The world is facing an ageing population. Australia is no different.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare expects people over 65 to make up 22% of Australia’s population by 2056. (Up from 15% in 2016.)

For operators of Australian aged care facilities (also referred to as nursing homes), this trend presents both opportunities and challenges. To stand out in the increasingly competitive aged care industry, many providers will turn to SEO as the way to stay visible and relevant.

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • The basics of SEO
  • The major trends in Australia’s aged care industry
  • The impact of these trends on aged care facilities and their online presence
  • How SEO can help aged care providers stay competitive
  • 8 tips to get started with SEO
  • How the Siteimprove platform can support your SEO efforts

What is SEO?

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimisation” and describes the process of trying to make a site rank better on Google and other search engines.

Generally speaking, SEO efforts can be divided into three major categories:

  • Technical SEO: This deals with improving the technical setup of your site, like making it load fast, streamlining its internal page structure, optimising it for mobile devices, and so on.
  • Content (or on-page) SEO: This is about the actual content that goes on the site, including the copy, the headings, image alt tags, etc.
  • External (or off-page) SEO: This focuses on reaching out to third-party sites in an effort to get them to link to your pages, thereby increasing your site’s authority in the eyes of Google (and others).

In practice, all of the above areas work in combination to determine how well search engines access, crawl, index, and rank your council website.

What are the major trends in the Australian aged care industry?

As mentioned, Australia will see a significant growth in the older population over the next 40 years. In addition, this population will also become more diverse than today. They’ll differ noticeably in their care needs, preferences, and income levels.
These trends will have the following impact on the Australian aged care system.

1. Increase in demand for aged care services

People above 85 are typically the main users of aged care facilities and services. Their population is expected to triple by 2047. This explosion in primary users will lead to a huge increase in demand for aged care.

2. Growing complexity of care needs

In parallel, the proportion of frail older people is expected to follow suit, due to the prevailing disease patterns by age. The older people of tomorrow will have more complex care needs and will require special facilities and approaches.

This calls for providers of aged care to develop new expertise and to potentially specialise within a narrow spectrum of care services and health issues.

3. Rising preference for independent living

There’s expected to be a notable shift toward older people prioritising independent living arrangements. They’ll want a higher degree of autonomy and a wider pool of aged care services to select from.

As a result, the industry may see more fragmentation and specialisation among aged care providers, focussed on catering to these increasingly diverse needs.

4. Higher disposable incomes

In the future, more of the elderly will have access to high levels of income and accumulated wealth. At the same time, up to 70% of them will likely continue to be eligible for the age pension.

In combination, these factors will allow the older population to gain access to a wider range of better aged care services.

5. Labour constraints

It is expected that the aged care industry is going to experience two parallel developments that will impact its access to qualified workforce.

On the one hand, there will be a decreasing percentage of working people to support the growing aged population. On the other hand, the increase in the older population will put pressure on aged care facilities to expand their capacity.

Because of this, the aged care providers of the future will likely seek to hire increasingly more experienced and specialised workers while having access to fewer of them.

As such, aged care providers will not only be competing for end customers, they’ll also be competing for talent.

What are the consequences for the online presence of aged care facilities?

So what does all of the above mean for how aged care providers handle their business in general and their online presence in particular.

1. Need for visibility

In an increasingly fragmented and specialised industry, aged care operators will have to ensure they stay visible. They’ll be competing to retain and grow market share while staying at the top of potential customers’ minds.

2. Delivering high-quality aged care services while staying cost effective

In Australia, older people expect to have access to high-quality, cost-effective aged care services.

To deliver on this expectation, aged care facilities must re-evaluate how they approach their online presence and to maximise the impact of their digital marketing budget.

3. Competition for eyeballs (especially against big players)

Smaller, often non-profit aged care operators may struggle to win the battle for visibility. When it comes to paid traffic, larger competitors have the budget to bid on higher Google Ads placements and are therefore likely to always appear at the top.

