If you’ve noticed a dip in occupancy rates lately, you might want to take a look at your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) rankings to see how you match up against your competitors — especially when it comes to local and branded search terms. While both classes of search are equally relevant for lead generation, it’s important to understand the difference between the two so your community can start to rank at the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Local vs. Branded Search – What’s the Difference?
Local searches (also called “unbranded”) are used to find a specific service that you offer. The keywords used do not include your brand or community name. Consumers who perform local searches are more likely to be new prospects who are unfamiliar with your community.
Local Search Example: Searching the term “Memory Care in Weymouth, MA” triggers a local-three pack with additional results below it. Local searches generally have higher search volumes than branded terms because those searching for senior care services likely aren’t aware of your community already.
On the other hand, branded searches are generally performed by someone who already has knowledge of your community. These searches typically include your community name or location. When someone performs a branded search, they usually come across lead referral or aggregation sites like A Place for Mom or Caring.com first. These sites tend to dominate the first-page search results, which isn’t ideal because they will charge you for any captured leads.
Branded Search Example: When someone goes further and adds the business name or other specific details about your community, it’s considered a branded search. When someone performs a branded search, they will usually see a Knowledge Graph on the right side of the page with additional search results on the left:
Understanding the difference between these types of targeted search terms makes it much easier to create an effective SEO strategy that will keep you at the top of the SERPs.
How to Improve
When it comes to branded and local searches, it’s important to remember that it’s not a one or the other proposition — both are equally important to a successful SEO campaign. However, there are certain steps you can take to ensure your community has a better chance of ranking towards the top.
When someone performs a local search using Google, the first thing they will see is a local-three pack. First impressions are everything, right? So really the first and most important thing you can do is make sure your community is listed correctly so potential leads can see accurate information and easily access your website. That means you or someone at your community should be actively managing your business listings making sure your address, website URL, business category and other important information is consistent and accurate.
Another way to improve your local search is to start optimizing your website for keywords/services that are essential to your business. If you’re not sure what keywords are essential or not, think about how potential residents or their caregivers will search and optimize accordingly. On top of that, your website needs to have a clear visual hierarchy and structured data that identifies your community’s fundamental attributes so it’s not only easy for users to navigate, but search engines as well.
If someone performs a branded search for your community, they know what they are looking for and they are closer to taking action than those who perform a local search. That’s why it’s so important for your website and local listings — like Google, Yelp or Facebook — to dominate the first page of search results. Communities that struggle with SEO find that they rank lower on the SERPs than sites like A Place for Mom or Caring.com. Because of that, they often end up paying for leads that they could have gotten directly if they had an optimized web presence.
In order to dominate the first page SERPs, you need to have an active Search Engine Optimization campaign and Reputation Management program. The combination of a properly optimized website and updated local listings with organic reviews is exactly what’s needed to outrank third-party lead aggregators. Some communities supplement their SEO efforts with Pay-Per-Click campaigns, but that is done mostly to counteract any competitive ads or lead referral sites.
Where Does Your Community Rank?
The best way to see how you compare to your competition is to take a minute to search Google using branded and local searches. More specific, local keywords typically have higher search volumes than branded terms, so identifying the relevant terms for your community is key.
If you’re seeing that your community is not ranking at the top of the SERPs for branded and local search terms, you could be losing potential leads to your competitors. Contact us today at Goldn, LLC to learn more about our advanced SEO program that includes reputation management and Pay-Per-Click campaigns. Call (888) 482-6691 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!