the lead, right? Data is one of your best friends when it comes to digital marketing strategies. Data is always changing, so be sure to do your homework. 


How Has COVID-19 Impacted Organic Search?


Hopefully, you took note of the societal changes that affect organic search in the senior care industry, and now you know which states have lots of searchers for senior care-related keywords. Let’s combine that knowledge with how Google views queries.


First, let’s look at how Google prioritizes content. 


Google prioritizes content that falls into the following three categories:


  • The searcher’s purpose
  • Your Money Your Life, also known as YMYL-relates to happiness, safety, health, financial security, etc. 
  • E-A-T, also commonly known as expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness


Can you see how Google could connect all three parameters to COVID-19? With that in mind, it makes sense to create COVID-19-related topics for SEO purposes. 


Let’s add one more ingredient to the recipe. Recently, Semrush collected data about organic searches for senior care. This is what they found in Maine, the leading state for senior residents with data from May 2019 to January 2020 and February through October in 2020:


  • 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%


That’s pretty eye-opening, right!


Here’s another surprising and sad fact. The Kaiser Foundation reports that over 100,000 long-term care residents and staff perished because of COVID-19. 

What Semrush Discovered About Recent Senior Care Queries 

I was very interested in this data because my clients have been telling me about how overwhelmed they’ve been since the onset of the pandemic. 


They’re dealing with a rash of new issues including:


  • Lack of caregivers
  • New health and safety risks
  • An inundation of need for home care
  • Fewer referrals from hospitals to nursing homes
  • Steep decrease in nursing home residents
  • Lack of access to non-essential surgeries


Those challenges bring the need for adapting to a whole new level.  


Semrush reports the most popular keywords in senior care between May 2019 and October 2020:


Keyword Average monthly searches
nursing homes near me 155,667
nursing homes 120,111
home health care 46,500
nursing home compare 18,911
home care 18,000
home care assistance 15,933
home care agencies 15,806
nursing home jobs 14,383


Take a look at the growth in search terms for senior care from Feb – Oct 2020 to May 2019 – Jan 2020:


  • ‘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 hospice care’ rose 45.60%


The data is clear that people are concerned about health and safety. 


The need to adapt also shows up in Semrush data related to FAQs like these:


  1. Does Medicare cover home health care
  2. Does medicare pay for nursing home
  3. What is home health care
  4. What is a nursing home
  5. Does Medicare cover nursing homes
  6. What is palliative care at home
  7. How much does a nursing home cost
  8. Does medicare pay for home health care
  9. What is hospice care at home
  10.  Does medicare pay for home health care
  11.  What is hospice care at home
  12.  Does medicare cover in-home care


Still another area of search engines that’s changed is the “People Also Ask” phrases. The most common ones I’ve seen are:


  • What is the average cost of senior care?
  • What is the average cost of a caregiver?
  • What are the different levels of senior care?


These questions highlight the concerns over the costs of senior care. The other concerns that people have are having to care for an elderly person while working remotely or homeschooling their children. According to Upwork, 1 in 4 Americans will be working remotely in 2021. That’s an 87% increase since the pandemic began. Hundreds of millions of parents chose or were forced to start homeschooling their children or switch to distance learning. 


The Twitter Sentiment Analysis by Semrush also shows some interesting facts about the tone related to senior care. Just under 80% of people referenced senior care using positive language. Just under 12% of people use a neutral tone, and just under 10% of people used negative language when referring to seniors as the chart below shows. 


Unfortunately, we’re not out of the woods with COVID-19 just yet. The concerns over senior care will continue to be with us for some time. Until things get better again, digital marketers will need to continue to adapt, adapt, and adapt some more. 


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