This puts pressure on smaller players to rely on more budget-friendly sources of traffic, including SEO. Instead of competing across the board, they’ll want to drive organic visitors by targeting relevant niche keywords and local searches.

4. Attracting talent

The battle for talent described earlier also calls for inventive approaches to online recruitment. At a minimum, aged care facilities will have to develop highly effective “Careers” sections on their websites. On top of that, they’ll want to identify relevant keywords used by potential hires, so as to compete for these targeted searches.

How SEO can help

If done right, SEO can be just the tool to address many of the above challenges. Here are some of the ways SEO can help.

1. Alleviate budget constraints

Any digital marketing initiative, including SEO, costs money. But while paid sources of traffic require continued injection of funds to drive visitors, SEO is different.

A well-planned SEO campaign can help you rank for a chosen subset of highly relevant keywords. Once an aged service facility achieves its desired search position, this high rank will become a source of sustained organic traffic that only requires a minimal investment to monitor and maintain.

In the long run, SEO is a far more cost-effective way to drive targeted, engaged visitors.

2. Stand out for niche searches

To be sure, SEO is unlikely to help a smaller aged care provider win the battle for broad, high-volume searches against big brands. But SEO shines when it comes to winning niche battles.

By finding relevant long-tail keywords and delivering superb content, providers of specialised aged care services may well end up placing at the top for their niche queries.

3. Grow your remarketing audience

While SEO can be a direct conversion channel, it’s best used as an early touchpoint in a longer customer journey. That’s why SEO is perfect for growing your targeted audience list for future remarketing efforts.

By tagging the visitors to your aged care site, you’ll be creating a marketing audience of potential future customers. Later, you can reach this audience via paid ads or other initiatives to nudge them toward purchasing your services.

8 SEO tips for Australian aged care facilities

If you choose to focus on SEO for your aged care services, the following tips will help you get started on the right track.

1. Do your keyword research

Keyword research is the first step in any SEO campaign. You must identify keywords that are actively used by potential customers and for which you have a decent chance of ranking.

Start at the top, with seed keywords like “home care providers,” “retirement villages,” or “aged care facilities.” From there, you can drill down to identify opportunities in the more targeted, niche searches.

2. Focus on long-tail queries

The aged care space is competitive. If you’re a new or smaller player, you’ll have a hard time trying to rank for something as broad as “aged care.” You’ll be up against large nationwide organisations like Anglicare or Lendlease, which offer aged care facilities and retirement villages.

As such, it’s best to avoid going for high-volume, broad keywords. Instead, you should identify long-tail keywords that more accurately reflect your specific value proposition. The elderly are becoming more selective with their retirement wishes. See this as your chance to match your specific offering to their unique requirements and their niche searches.

3. Know your audience

You must understand your target audience and their specific needs. Try to uncover their ideal customer journey.

What do their search queries say about their motivations? What do they expect to see when they land on your site? Are they usually ready to sign up right away, or do they tend to compare aged care providers and weigh their options over the course of many days?

Remember that you’ll likely be catering to two distinct audiences: The elderly with aged care needs as well as their adult children, who’ll often be the primary decision makers.

The first group might be interested in what’s included in the care package, while the second group could be focussed on the cost of these services.

Knowing your audience allows you to tailor your content to their expectations and increases your chances of capturing their interest.

4. Formulate your value proposition

Once you’ve identified the keywords to target and the expectations of your typical customers, you’re ready to formulate your value proposition.

Be very specific in differentiating your aged care services from competitors and talking directly to your customers. A search term like “aged care facilities” will attract an entirely different audience compared to “aged care services at home.”

Create content that centres around and supports your unique value proposition, so as to attract just the right visitors.

5. Create rich content

Your site is often just a small step in the decision process of your future customers. In addition to on-page copy, you should develop rich supporting content.

This can take the form of downloadable brochures with comparisons of home care packages, factsheets about your facilities, retirement village cost guides, and so on. This type of content is great for facilitating discussions between family members, as it’s easy to share and study offline.

