By Wendy D'Alessandro
There is a spattering of industry buzz about “Google My Business” and “Google Knowledge Panel,” it may have you wondering if you should change your focus for online reviews, partiularly since Google hosted reviews influence search rankings. In fact, some of you may have already taken action – you may have even heeded the advice from Kent Lewis of Anvil Media in Caring.com’s Digital Marketing Academy feature on search engine optimization (SEO) back in 2017 – or, you and your marketing team may be in catch-up mode after reading the BrightLocal study on Google reviews published last fall.
Either way: Are you making “SMART” moves in response to this opportunity?
In goal setting parlance, SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Actionable (can also be Attainable or Achievable), Reasonable (can also be Relevant or Realistic), and Timely. This is a useful framework in considering your online reviews strategy and whether you should invest your efforts in Google or Caring, or both and how.
Set Some SMART Goals for Online Reviews
The first question should be very specifically what are you trying to achieve by investing your time and attention on generating customer reviews online? Will your online review strategy lead to increased referrals and move-ins for your community, or is your customers’ feedback in the form of reviews on another website only helping them build up content rather than delivering any tangible results for your community?
In its directory reviews research, Caring.com, a Senior Housing Forum Partner, found that community listings with 15 or more reviews achieved 5 times more leads, 7 times more tours, and 8 times more move-ins than community listings with only 1 or 2 reviews. Senior living provider LiveWell uses Caring as part of their overall SEO strategy, effectively utilizing reviews on Caring in their sales and marketing for local communities. They are also finding that those reviews are having a positive impact on recruiting staff. Pacifica Senior Living is another example of how to achieve significant outcomes from an online reputation management focus with Caring.
Does your Caring.com listing have enough high-quality and current reviews that you’re achieving bottom-line results from the effort?
Before you’re misled into thinking that you can only focus on one reviews platform vs. another, consider this: Reviews on Caring.com frequently appear in the Google Knowledge Panel’s “Reviews from the web” module (so reviews you’re getting on Caring are being seen by folks on Google too). Specifically, Google shares the number of reviews your community has on Caring with a link to those reviews. In large part, this is because Caring.com has high ‘domain authority’ in senior care, and is a well-established trailblazer and long-time leader in senior living reviews.
Caring’s high-integrity reviews system is one of the most trusted by senior care searchers online – with strict review guidelines, that include prohibiting your competitors and disgruntled employees from posting fake reviews. This means the vast majority of reviews on the Caring.com website were contributed by family caregivers and seniors using Caring’s free referral services. (Learn more about the details of their program in their last reviews webinar within their Digital Marketing Academy.)
Set 3 SMART Goals for Your Community
With a deeper understanding of the top sites for senior care searchers (the target audience/online readers of your community’s reviews), and given the limited bandwidth many senior living sales and marketing professionals have for review generation, three Specific and Measurable goals for your community could be:
Get a minimum of 15 reviews on your community’s Caring.com listing ASAP, this will drive inquiries and referral conversions;
Generate at least 3 new reviews on Caring per year thereafter to work toward the Caring Stars award (this helps with prospective resident interest and conversions. Two 2-year studies show that Caring’s partners with the award have double the inquiries and move-ins as partners without the award); and
Try to achieve at least 3-4 reviews annually on Google to support SEO for your community’s website.
These example goals include Timeliness (a specific timeframe for when the goals can be achieved), but are they Attainable and Reasonable?
How many residents and resident family members are happy with your senior living services? If you’re a small care home that’s only existed for a short time, it may take longer than 1 year to get 15 reviews and it may not be possible for you to get 3 new reviews every year – you may need to adjust your reviews goal in terms of volume and timing according to your census and community tenure.
Is your staff focused on asking for reviews? To achieve the goals above you have to be taking action and not just hoping your customers go online to post their feedback as reviews.
To make this as easy as possible: Every listing on Caring.com has a unique review submission form with its own URL (dedicated web link) that can be shared with your customers via email (or added to your website, such as via “Review Us on Caring” promotional text).
Unlike Google, Caring doesn’t require the consumer to create an account on its website to participate in the reviews program – there’s no password to remember or Gmail account to log into before submitting a review on Caring. Caring also has a tool in its Partner Portal that helps senior living communities quickly do email campaigns to solicit reviews (using language that’s worked well for Caring over the years in requesting reviews from Baby Boomers and seniors).
A major challenge senior living communities face in getting reviews is that some senior living community’s customers aren’t comfortable online. In those cases, Caring’s referral partners get even more support (at no additional cost), with Caring collecting reviews by phone or postcard from partner community’s customers. (Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about those options.)
Unfortunately, Google doesn’t yet offer postcard or phone reviews to senior living communities. So, when focused on that platform, your community will need to ask customers who have a Gmail account and are comfortable submitting reviews online (such as the adult grandchildren of residents). They may also need to search Google Places to find your business page to enter their review unless you’ve taken Google’s suggestion to create a review form link and shared that with them.
Tip: Avoid the newbie mistake of copying and pasting your reviews from your website or another reviews platform to Google (or vice versa). Reviews sites seek original reviews and are likely to take down any duplicated reviews or reviews posted by your staff on behalf of residents and their family members.
Need more help being SMART about online reviews?
Caring has one of the industry’s top experts on senior care reviews: Denise Graab has been helping to manage their program since its inception and was the co-creator of the Caring Stars award program. She’s offered to help answer Senior Housing Forum readers’ questions about senior care reviews, SEO, and digital marketing, and you can submit your questions to her privately via the button below. Every question will receive an answer, and you don’t have to worry about your question being attributed to you publicly (submit directly to Denise and she’ll answer you directly too).
Interested in learning about partnered with Caring.com to receive prospective resident referrals? Call (650) 713-3008.
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