Beyond that, creating rich content also helps your on-site engagement. This, in turn, gives a boost to your SEO standing. Search engines tend to look at how long people spend on your site and how they engage with it. They’ll notice that you’re keeping visitors on your site with relevant, helpful content. Eventually, this will result in you moving up in the search rankings.

6. Leverage local SEO

When it comes to niche and long-tail content, local searches are often a great place to start. Most ageing Australian want to avoid disrupting their existing lives when picking a nursing home. You won’t see many seniors moving from Sydney to Perth for a retirement village. They want to stay in a familiar community, close to their family and friends.

Use this to your advantage. You may not have much luck ranking for “aged care facilities,” but you may just stand a chance with “aged care facilities in Brisbane.”

If you’re a local provider of aged care services, highlight your closeness to the surrounding community. You want to become the prime destination for anyone searching for “aged care facilities near me” in your area.

If you’re a large provider with a national network of facilities, make sure that each of your locations is making the best use of local SEO. This includes:

  • Having a Google My Business page for each individual location
  • Properly tagging these locations to show up in Google Maps
  • Having a customer review strategy in place for each facility 

Going after local searches automatically lowers the number of other aged care providers you’ll be competing against. This makes it easier for your site to rank, but it also makes sure that you’re only driving highly targeted local visitors to your site.

7. Become a knowledge leader

Great content about your facilities is just the start. To get sustained traffic in the long-term, you have to strive to become a thought leader within your area of expertise.

For instance, if your retirement village specialises in caring after people with impaired mobility, create helpful content on the topic. You can compare different types of mobility equipment, discuss how homes can be designed to account for limited mobility, or recommend relevant medical experts.

This approach also helps you naturally earn backlinks, which are a significant ranking factor in their own right. If you offer truly useful guides for senior citizens, bigger publications and health sites may want to link to it, further raising your trustworthiness and authority in the eyes of search engines.

Over time, you’ll become a trusted source of information on your chosen topics. Search engines will give priority to your content on the subject. Similarly, future customers will already be familiar with you when they eventually have to make a decision about their aged care.

8. Don’t neglect accessibility

Accessibility is important for most sites, but even more so for sites catering to the elderly. A larger share of your customers is likely to have vision impairment or other disabilities that require the use of assistive technology.

Make sure your content is accessible to users with disabilities:

  • Reduce your reliance on videos and images
  • Mark up your content using schema.org and aria-labels to help screen readers and search engines understand the context
  • Use alt tags and captions for any rich media
  • Make it easy to navigate your site via alternative input methods

How Siteimprove can help

SEO can be tricky for newcomers to get started with. You’ll often have to use multiple third-party tools to get the right information about relevant keywords, competitors, your site’s performance, and so on.

To make things easier, Siteimprove has developed an all-in-one tool to take care of your SEO needs. This lets you manage your SEO efforts through a single dashboard.

Siteimprove offers the following SEO features:

  • Keyword Research

Keyword discovery: Find relevant keywords and spot content gaps (keywords that you’re not currently addressing).

Keyword suggestions: Identify new keywords with good ranking potential (high search volume and low competition.)

  • Competitor analysis: Find out who your organic competitors are and see how your site stacks up against them.
  • Content optimisation: Bring structure to your content by targeting pages to rank for specific keywords, as well as tracking your improvements in one place.
  • Content similarity: See which of your pages are competing for the same keywords. This helps you avoid keyword cannibalisation and suboptimal pages showing up on Google.
  • Internal searches: Get insights about what keywords and terms people use when searching internally on your site. This lets you develop better content to address user needs.
  • Backlinks: Understand your website’s backlinks profile immediately. Identify high-value and potentially harmful backlinks and avoid losing valuable links that might point to wrong or undesired pages.

Choosing the right SEO tool for your organisation’s needs is the key to turning one of the most demanding digital challenges into a manageable task in 2021. Download this eBook to discover everything you need to know to make a well-informed decision, when choosing the SEO tool.